viking warrior who created a North Sea empire consisting of
Britain, Denmark, Norway and a part of Sweden.
the son of Svend Tveskæg (Sweyn Forkbeard). His grandfather was
Harald Bluetooth and his
was Gorm the Old.
Knud´s first years as the King of England a lot needed to be
done. The country was divided into four earldoms after the old
kingdoms. Canute kept Wessex, Torkild Høje (Thorkild the Tall)
was given East Anglia, the Norwegian Erik Jarl – the powerful
family of the Trøndejarl´s was given Northumbria and the British
renegade the ealderman Eadric Streona who time after time had
changed side was given Mercia. Already in year 1017 Canute had him
killed and ”rightly so” a British source states. Also other
British magnates were killed - among them Æthelred´s (Ethelred´s)
son Eadwig from his first marriage and some got banished. The same
year Canute married Ethelred´s widow Emma, but her two sons
stayed in the Normandy. By this, relations were established with
the old English royal house. They had two children – Hardeknud
(Hardicanute) and Gundhild – even though he also had another
woman, Elfgifu of Northampton – with whom he had two sons –
Harald and Svend (Sweyn).
big army was still in Britain, but in year 1018 the situation was
so stable that it could be dissolved after having paid a tax of a
unprecedented size. 72000 pounds of silver not counting 10500
pounds from London alone. This was the famous Thinglid. But 40
vessels stayed with Canute. Canute who might have been regarded as
the viking conqueror by many people based his power on loyal,
distinguishedly equipped Scandinavian warriors who were under
his time Britain also got a new aristocracy who owed him a debt of
gratitude for their prosperity. Men of many old families died in
heroic fights fought since year 991; they were killed by the kings
because of suspicion of betrayal or exile. Canute pursued the main
structure in the British Royal power, but he had other men than
had, and in connection with these changes redistributions
of land and changes in the government of the empire were
year 1018 King Harald II of Denmark died and in the winter
1019-1020 Canute went to Denmark to obtain power after his brother
while the rule in Britain rested with Thorkild Høje (Thorkild the
Tall). Canute sent a message to the British people from Denmark.
It was probably meant to be an oral statement to the empire in
which he gave an account of his results, and that he had protected
Britain against threats from Denmark and he underlined his role as
Christian King of Britain and his authority there. It appears that
Thorkild Høje (Thorkild the Tall) later became Canute´s
representative in Denmark for the little Hardeknud. In the years
from 1020 to 1028 Canute started laying claim to Norway and in
year 1028 he conquered the country from Olav den Hellige (Olav the
Holy). Soon after it was ruled by Ælfgifu and her son Svend
(Sweyn). In year 1027 the Scottish King submitted and in the
message to the British people which Canute had sent during his
trip to Rome in year 1027 he called himself King of Britain.
Norway and a part of Sweden.
In Rome he attended the coronation of the German Kaiser Konrad and
he was highly honoured.
He also entered into practical agreements to benefit the British
people and Scandinavians and arranged a match with
son Henrik (Henry) who later got Kaiser and his daughter Gundhild.
They married in 1036, but she died a few years
and foremost Canute became British King. When problems arose he
went to Scandinavia in order to interfere with new viking attacks
against Britain. He created peace in the country which had been
ravaged for many years, and there were no signs of internal
revolts either. Creating peace costed him money to his thinglid,
but it was probably considered to be more cheap and pleasant than
plunder and payment of danegeld to ravaging enemies.
attached great importance to the old British laws and he was a
great benefactor of the church. In many respects he almost became
British and with a lot of publicity he apologized for old viking
the martyrdom in year 869 of King Edmund of East Anglia, he built
a large church to the convent in Bury
St. Edmunds. For the murder
of the Archbishop of Canterbury in year 1012 he let the corpse
transfer from London to Canterbury with
all due ceremony. In order to retrieve the bloody battle at
Assandun in year 1016, he built a church on the battlefield. Many
churches were given large gifts and the handing over of one of
them – a golden altar cross to New Minster in Winchester - was
portrayed in the memorial book of the church about year 1031.
the Great and his queen Emma gave a golden altar cross to
the church New Minster in Winchester. Canute´s right hand
held the cross and his left hand held the sword. The names
of the King and Queen were written above their heads. Above
the head of the Queen the name Ælfgifu was written which
was her British name. Drawing on parchment of friends and
benefactors – Liber Vitae – in the memorial book of the
church was probably started in year 1031.
This is the only contemporary picture of Canute.
were often in Winchester and
when he died in year 1035 – about 40 years old, he was buried in
main churches of the city, Old Minster. The very young viking King
succeeded in changing his image to a British King and
perform the duties of his office in an excellent way.
the stability was over, and
the large empire immediately broke
was in Denmark
in spite of a strong resistance from Emma and other people,
became the King of England. Alfred – one of Emma´s two sons who
she had with Ethelred came from the Normandy but was killed and
Emma had to fly. Harald died in year 1040.
(Hardicanute) and Emma returned to Britain where he collected
enormous taxes for the 60 vessels in his train. He died in year
1042. ”He held his glas in his hand and suddenly fell on the
floor with terrible convulsions” the chronicle says. Another
source says ”Throughout his entire reign he did not do anything
worthy of a king”.
1066 Harold Godwinsson was elected King. Other people had got
their eyes on the throne
as well, and in
Harald Hårderåde (Harald
Britain. Just like Svend Tveskæg
Forkbeard) he wanted
to start his conquest in Northern England where the northern
population elements were strongest. However, in the battle
at Stamford Bridge he was
beaten and killed by King Harold. Vilhelm (William), Duke of
Normandy, then landed in the south of
England also having conquest
in view. Harold Godwinsson hurried to the south. In the battle at
Hastings his army was beaten and Harold was killed and on
Christmas Day in year 1066 the Norman viking scion Vilhelm
(William) was crowned as King of England. The decisive battle at
Hastings and the background for it was reproduced about ten years
later in a Norman version on the 70 metre long picture tapestry
which got to the cathedral in Bayeux in the Normandy.
got a totally new rule and a French-Norman upper class with
Vilhelm (William) as
and there were several uproars. In year 1069 a big uproar
in Northern England was suppressed and punished in a very brutal
way and the large viking fleets that came in the years 1069, 1070
and 1075 guided by members of the Danish royal house, did not get
much significance. In year 1085 Canute, King of Denmark organized
an enormous fleet
in order to conquer the country which his namesake and brother of
his grandmother had ruled. Canute sent enormous military forces to
Britain. Still, his fleet never got away. He was delayed by
problems at the southern border of his country and during the late
summer the army dissolved. The violent attack of his officials on
the ones who had went home provoked a revolt and King Canute was
killed. This happened in year 1086 at the British saint St. Alban´s
church in Odense. The dream of Britain made Canute, the first
Danish saint of kings, but it did not make him
British viking king. This was the last time that Scandinavians tried
to conquer Britain.
adventures in Britain became very important to Scandinavia. The
ones who had survived shared the enormous quantities of silver
which had been paid as danegeld and heregeld until year 1051, but
they also got a part of the properties from the plunders from 991
to 1016, even though the leaders probably got the most. Millions
of coins have been paid. We only know a fraction of it today, but
even that is impressive.
More than 40000 coins have been found in Scandinavia and the
number still increases.