Harald II
Harald II Anglia (The Kalmar Union).png
Harald II Godwinsson
King of Anglia
Reign 28th May, 1097 - 19th October, 1098
Coronation n/a
Predecessor Sweyn II
Successor Cnut IV
Born c. 1022
Colchester, Anglia
Died 19th October, 1098
Lincoln, Anglia
Spouse Edith Swannesha

Edith of Mercia

Issue Godwin


Full name
Harald II Godwinsson
House House of Godwin
Father Godwin Wulfnothsson
Mother Gytha Thorkelsdóttir

Harald II Godwinsson succeeded Sweyn II, not by right or by conquest, but by popular appointment. However his assumption of the throne was opposed by many and his reign would short-lived.

Harald's grandfather Wulfnoth had been Earl of Sussex during Aethelred II's time. However he fell out with Aethelred for an unknown reason and in 1008 his property was confiscated. It is likely Wulfnoth assisted the Danish invasions and after the division of England his son Godwin was rewarded with Essex and Middlesex. Godwin's support during Harald I's reign brought continued riches to the family and his sons were given wide estates in rebellious Mercia to hold and pacify. On his death in 1053 Harald took the main family holdings in Essex and quickly proved himself invaluable during Aelfwine's campaigns in Scotland. He also appears to have campaigned on behalf of Sweyn II of Denmark. He would continue to prove valuable to Sweyn II of Anglia and their families were joined by the marriage of Sweyn's daughter Aelfgifu to Harald's son Godwin.

In 1096 Sweyn II left on crusade leaving the kingdom in the hands of his only son Magnus. To pay for the expedition Sweyn had pawned a large section of Mercia to Edgar II of Wessex. Despite its rebellious nature Mercia was rich pickings, and the loss of land enraged several lords. Magnus failed to satisfy their demands and would died, probably of natural causes in the Winter. Sweyn himself would die after the Battle of Nicea in May 1097. When news of this filtered back to Britannia Edgar seized Mercia in full and there was talk of him moving to conquer the rest of Anglia. In response the Anglian nobles chose Harald as their king, though extremely old by contemporary standards he was a well-respected military commander. It may have been expected that once his sons, especially Godwin, returned from crusade that he step aside, allowing at least some continuation of the House of Gorm through any of Godwin and Aelfgifu's future offspring.

Having raised an army from Anglia and substantial Frisian allies Harald moved to retake Mercia in March 1098. The campaign was a disastrous rout and Harald stumbled back to Lincoln with the news several Anglian lords, mostly those dispossessed by the loss of Mercia were now taking arms against him. On top of that he learned that Cnut IV of Denmark's fleet was approaching the Norfolk coast. Cnut landed in September 1098 sacking Norwich and Thetford while Harald scrambled for troops. He would be beaten by Cnut's army, now joined by various Anglian lords, at Elmham, Grantbridge and finally Lincoln, where Harald fell on 19th October 1098. Cnut would be crowned king of Anglia on Christmas Day.

Harald's children were mostly dispossessed by the change of rulers as their lands were used to reward those Anglian lords who had supported Cnut's invasion. After the capture of Jerusalem Godwin, Harald and Ulf joined the Varangrian guard in Constantinople. Magnus paid homage to Harald IV of Denmark and served on repeated campaigns with him.

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