King Cnut Canute 995-1035

King Cnut Canute 995 – 1035 CE

Canute (the anglicized form of his name) born 995, son of Svein Forkbeard King of Denmark. An effective leader with an ethos and system of government which would last the test of time. Find out more about British Kings and Queens here.

“Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings” – as Canute demonstrated at Bosham in West Sussex, that he could not, contrary to legends, turn back the tide.

King Canute

Ancient church on the shore at Bosham West Sussex

  • Cnut comes armed with a force of 20,000 in 200 long boats in 1015.
  • He battles with Edmund Ironside, Ethelred the Unready’s effective son is killed and Edmund’s rule ended in just 7 months.
  • West Saxons submitted to him in 1015,
  • He took a 2nd wife as well, Elfgifu of Northampton. She was the mother of Harold I (Harefoot.)
  • Malcolm of Scotland paid Cnut homage.
  •  He was also King of Denmark 1019-35 and Norway 1028-35.
King Canute

Canute’s daughter was buried in Bosham

Cnut was an effective and influential leader

  • divided England into territorial lordships, owing allegiance to the king, providing a unified system of government that would last until the Tudors.
  • Ended the practice of paying Danegeld, a tax payable by English kings to Danish lords, in return for their not ransacking England.
  • Canute stabilised the English coinage, introducing a unified system, with coins of equal weight to Scandinavian coins, thereby encouraging international trade.
  • On a pilgrimage to Rome he converted to Christianity and brought it to Scandanavia. It is a subject of debate as to whether this was a contrivance, a political device of expedience.

Canute died in 1035 and was buried in the Old Minster at Winchester.

Succession was again problematic and the dispute between his sons (Harold HAREFOOT and HARTHACNUT) enabled Godwin of Wessex to acquire the role of Kingmaker. Ruthless, cunning and extrovert he secures the throne for Edward the Confessor who despite repeated vows of celibacy married Godwin’s daughter. He was Godwin’s puppet monarch but more of that later…this was the start of Norman rule.

King Canute

King Canute was buries in Old Minster Winchester and his bones placed in a mortuary chest.

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