1015 or 1016
Harald Hardrada was born Harald Sigurdsson, the son of Sigurd Syr, ruler of the Ringeske region of Norway, and Asta Gudbrandsdatter. He was half-brother to Olaf Haraldsson, his mother’s son by her first marriage who had become King Olaf II of Norway
Olaf Haraldsson, King Olaf II, was forced into exile by Canute
who took the throne for himself.
Olaf returned to Norway and was met by Hardrada and several hundred loyal supporters.
1030 (29th July)
Battle of Stiklestad
Harald and his brother Olaf fought against Canute’s forces but they were defeated. Olaf was killed and Harald badly wounded.
After the defeat at Stiklestad, Harald could not stay in Norway and so he exiled himself and travelled south.
Harald and his loyal men reached the court of Yaroslav I in Kiev.
Hardrada became a commander in Yaroslav’s army.
Harald and his forces left Kiev and joined the army of the new Byzantine Emperor, Michael IV.
Hardrada became a member of the Byzantine Varangian Guard and saw action against the Arabs.
1035 (12th November)
King Canute died and Olaf’s son Magnus I became King of Norway.
Harald remained with the Varangian Guard and fought in a campaign to recover Sicily from the Saracens.
Hardrada went to Lombardy, Italy to put down a Norman-Lombard revolt.
1041 (17th March)
Battle of Olivento
Harald Hardrada and the Varangian Guard were defeated by the Normans.
1041 (4th May)
Battle of Montemaggiore
defeated Harald and the Varangian Guard.
The Varangian Guard was recalled to Constantinople and then deployed to Bulgaria.
1041 (10th December)
The Byzantine Emperor, Michael IV, died. He was succeeded by his nephew who became Michael V.
There was conflict between Michael V and Michael IV’s Empress Zoe.
1042 (18th April)
Michael V banished Empress Zoe, a move which resulted in a popular uprising against the Emperor. Harald joined the revolt which saw Michael expelled.
Empress Zoe was restored to the Byzantine throne. Hardrada requested a release from service but this was refused. Harald managed to escape and returned to Kiev.
1042 (8th June)
1044 or 1045 (around)
Harald Hardrada married Ellisif (Elizabeth) daughter of Yaroslav I of Kiev.
Harald and Ellisif made the journey back to Norway.
A daughter, Ingegerd, was born to Harald and Ellisif.
On his return to Norway, Hardrada reached an agreement with Magnus I that they would share the rule of Norway.
A daughter, Maria, was born to Harald and Ellisif.
1047 (25th October)
King Magnus died and Harald became sole ruler of Norway.
1048 (late Summer)
Harald made the first of a series of raids on Denmark hoping to take the Danish throne from Sweyn Estridsson
Harald married Tora Torbergsdatter daughter of one of the most powerful men in Norway. It is unclear whether he remained married to Ellisif at the same time.
A son, Magnus, was born to Harald Hardrada and Tora.
A son, Olaf, was born to Harald Hardrada and Tora
1062 (9th August)
Battle of Nisa
Harald and Sweyn Estridsson reached a peace agreement,
Harald knew that the English King Edward the Confessor had no children to succeed him. He believed that he had a legitimate claim to the English throne through the promise made to Magnus I by Harthacnut.
1066 (4th or 5th January)
Edward the Confessor, King of England, died
1066 (6th January)
, brother-in-law to Edward the Confessor, was crowned King Harold II.
1066 (late January)
Hardrada learned that Harold Godwinson had been crowned King of England and began preparing an invasion.
Harald allied himself with Tostig Godwinson
, Harold Godwinson’s brother who had been banished by Harold in 1065.
1066 (30th August)
Harald set sail from Norway and sailed towards the northern Scottish islands where he would recruit reinforcements.
1066 (8th September)
Harald Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson invaded the north of England. They sailed through the Humber estuary and up the River Ouse.
1066 (9th September)
Harald and Tostig began raiding villages and towns as they marched to take York.
1066 (20th September)
1066 (24th September)
Harald Hardrada took the city of York.
1066 (25th September)
Battle of Stamford Bridge
Harold Godwinson’s English reached the north and surprised Harald Hardrada and Tostig who were completely unprepared for battle. The English had to cross a small bridge which legend states was defended by a very large Viking. The English had to get under the bridge and kill him by thrusting a sword upwards. Once the bridge was cleared the English army defeated the Norwegians, many of whom had not put on their protective chain mail or armour. Harald Hardrada was killed around midday. Tostig Godwinson was offered a pardon but he refused and the fighting continued until Tostig was killed in the early evening.
First published 2015; updated and re-published Sept 08 2020 @ 10:25 a.m. – Updated – [last-modified]