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Harald Sigurdsson, also known as Harald of Norway (; – 25 September 1066) and given the epithet ''Hardrada'' (; modern no, Hardråde, roughly translated as "stern counsel" or "hard ruler") in the
saga Sagas are prose Prose is a form of written (or spoken) language that usually exhibits a natural speech, natural flow of speech and Syntax, grammatical structure—an exception is the narrative device stream of consciousness. The word "prose" f ...

saga
s, was
King of Norway The Norwegian monarch is the head of state of Norway, which is a constitutional monarchy, constitutional and hereditary monarchy with a parliamentary system. The Norwegian monarchy can trace its line back to the reign of Harald Fairhair and th ...
(as Harald III) from 1046 to 1066. Additionally, he unsuccessfully claimed both the
Danish throne The Monarchy of Denmark is a constitutional political system, institution and a historic office of the Kingdom of Denmark. The Kingdom includes Denmark proper, as well as the autonomous administrative division, autonomous countries of the Fa ...
until 1064 and the
English throne The Throne of England is the throne (back left) and his or her List of Canadian monarchs#Consort, royal consort (back right) in the Senate of Canada; these may also be occupied by the sovereign's representative, the Governor General of Canada, ...
in 1066. Before becoming king, Harald had spent around fifteen years in exile as a
mercenary A mercenary, sometimes known as a soldier of fortune, is a private individual, particularly a soldier, who takes part in military conflict for personal profit, is otherwise an outsider to the conflict, and is not a member of any other official ...

mercenary
and military commander in
Kyivan Rus' Kievan Rus' or Kyivan Rus' ( orv, Роусь, Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") was a loose federationJohn Channon & Robert Hudson, ''Penguin Historical Atlas of Russia'' (Penguin, 1995), p.16. of East Slavs, East Slavic and Finno-Ugric peoples, Finno- ...
and of the
Varangian Guard The Varangian Guard ( el, Τάγμα τῶν Βαράγγων, ''Tágma tōn Varángōn'') was an elite unit of the Byzantine Army The Byzantine army was the primary military body of the Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as ...
in the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
. When he was fifteen years old, in 1030, Harald fought in the
Battle of Stiklestad The Battle of Stiklestad ( no, Slaget på Stiklestad, non, Stiklarstaðir) in 1030 is one of the most famous battles in the history of Norway Norway ( nb, ; nn, ; se, Norga; smj, Vuodna; sma, Nöörje), officially the Kingdom of ...
together with his half-brother Olaf Haraldsson (later Saint Olaf). Olaf sought to reclaim the Norwegian throne, which he had lost to the Danish king
Cnut the Great Cnut the Great (; ang, Cnut cyning; non, Knútr inn ríki ; or , no, Knut den mektige, sv, Knut den Store. died 12 November 1035), also known as Canute, was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England Th ...
two years prior. In the battle, Olaf and Harald were defeated by forces loyal to Cnut, and Harald was forced into exile to Kyivan Rus' (the sagas' ). He thereafter spent some time in the army of Grand Prince
Yaroslav the Wise Yaroslav the Wise or Yaroslav I; russian: Ярослав Мудрый, ; uk, Ярослав Мудрий; non, Jarizleifr Valdamarsson; la, Iaroslaus Sapiens. (c. 978 – 20 February 1054) was the Grand Prince of Kiev from 1019 until his death. ...

Yaroslav the Wise
, eventually obtaining rank as a captain, until he moved on to
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
with his companions around 1034. In Constantinople, he soon rose to become the commander of the Byzantine
Varangian Guard The Varangian Guard ( el, Τάγμα τῶν Βαράγγων, ''Tágma tōn Varángōn'') was an elite unit of the Byzantine Army The Byzantine army was the primary military body of the Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as ...
, and saw action on the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
, in
Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of ...

Asia Minor
,
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
, possibly in the
Holy Land The Holy Land (: , la, Terra Sancta; : or ) is an area roughly located between the and the Eastern Bank of the . Traditionally, it is synonymous both with the biblical and with the . The term "Holy Land" usually refers to a territory ro ...

Holy Land
,
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia ...

Bulgaria
and in Constantinople itself, where he became involved in the imperial dynastic disputes. Harald amassed considerable wealth during his time in the Byzantine Empire, which he shipped to Yaroslav in Kyivan Rus' for safekeeping. He finally left the Byzantines in 1042, and arrived back in Kyivan Rus' in order to prepare his campaign of reclaiming the Norwegian throne. Possibly to Harald's knowledge, in his absence the Norwegian throne had been restored from the Danes to Olaf's illegitimate son
Magnus the Good Magnus Olafsson (Old Norse: ''Magnús Óláfsson''; Norwegian language, Norwegian and Danish language, Danish: ''Magnus Olavsson''; – 25 October 1047), better known as Magnus the Good (Old Norse: ''Magnús góði'', Norwegian and Danish: ''Mag ...
. In 1046, Harald joined forces with Magnus's rival in Denmark (Magnus had also become king of Denmark), the
pretender A pretender is someone who claims to be the rightful ruler of a country although not recognized as such by the current government. The term is often used to suggest that a claim is not legitimate.Curley Jr., Walter J.P. Monarchs-in-Waiting. New ...
Sweyn II of Denmark Sweyn II Estridsson ( on, Sveinn Ástríðarson, da, Svend Estridsen) ( – 28 April 1076) was King of Denmark from 1047 until his death in 1076. He was the son of Ulf the Earl, Ulf Thorgilsson and Estrid Svendsdatter, and the grandson of King Sw ...
, and started raiding the Danish coast. Magnus, unwilling to fight his uncle, agreed to share the kingship with Harald, since Harald in turn would share his wealth with him. The co-rule ended abruptly the next year as Magnus died, and Harald thus became the sole ruler of Norway. Domestically, Harald crushed all local and regional opposition, and outlined the territorial unification of Norway under a national governance. Harald's reign was probably one of relative peace and stability, and he instituted a viable coin economy and foreign trade. Probably seeking to restore Cnut's "
North Sea Empire North Sea Empire and Anglo-Scandinavian Empire are terms used by historians to refer to the personal union A personal union is the combination of two or more State (polity), states that have the same monarch while their boundaries, laws, and ...
", Harald also claimed the Danish throne, and spent nearly every year until 1064 raiding the Danish coast and fighting his former ally, Sweyn. Although the campaigns were successful, he was never able to conquer Denmark. Not long after Harald had renounced his claim to Denmark, the former
Earl of Northumbria Earl of Northumbria was a title in the Anglo-Danish, late Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a who inhabited . They traced their origins to the 5th century settlement of incomers to Britain, who migrated to the island from the coastlands of ...
,
Tostig Godwinson Tostig Godwinson ( 1023/102825 September 1066) was an Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group who inhabited England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land b ...
, brother of the newly chosen (but reigning not for long) English king Harold Godwinson (also known as Harold of Wessex), pledged his allegiance to Harald and invited him to claim the English throne. Harald went along and invaded Northern England with 10,000 troops and 300 longships in September 1066, raided the coast and defeated English regional forces of Northumbria and Mercia in the
Battle of Fulford The Battle of Fulford was fought on the outskirts of the village of Fulford near York York is a cathedral city with Roman origins at the confluence of the rivers River Ouse, Yorkshire, Ouse and River Foss, Foss in North Yorkshire, England ...

Battle of Fulford
near
York York is a cathedral city City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the monarch of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the United ...

York
on 20 September 1066. Although initially successful, Harald was defeated and killed in a surprise attack by Harold Godwinson's forces in the
Battle of Stamford Bridge The Battle of Stamford Bridge ( ang, Gefeoht æt Stanfordbrycge) took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire Stamford Bridge is a village and civil parishes in England, civil parish on the River Derwent, Yorkshire, ...
on 25 September 1066, which wiped out almost his entire army. Modern historians have often considered Harald's death, which brought an end to his invasion, as the end of the
Viking Age The Viking Age (793–1066 AD) was the period during the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation o ...
.


Epithets

Harald's most famous epithet is Old Norse ''harðráði'', which has been translated variously as 'hard in counsel', 'tyrannical', ‘tyrant’, ‘hard-ruler’, ‘ruthless’, ‘savage in counsel’, ‘tough’, and ‘severe’.Snorri Sturluson, ''Heimskringla'', trans. by Alison Finlay and Anthony Faulkes, 3 vols (London: Viking Society for Northern Research, 2011–15) (second edition 2016–)
vol. 3
p. x.
While
Judith Jesch Judith Jesch (born 1954) is professor of Viking Age studies at the University of Nottingham. Jesch is chair of the international Runic Advisory Group and president of the English Place-Name Society. Biography Jesch received her advanced education a ...
has argued for 'severe' as the best translation,Judith Jesch, 'Norse Historical Traditions and Historia Gruffud vab Kenan: Magnus Berfoettr and Haraldr Harfagri', in ''Gruffudd ap Cynan: A Collaborative Biography'', edited by K. L. Maund (Cambridge, 1996), pp. 117–47 (p. 139 n. 62). Alison Finlay and Anthony Faulkes prefer 'resolute'. ''Harðráði'' has traditionally been Anglicised as 'Hardrada', though
Judith Jesch Judith Jesch (born 1954) is professor of Viking Age studies at the University of Nottingham. Jesch is chair of the international Runic Advisory Group and president of the English Place-Name Society. Biography Jesch received her advanced education a ...
characterises this form as 'a bastard Anglicisation of the original epithet in an
oblique case In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as we ...
'. This epithet predominates in the later Icelandic saga-tradition.Sverrir jakobsson,
The Early Kings of Norway, the Issue of Agnatic Succession, and the Settlement of Iceland
, ''Viator'', 47 (2016), 171–88 (pp. 1–18 in open-access text, at p. 7); .
However, in a number of independent sources associated with the
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...

British Isles
, mostly earlier than the Icelandic sagas, Harald is given epithets deriving from Old Norse ''hárfagri'' (literally 'hair-beautiful'). These sources include: * Manuscript D of the ''
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle The ''Anglo-Saxon Chronicle'' is a collection of annals Annals ( la, annāles, from , "year") are a concise historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the stud ...
'' ('Harold Harfagera', under the year 1066) and the related histories by
Orderic Vitalis Orderic Vitalis ( la, Ordericus Vitalis; 16 February 1075 – ) was an English chronicler and Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a monastic reli ...
('Harafagh', re events in 1066),
John of Worcester . John of Worcester (died c. 1140) was an English monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-Eu ...
('Harvagra', s.aa. 1066 and 1098), and
William of Malmesbury William of Malmesbury ( la, Willelmus Malmesbiriensis; ) was the foremost English historian of the 12th century. He has been ranked among the most talented English historians since Bede Bede ( ; ang, Bǣda , ; 672/326 May 735), also kno ...
(''
Gesta regum Anglorum The ''Gesta Regum Anglorum'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
'', 'Harvagre', regarding 1066). * Marianus Scotus of Mainz ('Arbach', d. 1082/1083). * The ''Life'' of
Gruffydd ap Cynan Gruffudd ap Cynan ( 1137), sometimes written as Gruffydd ap Cynan, was King of Gwynedd Gwynedd (; ) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes ...

Gruffydd ap Cynan
('Haralld Harfagyr', later twelfth century). In Icelandic sagas the name ''Harald Fairhair'' is more famously associated with an earlier Norwegian king, and twentieth-century historians assumed that the name was attached to Harald Hardrada in error by Insular historians. However, recognising the independence of some of the Insular sources, historians have since favoured the idea that Harald Hardrada was widely known as Harald Fairhair, and indeed now doubt that the earlier Harald Fairhair existed in any form resembling the later saga-accounts.
Sverrir Jakobsson Sverre, Sverrir or Sverri is a Nordic name from the Old Norse ''Sverrir'', meaning "wild, swinging, spinning". It is a common name in Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands; it is less common in Denmark and Sweden. It can also be a surname. Sverre ma ...
has suggested that 'fairhair' 'might be the name by which King Harald wished himself to be known. It must have been his opponents who gave him the epithet "severe" (ON. ''harðráði''), by which he is generally known in thirteenth-century Old Norse kings’ sagas'.


Early life

Harald was born in Ringerike, NorwayHjardar & Vike (2011) p. 284 in 1015 (or possibly 1016) to Åsta Gudbrandsdatter and her second husband
Sigurd Syr Sigurd Syr (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia S ...
. Sigurd was a petty king of Ringerike, and among the strongest and wealthiest chieftains in the Uplands. Through his mother Åsta, Harald was the youngest of King
Olaf II of Norway Olaf or Olav (, , or British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and com ...
/ Olaf Haraldsson's (later Saint Olaf) three half-brothers. In his youth, Harald displayed traits of a typical rebel with big ambitions, and admired Olaf as his role model. He thus differed from his two older brothers, who were more similar to their father, down-to-earth and mostly concerned with maintaining the farm. The Icelandic sagas, in particular
Snorri Sturluson Snorri Sturluson (Old Norse: ; ; 1179 – 23 September 1241) was an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician. He was elected twice as lawspeaker of the Icelandic parliament, the Althing. He is commonly thought to have authored or compiled port ...
in ''
Heimskringla ''Heimskringla'' () is the best known of the Old Norse kings' sagas. It was written in Old Norse in Iceland by the poet and historian Snorri Sturluson (1178/79–1241) 1230. The name ''Heimskringla'' was first used in the 17th century, derived f ...
'', claim that Sigurd, like Olaf's father, was a great-grandson of King
Harald Fairhair Harald I Fairhair (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian was a North Germanic languages, North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their Viking expansion, overseas settlements from about the 7 ...
in the male line. Most modern scholars believe that the ancestors attributed to Harald Hardrada's father, along with other parts of the Fairhair genealogy, are inventions reflecting the political and social expectations of the time of the authors (around two centuries after Harald Hardrada's lifetime) rather than historical reality. Harald Hardrada's alleged descent from Harald Fairhair is not mentioned and played no part during Harald Hardrada's own time, which seems odd considering that it would have provided significant legitimacy in connection with his claim to the Norwegian throne. Following a revolt in 1028, Harald's brother Olaf was forced into exile until he returned to Norway in early 1030. On hearing news of Olaf's planned return, Harald gathered 600 men from the Uplands to meet Olaf and his men upon their arrival in the east of Norway. After a friendly welcome, Olaf went on to gather an army and eventually fight in the
Battle of Stiklestad The Battle of Stiklestad ( no, Slaget på Stiklestad, non, Stiklarstaðir) in 1030 is one of the most famous battles in the history of Norway Norway ( nb, ; nn, ; se, Norga; smj, Vuodna; sma, Nöörje), officially the Kingdom of ...
on 29 July 1030, in which Harald took part on his brother's side. The battle was part of an attempt to restore Olaf to the Norwegian throne, which had been captured by the Danish king
Cnut the Great Cnut the Great (; ang, Cnut cyning; non, Knútr inn ríki ; or , no, Knut den mektige, sv, Knut den Store. died 12 November 1035), also known as Canute, was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England Th ...
(Canute). The battle resulted in defeat for the brothers at the hands of those Norwegians who were loyal to Cnut, and Olaf was killed while Harald was badly wounded.Blöndal & Benedikz (2007) p. 54 Harald was nonetheless remarked to have shown considerable military talent during the battle.


Exile in the East


To Kyivan Rus'

After the defeat at the Battle of Stiklestad, Harald managed to escape with the aid of Rögnvald Brusason (later
Earl of Orkney The Earl of Orkney was originally a Norse Norse is demonym for Norsemen, a medieval North Germanic ethnolinguistic group ancestral to modern Scandinavians, defined as speakers of Old Norse from about the 9th to the 13th centuries. Norse may al ...

Earl of Orkney
) to a remote farm in
Eastern Norway Eastern Norway ( Bokmål: ''Østlandet'', Nynorsk: ''Austlandet'') is the geographical region of the south-eastern part of Norway Norway ( nb, ; nn, ; se, Norga; smj, Vuodna; sma, Nöörje), officially the Kingdom of Norway, i ...
. He stayed there for some time to heal his wounds, and thereafter (possibly up to a month later) journeyed north over the mountains to Sweden. A year after the Battle of Stiklestad, Harald arrived in
Kyivan Rus' Kievan Rus' or Kyivan Rus' ( orv, Роусь, Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") was a loose federationJohn Channon & Robert Hudson, ''Penguin Historical Atlas of Russia'' (Penguin, 1995), p.16. of East Slavs, East Slavic and Finno-Ugric peoples, Finno- ...
(referred to in the sagas as ''
Garðaríki 350px, Map showing Varangian or Rus' people, Rus' settlement (in red) and location of Slavic tribes (in green), mid-9th century Khazar influence indicated with blue outline (anglicized Gardariki or Gardarike) or is the Old Norse term used in M ...
'' or ''Svíþjóð hin mikla''). He likely spent at least part of his time in the town of
Staraya Ladoga Staraya Ladoga ( rus, Ста́рая Ла́дога, p=ˈstarəjə ˈladəɡə); fi, Vanha-Laatokka) is a types of inhabited localities in Russia, rural locality (a ''village#Russia, selo'') in Volkhovsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, locat ...

Staraya Ladoga
(''Aldeigjuborg''), arriving there in the first half of 1031. Harald and his men were welcomed by Grand Prince
Yaroslav the Wise Yaroslav the Wise or Yaroslav I; russian: Ярослав Мудрый, ; uk, Ярослав Мудрий; non, Jarizleifr Valdamarsson; la, Iaroslaus Sapiens. (c. 978 – 20 February 1054) was the Grand Prince of Kiev from 1019 until his death. ...

Yaroslav the Wise
, whose wife Ingegerd was a distant relative of Harald. Badly in need of military leaders, Yaroslav recognised a military potential in Harald and made him a captain of his forces. Harald's brother Olaf Haraldsson had previously been in exile to following the revolt in 1028, and ''
Morkinskinna Morkinskinna is an Old Norse language, Old Norse kings' sagas, kings' saga, relating the history of Norway, Norwegian kings from approximately 1025 to 1157. The saga was written in Iceland around 1220, and has been preserved in a manuscript from a ...

Morkinskinna
'' says that Yaroslav embraced Harald first and foremost because he was the brother of Olaf. Harald took part in Yaroslav's campaign against the
Poles The Poles,, ; singular masculine: ''Polak'', singular feminine: ''Polka'' or Polish people, are a nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the loc ...

Poles
in 1031, and possibly also fought against other 1030s Kyivan enemies and rivals such as the
Chud Chud or Chude ( orv, чудь, in Finnic languages The Finnic (''Fennic'') or more precisely Balto-Finnic (''Balto-Fennic''; Baltic Finnic, ''Baltic Fennic'') languages, are a branch of the Uralic language family spoken around the Baltic Sea b ...
es in
Estonia Estonia ( et, Eesti ), officially the Republic of Estonia ( et, Eesti Vabariik, links=no), is a country in northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea across from Sweden ...

Estonia
, and the , as well as the
Pechenegs The Pechenegs or Patzinaks were a from speaking the which belonged to the branch of the . Ethnonym The Pechenegs were mentioned as ''Bjnak'', ''Bjanak'' or ''Bajanak'' in medieval and texts, as ''Be-ča-nag'' in documents, and as '' ...
and other steppe nomad people.


In Byzantine service

After a few years in Kyivan Rus', Harald and his force of around 500 men moved on south to
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
(''
Miklagard The city of Istanbul has been known by a number of different names. The most notable names besides the modern Turkish name are Byzantium, Constantinople, and Stamboul. Different names are associated with different phases of its history, with differe ...
''), the capital of the
Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Eastern Roman Empire
(later known as the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
), probably in 1033 or 1034, where they joined the
Varangian Guard The Varangian Guard ( el, Τάγμα τῶν Βαράγγων, ''Tágma tōn Varángōn'') was an elite unit of the Byzantine Army The Byzantine army was the primary military body of the Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as ...
. Although the '' Flateyjarbók'' maintains that Harald at first sought to keep his royal identity a secret, most sources agree that Harald and his men's reputation was well known in the east at the time. While the Varangian Guard was primarily meant to function as the emperor's bodyguard, Harald was found fighting on "nearly every frontier" of the empire. He first saw action in campaigns against
Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, : , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, عَرَبٌ, : , Arabic pronunciation: ) are an mainly inhabiting the . In modern usage the term refers to those who originate from an Arab co ...
pirates in the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
, and then in inland towns in
Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of ...

Asia Minor
/
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
that had supported the pirates. By this time, he had according to Snorri Sturluson become the "leader over all the Varangians". By 1035, the Byzantines had pushed the Arabs out of Asia Minor to the east and southeast, and Harald took part in campaigns that went as far east as the
Tigris River The Tigris, () is the eastern of the two great river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end ...

Tigris River
and
Euphrates River The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography, regions are a ...

Euphrates River
in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
, where according to his
skald A Skald, or skáld (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic languages, North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken b ...
(poet) Þjóðólfr Arnórsson (recounted in the sagas) he participated in the capture of eighty Arab strongholds, a number which historians Sigfus Blöndal and Benedikt Benedikz see no particular reason to question. Although not holding independent command of an army as the sagas imply, it is not unlikely that King Harald and the Varangians at times could have been sent off to capture a castle or town. During the first four years of the reign of
Byzantine Emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation of Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse ...
Michael IV the Paphlagonian Michael IV the Paphlagonian ( el, , ''Mikhaēl ho Paphlagōn''; c. 1010 – 10 December 1041) was Byzantine Emperor from 11 April 1034 to his death on 10 December 1041. The son of a peasant, Michael worked as a money changer until he was fou ...

Michael IV the Paphlagonian
, Harald probably also fought in campaigns against the
Pechenegs The Pechenegs or Patzinaks were a from speaking the which belonged to the branch of the . Ethnonym The Pechenegs were mentioned as ''Bjnak'', ''Bjanak'' or ''Bajanak'' in medieval and texts, as ''Be-ča-nag'' in documents, and as '' ...
.Blöndal & Benedikz (2007) p. 63 Thereafter, Harald is reported in the sagas to have gone to
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...

Jerusalem
and fought in battles in the area. Although the sagas place this after his expedition to
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
, historian
Kelly DeVries Kelly DeVries (born December 23, 1956) is an United States, American historian specializing in the Medieval warfare, warfare of the Middle Ages. He is often featured as an expert commentator on television documentaries. He is professor of history a ...
has questioned that chronology.DeVries (1999) p. 30 Whether his trip was of a military or peaceful nature would depend on whether it took place before or after the 1036 peace treaty between Michael IV and the
Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", ...

Muslim
Fatimid The Fatimid Caliphate ( ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْفَاطِمِيَّة , al-Ḫilāfa al-Fāṭimiyya) was an Ismaili Shia Ismāʿīlism ( ar, الإسماعيلية, ''al-ʾIsmāʿīlīyah''; fa, اسماعیلیان, ''E ...

Fatimid
Caliph Ma'ad al-Mustansir Billah (in reality the Caliph's mother, originally a Byzantine Christian, since the Caliph was a minor), although it is considered unlikely to have been made before. Modern historians have speculated that Harald may have been in a party sent to escort pilgrims to Jerusalem (possibly including members of the Imperial family) following the peace agreement, as it was also agreed that the Byzantines were allowed to repair the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, hy, Սուրբ Հարության տաճար, la, Ecclesia Sancti Sepulchri, am, የቅዱስ መቃብር ቤተክርስቲያን, he, כנסיית הקבר, ar, كنيسة القيامة is a church i ...

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
. Furthermore, this may in turn have presented Harald with opportunities to fight against bandits who preyed on Christian pilgrims. In 1038, Harald joined the Byzantines in their expedition to
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
,DeVries (1999) p. 31Tjønn (2010) p. 47 in
George Maniakes Maniakes conquering Edessa. George Maniakes (, transliterated as Georgios Maniaces, Maniakis, or Maniaches, ; died 1043) was a prominent general of the Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or By ...
's (the sagas' "Gyrge") attempt to reconquer the island from the Muslim
Saracen file:Erhard Reuwich Sarazenen 1486.png, upright 1.5, Late 15th century German woodcut depicting Saracens Saracens () were primarily Arab Muslims, but also Turkish people, Turks, Persian people, Persians or other Muslims as referred to by Christian ...
s, who had established the
Emirate of Sicily The Emirate of Sicily ( ar, إِمَارَة صِقِلِّيَة, ʾImārat Ṣiqilliya) was an Islamic kingdom that ruled the island of Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_tit ...
on the island. During the campaign, Harald fought alongside
Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans The Normans (Norman language, Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were inhabitants of the early medieval Duchy of Normandy, descended from ...

Norman
mercenaries such as
William Iron Arm William I of Hauteville (before 1010 – 1046), known as William Iron Arm,Guillaume Bras-de-fer in French, Guglielmo Braccio di Ferro in Italian and Gugghiermu Vrazzu di Ferru in Sicilian. was a Norman adventurer who was the founder of the ...
. According to Snorri Sturluson, Harald captured four towns on Sicily. In 1041, when the Byzantine expedition to Sicily was over, a
Lombard The term Lombard refers to members of or things related to Lombardy (man) it, Lombarda (woman) lmo, Lombard (man) lmo, Lombarda (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 ...
-Norman revolt erupted in southern Italy, and Harald led the Varangian Guard in multiple battles. Harald fought with the
Catepan of Italy The ''katepánō'' ( el, κατεπάνω, lit. " he oneplaced at the top", or " the topmost") was a senior Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire ...
, Michael Dokeianos with initial success, but the Normans, led by their former ally William Iron Arm, defeated the Byzantines in the Battle of Olivento in March, and in the
Battle of Montemaggiore The Battle of Montemaggiore (or Monte Maggiore) was fought on 4 May 1041, on the river Ofanto The Ofanto, known in ancient times as Aufidus or Canna, is a river in southern Italy that flows through the regions of Campania, Basilicata, and Apulia ...
in May. After the defeat, Harald and the Varangian Guard were called back to Constantinople, following Maniakes' imprisonment by the emperor and the onset of other more pressing issues. Harald and the Varangians were thereafter sent to fight in the in
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia ...

Bulgaria
, where they arrived in late 1041. There, he fought in the army of Emperor Michael IV in the Battle of Ostrovo of the 1041 campaign against the Bulgarian uprising led by
Peter Delyan Petar II Delyan (reigned 1040 – 1041) ( bg, Петър II Делян) was the leader of an uprising against Byzantine rule in the Theme of Bulgaria during the summer of 1040. He was proclaimed Tsar of Bulgaria, as Samuel of Bulgaria, Samuel's g ...
, which later gained Harald the nickname the "Bulgar-burner" (''Bolgara brennir'') by his skald. Harald was not affected by Maniakes' conflict with Emperor Michael IV, and received honours and respect upon his return to Constantinople. In a
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...

Greek
book written in the 1070s, the ''
Strategikon of Kekaumenos The ''Strategikon of Kekaumenos'' ( el, Στρατηγικὸν τοῦ Κεκαυμένου, la, Cecaumeni Strategicon) is a late 11th century Byzantine military manuals, Byzantine manual offering advice on warfare and the handling of public and ...
'', Araltes (i.e. Harald) is said to have won the favour of the emperor. The book says that the Byzantine emperor first appointed him '' manglabites'' (possibly identified with the title ''protospatharios''), a soldier of the imperial guard, after the Sicilian campaign.Bibikov (2004) p. 21 Following the campaign against the Bulgarians, in which Harald again served with distinction, he received the rank while at Mosynopolis of ''spatharokandidatos'', identified by DeVries as a promotion to the possibly third highest Byzantine rank, but by Mikhail Bibikov as a lesser rank than ''protospatharios'' that was ordinarily awarded to foreign allies to the emperor. The ''Strategikon'' indicates that the ranks awarded to Harald were rather low, since Harald reportedly was "not angry for just having been appointed to ''manglabites'' or ''spatharokandidatos''". According to his skald Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Harald had participated in eighteen greater battles during his Byzantine service. Harald's favour at the imperial court quickly declined after the death of Michael IV in December 1041, which was followed by conflicts between the new emperor Michael V Kalaphates, Michael V and the powerful empress Zoe Porphyrogenita, Zoe. During the turmoil, Harald was arrested and imprisoned, but the sources disagree on the grounds. The sagas state that Harald was arrested for defrauding the emperor of his treasure, as well as for requesting marriageDeVries (1999) pp. 34–35 with an apparently fictional niece or granddaughter of Zoe, called Maria (his suit supposedly being turned down by the empress because she wanted to marry Harald herself).
William of Malmesbury William of Malmesbury ( la, Willelmus Malmesbiriensis; ) was the foremost English historian of the 12th century. He has been ranked among the most talented English historians since Bede Bede ( ; ang, Bǣda , ; 672/326 May 735), also kno ...
states that Harald was arrested for defiling a noble woman, while according to Saxo Grammaticus he was imprisoned for murder. DeVries suggests that the new emperor may have feared Harald because of his loyalty to the previous emperor. The sources also disagree on how Harald got out of prison, but he may have been helped by someone outside to escape in the midst of the revolt that had begun against the new emperor. While some of the Varangians helped guard the emperor, Harald became the leader of the Varangians who supported the revolt. The emperor was in the end dragged out of his sanctuary, blinded and exiled to a monastery, and the sagas claim that it was Harald himself who blinded Michael V (or at least claimed to have done so).DeVries (1999) pp. 35–38


Back to Kyivan Rus'

Harald became extremely rich during his time in the east, and secured the wealth collected in Constantinople by shipments to Kyivan Rus' for safekeeping (with Yaroslav the Wise acting as safekeeper for his fortune). The sagas note that aside from the significant spoils of battle he had retained, he had participated three times in ''polutasvarf'' (loosely translated as "palace-plunder"), a term which implies either the pillaging of the palace exchequer on the death of the emperor, or perhaps the disbursement of funds to the Varangians by the new emperor in order to ensure their loyalty. It is likely that the money Harald made while serving in Constantinople allowed him to fund his claim for the crown of Norway.DeVries (1999) p. 39 If he participated in ''polutasvarf'' three times, these occasions must have been the deaths of Romanos III Argyros, Romanos III, Michael IV, and Michael V, in which Harald would have opportunities, beyond his legitimate revenues, to carry off immense wealth. After Zoe had been restored to the throne in June 1042 together with Constantine IX Monomachos, Constantine IX, Harald requested to be allowed to return to Norway. Although Zoe refused to allow this, Harald managed to escape into the Bosphorus with two ships and some loyal followers. Although the second ship was destroyed by the Byzantine boom (navigational barrier), cross-strait iron chains, Harald's ship sailed safely into the Black Sea after successfully manoeuvring over the barrier. Despite this, Kekaumenos lauds the "loyalty and love" Harald had for the empire, which he reportedly maintained even after he returned to Norway and became king. Following his escape from Constantinople, Harald arrived back in Kyivan Rus' later in 1042. During his second stay there, he married Elisiv of Kyiv, Elisabeth (referred to in Scandinavian sources as Ellisif), daughter of Yaroslav the Wise and granddaughter of the Sweden, Swedish king Olof Skötkonung. Shortly after Harald's arrival in Kyiv, Yaroslav Rus'–Byzantine War (1043), attacked Constantinople, and it is considered likely that Harald provided him with valuable information about the state of the empire.Tjønn (2010) p. 77 It is possible that the marriage with Elisiv had been agreed to already during Harald's first time in Rus', or that they at least had been acquainted. During his service in the Byzantine Empire, Harald composed a love poem which included the verse "Yet the goddess in Gardarike / will not accept my gold rings"Henriksen (2011) (whom Snorri Sturluson identifies with Elisiv), although ''Morkinskinna'' claims that Harald had to remind Yaroslav of the promised marriage when he returned to Kyiv.DeVries (1999) pp. 26–27 According to the same source, Harald had spoken with Yaroslav during his first time in Rus', requesting to marry Elisiv, only to be rejected because he was not yet wealthy enough. It is in any case significant that Harald was allowed to marry the daughter of Yaroslav, since his other children were married to figures such as Henry I of France, Andrew I of Hungary and the daughter of Constantine IX.


King of Norway


Return to Scandinavia

Seeking to regain for himself the kingdom lost by his half-brother Olaf Haraldsson, Harald began his journey westwards in early 1045, departing from Novgorod (''Holmgard'') to Staraya Ladoga (''Aldeigjuborg'') where he obtained a ship. His journey went through Lake Ladoga, down the Neva River, and then into the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea. He arrived in Sigtuna in Sweden, probably at the end of 1045 or in early 1046. When he arrived in Sweden, according to the skald Tjodolv Arnorsson, his ship was unbalanced by its heavy load of gold. In Harald's absence, the throne of Norway had been restored to
Magnus the Good Magnus Olafsson (Old Norse: ''Magnús Óláfsson''; Norwegian language, Norwegian and Danish language, Danish: ''Magnus Olavsson''; – 25 October 1047), better known as Magnus the Good (Old Norse: ''Magnús góði'', Norwegian and Danish: ''Mag ...
, an illegitimate son of Olaf. Harald may actually have known this, and it could have been the reason why Harald wanted to return to Norway in the first place. Since Cnut the Great's sons had chosen to abandon Norway and instead fight over England, and his sons and successors Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut had died young, Magnus's position as king had been secured. No domestic threats or insurrections are recorded to have occurred during his eleven-year reign.DeVries (1999) p. 40 After the death of Harthacnut, which had left the Danish throne vacant, Magnus had in addition been selected to be the king of Denmark, and managed to defeat the Danish royal pretender Sweyn II of Denmark, Sweyn Estridsson. Having heard of Sweyn's defeat by Magnus, Harald met up with his fellow exile in Sweden (who was also his nephew), as well as with the Swedish king Anund Jacob, and the three joined forces against Magnus. Their first military exploit consisted of raiding the Danish coast. The purpose of that was to impress the natives by demonstrating that Magnus offered them no protection, and thus leading them to submit to Harald and Sweyn. Learning about their actions, Magnus knew that their next target would be Norway. Harald may have planned to be taken as king of his father's petty kingdom, and thereafter claim the rest of the country.Tjønn (2010) p. 94 In any case, the people were unwilling to turn against Magnus, and on hearing news of Harald's schemes, Magnus (abroad at the time) went home to Norway with his entire army. Instead of going to war, Magnus's advisors recommended the young king not fight his uncle, and a compromise was reached in 1046 in which Harald would rule Norway (not Denmark) jointly with Magnus (although Magnus would have precedence). Notably, Harald also had to agree to share half of his wealth with Magnus, who at the time was effectively bankrupt and badly in need of funds. During their short co-rule, Harald and Magnus had separate courts and kept to themselves, and their only recorded meetings nearly ended in physical clashes. In 1047, Magnus and Harald went to Denmark with their leidang forces. Later that year in Jylland, less than a year into their co-rule, Magnus died without an heir. Before his death, he had decided that Sweyn was to inherit Denmark and Harald to inherit Norway. On hearing the news of Magnus's death, Harald quickly gathered the local leaders in Norway and declared himself king of Norway as well as of Denmark. Although Magnus had appointed Sweyn his successor as king of Denmark, Harald immediately announced his plans to gather an army and oust his former ally from the country. In response, the army and the chieftains, headed by Einar Thambarskelfir, opposed any plans of invading Denmark. Although Harald himself objected to bringing the body of Magnus back to Norway, the Norwegian army prepared to transport his body to Nidaros (now Trondheim), where they buried him next to Saint Olaf in late 1047.Tjønn (2010) p. 103 Einar, an opponent of Harald, claimed that "to follow Magnus dead was better than to follow any other king alive". Under Harald's rule, Norway introduced a royal monopoly on the minting of coins. The coins minted under Harald's rule appear to have been accepted as a commonly used currency (as opposed to continued use of primarily foreign-minted coins). Minting of coins likely provided a substantial part of Harald's annual revenues. Minting of coinage collapsed in Norway in the late 14th century.


Invasions of Denmark

Harald also wanted to re-establish Magnus's rule over Denmark, and in the long term probably sought to restore Cnut the Great's "
North Sea Empire North Sea Empire and Anglo-Scandinavian Empire are terms used by historians to refer to the personal union A personal union is the combination of two or more State (polity), states that have the same monarch while their boundaries, laws, and ...
" in its entirety. While his first proposal to invade Denmark fell through, the next year Harald embarked on what would turn into constant warfare against Sweyn, from 1048 almost yearly until 1064. Similar to his campaigns (then together with Sweyn) against Magnus's rule in Denmark, most of his campaigns against Sweyn consisted of swift and violent raids on the Danish coasts. In 1048, he plundered Jutland, and in 1049 he pillaged and burned Hedeby, at the time the most important Danish trade center, and one of the best protected and most populous towns in Scandinavia. Hedeby as a civil town never recovered from Harald's destruction, and was left completely desolate when what remained was looted by Slavic peoples, Slavic tribes in 1066. One of two conventional battles was set to be fought between the two kings later the same year, but, according to Saxo Grammaticus, Sweyn's smaller army was so frightened when approached by the Norwegians that they chose to jump in the water trying to escape; most drowned. Although Harald was victorious in most of the engagements, he was never successful in occupying Denmark. The second, more significant battle, a naval encounter, was the Battle of Niså on 9 August 1062. As Harald had not been able to conquer Denmark despite his raids, he wanted to win a decisive victory over Sweyn. He eventually set out from Norway with a great army and a fleet of around 300 ships. Sweyn had also prepared for the battle, which had been preassigned a time and place. Sweyn did not appear at the agreed time, and Harald thus sent home his non-professional soldiers (''bóndaherrin''), which had made up half of his forces. When the dismissed ships were out of reach, Sweyn's fleet finally appeared, possibly also with 300 ships. The battle resulted in great bloodshed as Harald defeated the Danes (70 Danish ships were reportedly left "empty"), but many ships and men managed to escape, including Sweyn. During the battle, Harald actively shot with his bow, like most others in the early phase of the battle. Fatigue and the huge cost of the indecisive battles eventually led Harald to seek peace with Sweyn, and in 1064 (or 1065 according to ''Morkinskinna'') the two kings agreed on an unconditional peace agreement. By the agreement, they retained their respective kingdoms with the former boundaries, and there would be no payments of reparations. In the subsequent winter of 1065, Harald travelled through his realm and accused the farmers of withholding taxes from him. In response, he acted with brutality, and had people maimed and killed as a warning to those who disobeyed him. Harald maintained control of his nation through the use of his hird, a private standing army maintained by Norwegian lords. Harald's contribution to the strengthening of Norway's monarchy was the enforcement of a policy that only the king could retain a hird, thus centralising power away from local warlords.


Domestic opposition

According to historian Knut Helle, Harald completed the first phase of what he has termed the "national territorial unification of Norway".Moseng et al. (2019) p. 79 Having forced his way to the kingship, Harald would have to convince the aristocracy that he was the right person to rule Norway alone. To establish domestic alliances, he married Tora Torbergsdatter of one of the most powerful Norwegian families. The primary opposition to Harald's rule would be the descendants of Haakon Sigurdsson, from the powerful dynasty of Earls of Lade who had controlled Northern Norway and Trøndelag with much autonomy under the Norwegian king. Haakon had even ruled the whole of Norway (nominally under the Danish king) from 975 until 995, when he was killed during the takeover by Olaf I of Norway, Olaf Tryggvasson. Even after Haakon's death, his offspring held a certain degree of sovereignty in the north, and by Harald's early reign the family was headed by Einar Tambarskjelvar, Einar Thambarskelfir, who was married to Haakon's daughter. While the family had maintained good relations with Magnus, Harald's absolutism and consolidation of the kingship soon led to conflict with Einar. It was from his power-struggle with the Norwegian aristocracy that Harald got himself the reputation that gave him the nickname "Hardrada", or "the hard ruler". Although the relationship between Harald and Einar was poor from the start, confrontation did not occur before Harald went north to his court in Nidaros. One time in Nidaros, Einar arrived at Harald's court, and in a display of power was accompanied by "eight or nine longships and almost five hundred men", obviously seeking confrontation. Harald was not provoked by the incident. Although the sources differ on the circumstances, the next event nonetheless led to the murder of Einar by Harald's men, which threatened to throw Norway into a state of civil war. Although the remaining descendants of Haakon Sigurdsson considered rebellion against the king, Harald eventually managed to negotiate peace with them, and secured the family's submission for the remainder of his reign. By the death of Einar and his son around 1050, the Earls of Lade had outplayed their role as a base of opposition, and Trøndelag was definitely subordinated to Harald's national kingdom. Before the Battle of Niså, Harald had been joined by Haakon Ivarsson, who distinguished himself in the battle and gained Harald's favour. Harald reportedly even considered giving Haakon the title of Earl, and Haakon was greatly upset when Harald later backed down from his promise. With a strong hold over the Uplands, Haakon was additionally given the earldom of Värmland by the Swedish king Stenkil. In early 1064, Haakon entered the Uplands and collected their taxes, the region thus effectively threatened to renounce their loyalty to Harald in response. The revolt of Haakon and the farmers in the Uplands may have been the main reason why Harald finally had been willing to enter a peace agreement with Sweyn Estridsson. After the agreement, Harald went to Oslo and sent tax collectors to the Uplands, only to find that the farmers would withhold their taxes until Haakon arrived. In response, Harald entered Sweden with an army and quickly defeated Haakon. Still facing opposition from the farmers, Harald embarked on a campaign to crush the areas that had withheld their taxes. Due to the remote location of the region in the interior of the country, the Uplands had never been an integrated part of the Norwegian king's realm. Using harsh measures, Harald burned down farms and small villages, and had people maimed and killed. Starting in Romerike, his campaign continued into Hedmark, Hadeland and Ringerike. Since the regions contained several rich rural communities, Harald strengthened his economic position by confiscating farming estates. By the end of 1065 there was probably peace in Norway, as any opposition had either been killed, chased into exile or silenced.


Policies

Harald's reign was marked by his background as a military commander, as he often solved disputes with a brute force. One of his
skald A Skald, or skáld (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic languages, North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken b ...
s even boasted about how Harald broke settlements he had made, in his battles in the Mediterranean. While the sagas largely focus on Harald's war with Sweyn and the invasion of England, little is said about his domestic policies. Modern historians have taken this as a sign that, despite his absolutism, his reign was one of peace and progress for Norway. Harald is considered to have instituted good economic policies, as he developed a Norwegian currency and a viable coin economy, which in turn allowed Norway to participate in international trade. He initiated trade with Kievan Rus' and the Byzantine Empire through his connections, as well as with Scotland and Ireland. According to the later sagas, Harald founded Oslo, where he spent much time. Harald also continued to advance Christianity in Norway, and archaeological excavations show that churches were built and improved during his reign. He also imported bishops, priests and monks from abroad, especially from Kievan Rus' and the Byzantine Empire. A slightly different form of Christianity was thus introduced in Norway from the rest of northern Europe, although the East–West Schism had not yet taken place. Since the clergy was not Ordination, ordained in England or France, it nonetheless caused controversy when Harald was visited by papal legates. The protests by the legates led Harald to throw the Catholic clergy out of his court, and he reportedly stated to the legates that "he did not know of any other archbishop or lord of Norway than the king himself".DeVries (1999) pp. 47–48 Norwegian historian Halvdan Koht has remarked that the "words seemed as if spoken by a Byzantine despot". It is possible that Harald maintained contacts with Byzantine emperors after he became king, which could suggest a background for his church policies.


Northern explorations

Once he had returned to Norway, Harald seems to have displayed an interest in exploring his own realm, as for instance the ''
Morkinskinna Morkinskinna is an Old Norse language, Old Norse kings' sagas, kings' saga, relating the history of Norway, Norwegian kings from approximately 1025 to 1157. The saga was written in Iceland around 1220, and has been preserved in a manuscript from a ...

Morkinskinna
'' recounts Harald's trip into the Uplands. Harald is also said to have explored the seas beyond his kingdom, as the contemporary Adam of Bremen reports of such naval expeditions conducted by Harald:DeVries (1999) p. 49
Kelly DeVries Kelly DeVries (born December 23, 1956) is an United States, American historian specializing in the Medieval warfare, warfare of the Middle Ages. He is often featured as an expert commentator on television documentaries. He is professor of history a ...
has suggested that Harald "may even have known of and sought out the legendary land called Vinland, which Viking sailors had discovered only a short time before", which Adam mentions earlier in the same passage to have been widely reported in Denmark and Norway. H. H. Lamb has on the other hand proposed that the land he reached may have been either Spitsbergen or Novaya Zemlya.


Invasion of England


Background and preparations

Accepting he could not conquer Denmark, Harald switched attention to England; his claim was based on a 1038 agreement between Magnus and its previous ruler, Harthacnut, who died childless in 1042. The agreement stated that if either die, the other would inherit his lands; however, it was unlikely Magnus assumed he would gain the English throne without fighting. Harthacnut himself preferred his brother, Edward the Confessor, who became king with the backing of Godwin, Earl of Wessex, Earl Godwin, father of Harold Godwinson. Plans by Magnus to invade England in 1045 were suspended, while he dealt with an uprising by Sweyn II of Denmark, Sweyn of Denmark. After Magnus died in 1047, Harald took over his claim; however, Edward kept potential enemies happy by hinting they might succeed him; in addition to Harald, these included Sweyn, and William, Duke of Normandy. In 1058, a fleet under Harald's son Magnus II of Norway, Magnus supported a large scale Welsh raid into England, although details are limited. This may have shown Harald that he could not simultaneously fight Denmark and England; this became crucial when Edward died in January 1066, and Harold Godwinson proclaimed king of England. Harold's brother
Tostig Godwinson Tostig Godwinson ( 1023/102825 September 1066) was an Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group who inhabited England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land b ...
, formerly
Earl of Northumbria Earl of Northumbria was a title in the Anglo-Danish, late Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a who inhabited . They traced their origins to the 5th century settlement of incomers to Britain, who migrated to the island from the coastlands of ...
, now appeared on the scene; hoping to regain his titles and lands, he reportedly approached both William and Sweyn Estridsson for their support. However, since Northern England was the most suitable landing place for a Norwegian invasion, he was more valuable to Harald. Details are limited, but it is suggested Tostig sent a fellow exile, Copsig, to meet with Harald in Norway and agree plans, while he remained in France. If correct, this would also have allowed Tostig to increase both their chances by simultaneously supporting an invasion by William, who also claimed the throne. In March or April 1066, Harald began assembling his fleet at Solund, in the Sognefjord, a process completed by the start of September 1066; it included his flagship, ''Ormen'', or "Serpent". Before leaving Norway, he had Magnus proclaimed king of Norway, and left Tora behind, taking with him Elisiv, his daughters, and Olaf III of Norway, Olaf. En route, he stopped at the Norwegian-held islands of Shetland and Orkney, where he collected additional troops, including Paul and Erlend Thorfinnsson, the Earl of Orkney, Earls of Orkney. At Dunfermline, he met Tostig's ally, Malcolm III of Scotland, who gave him around 2,000 Scottish soldiers. Although possible he also met Tostig there, most sources suggest they linked up at Tynemouth, on 8 September, Harald bringing around 10–15,000 men, on 240–300 longships. Tostig had only 12 ships, his connections being far more significant. The chronicler,
John of Worcester . John of Worcester (died c. 1140) was an English monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-Eu ...
, suggests he left Flanders in May or June, raiding the heartland of Harold's estates in southern England, from the Isle of Wight to Sandwich, Kent, Sandwich. Having made it seem an attack from Normandy was imminent, he then sailed north, while his brother and most of his troops remained in the south, waiting for William.


Early raids, invasion, and Battle of Fulford

After embarking from Tynemouth, Harald and Tostig probably landed at the River Tees. They then entered Cleveland, England, Cleveland, and started plundering the coast. They encountered the first resistance at Scarborough, North Yorkshire, Scarborough, where Harald's demand for surrender was opposed. In the end, Harald resorted to burning down the town and this action led to other Northumbrian towns surrendering to him. After further raiding, Harald and Tostig sailed down the Humber, disembarking at Riccall on 20 September. News of the early raids had reached the earls Morcar, Morcar of Northumbria and Edwin, Earl of Mercia, Edwin of Mercia, and they fought against Harald's invading army south of
York York is a cathedral city City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the monarch of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the United ...

York
at the
Battle of Fulford The Battle of Fulford was fought on the outskirts of the village of Fulford near York York is a cathedral city with Roman origins at the confluence of the rivers River Ouse, Yorkshire, Ouse and River Foss, Foss in North Yorkshire, England ...

Battle of Fulford
, also on 20 September. The battle was a decisive victory for Harald and Tostig, and led York to surrender to their forces on 24 September. This would be the last time a Scandinavian army defeated English forces. The same day as York surrendered to Harald and Tostig, Harold Godwinson arrived with his army in Tadcaster, just from the anchored Norwegian fleet at Riccall. From there, he probably scouted the Norwegian fleet, preparing a surprise attack. As Harald had left no forces in York, Harold Godwinson marched right through the town to Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire, Stamford Bridge.


Battle of Stamford Bridge

Early on 25 September, Harald and Tostig departed their landing place at Riccall with most of their forces, but left a third of their forces behind. They brought only light armour, as they expected to just meet the citizens of York, as they had agreed the day before, at Stamford Bridge to decide on who should manage the town under Harald. Once there Harald saw Godwinson's forces approaching, heavily armed and armoured, and greatly outnumbering Harald's. Although (according to non-saga sources) the English forces were held up at the bridge for some time by a single gigantic Norwegian, allowing Harald and Tostig to regroup into a shield-wall formation, Harald's army was in the end heavily beaten. Harald was struck in the throat by an arrow and killed early in the battle, later termed the
Battle of Stamford Bridge The Battle of Stamford Bridge ( ang, Gefeoht æt Stanfordbrycge) took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire Stamford Bridge is a village and civil parishes in England, civil parish on the River Derwent, Yorkshire, ...
, in a state of ''berserkergang'', having worn no body armour and fought aggressively with both hands around his sword. When the battle was almost over, some reserve forces from Riccall led by Eystein Orre finally appeared, but they were exhausted as they had run all the way. Eystein picked up Harald's fallen banner, the "Landwaster" (''Landøyðan''), and initiated a final counter-attack. Although they for a moment appeared to almost breach the English line, Eystein was suddenly killed, which left the rest of the men to flee from the battlefield.Hjardar & Vike (2011) p. 291 Among those left at Riccall after the battle, who were allowed to return home peacefully by the English forces, was Harald's son Olaf. Although sources state that Harald's remaining army only filled 20–25 ships on the return to Norway, it is likely that this number only accounts for the Norwegian forces. Most of the forces from Scotland and Orkney probably remained at Riccall throughout the battle (the earls Paul and Erlend Thorfinnsson are certainly known to have been stationed there the entire time), and has not been counted in the traditional figure. Harold Godwinson's victory was short-lived, as only a few weeks later he was defeated by William the Conqueror and killed at the Battle of Hastings. The fact that Harold had to make a forced march to fight Hardrada at Stamford Bridge and then move at utmost speed south to meet the Norman invasion, all in less than three weeks, is widely seen as a primary factor in William's victory at Hastings.


Personal life

Harald is described by Snorri Sturluson to have been physically "larger than other men and stronger". He is said to have had light hair and beard, a long "upper beard" (moustache), and that one of his eyebrows was somewhat higher situated than the other. He also reportedly had big hands and feet, and could measure five ells in height. It is not known whether Snorri's description of Harald's physical appearance actually represents historical facts. The tall stature of Harald is also substantiated by a story that relates that before the Battle of Stamford Bridge, Harold Godwinson offered Tostig back the earldom of Northumbria, and Harald "six feet of the ground of England, or perhaps more seeing that he is taller than most men" (according to Henry of Huntingdon) or "six feet of English ground, or seven feet as he was taller than other men" (according to Snorri Sturluson). Harald himself composed skaldic poetry. According to Lee M. Hollander, composing poetry was normal for Norwegian kings, but Harald was the only one who "showed a decided talent." According to one poem, Harald had mastered a number of activities that were considered sports in the Viking Age, in addition to poetry, brewing, horse riding, swimming, skiing, shooting, rowing and playing the harp. The sagas state that Harald and his Varangians at least once took a break during the siege of a town to enjoy sports. With regards to religion, Harald had, according to DeVries, a "religious inclination towards Christianity" and was "publicly close to the Christian Church", although he was influenced by the Eastern Christian culture of Kyivan Rus' (Garderike) and the Byzantine Empire, having spent most of his life there. He was clearly interested in advancing Christianity in Norway, which can be seen by the continued building and improvement of churches throughout his reign. Despite this, DeVries notes that Harald's "personal morality appears not to have matched the Christian ideal", citing his marriage arrangements.


Issue

Harald married Elisiv of Kiev (c. 1025 – after 1066) around 1044/45, and they had an unknown number, possibly several children. According to Snorri Sturluson, they had two daughters:DeVries (1999) p. 48 * Ingegerd of Norway, Ingegerd (). Married first to the future Olaf I of Denmark, and after his death, to the future Philip of Sweden. * Maria Haraldsdatter, Maria (died 25 September 1066). Promised away for marriage to Eystein Orre (brother of Tora Torbergsdatter), but reportedly died on Orkney the same day that Harald (and Eystein) died at Stamford Bridge. According to the sagas, Harald married Tora Torbergsdatter (c. 1025 – after 1066) around 1048. Some modern historians have disputed this, since Harald in that case would be in a Bigamy, bigamous marriage, as he was still married to Elisiv. It is nonetheless possible that such a marriage could take place in Norway in the 11th century, and although Harald had two wives, only Elisiv is noted to have held the title of Queen. Harald and Tora had at least two children: * Magnus II of Norway, Magnus II (). Reigned as king of Norway from 1066 to 1069. * Olaf III of Norway, Olaf III (). Reigned as king of Norway from 1067 to 1093.


Legacy


Burial

A year after his death at Stamford Bridge, Harald's body was moved to Norway and buried at the Mary Church in Nidaros (Trondheim). About a hundred years after his burial, his body was reinterred at the Helgeseter Priory, which was demolished in the 17th century. On 25 September 2006, the 940th anniversary of Harald's death, the newspaper ''Aftenposten'' published an article on the poor state of Norway's ancient royal burial sites, including that of Harald, which is reportedly located underneath a road built across the monastery site. In a follow-up article on 26 September, the Municipality of Trondheim revealed they would be examining the possibility of exhuming the king and reinterring him in Nidaros Cathedral, currently the burial place of nine Norwegian kings, among them Magnus the Good and Magnus Haraldsson, Harald's predecessor and successor respectively. A month later it was reported that the proposal to exhume the king had been scrapped.


Modern memorials

Two monuments have been erected in honour of Harald in Oslo, the city which he is traditionally held to have founded. A bronze relief on granite by Lars Utne depicting Harald on horseback was raised on the eponymously named square ''Harald Hardrådes plass'' in 1905. In 1950, a large relief by Anne Grimdalen, also of Harald on horseback, was unveiled on the western façade of the Oslo City Hall.


In popular culture

Harald appears in a number of historical fiction books. In H. P. Lovecraft, H.P. Lovecraft's novella ''The Call of Cthulhu'', one key character "''lay in the Old Town of King Harold Haardrada, which kept alive the name of Oslo during all the centuries that the greater city masqueraded as “Christiana”''." Justin Hill (writer), Justin Hill's ''Viking Fire'' is the second in his ''Conquest Trilogy'', and tells the life of Harald in his own voice. He serves as the protagonist in two children's books by Henry Treece, ''The Last of the Vikings''/''The Last Viking'' (1964) and ''Swords from the North''/''The Northern Brothers'' (1967). He also appears as the protagonist in the trilogy ''The Last Viking'' (1980) by Poul Anderson, and in ''Byzantium'' (1989) by Michael Ennis, which chronicles Harald's career in the Byzantine Empire. The alternative history book ''Crusader Gold'' (2007) by marine archeologist David Gibbins features Harald as a key figure, as it follows him in acquiring the lost Menorah (Temple), Menorah among his treasures during his service in the Byzantine Varangian Guard. Harald also makes an appearance in ''Meadowland'' (2005) by Tom Holt. In film, Harald was portrayed by Richard Long in the first episode of the BBC series ''Historyonics'' (2004), titled "1066", which explores the background of the Battle of Hastings. Harald's unorthodox departure from Constantinople is featured in music by the Finland, Finnish folk metal band Turisas in the song "The Great Escape"; in addition, he is followed loosely throughout the story of the albums ''The Varangian Way'' (2007) and ''Stand Up and Fight (album), Stand Up and Fight'' (2011). Harald Hardrada leads the Norwegian civilization in the 2016 4X video game ''Civilization VI'' developed by Firaxis Games. In Paradox Interactive's 2012 grand strategy video game ''Crusader Kings II'', Harald is playable as King of Norway in the two 1066 "High Middle Ages" bookmarks. The game offers a Steam (service), Steam achievement (video gaming), achievement for successfully conquering England as Harald in Permadeath, Ironman mode. In the video game ''Age of Empires II: The Conquerors'', Harald Hardrada featured as a berserker.


Explanatory footnotes


Citations


General sources

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External links


Haraldr Sigurðarson’s arrival in Rus’ and his participation in the campaign against Poland in 1031

Saga of Harald Hardrade
by
Snorri Sturluson Snorri Sturluson (Old Norse: ; ; 1179 – 23 September 1241) was an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician. He was elected twice as lawspeaker of the Icelandic parliament, the Althing. He is commonly thought to have authored or compiled port ...
(), English translation
Ágrip (af Nóregskonungasögum)
(), in Old Norse with English translation
An Account of the Ancient History of the Norwegian Kings
by Theodoric the Monk (), English translation
Morkinskinna
(), in Old Norse
Fagrskinna
(), in Old Norse
Flateyjarbók
(14th/15th century), in Icelandic {{DEFAULTSORT:Hardrada, Harald 1010s births 1066 deaths 11th-century monarchs in Europe 11th-century Norwegian monarchs 11th-century Norwegian people Christian monarchs Deaths by arrow wounds House of Hardrada Manglabitai Monarchs killed in action Norwegian exiles Norwegian monarchs Pretenders to the Danish throne Pretenders to the English throne Varangian Guard Viking Age monarchs Vikings killed in battle