48 Facts About Cnut


Cnut sought to keep this power-base by uniting Danes and English under cultural bonds of wealth and custom.


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.


Harald Bluetooth, Gorm's son and Cnut's grandfather, was the Danish king at the time of the Christianization of Denmark; he became one of the first Scandinavian kings to accept Christianity.


Cnut had a fair complexion and a fine, thick head of hair.


Cnut's eyes were better than those of other men, being both more handsome and keener-sighted.


Cnut was likely part of his father's 1003 and 1004 campaigns in England, although the evidence is not firm.


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 in Kent.

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Cnut went to Harald and supposedly made the suggestion they might have a joint kingship, although this found no favour with his brother.


Cnut lent some Polish troops, likely to have been a pledge made to Cnut and his brother Harald when, in the winter, they "went amongst the Wends" to fetch their mother back to the Danish court.


Cnut 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.


Cnut was at the head of an array of Vikings from all over Scandinavia.


The mid-winter assault by Cnut devastated its way northwards across eastern Mercia.


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 had gone to gather an army in Wessex, the traditional heartland of the English monarchy.


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.


Edmund fled westwards, and 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.


Cnut retained 40 ships and their crews as a standing force in England.


Cnut built on the existing English trend for multiple shires to be grouped together under a single ealdorman, thus 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.


In general, after initial reliance on his Scandinavian followers in the first years of his reign, Cnut allowed those Anglo-Saxon families of the existing English nobility who had earned his trust to assume rulership of his Earldoms.


Cnut says he dealt with dissenters to ensure Denmark was free to assist England:.


King Cnut greets in friendship his archbishop and his diocesan bishops and Earl Thurkil and all his earls.


Under his reign, Cnut brought together the English and Danish kingdoms, and the Scandinavic and Saxon peoples saw a period of dominance across Scandinavia, as well as within the British Isles.


Cnut reinstated the Laws of King Edgar to allow for the constitution of a Danelaw, and for the activity of Scandinavians at large.


Cnut reinstituted the extant laws with a series of proclamations to assuage common grievances brought to his attention, including: On Inheritance in case of Intestacy, and On Heriots and Reliefs.


Cnut strengthened the currency, initiating a series of coins of equal weight to those being used in Denmark and other parts of Scandinavia.


Harald II died in 1018, and Cnut went to Denmark to affirm his succession to the Danish crown, stating his intention to avert attacks against England in a letter in 1019.

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Cnut's hold on the Danish throne presumably stable, Cnut was back in England in 1020.


Cnut 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 designated the heir of his kingdom.


Some sources state that the brothers-in-law were playing chess at a banquet in Roskilde when an argument arose between them, and the next day, Christmas 1026, one of Cnut's housecarls killed the jarl with his blessing, in Trinity Church, the predecessor to Roskilde Cathedral.


Cnut left his affairs in the north and went from Denmark to the coronation at Easter 1027, which would have been of considerable prestige for rulers of Europe in the Middle Ages.


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 Canterbury and Hamburg-Bremen for superiority over the Danish dioceses.


Cnut sought to improve the conditions for pilgrims, as well as merchants, on the road to Rome.


Cnut was surely in a stronger position, not only with the Church and the people, but in the alliance with his southern rivals he was able to conclude his conflicts with his rivals in the north.


Cnut was to return to Denmark from Rome, arrange for its security, and afterwards sail to England.


Cnut 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 for his claim to the throne.


In 1028, Cnut set off from England to Norway, and the city of Trondheim, with a fleet of fifty ships.


Cnut was crowned king, now of England, Denmark and Norway as well as part of Sweden.


Cnut entrusted the Earldom of Lade to the former line of earls, in Hakon Eiriksson, with Eirikr Hakonarson probably dead by this time.


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.


Cnut died at the hands of his own people, at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030.


In 1014, while Cnut was preparing his re-invasion of England, the Battle of Clontarf pitted an array of armies laid out on the fields before the walls of Dublin.


Cnut built new churches and was an earnest patron of monastic communities.


Cnut's homeland of Denmark was a Christian nation on the rise, and the desire to enhance the religion was still fresh.


Cnut is known to have sent a psalter and sacramentary made in Peterborough to Cologne, and a book written in gold, among other gifts, to William the Great of Aquitaine.


Cnut arranged that travellers from his realm not be straitened by unjust tolls and that they should be safeguarded on their way to and from Rome.


Cnut brought the crowns of Denmark and England together again until his death in 1042.

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Cnut's 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.


Winchester Cathedral was built on the old Anglo-Saxon site and the previous burials, including Cnut's, were set in mortuary chests there.


References of this sort were avoided by poets composing for the contemporary kings of Norway but Cnut seems to have had a more relaxed attitude towards pagan literary allusions.