Harthacnut (or Hardicanute) was the son of Canute and his second wife, Emma, the widow of Ethelred II. His father intended Hardicanute to become king of the English in preference to his elder brother Harold Harefoot, but he nearly lost his chance of this when he became preoccupied with affairs in Denmark, of which he was also king. Instead, Canute's eldest son, Harold Harefoot, became king of England as a whole. In 1039 Hardicanute eventually set sail for England via Bruges, where he stayed until his brother Harold died in March 1040. He then reclaimed the throne of England.

The following year he invited his half-brother, Edward (the surviving son of his mother Emma and Ethelred II) to return from Normandy. Edward was effectively trained as his heir, and was eleccted as king of England by popular acclaim before Hardicanute was buried.

 

Hardicanute's position in the genealogical roll of the Kings of England © The British Library Board, Royal 14 B. VI membrane