6th grade English
Instructor: Luke Mullins
The Viking civilization was a big part of Europe between the years 793 to 1066. They were a Germanic people that farmed land, and then when they decided that they needed some adventure, they would go “a Viking”. That meant that they would go around raiding villages, fighting, taking slaves and riches home with them. The Vikings had kings that ruled over them and led them into battles. Today I am going to be telling you about the last Viking King, Harald Hardrada.
Harald Hardrada was born in Ringerike, Norway, to Asta Gudbrandsdatter, and Sigurd Syr, in 1015 ad. Harald’s father (Sigurd) was one of the strongest, most powerful petty kings in the Uplands. Through his mother, (Asta) Harald was stepbrother to Olaf Haraldson, who was later called Saint Olaf. Olaf was Harald’s role model while he was growing up, and when he was only 15 years old, Harald joined Olaf’s army. Norway was in a bloody civil war, Pagans against Christians, and Olaf was fighting for the Christian cause. Harald’s first battle was the battle of Stiklestad, where Olaf was killed and Harald was badly wounded. Harald managed to escape from the battlefield, and he stayed at a farm in eastern Norway to recover.
A year later, (in 1031) Hardrada made his way to Keivian Rus’. The Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise welcomed him, partly because Yaroslav had been good friends with Olaf before he was killed in battle. Yaroslav saw the amazing military skill that Hardrada possessed, and so after Harald had been in the army for a while, he was made the captain. After Hardrada had worked for Yaroslav for a while, he then decided to go to Byzantium. He arrived with 500 loyal men behind him and was welcomed warmly by the Byzantines. In 1034, Hardrada was offered a position in the Varangian Guard. He accepted, of course. He was only 20 years old!
First, Harald and the Varangian Guard was sent to Armenia and Turkey, to regain lost territory for the Byzantine Empire. After their work was done there, the small army was deployed in Jerusalem, to rid the region of robbers (Which they did). Then, there were orders from the Emperor to go to Greece. They stormed through Greece capturing cities and plundering as they went. On their way, they came to a castle that no one had ever been able to capture. Harald was going to try to starve the inhabitants of the castle into surrender, but his men were too impatient. The men attacked the castle. In the midst of the fighting, Harald saw an opening in the opposing army’s defense, and so he led a charge. After a lot of bloody fighting, Harald and the Varangian Guard came out on top and were the victors.
After the conquest of Greece, the Varangian guard was sent to the Bulgarian Front, to put a stop to an uprising that was going on. The Bulgarians were ferocious, but the Byzantine Emperor was counting on Harald to defeat them. The first main engagement between the Bulgarians and the Varangians was at Prilep, Balkans. The battle was bloody and awful, but again, the Varangian guard proved itself very capable, and at the end of the day, the victory was theirs. During his time in Bulgaria, Harald earned the nickname of “Bulgar Burner”. Now that this assignment was completed, Hardrada returned to Norway, where his nephew was the King.
Harald convinced his nephew to let him “co-rule” Norway, so that if his nephew died, Hardrada would become the new king. Harald’s nephew died the next year, and so he was now the king of Norway. Hardrada then got the idea into his head that he was going to try to conquer England. Along with Edward Tostig, the king of England’s banished brother, Harald made his way to England. They started by attacking the coast, and actually did quite well. They captured the city of York, and at last, Harald and his men moved towards Stamford Bridge. The English army was already there and waiting for them. Harald, rather than waiting for the rest of his troops to arrive from the ships, decided to go ahead and start the battle, which he did. It was a terrible mistake. Harold Godwinson and the English army slaughtered the Viking forces. Harald Hardrada was killed by an arrow through the neck.
Throughout Hardrada’s life, he was an amazing warrior, a wealthy man, and a father to four children. Why we remember him, rather than some of the other Viking rulers, is because he was the last Viking king, and his death pretty much ended the “Viking age”.
“Harald Hardrada.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2017. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harald_Hardrada>.
Harald Hardrada. History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2017. <http://www.history.com/topics/exploration/vikings-history/videos/harald-hadrada>.
[HD] Harald Hardrada – Ep1. The Young Viking. Dir. Strategos300. YouTube. YouTube, 16 Oct. 2011. Web. 16 Jan. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU5KElyq-qA&t=7s>. Strategos300. “[HD] Harald Hardrada – Ep2. Varangian Soldier.” YouTube. YouTube, 03 Nov. 2011. Web. 16 Jan. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O45qKJzxELM&t=303s>.
20th September 1066: Harald Hardrada Wins Battle of Fulford. Dir. http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQD8u6YFRiGwObqpqpq7JFA. YouTube. YouTube, 19 Sept. 2015. Web. 16 Jan. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bpTyap_vC4>.
http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA-JiWKlkZSUQF9p25TxnFQ. “Facts You Didn’t Know About Harald Hardrada.” YouTube. YouTube, 27 Oct. 2016. Web. 16 Jan. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSm8GKkQec8&t=19s>.
“Harald Hardrada | 10 Facts About The Last Great Viking.” Learnnodo Newtonic. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://learnodo-newtonic.com/harald-hardrada-facts>.