Harold son of King Sigurd and half brother to king Olaf II, was severely wounded at Stiklarsladir fighting at the age of 15 against the largest army ever assembled in Norway. Leaving his dead half brother, he took refuge in a lonely farmhouse. His health recovered, he crossed into Sweden. From there he went to Novgorod, where he was well received by Prince Yaroslav and in 1032 assisted him in a Polish campaign. Accompanied by a personal following of 500 warriors, Harold followed the traditional Varangian route to Constantinople and arrived there in 1035 In 1047, upon the death of Magnus he absorbed the rest of Norway and until 1064 carried on a senseless and devastating war against Sven. In 1066, drawn by the never-failing Viking compulsion for wealth and fame overseas, Harold III embarked on the last effective Viking intervention in the affairs of Western Europe. Probably urged on by the invitation of Earl Tostig of England but probably more by greed and by the tales and deeds of earlier Vikings, the 50-year-old warrior claimed the throne of England. Defeated at Stamford Bridge by the forces of Harold II, he won only the 7 feet of land that the victor had promised him, but his doom in a Viking holocaust that rivaled the battles told by the skalds of old made possible the conquest of England by a remoter brand of Norseman, William the Conqueror. His was indeed a Viking exit and the exit of the Viking age.
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