Harold III or Harold Hardrada (härdräˈdə) [key], Norse Harald Harðráði [Harold stern council], d. 1066, king of Norway (1046–66), half-brother of Olaf II. After Olaf's defeat (1030), Harold went to serve Zoë, the Byzantine empress, in campaigns against the Seljuk Turks, but he returned (1042) to Scandinavia to join the revolt against Magnus I. Made joint king in 1046, he became sole king at Magnus's death in 1047 and engaged in the turbulent warfare of the time. In 1066 he accompanied Tostig, the exiled earl of Northumbria, on an invasion of N England. At the same time, William of Normandy was preparing an invasion of S England. The hard-pressed king of the English, Harold, defeated the Norse invasion at Stamford Bridge; both Harold III and Tostig fell in the battle. However, the way had been prepared for the Norman victory at Hastings.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.