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Harthacnut[2] (Cnut the Hardy; Danish: Knud III Hardeknud) (1018-1020 to 8 June 1042) was King of Denmark from 1035 to 1042 and King of England from 1040 to 1042.

The son of King Cnut the Great, who ruled Denmark, Norway, and England, Harthacnut struggled to retain his father's possessions. When Cnut died in 1035, Magnus I took of control of Norway, but Harthacnut succeeded as King of Denmark, and became King of England in 1040 after the death of his half-brother Harold Harefoot.

Harthacnut died unexpectedly in 1042, and was succeeded by Magnus in Denmark and Edward the Confessor in England. Harthacnut was the last Danish king to rule England.


King of Denmark

Harthacnut was born between 1018 and 1020,[3] the son of Cnut the Great and Emma of Normandy.[4] Harthacnut succeeded his father on the throne of Denmark as Cnut III,[1] but a war against Magnus I of Norway meant he did not have the power to secure his claim to his father's throne of England.[5] Consequently, it was agreed that his elder half-brother Harold Harefoot was to be regent there.[4] Harold took the English crown for himself in 1037 — Harthacnut being "forsaken because he was too long in Denmark"[6] — and the Queen-mother, Emma, who had previously been resident at Winchester with some of her son's housecarls, was made to flee to Bruges, in Flanders.

Harthacnut settled his difficulties in Scandinavia through a treaty he had made with Magnus in 1039.[4] According to the agreement, if one of them were to die without an heir, the other should be his successor. Harthacnut then began to prepare for an invasion of England, and the deposition of Harold from the kingship, and led his fleet to his mother in Flanders.[4] Harold, however, died on 17 March 1040, before any conquest could occur.

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