1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hardicanute

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HARDICANUTE [more correctly Hardacnut] (c. 1010–1042), son of Canute, king of England, by his wife Ælfgifu or Emma, was born about 1019. In the contest for the English crown which followed the death of Canute in 1035 the claims of Hardicanute were supported by Emma and her ally, Godwine, earl of the West Saxons, in opposition to those of Harold, Canute’s illegitimate son, who was backed by the Mercian earl Leofric and the chief men of the north. At a meeting of the witan at Oxford a compromise was ultimately arranged by which Harold was temporarily elected regent of all England, pending the final settlement of the question on the return of Hardicanute from Denmark. The compromise was strongly opposed by Godwine and Emma, who for a time forcibly held Wessex in Hardicanute’s behalf. But Harold’s party rapidly increased; and early in 1037 he was definitely elected king. Emma was driven out and took refuge at Bruges. In 1039 Hardicanute joined her, and together they concerted an attack on England. But next year Harold died; and Hardicanute peacefully succeeded. His short reign was marked by great oppression and cruelty. He caused the dead body of Harold to be dug up and thrown into a fen; he exacted so heavy a geld for the support of his foreign fleet that great discontent was created throughout the kingdom, and in Worcestershire a general uprising took place against those sent to collect the tax, whereupon he burned the city of Worcester to the ground and devastated the surrounding country; in 1041 he permitted Edwulf, earl of Northumbria, to be treacherously murdered after having granted him a safe-conduct. While “he stood at his drink” at the marriage feast of one of his flegns he was suddenly seized with a fit, from which he died a few days afterwards on the 8th of June 1042.