Hardicanute, the son of Canute and Eligiva of Normandy, was born in England in about 1018.
In 1028 Hardicanute was nominated King of Denmark by his father, Canute. When his father died in 1035, Hardicanute succeeded to Denmark, and was also expected to become king of England. However, while he was occupied in Denmark, the English agreed that his half-brother, Harold, would act as regent.
In 1037 Hardicanute's mother, Emma, was unable to prevent the regent Harold being recognised as King of England, or herself being sent into exile in Normandy. In 1040 Hardicanute was on the point of invading when he heard that Harold had died. Even so, when he crossed the North Sea, he was accompanied by an invasion fleet of 62 ships.
No forces had gathered to oppose him, and he took the English crown without further trouble. One of his first acts was to have Harold I's body dug up, decapitated, and thrown into a fen. He continued to earn his reputation as a harsh ruler by sending his army to fire Worcester after two tax collectors had been killed there by a mob. His reputation sank further when the earl of Northumbria died while in protective custody.
On June 8 1042 Hardicanute was attending a wedding reception at Lambeth in Surrey for Tostig the Proud, when he suffered an attack of convulsions, fell down and died. He was succeed in England by Edward the Confessor.