King Harthacnut 1018 – 1042


Family tree for Harthacnut son of Cnut the Great and Emma of Normandy showing:

Short Biography

Harthacnut was born in 1018 and died on 8th June 1042. He was the son of King Cnut the Great by his second wife, Emma of Normandy. Soon after his birth, his father, Canute, inherited the throne of Denmark and in 1028 he gained the throne of Norway.

In 1028 Harthacnut was proclaimed co-King of Denmark and was sent to Denmark to take up the position. His uncle, Earl Ulf was made regent. In 1035, King Canute died. Harthacnut was nominated as successor but he was in Denmark and unable to travel to England due to unrest in Denmark.

Harthacnut’s half-brother, Harold, made a challenge for the English throne. The Witan were not prepared to give him the throne but instead made him co-regent with Emma of Normandy. In 1037 when Harthacnut had still not returned to England the Witan agreed that Harold should be king.

King Harold I died on 17th March 1040. As soon as he heard the news, Harthacnut sailed to England with an armed escort to reclaim the throne. As King of England, Harthacnut soon made himself unpopular by imposing a tax on the English people to pay off his Danish army. The same year he ordered the murder of Earl Eadwulf of Bernicia despite offering the Earl safe passage.

In 1041, Harthacnut summoned his half-brother, Edward, known as Confessor, to return to England from Normandy. When he arrived he was named heir to the throne. King Harthacnut died on 8th June 1042 and Edward succeeded as king without incident.


First published 2017; updated and republished Jul 28 2020 @ 2:51 pm – Updated – Sep 23, 2021 @ 2:14 pm

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2017 – 2020). King Harthacnut 1018 – 1042. Available: Last accessed September 29th, 2021