Cnut the Great (Old Norse: Knútr inn ríki; c. 995 – 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 and Norway; together often
referred to as the
North Sea Empire. Yet after the deaths of his heirs
within a decade of his own, and Norman conquest of
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 won the throne of
England in 1016 in the wake
of centuries of
Viking activity in northwestern Europe. His latter
accession to the Danish throne in 1018 brought the crowns of England
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
Cnut claimed the crown of
Trondheim in 1028.
The Swedish city
Sigtuna was held by
Cnut (he had coins struck there
that called him king, but there is no narrative record of his
England lent the Danes an important link to the maritime
zone between the islands of
Great Britain and Ireland, where Cnut,
like his father before him, had a strong interest and wielded much
influence among the Norse–Gaels. Cnut's possession of England's
dioceses and the continental
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 Church and
among the magnates of
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 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
Denmark and the Norwegians and of some of the Swedes". The
Anglo-Saxon kings used the title "king of the English".
ealles Engla landes cyning—"king of all England". Medieval historian
Norman Cantor called him "the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon
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
4 King of Denmark
4.1 Journey to Rome
5 King of
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
15 Further reading
16 External links
Birth and kingship
Cnut was a son of the Danish prince Sweyn Forkbeard, who was the son
and heir to King
Harald Bluetooth and thus came from a line of
Scandinavian rulers central to the unification of Denmark. Neither
the place nor the date of his birth are known.
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 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 report
Cnut's mother as having been a daughter of Mieszko I of Poland. Norse
sources of the High Middle Ages, most prominently
Snorri Sturluson, also give a Polish princess as Cnut's mother, whom
they call Gunhild and a daughter of Burislav, the king of
Vindland. 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. To complicate the matter,
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. 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 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, brother to Sigurd, Jarl of mythical
Jomsborg, and the legendary Joms, at their
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 was "of no great age" when he first went to war. It also
mentions a battle identifiable with Sweyn Forkbeard's invasion of
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
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 in 1013/14, it may
even suggest a birth date nearer 1000. There is a passage of the
Encomiast (as the author of the
Encomium Emmae is known) with a
reference to the force
Cnut led in his English conquest of 1015/16.
Here (see below) it says all the
Vikings were of "mature age" under
Cnut "the king".
A description of
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
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
England in summer 1013. It was the climax to a succession
Viking raids spread over a number of decades. Following their
landing in the Humber the kingdom fell to the
Vikings quickly, and
near the end of the year King Æthelred fled to Normandy, leaving
Sweyn Forkbeard in possession of England. In the winter, Forkbeard was
in the process of consolidating his kingship, with
Cnut left in charge
of the fleet and the base of the army at Gainsborough.
On the death of
Sweyn Forkbeard after a few months as king, on
Candlemas (Sunday 3 February 1014), Harald succeeded him as King
of Denmark, while the
Vikings and the people of the Danelaw
Cnut as king in England. However, the English
nobility took a different view, and the
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. Cnut
went to Harald and supposedly made the suggestion they might have a
joint kingship, although this found no favour with his brother.
Harald is thought to have offered
Cnut command of his forces for
another invasion of England, on the condition he did not continue to
press his claim. In any case,
Cnut succeeded in assembling a large
fleet with which to launch another invasion.
Conquest of England
This runestone, U 194, in memory of a
Viking known as Alli, says he
won Knútr's payment in England.
Among the allies of
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, likely to have been a pledge made to
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. Swedes were certainly among the allies in the English
conquest. Another in-law to the Danish royal house, Eiríkr
Hákonarson, was Trondejarl (
Earl of Lade) and the co-ruler of Norway,
with his brother Sweyn Haakonsson—
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
In the summer of 1015, Cnut's fleet set sail for
England with a Danish
army of perhaps 10,000 in 200 longships.
Cnut was at the head of
an array of
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
According to the
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
Wessex, until he came to the mouth of the Frome, and harried in Dorset
Wiltshire and Somerset", beginning a campaign of an intensity
not seen since the days of Alfred the Great. 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 Reginae
Wessex, long ruled by the dynasty of Alfred and Æthelred, submitted
Cnut late in 1015, as it had to his father two years earlier.
At this point Eadric Streona, the
Ealdorman of Mercia, deserted
Æthelred together with 40 ships and their crews and joined forces
with Cnut. Another defector was Thorkell the Tall, a Jomsviking
chief who had fought against the
Viking invasion of Sweyn Forkbeard,
with a pledge of allegiance to the English in 1012—some
explanation for this shift of allegiance may be found in a stanza of
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. If the
Flateyjarbók is correct that this man was Cnut's childhood mentor, it
explains his acceptance of his allegiance—with
in the service of Jomsborg. The 40 ships Eadric came with, often
thought to be of the Danelaw were probably Thorkell's.
Advance into the North
Early in 1016, the
Vikings crossed the
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. The
mid-winter assault by
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. Edmund then went north to join Uhtred the Earl
Northumbria and together they harried Staffordshire,
Cheshire in western Mercia, possibly targeting the estates of
Eadric Streona. Cnut's occupation of
Northumbria meant Uhtred returned
home to submit himself to Cnut, 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 at this point, 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
Medieval illumination depicting Kings
Edmund Ironside (left) and Cnut
(right), from the Chronica Majora written and illustrated by Matthew
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
the south of the city for the longships to cut off communications
There was a battle fought at
Penselwood in Somerset—with a hill in
Selwood Forest as the likely location—and a subsequent battle at
Sherston, in Wiltshire, which was fought over two days but left
neither side victorious.
Edmund was able to temporarily relieve London, driving the enemy away
and defeating them after crossing the
Thames at Brentford.
Suffering heavy losses, he withdrew to
Wessex to gather fresh troops,
and the Danes again brought London under siege, but after another
unsuccessful assault they withdrew into
Kent under attack by the
English, with a battle fought at Otford. At this point Eadric Streona
went over to King Edmund, and
Cnut set sail northwards across the
Thames estuary to Essex, and went from the landing of the ships up the
River Orwell to ravage Mercia.
London captured by treaty
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. Edmund fled westwards,
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.
On an island near Deerhurst,
Cnut and Edmund, who had been wounded,
met to negotiate terms of peace. It was agreed that all of England
north of the
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. The West Saxons now
Cnut as king of all of England, and he was crowned by
Lyfing, Archbishop of Canterbury, in London in 1017.
King of England
England for nearly two decades. The protection he lent
Viking raiders—many of them under his command—restored the
prosperity that had been increasingly impaired since the resumption of
Viking attacks in the 980s. In turn the English helped him to
establish control over the majority of Scandinavia, too.
Consolidation and Danegeld
A Danish King of England,
Cnut was quick to eliminate any prospective
challenge from the survivors of the mighty
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
England but was killed on Cnut's orders. Edmund
Ironside's sons likewise fled abroad. Æthelred's sons by Emma of
Normandy went under the protection of their relatives in the Norman
In July 1017,
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
In 1018, having collected a
Danegeld amounting to the colossal sum of
£72,000 levied nationwide, with an additional £10,500 extracted from
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
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 was initially kept under Cnut's personal
Northumbria went to Erik of Hlathir,
East Anglia to
Thorkell the Tall, and
Mercia remained in the hands of Eadric
This initial distribution of power was short-lived. The chronically
treacherous Eadric was executed within a year of Cnut's accession.
Mercia passed to one of the leading families of the region, probably
first to Leofwine, ealdorman of the
Hwicce under Æthelred, but
certainly soon to his son Leofric. 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, 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 under the
titular authority of the
Earl of Northumbria. By the 1030s Cnut's
direct administration of
Wessex had come to an end, with the
establishment of an earldom under Godwin, an Englishman from a
Sussex family. In general, after initial reliance on his
Scandinavian followers in the first years of his reign,
those Anglo-Saxon families of the existing English nobility who had
earned his trust to assume rulership of his Earldoms.
Affairs to the East
Cnut the Great, British Museum
At the Battle of Nesjar, in 1016, Olaf Haraldsson won the kingdom of
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 with reinforcements, that Erikr's son
Hakon went to join his father and support
Cnut in England, too.
Cnut's brother Harald may have been at Cnut's coronation, in 1016,
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. 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. Entry of his brother's name in the
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 was in battle
with pirates in 1018, with his destruction of the crews of thirty
ships, 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 and Denmark.
These events can be seen, with plausibility, to be in connection with
the death of Harald.
Cnut says he dealt with dissenters to ensure
Denmark was free to assist England:
Cnut greets in friendship his archbishop and his diocesan bishops
Earl Thurkil and all his earls … ecclesiastic and lay, in
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,
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
Cnut the Great, British Museum
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
Under his reign,
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. His campaigns
abroad meant the tables of
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, 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,
Inheritance in case of Intestacy, and On Heriots and
Reliefs. He also strengthened the currency,
initiating a series of coins of equal weight to those being used in
Denmark and other parts of Scandinavia.
King of Denmark
Harald II died in 1018, and
Cnut went to
Denmark to affirm his
succession to the Danish crown as
Cnut II, stating his intention to
avert attacks against
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
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.
His hold on the Danish throne presumably stable,
Cnut was back in
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. Successful, after this clear display of Cnut's
intentions to dominate Scandinavian affairs, it seems that Thorkell
Cnut in 1023.
When, in spite of this, the Norwegian king Olaf Haraldsson and Anund
Jakob took advantage of Cnut's commitment to
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 gave him the reign of
the kingdom. Upon news of these events,
Cnut set sail for
restore himself and to deal with Ulf, who then got back in line. In a
battle known as the Battle of the Helgeå,
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 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 when an argument arose between them, and the
Christmas 1026, one of Cnut's housecarls killed the jarl
with his blessing, in Trinity Church, the predecessor to Roskilde
Journey to Rome
Cnut the Great, British Museum
His enemies in
Scandinavia subdued, and apparently at his leisure,
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
Denmark to the coronation at Easter 1027 in Rome—a
pilgrimage to the heart of
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
England of his intentions from abroad and proclaiming
himself "king of all
Denmark and the Norwegians and of
some of the Swedes".
Consistent with his role as a Christian king,
Cnut says he went to
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, and for a resolution
to the competition between the archdioceses of
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 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 and return without being afflicted
by barriers and toll collectors, in firm peace and secure in a just
— Cnut's letter of 1027
"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", suggesting it was before the ceremonies were
Cnut without doubt threw himself into his role with
zest. 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 and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him on the same
Cnut and the emperor, in accord with various
sources, took to one another's company like brothers, for they
were of a similar age. Conrad gave
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. 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 was a triumph. In the verse of Knútsdrápa,
Sigvatr Þórðarson praises Cnut, his king, as being "dear to the
Emperor, close to Peter". In the days of Christendom, a king seen
to be in favour with God could expect to be ruler over a happy
kingdom. 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
… I, as I wish to be made known to you, returning by the same
route that I took out, am going to
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 as early this summer as I can
to attend to the equipping of a fleet.
— Cnut's letter of 1027
Cnut was to return to
Denmark from Rome, arrange for its security,
and afterwards sail to England.
Norway and part of Sweden
North Sea Empire
North Sea Empire of
Cnut the Great, c.1030
In his 1027 letter,
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 and not the one in eastern
Scania — while
the king of Sweden appears to have been made a renegade.
stated his intention of proceeding to
Denmark to secure peace between
the kingdoms of Scandinavia, which fits the account of John of
Worcester that in 1027
Cnut heard some Norwegians were discontented
and sent them sums of gold and silver to gain their support in his
claim on the throne.
In 1028, after his return from
Rome through Denmark,
Cnut set off from
England to Norway, and the city of Trondheim, with a fleet of fifty
ships. Olaf Haraldsson stood down, unable to put up any fight,
as his nobles were against him for his tendency to flay their wives
Cnut was crowned king, now of England,
Norway as well as part of Sweden. He entrusted the Earldom of Lade
to the former line of earls, in Håkon Eiriksson, with Eiríkr
Hákonarson probably dead by this time. Hakon was possibly the
Earl of Northumbria after Erik as well.
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 and the
Hebrides led to
Orkney and Norway, and were central to Cnut's
ambitions for dominance of
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 (between the Orkneys and
the mainland coast) either late 1029 or early 1030.
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
In 1014, while
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 kingdoms to request assistance
in their rebellion against Brian Bóruma, the High King of Ireland.
Sigurd the Stout, the
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). 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 went back to the Uí
Néill, again under Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill.
There was a brief period of freedom in the
Irish Sea zone for the
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". 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. Further evidence is the
entry of one Sihtric dux in three of Cnut's charters.
In one of his verses, Cnut's court poet
Sigvatr Þórðarson recounts
that famous princes brought their heads to
Cnut and bought
peace. 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
Cnut went to
Scotland with an army, and the navy in the Irish
Sea, in 1031, to receive, without bloodshed, the submission of
three Scottish kings: Maelcolm, Maelbeth and Iehmarc. 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, with
Galloway among his domains.
Lausavísa attributable to the skald Óttarr svarti
greets the ruler of the Danes, Irish, English and
Island-dwellers—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 and Adam of
Bremen's story of his stay with a rex Scothorum (? king of the
Irish) [&] can also be linked to… Iehmarc, who submitted in
1031 [&] could be relevant to Cnut's relations with the
Relations with the Church
Cnut as he and Emma of Normandy (Ælfgifu) present a
large gold cross to
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—although the Christianization of
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 repaired all the English churches and
monasteries that were victims of
Viking plunder and refilled their
coffers. He also built new churches and was an earnest patron of
monastic communities. His homeland of
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 was in Roskilde, c. 1027, and its patron was Cnut's sister
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
Viking leaders were insistent on the rigid observation of the
Christian line, like St Olaf. Yet he also displays the desire for
a respectable Christian nationhood within Europe. In 1018, some
sources suggest he was at
Canterbury on the return of its Archbishop
Lyfing from Rome, to receive letters of exhortation from the Pope.
If this chronology is correct, he probably went from
Canterbury to the
Witan at Oxford, with Archbishop Wulfstan of York in attendance, to
record the event.
His ecumenical gifts were widespread and often exuberant. 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, while it got the relics
of St Ælfheah, at the displeasure of the people of London.
Another see in the king's favour was Winchester, second only to the
Canterbury see in terms of wealth. New Minster's Liber Vitae
Cnut as a benefactor of the monastery, and the Winchester
Cross, with 500 marks of silver and 30 marks of gold, as well as
relics of various saints was given to it. Old Minster was the
recipient of a shrine for the relics of St
Birinus and the probable
confirmation of its privileges. 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. Such
generosity towards his subjects, which his skalds called destroying
treasure, 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. His attitude towards London's see was
clearly not benign. The monasteries at Ely and
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". He is known to have sent a psalter
and sacramentary made in
Peterborough (famous for its illustrations)
to Cologne, and a book written in gold, among other gifts, to
William the Great of Aquitaine. This golden book was apparently to
support Aquitanian claims of St Martial, patron saint of Aquitaine, as
an apostle. 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
Cnut's journey to
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. While in
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.
Death and succession
Cnut died on 12 November 1035. In
Denmark he was succeeded by
Harthacnut, reigning as
Cnut III, although with a war in Scandinavia
against Magnus I of Norway,
Harthacnut was "forsaken [by the English]
because he was too long in Denmark", and his mother Queen Emma,
previously resident at
Winchester with some of her son's housecarls,
was made to flee to
Bruges in Flanders, under pressure from supporters
of Cnut's other son, after Svein, by Ælfgifu of Northampton: Harold
Harefoot — regent in
England 1035–37 — who went on to claim the
English throne in 1037, reigning until his death in 1040. Eventual
Harthacnut free to claim the throne himself
in 1040 and to regain for his mother her place. He
brought the crowns of
England together again until his
death in 1042.
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. The inheritance of
England was briefly to
return to its Anglo-Saxon lineage.
The house of
Wessex reigned again as
Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor was brought
out of exile in
Normandy and made a treaty with Harthacnut, his
half-brother. As in his treaty with Magnus, it was
decreed that the throne would go to Edward if
Harthacnut died with no
legitimate male heir. In 1042,
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 and crowning, fifty years after Cnut
was crowned in 1017.
If the sons of
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
she became empress consort, Cnut's reign might well have been the
foundation for a complete political union between
North Sea Empire
North Sea Empire with blood ties to the Holy Roman
Bones at Winchester
Cnut died at
Dorset and was buried in the Old Minster,
Winchester. With the events of 1066 the new regime of
keen to signal its arrival with an ambitious programme of grandiose
cathedrals and castles throughout the High Middle Ages. Winchester
Cathedral was built on the old Anglo-Saxon site and the previous
burials, including Cnut's, were set in mortuary chests there. During
English Civil War
English Civil War in the 17th century, plundering Roundhead
soldiers scattered the bones of
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.
Marriages and children
1 – Ælfgifu of Northampton
Sweyn Knutsson, King of Norway
Harold Harefoot, King of England
2 – Emma of Normandy
Harthacnut, King of
Denmark and England
Gunhilda of Denmark, wed Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor.
Cnut the Great family tree
Gorm the Old
Poppa of Bayeux
Mieszko I of Poland
William I Longsword
Sigrid the Haughty
Richard I of Normandy
Ælfgifu of Northampton
Cnut the Great
Emma of Normandy
Æthelred the Unready
Ælfgifu of York
Richard II of Normandy
Judith of Brittany
Gunhilda of Denmark
Robert I of Normandy
Earl of Wessex
Edward the Exile
William the Conqueror
Matilda of Flanders
Edith of Wessex
Edward the Confessor
Gyrth, Gunhild, Ælfgifu, Leofwine & Wulfnoth
Malcolm III of Scotland
Matilda of Scotland
Henry I of England
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 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
Cnut are the three Knútsdrápur by Sigvatr Þórðarson,
Óttarr svarti and Hallvarðr háreksblesi, and the Höfuðlausn and
Tøgdrápa by Þórarinn loftunga.
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. This is particularly
apparent in their refrains. Thus the refrain of Þórarinn's
Höfuðlausn translates to "
Cnut protects the land as the guardian of
Byzantium [God] [does] Heaven" and the refrain of Hallvarðr's
Knútsdrápa translates to "
Cnut protects the land as the Lord of all
[does] the splendid hall of the mountains [Heaven]". 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 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]."
The skald here refers to
Cnut as "
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
to have had a more relaxed attitude towards pagan literary
North Sea Empire
^ 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
Thietmar of Merseburg
Thietmar of Merseburg and Adam of Bremen,
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
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
her name is unknown. M. K. Lawson, Cnut, Oxford Dictionary of National
^ Bolton, The Empire of
Cnut the Great: Conquest and the Consolidation
of Power in Northern Europe in the Early Eleventh Century (Leiden,
^ 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 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 (E) text, s.a. 1015, p. 146.
^ Campbell, A. (ed. & trans.),
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.
^ 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 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 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 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 Empires, pp. 196–97
^ Forte, et al.,
Viking Empires, p. 227.
^ Hudson, Knutr, pp. 323–25.
^ Hudson, Knutr, pp. 330–31.
^ Forte, et al.,
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)
Viking to Crusader – The Scandinavians & Europe
^ 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 marking Cnut's
mortuary chest, posted at the astoft.co.uk web site, retrieved
^ 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
^ Lawson, Cnut, p. 126
^ Frank 1999:116.
^ Frank 1999:120.
^ Frank 1999:121.
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 Reginae, London:
Ellis, P. B. (1993), Celt & Saxon, Suffolk: St. Edmundsbury
Forte, A.,; et al. (2005),
Viking Empires (1st ed.), Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-82992-5
Frank, R. (1999), King
Cnut in the verse of his skalds. In The Reign
of Cnut, London: Leicester University Press,
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 Dublin, Scandinavian
Jones, Gwyn (1984), A History of the
Vikings (2nd ed.), Oxford: Oxford
University Press, ISBN 0-19-285139-X
Lawson, M. K. (2004), Cnut – England's
Viking King (2nd ed.),
Stroud: Tempus, ISBN 0-7524-2964-7
Lawson, M. K. (2011). Cnut, England's
Viking King 1016-35 (2011 ed.).
Stroud, UK: The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524 6069 7.
Olsen, O. (1992), Christianity & Churches. In From
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
ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-820526-0
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.,
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
Barlow, Frank (1979) . The English Church, 1000–1066 (2nd
ed.). London: Longman.
Bolton, Timothy (2009), The Empire of
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 and the Scottish Kings". The English
Historical Review. 107 (423): 350–60.
Mack, Katharine (1984). "Changing Thegns: Cnut's Conquest and the
English Aristocracy". Albion. 16.4 (4): 375–87. doi:10.2307/4049386.
Rumble, Alexander R., ed. (1994). The Reign of Cnut: King of England,
Denmark and Norway. Studies in the early history of Britain. London:
Stenton, Frank (1971) . Anglo-Saxon
England (3rd ed.). Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cnut.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Cnut 3 at Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England
Canute (Knud) The Great – From
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
[permanent dead link] Images from the British Library's collections
King of England
King of Denmark
Olaf the Saint
King of Norway
with Hákon Eiríksson (1028–1029)
Sveinn Alfífuson (1030–1035)
Magnus the Good
Edward the Martyr
Æthelred the Unready
Edward the Confessor
Kingdom of England
Henry the Young King
Mary I1 with Philip1
Scotland and Ireland
Kingdom of England
William III and Mary II2
1Also ruler of Ireland
2Also ruler of
Scotland and Ireland
Debatable or disputed rulers are in italics.
Monarchs of Denmark
c. 916 – 1412
Gorm the Old
Cnut the Great1
Magnus the Good
Sweyn II Estridsen
Harald III Hen
Canute the Saint
Olaf I Hunger
Eric the Memorable
Sweyn Grathe / Canute V / Valdemar the Great
Valdemar the Victorious / Valdemar the Young
Christopher II / Eric Christoffersen
Eric of Pomerania2
Christopher of Bavaria2
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.
Monarchs of Norway
I. Independent Norway
Foreign and non-royal
rulers in italics, disputed
monarchs in brackets
Harald I Fairhair
Eric I Bloodaxe
Haakon I the Good
Harald II Greycloak
Harald Bluetooth d &
Haakon Sigurdsson r
Olaf I Tryggvason
Sweyn Forkbeard de &
Eric Haakonsson r &
Sweyn Haakonsson r
Olaf II the Saint
Cnut the Great de &
Haakon Ericsson r & Sweyn Knutsson r
Magnus I the Good d
Harald III Hardrada
Magnus II Haraldsson
Olaf III Kyrre
Magnus III Barefoot
Eystein I Magnusson
Sigurd I the Crusader
Harald IV Gille
Magnus IV the Blind
Sigurd II Munn
Inge I Haraldsson
Eystein II Haraldsson
Haakon II Broadshoulder
Magnus V Erlingsson
Haakon III Sverresson
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
Eric III ds
Charles I s
Christian I ds
Christian II ds
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
Union with Sweden
Charles II s
Charles III John s
Oscar I s
Charles IV s
Oscar II s
III. Independent Norway
d Also Danish monarch
e Also English monarch
s Also Swedish monarch
ISNI: 0000 0000 7832 8891