Harold I., king of the Anglo-Saxons, sur-named Harefoot from his swiftness in running, died at Oxford, March 17, 1040. He was the second of three sons of Canute the Great, who had expressed the wish to bestow his kingdoms of Norway, England, and Denmark severally upon his sons Svend, Harold, and Hardicanute. At the council which met at Oxford upon the death of Canute (1035), to elect a new sovereign for England, the chiefs of Danish descent preferred Harold; the Saxons preferred Har-dicanute, because he was the son of the widow of their late king, Ethelred. Harold got possession of London, and of the country north of the Thames; and Hardicanute, who claimed the west, and by the marriage contract of his mother ought to have succeeded to the crown (his brother being illegitimate), was soon after deposed, through the intrigues of Earl Godwin, upon the promise of Harold to espouse the daughter of that nobleman. Harold and Godwin meantime conspired to destroy the Saxon princes, Alfred and Edward, sons of Ethelred, and they were inveigled from their retreat in Normandy. Alfred was hurried to the isle of Ely and condemned to lose his eyes, and died of the wounds; but his brother, afterward Edward the Confessor, escaped back to Normandy. Harold, having now seized the treasure of his father's widow, who escaped to Bruges, was soon master of all England. His reign was unmarked by other notable events.
He was buried at Westminster; but his body, disinterred by order of Hardicanute, who suc-ceeded him, was cast into the Thames. It was recovered by a fisherman, and secreted in a Danish cemetery in London.