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Cnut
Cnut
the Great[2] (Old Norse: Knútr inn ríki;[3] c. 995[4] – 12 November 1035), also known as Canute—whose father was Sweyn Forkbeard (which gave him the patronym Sweynsson, Old Norse: Sveinsson)—was King of Denmark, England
England
and Norway; together often referred to as the North Sea
North Sea
Empire. Yet after the deaths of his heirs within a decade of his own, and Norman conquest of England
England
in 1066, this legacy was lost. He is popularly invoked in the context of the legend of King Canute and the tide, which usually misrepresents him as a deluded monarch believing he has supernatural powers, contrary to the original legend which portrays a wise king who rebuked his courtiers for their fawning behaviour. As a Danish prince, Cnut
Cnut
won the throne of England
England
in 1016 in the wake of centuries of Viking
Viking
activity in northwestern Europe. His latter accession to the Danish throne in 1018 brought the crowns of England and Denmark
Denmark
together. Cnut
Cnut
sought to keep this power-base by uniting Danes and English under cultural bonds of wealth and custom, as well as through sheer brutality. After a decade of conflict with opponents in Scandinavia, Cnut
Cnut
claimed the crown of Norway
Norway
in Trondheim
Trondheim
in 1028. The Swedish city Sigtuna
Sigtuna
was held by Cnut
Cnut
(he had coins struck there that called him king, but there is no narrative record of his occupation).[5] Dominion of England
England
lent the Danes an important link to the maritime zone between the islands of Great Britain
Great Britain
and Ireland, where Cnut, like his father before him, had a strong interest and wielded much influence among the Norse–Gaels.[6] Cnut's possession of England's dioceses and the continental Diocese
Diocese
of Denmark—with a claim laid upon it by the Holy Roman Empire's Archdiocese of Hamburg-Bremen—was a source of great prestige and leverage within the Catholic
Catholic
Church and among the magnates of Christendom
Christendom
(gaining notable concessions such as one on the price of the pallium of his bishops, though they still had to travel to obtain the pallium, as well as on the tolls his people had to pay on the way to Rome). After his 1026 victory against Norway and Sweden, and on his way back from Rome
Rome
where he attended the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor, Cnut, in a letter written for the benefit of his subjects, deemed himself "King of all England
England
and Denmark
Denmark
and the Norwegians and of some of the Swedes".[7] The Anglo-Saxon kings used the title "king of the English". Cnut
Cnut
was ealles Engla landes cyning—"king of all England". Medieval historian Norman Cantor called him "the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon history".[8]

Contents

1 Birth and kingship 2 Conquest of England

2.1 Landing in Wessex 2.2 Advance into the North 2.3 Siege of London 2.4 London captured by treaty

3 King of England

3.1 Consolidation and Danegeld 3.2 Affairs to the East 3.3 Statesmanship

4 King of Denmark

4.1 Journey to Rome

5 King of Norway
Norway
and part of Sweden 6 Influence in the western sea-ways 7 Relations with the Church 8 Death and succession

8.1 Bones at Winchester

9 Marriages and children 10 Family tree 11 Cnut's skalds 12 See also 13 Notes 14 References 15 Further reading 16 External links

Birth and kingship[edit] Cnut
Cnut
was a son of the Danish prince Sweyn Forkbeard, who was the son and heir to King Harald Bluetooth
Harald Bluetooth
and thus came from a line of Scandinavian rulers central to the unification of Denmark.[9] Neither the place nor the date of his birth are known. Harthacnut
Harthacnut
I of Denmark was the semi-legendary founder of the Danish royal house at the beginning of the 10th century, and his son, Gorm the Old, became the first in the official line (the 'Old' in his name indicates this). Harald Bluetooth, Gorm's son and Cnut's grandfather, was the Danish king at the time of the Christianization of Denmark; he became the first Scandinavian king to accept Christianity. Cnut
Cnut
was two years old when his grandfather, Harald Bluetooth, died, and his father, Sweyn Forkbeard, assumed the Danish throne. The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg
Thietmar of Merseburg
and the Encomium Emmae
Encomium Emmae
report Cnut's mother as having been a daughter of Mieszko I of Poland. Norse sources of the High Middle Ages, most prominently Heimskringla
Heimskringla
by Snorri Sturluson, also give a Polish princess as Cnut's mother, whom they call Gunhild and a daughter of Burislav, the king of Vindland.[10] Since in the Norse sagas the king of Vindland is always Burislav, this is reconcilable with the assumption that her father was Mieszko (not his son Bolesław). Adam of Bremen
Adam of Bremen
in Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum is unique in equating Cnut's mother (for whom he also produces no name) with the former queen of Sweden, wife of Eric the Victorious
Eric the Victorious
and by this marriage mother of Olof Skötkonung.[11] To complicate the matter, Heimskringla
Heimskringla
and other sagas also have Sweyn marrying Eric's widow, but she is distinctly another person in these texts, named Sigrid the Haughty, whom Sweyn only marries after Gunhild, the Slavic princess who bore Cnut, has died.[12] Different theories regarding the number and ancestry of Sweyn's wives (or wife) have been advanced (see Sigrid the Haughty
Sigrid the Haughty
and Gunhild). But since Adam is the only source to equate the identity of Cnut's and Olof Skötkonung's mother, this is often seen as an error on Adam's part, and it is often assumed that Sweyn had two wives, the first being Cnut's mother, and the second being the former Queen of Sweden. Cnut's brother Harald was the first-born and crown prince.

Silver penny of Cnut
Cnut
the Great

Some hint of Cnut's childhood can be found in the Flateyjarbók, a 13th-century source that says he was taught his soldiery by the chieftain Thorkell the Tall,[13] brother to Sigurd, Jarl of mythical Jomsborg, and the legendary Joms, at their Viking
Viking
stronghold on the island of Wollin, off the coast of Pomerania. His date of birth, like his mother's name, is unknown. Contemporary works such as the Chronicon and the Encomium Emmae, do not mention this. Even so, in a Knútsdrápa by the skald Óttarr svarti, there is a statement that Cnut
Cnut
was "of no great age" when he first went to war.[14] It also mentions a battle identifiable with Sweyn Forkbeard's invasion of England
England
and attack on the city of Norwich, in 1003/04, after the St. Brice's Day massacre of Danes by the English, in 1002. If Cnut
Cnut
indeed accompanied this expedition, his birthdate may be near 990, or even 980. If not, and if the skald's poetic verse references another assault, such as Forkbeard's conquest of England
England
in 1013/14, it may even suggest a birth date nearer 1000.[15] There is a passage of the Encomiast (as the author of the Encomium Emmae
Encomium Emmae
is known) with a reference to the force Cnut
Cnut
led in his English conquest of 1015/16. Here (see below) it says all the Vikings
Vikings
were of "mature age" under Cnut
Cnut
"the king". A description of Cnut
Cnut
appears in the 13th-century Knýtlinga saga:

Knut was exceptionally tall and strong, and the handsomest of men, all except for his nose, that was thin, high-set, and rather hooked. He had a fair complexion none-the-less, and a fine, thick head of hair. His eyes were better than those of other men, both the handsomer and the keener of their sight. — Knytlinga Saga[16][17]

Hardly anything is known for sure of Cnut's life until the year he was part of a Scandinavian force under his father, King Sweyn, in his invasion of England
England
in summer 1013. It was the climax to a succession of Viking
Viking
raids spread over a number of decades. Following their landing in the Humber[18] the kingdom fell to the Vikings
Vikings
quickly, and near the end of the year King Æthelred fled to Normandy, leaving Sweyn Forkbeard
Sweyn Forkbeard
in possession of England. In the winter, Forkbeard was in the process of consolidating his kingship, with Cnut
Cnut
left in charge of the fleet and the base of the army at Gainsborough. On the death of Sweyn Forkbeard
Sweyn Forkbeard
after a few months as king, on Candlemas
Candlemas
(Sunday 3 February 1014),[19] Harald succeeded him as King of Denmark, while the Vikings
Vikings
and the people of the Danelaw immediately elected Cnut
Cnut
as king in England.[20] However, the English nobility took a different view, and the Witenagemot
Witenagemot
recalled Æthelred from Normandy. The restored king swiftly led an army against Cnut, who fled with his army to Denmark, along the way mutilating the hostages they had taken and abandoning them on the beach at Sandwich.[21] Cnut went to Harald and supposedly made the suggestion they might have a joint kingship, although this found no favour with his brother.[20] Harald is thought to have offered Cnut
Cnut
command of his forces for another invasion of England, on the condition he did not continue to press his claim.[20] In any case, Cnut
Cnut
succeeded in assembling a large fleet with which to launch another invasion.[21] Conquest of England[edit]

This runestone, U 194, in memory of a Viking
Viking
known as Alli, says he won Knútr's payment in England.

Among the allies of Denmark
Denmark
was Bolesław I the Brave, the Duke of Poland (later crowned king) and a relative to the Danish royal house. He lent some Polish troops,[22] likely to have been a pledge made to Cnut
Cnut
and Harald when, in the winter, they "went amongst the Wends" to fetch their mother back to the Danish court. She had been sent away by their father after the death of the Swedish king Eric the Victorious in 995, and his marriage to Sigrid the Haughty, the Swedish queen mother. This wedlock formed a strong alliance between the successor to the throne of Sweden, Olof Skötkonung, and the rulers of Denmark, his in-laws.[22] Swedes were certainly among the allies in the English conquest. Another in-law to the Danish royal house, Eiríkr Hákonarson, was Trondejarl ( Earl
Earl
of Lade) and the co-ruler of Norway, with his brother Sweyn Haakonsson— Norway
Norway
having been under Danish sovereignty since the Battle of Svolder, in 999. Eiríkr's participation in the invasion left his son Hakon to rule Norway, with Sweyn. In the summer of 1015, Cnut's fleet set sail for England
England
with a Danish army of perhaps 10,000 in 200 longships.[23] Cnut
Cnut
was at the head of an array of Vikings
Vikings
from all over Scandinavia. The invasion force was to engage in often close and grisly warfare with the English for the next fourteen months. Practically all of the battles were fought against the eldest son of Æthelred, Edmund Ironside. Landing in Wessex[edit] According to the Peterborough Chronicle
Peterborough Chronicle
manuscript, one of the major witnesses of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, early in September 1015 "[Cnut] came into Sandwich, and straightway sailed around Kent
Kent
to Wessex, until he came to the mouth of the Frome, and harried in Dorset and Wiltshire
Wiltshire
and Somerset",[24] beginning a campaign of an intensity not seen since the days of Alfred the Great.[21] A passage from Emma's Encomium provides a picture of Cnut's fleet:

[T]here were there so many kinds of shields, that you could have believed that troops of all nations were present. … Gold shone on the prows, silver also flashed on the variously shaped ships. … For who could look upon the lions of the foe, terrible with the brightness of gold, who upon the men of metal, menacing with golden face, … who upon the bulls on the ships threatening death, their horns shining with gold, without feeling any fear for the king of such a force? Furthermore, in this great expedition there was present no slave, no man freed from slavery, no low-born man, no man weakened by age; for all were noble, all strong with the might of mature age, all sufficiently fit for any type of fighting, all of such great fleetness, that they scorned the speed of horsemen. —  Encomium Emmae
Encomium Emmae
Reginae[25]

Wessex, long ruled by the dynasty of Alfred and Æthelred, submitted to Cnut
Cnut
late in 1015, as it had to his father two years earlier.[21] At this point Eadric Streona, the Ealdorman of Mercia, deserted Æthelred together with 40 ships and their crews and joined forces with Cnut.[26] Another defector was Thorkell the Tall, a Jomsviking chief who had fought against the Viking
Viking
invasion of Sweyn Forkbeard, with a pledge of allegiance to the English in 1012[21]—some explanation for this shift of allegiance may be found in a stanza of the Jómsvíkinga saga
Jómsvíkinga saga
that mentions two attacks against Jomsborg's mercenaries while they were in England, with a man known as Henninge, a brother of Thorkell, among their casualties.[27] If the Flateyjarbók
Flateyjarbók
is correct that this man was Cnut's childhood mentor, it explains his acceptance of his allegiance—with Jomvikings
Jomvikings
ultimately in the service of Jomsborg. The 40 ships Eadric came with, often thought to be of the Danelaw[27] were probably Thorkell's.[28] Advance into the North[edit] Early in 1016, the Vikings
Vikings
crossed the Thames
Thames
and harried Warwickshire, while Edmund Ironside's attempts at opposition seem to have come to nothing—the chronicler says the English army disbanded because the king and the citizenry of London were not present.[21] The mid-winter assault by Cnut
Cnut
devastated its way northwards across eastern Mercia. Another summons of the army brought the Englishmen together, and they were met this time by the king, although "it came to nothing as so often before", and Æthelred returned to London with fears of betrayal.[21] Edmund then went north to join Uhtred the Earl of Northumbria
Northumbria
and together they harried Staffordshire, Shropshire
Shropshire
and Cheshire
Cheshire
in western Mercia,[29] possibly targeting the estates of Eadric Streona. Cnut's occupation of Northumbria
Northumbria
meant Uhtred returned home to submit himself to Cnut,[30] who seems to have sent a Northumbrian rival, Thurbrand the Hold, to massacre Uhtred and his retinue. Eiríkr Hákonarson, most likely with another force of Scandinavians, came to support Cnut
Cnut
at this point,[31] and the veteran Norwegian jarl was put in charge of Northumbria. Prince Edmund remained in London, still unsubdued behind its walls, and was elected king after the death of Æthelred on 23 April 1016. Siege of London[edit]

Medieval illumination depicting Kings Edmund Ironside
Edmund Ironside
(left) and Cnut (right), from the Chronica Majora written and illustrated by Matthew Paris.

Cnut
Cnut
returned southward and the Danish army evidently divided, some dealing with Edmund, who had broken out of London before Cnut's encirclement of the city was complete and gone to gather an army in Wessex, the traditional heartland of the English monarchy—some besieging London—with the construction of dikes on the northern and southern flanks and a channel dug across the banks of the Thames
Thames
to the south of the city for the longships to cut off communications up-river. There was a battle fought at Penselwood
Penselwood
in Somerset—with a hill in Selwood Forest
Selwood Forest
as the likely location[29]—and a subsequent battle at Sherston, in Wiltshire, which was fought over two days but left neither side victorious.[32] Edmund was able to temporarily relieve London, driving the enemy away and defeating them after crossing the Thames
Thames
at Brentford.[29] Suffering heavy losses, he withdrew to Wessex
Wessex
to gather fresh troops, and the Danes again brought London under siege, but after another unsuccessful assault they withdrew into Kent
Kent
under attack by the English, with a battle fought at Otford. At this point Eadric Streona went over to King Edmund,[33] and Cnut
Cnut
set sail northwards across the Thames
Thames
estuary to Essex, and went from the landing of the ships up the River Orwell
River Orwell
to ravage Mercia.[29] London captured by treaty[edit] On 18 October 1016, the Danes were engaged by Edmund's army as they retired towards their ships, leading to the Battle of Assandun, fought at either Ashingdon, in south-east, or Ashdon, in north-west Essex. In the ensuing struggle, Eadric Streona, whose return to the English side had perhaps only been a ruse, withdrew his forces from the fray, bringing about a decisive English defeat.[34] Edmund fled westwards, and Cnut
Cnut
pursued him into Gloucestershire, with another battle probably fought near the Forest of Dean, for Edmund had an alliance with some of the Welsh.[29] On an island near Deerhurst, Cnut
Cnut
and Edmund, who had been wounded, met to negotiate terms of peace. It was agreed that all of England north of the Thames
Thames
was to be the domain of the Danish prince, while all to the south was kept by the English king, along with London. Accession to the reign of the entire realm was set to pass to Cnut upon Edmund's death. Edmund died on 30 November, within weeks of the arrangement. Some sources claim Edmund was murdered, although the circumstances of his death are unknown.[35] The West Saxons now accepted Cnut
Cnut
as king of all of England,[36] and he was crowned by Lyfing, Archbishop of Canterbury, in London in 1017.[37] King of England[edit] Cnut
Cnut
ruled England
England
for nearly two decades. The protection he lent against Viking
Viking
raiders—many of them under his command—restored the prosperity that had been increasingly impaired since the resumption of Viking
Viking
attacks in the 980s. In turn the English helped him to establish control over the majority of Scandinavia, too.[38] Consolidation and Danegeld[edit] A Danish King of England, Cnut
Cnut
was quick to eliminate any prospective challenge from the survivors of the mighty Wessex
Wessex
dynasty. The first year of his reign was marked by the executions of a number of English noblemen whom he considered suspect. Æthelred's son Eadwig
Eadwig
Ætheling fled from England
England
but was killed on Cnut's orders.[39] Edmund Ironside's sons likewise fled abroad. Æthelred's sons by Emma of Normandy
Normandy
went under the protection of their relatives in the Norman duchy. In July 1017, Cnut
Cnut
wed queen Emma, the widow of Æthelred and daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy. Later he was to proclaim Harthacnut, his son by Emma, to be his heir; while Svein Knutsson and Harold Harefoot, his two sons from his marriage to Ælfgifu of Northampton, his handfast wife, were kept on the sidelines in the running to the throne. In 1018, having collected a Danegeld
Danegeld
amounting to the colossal sum of £72,000 levied nationwide, with an additional £10,500 extracted from London, Cnut
Cnut
paid off his army and sent most of them home. He retained 40 ships and their crews as a standing force in England. An annual tax called heregeld (army payment) was collected through the same system Æthelred had instituted in 1012 to reward Scandinavians in his service.[40] Cnut
Cnut
built on the existing English trend for multiple shires to be grouped together under a single ealdorman, thusly dividing the country into four large administrative units whose geographical extent was based on the largest and most durable of the separate kingdoms that had preceded the unification of England. The officials responsible for these provinces were designated earls, a title of Scandinavian origin already in localised use in England, which now everywhere replaced that of ealdorman. Wessex
Wessex
was initially kept under Cnut's personal control, while Northumbria
Northumbria
went to Erik of Hlathir, East Anglia
East Anglia
to Thorkell the Tall, and Mercia
Mercia
remained in the hands of Eadric Streona.[41] This initial distribution of power was short-lived. The chronically treacherous Eadric was executed within a year of Cnut's accession.[39] Mercia
Mercia
passed to one of the leading families of the region, probably first to Leofwine, ealdorman of the Hwicce
Hwicce
under Æthelred, but certainly soon to his son Leofric.[42] In 1021 Thorkel also fell from favour and was outlawed. Following the death of Erik in the 1020s, he was succeeded as Earl of Northumbria by Siward, whose grandmother,[citation needed] Estrid (married to Úlfr Thorgilsson), was Cnut's sister. Bernicia, the northern part of Northumbria, was theoretically part of Erik and Siward's earldom, but throughout Cnut's reign it effectively remained under the control of the English dynasty based at Bamburgh, which had dominated the area at least since the early 10th century. They served as junior Earls of Bernicia
Bernicia
under the titular authority of the Earl
Earl
of Northumbria. By the 1030s Cnut's direct administration of Wessex
Wessex
had come to an end, with the establishment of an earldom under Godwin, an Englishman from a powerful Sussex
Sussex
family. In general, after initial reliance on his Scandinavian followers in the first years of his reign, Cnut
Cnut
allowed those Anglo-Saxon families of the existing English nobility who had earned his trust to assume rulership of his Earldoms. Affairs to the East[edit]

Coins of Cnut
Cnut
the Great, British Museum

At the Battle of Nesjar, in 1016, Olaf Haraldsson won the kingdom of Norway
Norway
from the Danes. It was at some time after Eirkr left for England, and on the death of Svein while retreating to Sweden, maybe intent on returning to Norway
Norway
with reinforcements, that Erikr's son Hakon went to join his father and support Cnut
Cnut
in England, too. Cnut's brother Harald may have been at Cnut's coronation, in 1016, returning to Denmark
Denmark
as its king, with part of the fleet, at some point thereafter. It is only certain, though, that there was an entry of his name, alongside Cnut's, in confraternity with Christ Church, Canterbury, in 1018.[43] This is not conclusive, though, for the entry may have been made in Harald's absence, perhaps by the hand of Cnut himself, which means that, while it is usually thought that Harald died in 1018, it is unsure whether he was still alive at this point.[43] Entry of his brother's name in the Canterbury
Canterbury
codex may have been Cnut's attempt to make his vengeance for Harald's murder good with the Church. This may have been just a gesture for a soul to be under the protection of God. There is evidence Cnut
Cnut
was in battle with pirates in 1018, with his destruction of the crews of thirty ships,[44] although it is unknown if this was off the English or Danish shores. He himself mentions troubles in his 1019 letter (to England, from Denmark), written as the King of England
England
and Denmark. These events can be seen, with plausibility, to be in connection with the death of Harald. Cnut
Cnut
says he dealt with dissenters to ensure Denmark
Denmark
was free to assist England:[45]

King Cnut
Cnut
greets in friendship his archbishop and his diocesan bishops and Earl
Earl
Thurkil and all his earls … ecclesiastic and lay, in England
England
… I inform you that I will be a gracious lord and a faithfull observer of God's rights and just secular law. (He exhorts his ealdormen to assist the bishops in the maintenance of) God's rights … and the benefit of the people. If anyone, ecclesiastic or layman, Dane or Englishman, is so presumptuous as to defy God's law and my royal authority or the secular laws, and he will not make amends and desist according to the direction of my bishops, I then pray, and also command, Earl
Earl
Thurkil, if he can, to cause the evil-doer to do right. And if he cannot, then it is my will that with the power of us both he shall destroy him in the land or drive him out of the land, whether he be of high or low rank. And it is my will that all the nation, ecclesiastical and lay, shall steadfastly observe Edgar's laws, which all men have chosen and sworn at Oxford. Since I did not spare my money, as long as hostility was threatening you, I with God's help have put an end to it. Then I was informed that greater danger was approaching us than we liked at all; and then I went myself with the men who accompanied me to Denmark, from where the greatest injury had come to us, and with God's help I have made it so that never henceforth shall hostility reach you from there as long as you support me rightly and my life lasts. Now I thank Almighty God for his help and his mercy, that I have settled the great dangers which were approaching us that we need fear no danger to us from there; but we may rekon on full help and deliverance, if we need it. — Cnut's letter of 1019[46]

Statesmanship[edit]

Coins of Cnut
Cnut
the Great, British Museum

Cnut
Cnut
was generally remembered as a wise and successful king of England, although this view may in part be attributable to his good treatment of the Church, keeper of the historic record. Accordingly, we hear of him, even today, as a religious man (see below), despite the fact that he was in an arguably sinful relationship, with two wives, and the harsh treatment he dealt his fellow Christian opponents. Under his reign, Cnut
Cnut
brought together the English and Danish kingdoms, and the people saw a golden age of dominance across Scandinavia, as well as within the British Isles.[47] His campaigns abroad meant the tables of Viking
Viking
supremacy were stacked in favour of the English, turning the prows of the longships towards Scandinavia. He reinstated the Laws of King Edgar to allow for the constitution of a Danelaw,[citation needed] and for the activity of Scandinavians at large. He also reinstituted the extant laws with a series of proclamations to assuage common grievances brought to his attention, including: On Inheritance
Inheritance
in case of Intestacy, and On Heriots and Reliefs.[citation needed] He also strengthened the currency, initiating a series of coins of equal weight to those being used in Denmark
Denmark
and other parts of Scandinavia.[citation needed] King of Denmark[edit] Harald II died in 1018, and Cnut
Cnut
went to Denmark
Denmark
to affirm his succession to the Danish crown as Cnut
Cnut
II, stating his intention to avert attacks against England
England
in a letter in 1019 (see above). It seems there were Danes in opposition to him, and an attack he carried out on the Wends
Wends
of Pomerania
Pomerania
may have had something to do with this. In this expedition, at least one of Cnut's Englishmen, Godwin, apparently won the king's trust after a night-time raid he personally led against a Wendish encampment.[citation needed] His hold on the Danish throne presumably stable, Cnut
Cnut
was back in England
England
in 1020. He appointed Ulf Jarl, the husband of his sister Estrid Svendsdatter, as regent of Denmark, further entrusting him with his young son by Queen Emma, Harthacnut, whom he had made the crown prince of his kingdom. The banishment of Thorkell the Tall
Thorkell the Tall
in 1021 may be seen in relation to the attack on the Wends. With the death of Olof Skötkonung in 1022, and the succession to the Swedish throne of his son Anund Jacob bringing Sweden into alliance with Norway, there was cause for a demonstration of Danish strength in the Baltic. Jomsborg, the legendary stronghold of the Jomsvikings (thought to be on an island off the coast of Pomerania), was probably the target of Cnut's expedition.[48] Successful, after this clear display of Cnut's intentions to dominate Scandinavian affairs, it seems that Thorkell reconciled with Cnut
Cnut
in 1023. When, in spite of this, the Norwegian king Olaf Haraldsson and Anund Jakob took advantage of Cnut's commitment to England
England
and began to launch attacks against Denmark, Ulf gave the Danish freemen cause to accept Harthacnut, still a child, as king. This was a ruse on Ulf's part since his role as caretaker of Harthacnut
Harthacnut
gave him the reign of the kingdom. Upon news of these events, Cnut
Cnut
set sail for Denmark
Denmark
to restore himself and to deal with Ulf, who then got back in line. In a battle known as the Battle of the Helgeå, Cnut
Cnut
and his men fought the Norwegians and Swedes at the mouth of the river Helgea, probably in 1026, and the apparent victory left Cnut
Cnut
as the dominant leader in Scandinavia. Ulf the usurper's realignment and participation in the battle did not, in the end, earn him Cnut's forgiveness.[citation needed] Some sources state that the brothers-in-law were playing chess at a banquet in Roskilde
Roskilde
when an argument arose between them, and the next day, Christmas
Christmas
1026, one of Cnut's housecarls killed the jarl with his blessing, in Trinity Church, the predecessor to Roskilde Cathedral.[citation needed] Journey to Rome[edit]

Coins of Cnut
Cnut
the Great, British Museum

His enemies in Scandinavia
Scandinavia
subdued, and apparently at his leisure, Cnut
Cnut
was able to accept an invitation to witness the accession of the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
Conrad II. He left his affairs in the north and went from Denmark
Denmark
to the coronation at Easter 1027 in Rome—a pilgrimage to the heart of Christendom
Christendom
being of considerable prestige for rulers of Europe in the Middle Ages. On the return journey he wrote his letter of 1027, like his letter of 1019, informing his subjects in England
England
of his intentions from abroad[49] and proclaiming himself "king of all England
England
and Denmark
Denmark
and the Norwegians and of some of the Swedes".[7] Consistent with his role as a Christian king, Cnut
Cnut
says he went to Rome
Rome
to repent for his sins, to pray for redemption and the security of his subjects, and to negotiate with the Pope for a reduction in the costs of the pallium for English archbishops,[50] and for a resolution to the competition between the archdioceses of Canterbury
Canterbury
and Hamburg-Bremen for superiority over the Danish dioceses. He also sought to improve the conditions for pilgrims, as well as merchants, on the road to Rome. In his own words:

… I spoke with the Emperor himself and the Lord Pope and the princes there about the needs of all people of my entire realm, both English and Danes, that a juster law and securer peace might be granted to them on the road to Rome
Rome
and that they should not be straitened by so many barriers along the road, and harassed by unjust tolls; and the Emperor agreed and likewise King Robert who governs most of these same toll gates. And all the magnates confirmed by edict that my people, both merchants, and the others who travel to make their devotions, might go to Rome
Rome
and return without being afflicted by barriers and toll collectors, in firm peace and secure in a just law. — Cnut's letter of 1027[51]

"Robert" in Cnut's text is probably a clerical error for Rudolph, the last ruler of an independent Kingdom of Burgundy. Hence, the solemn word of the Pope, the Emperor and Rudolph was given with the witness of four archbishops, twenty bishops, and "innumerable multitudes of dukes and nobles",[51] suggesting it was before the ceremonies were completed.[51] Cnut
Cnut
without doubt threw himself into his role with zest.[52] His image as a just Christian king, statesman and diplomat and crusader against unjustness, seems rooted in reality, as well as one he sought to project. A good illustration of his status within Europe is the fact that Cnut and the King of Burgundy went alongside the emperor in the imperial procession[53] and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him on the same pedestal.[54] Cnut
Cnut
and the emperor, in accord with various sources,[54] took to one another's company like brothers, for they were of a similar age. Conrad gave Cnut
Cnut
lands in the Mark of Schleswig—the land-bridge between the Scandinavian kingdoms and the continent—as a token of their treaty of friendship.[55] Centuries of conflict in this area between the Danes and the Germans led to construction of the Danevirke, from Schleswig, on the Schlei, an inlet of the Baltic Sea, to the North Sea. Cnut's visit to Rome
Rome
was a triumph. In the verse of Knútsdrápa, Sigvatr Þórðarson
Sigvatr Þórðarson
praises Cnut, his king, as being "dear to the Emperor, close to Peter".[56] In the days of Christendom, a king seen to be in favour with God could expect to be ruler over a happy kingdom.[56] He was surely in a stronger position, not only with the Church and the people, but also in the alliance with his southern rivals he was able to conclude his conflicts with his rivals in the north. His letter not only tells his countrymen of his achievements in Rome, but also of his ambitions within the Scandinavian world at his arrival home:

… I, as I wish to be made known to you, returning by the same route that I took out, am going to Denmark
Denmark
to arrange peace and a firm treaty, in the counsel of all the Danes, with those races and people who would have deprived us of life and rule if they could, but they could not, God destroying their strength. May he preserve us by his bounteous compassion in rule and honour and henceforth scatter and bring to nothing the power and might of all our enemies! And finally, when peace has been arranged with our surrounding peoples and all our kingdom here in the east has been properly ordered and pacified, so that we have no war to fear on any side or the hostility of individuals, I intend to come to England
England
as early this summer as I can to attend to the equipping of a fleet. — Cnut's letter of 1027[51]

Cnut
Cnut
was to return to Denmark
Denmark
from Rome, arrange for its security,[7] and afterwards sail to England. King of Norway
Norway
and part of Sweden[edit]

North Sea Empire
North Sea Empire
of Cnut
Cnut
the Great, c.1030

In his 1027 letter, Cnut
Cnut
refers to himself as king of "the Norwegians, and of some of the Swedes" — his victory over Swedes suggests Helgea to be the river in Uppland
Uppland
and not the one in eastern Scania
Scania
— while the king of Sweden appears to have been made a renegade.[57] Cnut
Cnut
also stated his intention of proceeding to Denmark
Denmark
to secure peace between the kingdoms of Scandinavia, which fits the account of John of Worcester
Worcester
that in 1027 Cnut
Cnut
heard some Norwegians were discontented and sent them sums of gold and silver to gain their support in his claim on the throne.[7] In 1028, after his return from Rome
Rome
through Denmark, Cnut
Cnut
set off from England
England
to Norway, and the city of Trondheim, with a fleet of fifty ships.[7][58] Olaf Haraldsson stood down, unable to put up any fight, as his nobles were against him for his tendency to flay their wives for sorcery.[59] Cnut
Cnut
was crowned king, now of England, Denmark
Denmark
and Norway
Norway
as well as part of Sweden.[22] He entrusted the Earldom of Lade to the former line of earls, in Håkon Eiriksson, with Eiríkr Hákonarson probably dead by this time.[60] Hakon was possibly the Earl of Northumbria after Erik as well.[61] Hakon, a member of a family with a long tradition of hostility towards the independent Norwegian kings, and a relative of Cnut's, was already in lordship over the Isles with the earldom of Worcester, possibly from 1016 to 1017. The sea-lanes through the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
and the Hebrides
Hebrides
led to Orkney
Orkney
and Norway, and were central to Cnut's ambitions for dominance of Scandinavia
Scandinavia
and the British Isles. Hakon was meant to be Cnut's lieutenant in this strategic chain, and the final component was his installation as the king's deputy in Norway, after the expulsion of Olaf Haraldsson in 1028. Unfortunately, he was drowned in a shipwreck in the Pentland Firth
Pentland Firth
(between the Orkneys and the mainland coast) either late 1029 or early 1030.[62] Upon the death of Hakon, Olaf Haraldsson returned to Norway, with Swedes in his army. He died at the hands of his own people, at the Battle of Stiklestad
Battle of Stiklestad
in 1030. Cnut's subsequent attempt to rule Norway without the key support of the Trondejarls, through Ælfgifu of Northampton, and his eldest son by her, Sweyn Knutsson, was not a success. The period is known as Aelfgifu's Time in Norway, with heavy taxation, a rebellion, and the restoration of the former Norwegian dynasty under Saint Olaf's illegitimate son Magnus the Good. Influence in the western sea-ways[edit] In 1014, while Cnut
Cnut
was preparing his re-invasion of England, the Battle of Clontarf
Battle of Clontarf
pitted an array of armies laid out on the fields before the walls of Dublin. Máel Mórda, king of Leinster, and Sigtrygg Silkbeard, ruler of the Norse-Gaelic kingdom of Dublin, had sent out emissaries to all the Viking
Viking
kingdoms to request assistance in their rebellion against Brian Bóruma, the High King of Ireland. Sigurd the Stout, the Earl
Earl
of Orkney, was offered command of all the Norse forces, while the High King had sought assistance from the Albanaich, who were led by Domhnall Mac Eiminn Mac Cainnich, Mormaer of Ce (Marr & Buchan).[citation needed] The Leinster-Norse alliance was defeated, and both commanders, Sigurd and Máel Mórda, were killed. Brian, his son, his grandson, and the Mormaer Domhnall were slain as well. Sigtrygg's alliance was broken, although he was left alive, and the high-kingship of Ireland
Ireland
went back to the Uí Néill, again under Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill.[18] There was a brief period of freedom in the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
zone for the Vikings
Vikings
of Dublin, with a political vacuum felt throughout the entire Western Maritime Zone of the North Atlantic Archipelago. Prominent among those who stood to fill the void was Cnut, "whose leadership of the Scandinavian world gave him a unique influence over the western colonies and whose control of their commercial arteries gave an economic edge to political domination".[63] Coinage struck by the king in Dublin, Silkbeard, bearing Cnut's quatrefoil type—in issue c. 1017–25—sporadically replacing the legend with one bearing his own name and styling him as ruler either 'of Dublin' or 'among the Irish' provides evidence of Cnut's influence.[64] Further evidence is the entry of one Sihtric dux in three of Cnut's charters.[65] In one of his verses, Cnut's court poet Sigvatr Þórðarson
Sigvatr Þórðarson
recounts that famous princes brought their heads to Cnut
Cnut
and bought peace.[citation needed] This verse mentions Olaf Haraldsson in the past tense, his death at the Battle of Stiklestad
Battle of Stiklestad
in 1030. It was therefore at some point after this and the consolidation of Norway that Cnut
Cnut
went to Scotland
Scotland
with an army,[66] and the navy in the Irish Sea,[67] in 1031, to receive, without bloodshed, the submission of three Scottish kings: Maelcolm, Maelbeth and Iehmarc.[68] One of these kings, Iehmarc, may be one Echmarcach mac Ragnaill, an Uí Ímair chieftain and the ruler of a sea-kingdom of the Irish Sea,[53] with Galloway
Galloway
among his domains. Furtherly, a Lausavísa attributable to the skald Óttarr svarti greets the ruler of the Danes, Irish, English and Island-dwellers[69]—use of Irish here being likely to mean the Gall Ghaedil kingdoms rather than the Gaelic kingdoms. It "brings to mind Sweyn Forkbeard's putative activities in the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
and Adam of Bremen's story of his stay with a rex Scothorum (? king of the Irish)[70] [&] can also be linked to… Iehmarc, who submitted in 1031 [&] could be relevant to Cnut's relations with the Irish".[67][clarification needed] Relations with the Church[edit]

Angels crown Cnut
Cnut
as he and Emma of Normandy[71] (Ælfgifu) present a large gold cross to Hyde Abbey
Hyde Abbey
in Winchester. From the Liber Vitae in the British Library.

Cnut's actions as a conqueror and his ruthless treatment of the overthrown dynasty had made him uneasy with the Church. He was already a Christian before he was king—being named Lambert at his baptism[72][73]—although the Christianization of Scandinavia
Scandinavia
was not at all complete. His open relationship with a concubine, Ælfgifu of Northampton, his handfast wife, whom he kept as his northern queen when he wed Emma of Normandy
Emma of Normandy
(confusingly also Ælfgifu in Old English), who was kept in the south with an estate in Exeter, was another conflict with church doctrine. In an effort to reconcile himself with his churchmen, Cnut
Cnut
repaired all the English churches and monasteries that were victims of Viking
Viking
plunder and refilled their coffers. He also built new churches and was an earnest patron of monastic communities. His homeland of Denmark
Denmark
was a Christian nation on the rise, and the desire to enhance the religion was still fresh. As an example, the first stone church recorded to have been built in Scandinavia
Scandinavia
was in Roskilde, c. 1027, and its patron was Cnut's sister Estrid.[74] It is difficult to ascertain whether Cnut's attitude towards the Church derived from deep religious devotion or was merely a means to reinforce his regime's hold on the people. There is evidence of respect for the pagan religion in his praise poetry, which he was happy enough for his skalds to embellish in Norse mythology, while other Viking
Viking
leaders were insistent on the rigid observation of the Christian line, like St Olaf.[75] Yet he also displays the desire for a respectable Christian nationhood within Europe. In 1018, some sources suggest he was at Canterbury
Canterbury
on the return of its Archbishop Lyfing from Rome, to receive letters of exhortation from the Pope.[76] If this chronology is correct, he probably went from Canterbury
Canterbury
to the Witan at Oxford, with Archbishop Wulfstan of York in attendance, to record the event.[77] His ecumenical gifts were widespread and often exuberant.[78] Commonly held land was given, along with exemption from taxes as well as relics. Christ Church was probably given rights at the important port of Sandwich as well as tax exemption, with confirmation in the placement of their charters on the altar,[77] while it got the relics of St Ælfheah,[79] at the displeasure of the people of London. Another see in the king's favour was Winchester, second only to the Canterbury
Canterbury
see in terms of wealth.[80] New Minster's Liber Vitae records Cnut
Cnut
as a benefactor of the monastery,[80] and the Winchester Cross, with 500 marks of silver and 30 marks of gold, as well as relics of various saints[81] was given to it. Old Minster was the recipient of a shrine for the relics of St Birinus
Birinus
and the probable confirmation of its privileges.[80] The monastery at Evesham, with its Abbot Ælfweard purportedly a relative of the king through Ælfgifu the Lady (probably Ælfgifu of Northampton, rather than Queen Emma, also known as Ælfgifu), got the relics of St Wigstan.[82] Such generosity towards his subjects, which his skalds called destroying treasure,[83] was popular with the English. Yet it is important to remember that not all Englishmen were in his favour, and the burden of taxation was widely felt.[84] His attitude towards London's see was clearly not benign. The monasteries at Ely and Glastonbury
Glastonbury
were apparently not on good terms either. Other gifts were also given to his neighbours. Among these was one to Chartres, of which its bishop wrote: "When we saw the gift that you sent us, we were amazed at your knowledge as well as your faith … since you, whom we had heard to be a pagan prince, we now know to be not only a Christian, but also a most generous donor to God's churches and servants".[80] He is known to have sent a psalter and sacramentary made in Peterborough
Peterborough
(famous for its illustrations) to Cologne,[85] and a book written in gold, among other gifts, to William the Great of Aquitaine.[85] This golden book was apparently to support Aquitanian claims of St Martial, patron saint of Aquitaine, as an apostle.[86] Of some consequence, its recipient was an avid artisan, scholar and devout Christian, and the Abbey of Saint-Martial was a great library and scriptorium, second only to the one at Cluny. It is likely that Cnut's gifts were well beyond anything we can now know.[85] Cnut's journey to Rome
Rome
in 1027 is another sign of his dedication to the Christian religion. It may be that he went to attend the coronation of Conrad II in order to improve relations between the two powers, yet he had previously made a vow to seek the favour of St Peter, the keeper of the keys to the heavenly kingdom.[87] While in Rome, Cnut
Cnut
made an agreement with the Pope to reduce the fees paid by the English archbishops to receive their pallium. He also arranged that travellers from his realm not be straightened by unjust tolls and that they should be safeguarded on their way to and from Rome. Some evidence exists for a second journey in 1030.[88] Death and succession[edit] Cnut
Cnut
died on 12 November 1035. In Denmark
Denmark
he was succeeded by Harthacnut, reigning as Cnut
Cnut
III, although with a war in Scandinavia against Magnus I of Norway, Harthacnut
Harthacnut
was "forsaken [by the English] because he was too long in Denmark",[89] and his mother Queen Emma, previously resident at Winchester
Winchester
with some of her son's housecarls, was made to flee to Bruges
Bruges
in Flanders, under pressure from supporters of Cnut's other son, after Svein, by Ælfgifu of Northampton: Harold Harefoot — regent in England
England
1035–37 — who went on to claim the English throne in 1037, reigning until his death in 1040. Eventual peace in Scandinavia
Scandinavia
left Harthacnut
Harthacnut
free to claim the throne himself in 1040 and to regain for his mother her place.[citation needed] He brought the crowns of Denmark
Denmark
and England
England
together again until his death in 1042. Denmark
Denmark
fell into a period of disorder with a power struggle between the pretender to the throne Sweyn Estridsson, son of Ulf, and the Norwegian king, until the death of Magnus in 1047.[citation needed] The inheritance of England
England
was briefly to return to its Anglo-Saxon lineage. The house of Wessex
Wessex
reigned again as Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor
was brought out of exile in Normandy
Normandy
and made a treaty with Harthacnut, his half-brother.[citation needed] As in his treaty with Magnus, it was decreed that the throne would go to Edward if Harthacnut
Harthacnut
died with no legitimate male heir. In 1042, Harthacnut
Harthacnut
died, and Edward was king. His reign secured Norman influence at Court thereafter, and the ambitions of its dukes finally found fruition in 1066 with William the Conqueror's invasion of England
England
and crowning, fifty years after Cnut was crowned in 1017. If the sons of Cnut
Cnut
had not died within a decade of his death, and if his only known daughter Cunigund, who was to marry Conrad II's son Henry III eight months after his death, had not died in Italy
Italy
before she became empress consort,[90] Cnut's reign might well have been the foundation for a complete political union between England
England
and Scandinavia, a North Sea Empire
North Sea Empire
with blood ties to the Holy Roman Empire.[91] Bones at Winchester[edit] Cnut
Cnut
died at Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury
in Dorset
Dorset
and was buried in the Old Minster, Winchester. With the events of 1066 the new regime of Normandy
Normandy
was keen to signal its arrival with an ambitious programme of grandiose cathedrals and castles throughout the High Middle Ages. Winchester Cathedral
Cathedral
was built on the old Anglo-Saxon site and the previous burials, including Cnut's, were set in mortuary chests there. During the English Civil War
English Civil War
in the 17th century, plundering Roundhead soldiers scattered the bones of Cnut
Cnut
on the floor and they were spread amongst the various other chests, notably those of William Rufus. After the restoration of the monarchy, the bones were collected and replaced in their chests, although somewhat out of order.[92] Marriages and children[edit]

1 – Ælfgifu of Northampton

Sweyn Knutsson, King of Norway Harold Harefoot, King of England

2 – Emma of Normandy

Harthacnut, King of Denmark
Denmark
and England Gunhilda of Denmark, wed Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor.

Family tree[edit]

v t e

Cnut
Cnut
the Great family tree

Gorm the Old

 

Thyra

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rollo

 

Poppa of Bayeux

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harald Bluetooth

 

Mieszko I of Poland

 

Doubravka of Bohemia

 

 

William I Longsword

 

Sprota

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweyn Forkbeard

 

Sigrid the Haughty

 

 

 

 

Gunnora

 

Richard I of Normandy[93]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ælfgifu of Northampton

 

Cnut
Cnut
the Great

 

Emma of Normandy[93]

 

Æthelred the Unready[93]

 

Ælfgifu of York[93]

 

 

 

 

Richard II of Normandy[93]

 

Judith of Brittany

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Svein Knutsson

 

Harold Harefoot

 

 

Gunhilda of Denmark

 

 

Alfred Ætheling[93]

 

Edmund Ironside[93]

 

Ealdgyth[93]

 

 

Robert I of Normandy

 

Herleva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gytha Thorkelsdóttir

 

Godwin, Earl
Earl
of Wessex

 

Harthacnut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edward the Exile[93]

 

Agatha[93]

 

 

William the Conqueror

 

Matilda of Flanders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweyn Godwinson

 

Harold Godwinson[93]

 

Tostig Godwinson

 

 

Edith of Wessex[93]

 

Edward the Confessor[93]

 

Edgar Ætheling[93]

 

 

 

 

Cristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gyrth, Gunhild, Ælfgifu, Leofwine & Wulfnoth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malcolm III of Scotland[93]

 

Margaret[93]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other children

 

Matilda of Scotland

 

Henry I of England

 

Notes:

Cnut's skalds[edit] The Old Norse
Old Norse
catalogue of skalds known as Skáldatal lists eight skalds who were active at Cnut's court. Four of them, namely Sigvatr Þórðarson, Óttarr svarti, Þórarinn loftunga and Hallvarðr háreksblesi, composed verses in honour of Cnut
Cnut
which have survived in some form, while no such thing is apparent from the four other skalds Bersi Torfuson, Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld (known from other works), Steinn Skaptason and Óðarkeptr (unknown). It was these skalds who first referred to his greatness with emphasis on his generosity to the church and military achievements. The principal works for Cnut
Cnut
are the three Knútsdrápur by Sigvatr Þórðarson, Óttarr svarti and Hallvarðr háreksblesi, and the Höfuðlausn and Tøgdrápa by Þórarinn loftunga. Cnut
Cnut
also features in two other contemporary skaldic poems, namely Þórðr Kolbeinsson's Eiríksdrápa and the anonymous Liðsmannaflokkr. Cnut's skalds emphasise the parallelism between Cnut's rule of his earthly kingdom and God's rule of Heaven.[94] This is particularly apparent in their refrains. Thus the refrain of Þórarinn's Höfuðlausn translates to " Cnut
Cnut
protects the land as the guardian of Byzantium [God] [does] Heaven" and the refrain of Hallvarðr's Knútsdrápa translates to " Cnut
Cnut
protects the land as the Lord of all [does] the splendid hall of the mountains [Heaven]".[95] Despite the Christian message, the poets also make use of traditional pagan references and this is particularly true of Hallvarðr. As an example, one of his half-stanzas translates to "The Freyr
Freyr
of the noise of weapons [warrior] has also cast under him Norway; the battle-server [warrior] diminishes the hunger of the valcyrie's hawks [ravens]."[96] The skald here refers to Cnut
Cnut
as " Freyr
Freyr
of battle", a kenning using the name of the pagan god Freyr. References of this sort were avoided by poets composing for the contemporary kings of Norway
Norway
but Cnut
Cnut
seems to have had a more relaxed attitude towards pagan literary allusions.[97] See also[edit]

North Sea
North Sea
Empire Viking
Viking
Age Raven banner

Notes[edit]

^ Cnut's mother is the subject of historical debate. Some sources identify as her Gunnhilda, others say she is apocryphal or that there is insufficient evidence to name her. According to Medieval chroniclers Thietmar of Merseburg
Thietmar of Merseburg
and Adam of Bremen, Cnut
Cnut
was the son of a Polish princess who was the daughter of Mieszko I of Poland
Mieszko I of Poland
and sister of Boleslaw I, her name may have been "Świętosława" (see: Sigrid Storråda): this has been linked to Cnut's use of Polish troops in England
England
and Cnut's sister's Anglicized Slavic name Santslaue. Encomiast, Encomium Emmae, ii. 2, p. 18; Thietmar, Chronicon, vii. 39, pp. 446–47; Trow, Cnut, p. 40. The Oxford DNB article on Cnut
Cnut
says her name is unknown. M. K. Lawson, Cnut, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2005 ^ Bolton, The Empire of Cnut
Cnut
the Great: Conquest and the Consolidation of Power in Northern Europe in the Early Eleventh Century (Leiden, 2009) ^ Modern languages: Danish: Knud den Store or Knud II, Norwegian: Knut den mektige, Swedish: Knut den Store. ^ CNUT (Canute) at Archontology.org. Retrieved 21 January 2016. ^ Graslund, B.,' Knut den store och sveariket: Slaget vid Helgea i ny belysning', Scandia, vol. 52 (1986), pp. 211–38. ^ Forte, et al., Viking
Viking
Empires, p. 196. ^ a b c d e Lawson, Cnut, p. 97. ^ Cantor, The Civilisation of the Middle Ages, 1995: 166. ^ Trow, Cnut, pp. 30–31. ^ Snorri, Heimskringla, The History of Olav Trygvason, ch. 34, p. 141 ^ Adam of Bremen, History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen, Book II, ch. 37; see also Book II, ch. 33, Scholion 25 ^ Snorri, Heimskringla, The History of Olav Trygvason, ch. 91, p. 184 ^ Trow, Cnut, p. 44. ^ Douglas, English Historical Documents, pp. 335–36 ^ Lawson, Cnut, p. 160. ^ Trow, Cnut, p. 92. ^ John, H., The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings, Penguin (1995), p. 122. ^ a b Ellis, Celt & Saxon, p. 182. ^ William of Malms., Gesta Regnum Anglorum, pp. 308–10 ^ a b c Sawyer, History of the Vikings, p. 171 ^ a b c d e f g Lawson, Cnut, p. 27 ^ a b c Lawson, Cnut, p. 49. ^ Trow, Cnut, p. ???. ^ Garmonsway, G.N. (ed. & trans.), The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Dent Dutton, 1972 & 1975, Peterborough
Peterborough
(E) text, s.a. 1015, p. 146. ^ Campbell, A. (ed. & trans.), Encomium Emmae
Encomium Emmae
Reginae, Camden 3rd Series vol. LXXII, 1949, pp. 19–21. ^ G. Jones, Vikings, p. 370 ^ a b Trow, Cnut, p. 57. ^ Lawson, Cnut, p. 161 ^ a b c d e Lawson, Cnut, p. 28. ^ Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, pp. 146–49. ^ Trow, Cnut, p. 59. ^ Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, pp. 148–50 ^ Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, pp. 150–51 ^ Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, pp. 151–53 ^ Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, pp. 152–53; Williams, A., Æthelred the Unready the Ill-Counselled King, Hambledon & London, 2003, pp. 146–47. ^ Frank Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd ed. Oxford: Clarendon, 1971, ISBN 9780198217169, p. 393. ^ Lawson, Cnut, 2011 ed., pp. 82, 121, 138 ^ Forte, Oram & Pedersen, Viking
Viking
Empires, p. 198 ^ a b Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, p. 154 ^ Lawson, Cnut, pp. 51–52, 163. ^ Lawson, Cnut, p. 83. ^ Lawson, Cnut, p.162 ^ a b Lawson, Cnut, p. 89. ^ Thietmar, Chronicon, vii. 7, pp. 502–03 ^ Lawson, Cnut, p. 90. ^ Trow, Cnut, pp. 168–69. ^ Forte, et al., Viking
Viking
Empires, p. 198 ^ Jones, Vikings, p.373 ^ Lawson, Cnut, pp. 65–66. ^ Lawson, Cnut, pp. 124–25. ^ a b c d Trow, Cnut, p. 193. ^ Lawson, Cnut, p. 125. ^ a b Forte, et al., Viking
Viking
Empires, p. 198. ^ a b Trow, Cnut, p. 189. ^ Lawson, Cnut, p. 104. ^ a b Trow, Cnut, p. 191. ^ Lawson, Cnut, pp. 95–98. ^ Trow, Cnut, p.197. ^ Adam of Bremen, Gesta Daenorum, ii.61, p. 120. ^ Lawson, Cnut, pp. ??[page needed] ^ Trow, Cnut, p. 197. ^ Forte, et al., Viking
Viking
Empires, pp. 196–97 ^ Forte, et al., Viking
Viking
Empires, p. 227. ^ Hudson, Knutr, pp. 323–25. ^ Hudson, Knutr, pp. 330–31. ^ Forte, et al., Viking
Viking
Empires, pp. 197–98. ^ a b Lawson, Cnut. p. 102. ^ Trow, Cnut, pp. 197–98. ^ Lausavisur, ed. Johson Al, pp. 269–70 ^ Lawson, Cnut. pp. 31–32. ^ Simon Keynes, ODNB. ^ Adam of Bremen, Gesta Daenorum, scholium 37, p. 112. ^ Lawson, Cnut, p. 121 ^ Olsen, Christianity & Churches, in Roesdahl & Wilson (eds) From Viking
Viking
to Crusader – The Scandinavians & Europe 800–1200 ^ Trow, Cnut, p.129 ^ Lawson, Cnut, P.86 ^ a b Lawson, Cnut, P.87 ^ Lawson, Cnut, pp. 139–47 ^ Lawson, Cnut, p.141 ^ a b c d Lawson, Cnut, p.142 ^ Lawson, Cnut, p.126 ^ Lawson, Cnut, p.143 ^ Trow, Cnut, p. 128. ^ Lawson, Cnut, p.147 ^ a b c Lawson, Cnut, p.146 ^ Lawson, Cnut, p.144 ^ Lawson, Cnut, p.145 ^ Trow, Cnut, p. 186 ^ The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle ^ Lawson, Cnut, pp. 98, 104–05 ^ Lawson, Cnut, p. 195. ^ "Photo of a sign posted in Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral
marking Cnut's mortuary chest, posted at the astoft.co.uk web site, retrieved 2009-07-25".  ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "KINGS OF WESSEX AND ENGLAND 802–1066" (PDF). The official website of The British Monarchy. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-08-24. Retrieved 2015-07-05.  ^ Lawson, Cnut, p. 126 ^ Frank 1999:116. ^ Frank 1999:120. ^ Frank 1999:121.

References[edit]

Adam of Bremen
Adam of Bremen
(1917), Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontifificum, or History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen. English translation by F. J. Tschan., Hamburg: Hahnuni  Campbell, Alistair, ed. (1998), Encomium Emmae
Encomium Emmae
Reginae, London: Cambridge University  Ellis, P. B. (1993), Celt & Saxon, Suffolk: St. Edmundsbury Press  Forte, A.,; et al. (2005), Viking
Viking
Empires (1st ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-82992-5  Frank, R. (1999), King Cnut
Cnut
in the verse of his skalds. In The Reign of Cnut, London: Leicester University Press, ISBN 0-7185-0205-1  Henry of Huntingdon (1853), The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon, comprising The History of England, From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the accession of Henry II. English translation by T.A.M. Forester, London: Henry, G. Bohn  Hudson, B. T. (1994), Knutr & Viking
Viking
Dublin, Scandinavian Studies  Jones, Gwyn (1984), A History of the Vikings
Vikings
(2nd ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-285139-X  Lawson, M. K. (2004), Cnut – England's Viking
Viking
King (2nd ed.), Stroud: Tempus, ISBN 0-7524-2964-7  Lawson, M. K. (2011). Cnut, England's Viking
Viking
King 1016-35 (2011 ed.). Stroud, UK: The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524 6069 7.  Olsen, O. (1992), Christianity & Churches. In From Viking
Viking
to Crusader – The Scandinavians & Europe 800–1200, Copenhagen: Nordic Council Of Ministers  Ranelagh, John O'Bernie (2001), A Short History of Ireland, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-46944-9  Sawyer, P. (1997), The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings
Vikings
(1st ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-820526-0  Snorri Sturluson
Snorri Sturluson
(1990), Heimskringla, or The Lives of the Norse Kings. English translation by Erling Monsen & A. H. Smith., Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., ISBN 0-486-26366-5  Swanton, Michael, ed. (1996), The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, New York: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-92129-5  Thietmar (1962) Chronik: Chronicon; Neu übertragen und erläutert von Werner Trillmich. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Trow, M. J. (2005), Cnut – Emperor of the North, Stroud: Sutton, ISBN 0-7509-3387-9  William of Malmesbury (1998), Gesta Regnum Anglorum. English translation by R.A.B. Mynors, Oxford: Clarendon Press 

Further reading[edit]

Barlow, Frank (1979) [1963]. The English Church, 1000–1066 (2nd ed.). London: Longman.  Bolton, Timothy (2009), The Empire of Cnut
Cnut
the Great: Conquest and the Consolidation of Power in Northern Europe in the Early Eleventh Century, The Northern World. North Europe and the Baltic c. 400–1700 A.D.: Peoples, Economies and Cultures, volume 40, Leiden: Brill, ISBN 978-90-04-16670-7, ISSN 1569-1462  Hudson, B. T. (1992). " Cnut
Cnut
and the Scottish Kings". The English Historical Review. 107 (423): 350–60. doi:10.1093/ehr/cvii.423.350.  Mack, Katharine (1984). "Changing Thegns: Cnut's Conquest and the English Aristocracy". Albion. 16.4 (4): 375–87. doi:10.2307/4049386. JSTOR 4049386.  Rumble, Alexander R., ed. (1994). The Reign of Cnut: King of England, Denmark
Denmark
and Norway. Studies in the early history of Britain. London: Leicester UP.  Stenton, Frank (1971) [1943]. Anglo-Saxon England
England
(3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cnut.

Wikisource
Wikisource
has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Canute.

Cnut
Cnut
3 at Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England Canute (Knud) The Great – From Viking
Viking
warrior to English king Vikingworld (Danish) – Canute the Great (Knud den Store) Time Team – Who was King Cnut? Northvegr (Scandinavian) – A History of the Vikings
Vikings
(Search) [permanent dead link] Images from the British Library's collections

Regnal titles

Preceded by Edmund Ironside King of England 1016–1035 Succeeded by Harold Harefoot

Preceded by Harald II King of Denmark 1018–1035 Succeeded by Harthacnut

Preceded by Olaf the Saint King of Norway 1028–1035 with Hákon Eiríksson (1028–1029) Sveinn Alfífuson (1030–1035) Succeeded by Magnus the Good

v t e

English monarchs

Anglo-Saxon England 927–1066

Æthelstan Edmund I Eadred Eadwig Edgar Edward the Martyr Æthelred the Unready Sweyn Edmund Ironside Cnut1 Harold Harefoot Harthacnut Edward the Confessor Harold Godwinson Edgar Ætheling

Kingdom of England 1066–1649

William I William II Henry I Stephen Matilda Henry II1 Henry the Young King Richard I John1 Henry III1 Edward I1 Edward II1 Edward III1 Richard II1 Henry IV1 Henry V1 Henry VI1 Edward IV1 Edward V1 Richard III1 Henry VII1 Henry VIII1 Edward VI1 Jane1 Mary I1 with Philip1 Elizabeth I1 James I2 Charles I2

Commonwealth of England, Scotland
Scotland
and Ireland 1653–1659

Oliver Cromwell3 Richard Cromwell3

Kingdom of England 1660–1707

Charles II2 James II2 William III and Mary II2 Anne2

1Also ruler of Ireland 2Also ruler of Scotland
Scotland
and Ireland 3Lord Protector

Debatable or disputed rulers are in italics.

v t e

Monarchs of Denmark

Early monarchs

c. 916 – 1412

(Harthacnut) Gorm the Old Harald Bluetooth Sweyn Forkbeard1 Harald II Cnut
Cnut
the Great1 Harthacanute1 Magnus the Good Sweyn II Estridsen Harald III Hen Canute the Saint Olaf I Hunger Eric Evergood Niels Eric the Memorable Eric Lamb Sweyn Grathe / Canute V / Valdemar the Great Canute VI Valdemar the Victorious / Valdemar the Young Eric Plough-tax Abel Christopher I Eric Klipping Eric Menved Christopher II / Eric Christoffersen Valdemar III Interregnum Valdemar Atterdag Olaf II Margrethe I2

Palatinate-Neumarkt

1397–1448

Eric of Pomerania2 Christopher of Bavaria2

Oldenburg

1448–1863

Christian I2 John2 Christian II2 Frederick I Christian III Frederick II Christian IV Frederick III Christian V Frederick IV Christian VI Frederick V Christian VII Frederick VI Christian VIII Frederick VII

Schleswig-Holstein- Sonderburg-Glücksburg

since 1863

Christian IX Frederick VIII Christian X3 Frederick IX Margrethe II

Italics indicates Danish monarchs who were also monarchs of Norway. 1 Also monarch of England. 2 Also monarch of Sweden. 3 Also monarch of Iceland.

v t e

Monarchs of Norway

I. Independent Norway

Foreign and non-royal rulers in italics, disputed monarchs in brackets

872–1387

Harald I Fairhair Eric I Bloodaxe Haakon I the Good Harald II Greycloak Harald Bluetooth
Harald Bluetooth
d & Haakon Sigurdsson
Haakon Sigurdsson
r Olaf I Tryggvason Sweyn Forkbeard
Sweyn Forkbeard
de & Eric Haakonsson
Eric Haakonsson
r & Sweyn Haakonsson
Sweyn Haakonsson
r Olaf II the Saint Cnut
Cnut
the Great de & Haakon Ericsson
Haakon Ericsson
r & Sweyn Knutsson r (Ælfgifu r) Magnus I the Good d Harald III Hardrada Magnus II Haraldsson Olaf III Kyrre Haakon Magnusson Magnus III Barefoot Olav Magnusson Eystein I Magnusson Sigurd I the Crusader Harald IV Gille Magnus IV the Blind Sigurd II Munn Inge I Haraldsson Eystein II Haraldsson (Magnus Haraldsson) Haakon II Broadshoulder Magnus V Erlingsson Sverre Sigurdsson Haakon III Sverresson (Guttorm Sigurdsson) Inge II Bårdsson Haakon IV Haakonsson (Haakon the Young) Magnus VI the Law-mender Eric II Magnusson Haakon V Magnusson Magnus VII Ericsson s Haakon VI Magnusson s Olaf IV Haakonsson d

Kalmar Union

1387–1523

Margaret ds Eric III ds Christopher ds Charles I s Christian I ds John ds Christian II ds

Denmark–Norway

1524–1814

Frederick I d Christian III d Frederick II d Christian IV d Frederick III d Christian V d Frederick IV d Christian VI d Frederick V d Christian VII d Frederick VI d

II. Independent Norway

Only 1814

Christian Frederick

Union with Sweden

1814–1905

Charles II s Charles III John s Oscar I s Charles IV s Oscar II s

III. Independent Norway

Since 1905

Haakon VII Olav V Harald V

r Regent d Also Danish monarch e Also English monarch s Also Swedish monarch

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 268401625 LCCN: n81097818 ISNI: 0000 0000 7832 8891 GND: 11856384X SELIBR: 212782 SUDOC: 032782136 BNF:

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