harald iii

Harald III of Denmark

Harald III Hen (1041 – April 17, 1080) was king of Denmark from 1074 or 1076 to 1080. Harald III was the eldest illegitimate son of Sweyn II of Denmark.

He was proclaimed king at the Zealand Assembly (Danish:landsting) in 1076. Harald was dependent on the great nobles of Denmark for his election and did nothing to oppose them. As a result, he fought no wars and spent his energy improving the few things that lay in his perview. On the whole he was a peaceful and able ruler. He is best known for improving and standardizing Danish coinage. He established mints at Ribe , Viborg, Lund, and Schleswig. Harald's second accomplishment was changing Danish legal customs. Harald deplored the ancient customs of trial by ordeal and trial by combat. He introduced a system used by the English of calling upon honorable men to make oaths in behalf of the parties in a trial, rather than resort to the "ancient" customs of holding red-hot iron bars or trial by combat. However, his reforms were not fully accepted until the reign of Valdemar II. Saxo Grammaticus) scorned him as a weak and ineffective king yielding to the will of the common people. Perhaps this gives the explanation for his nickname Harald the Whetstone (Danish: Harald Hen or Hejn), in other words, Harald the soft.

Later historians regard him as a "democratic" monarch for the same reasons.

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