Harald Hardrada

Harald Hardrada, sometimes called the last Viking king, was the half-brother of the Norwegian king, Olav Haraldson, later called St Olav.

Harald took part in the battle at Stiklastad 1030, where Olav was killed. After the battle Harald fled to Sweden and from there to Russia. He enlisted as a warrior in the army of Jaroslav I the Wise, and from there he continued to Constantinople (modern Istanbul) and became commander of the Varangian Guard. He became rich and later returned to Norway to help Norway’s King Magnus fight the Danes.

Harald became known as a terrible and ruthless soldier, and got the nickname Hardrada – the ’ruthless’.

After the death of Magnus, Harald became the king of Norway in 1045. In 1066 he went to conquer England, but he died in the battle at Stamford Bridge defeated by Harold Godwinson who in turn lost his life at the battle of Hastings a few weeks later – effectively ending the Viking Age in England.