Saturday, 4 July 2015

King Cnut: 1,000 Years On

Mr Lemieux writes: 2015 sees an unusually large number of centenaries, some well-known some less so. As their post exam project in History, Mr Lemieux’s Year 9 history class (9S) were given the task of researching and presenting a key centenary event to their peers, but also producing a blog piece about their event as part of the exercise. The centenaries they researched were:

1015 Invasion of England by King Cnut (September)
1215 Magna Carta (June 15)
1415 Battle of Agincourt (October 25)
1815 Battle of Waterloo (June 18)
1915 Gallipoli Campaign (began April 25)
1915 Birth of Frank Sinatra (December 12


We begin with:

The King Cnut Blog

by Phoebe Simons

Cnut reputedly demonstrated to sycophantic
followers that he could not, in fact,
control the sea 
Cnut the Great, more commonly known as Canute, was a king of Denmark, England, Norway and parts of Sweden. After his death and the deaths of his heirs within a decade, and the Norman conquest of England in 1066, his legacy was largely lost to history. Historian Norman Cantor has made the statement that he was "the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon history", although Cnut himself was not Anglo-Saxon.

Cnut's father was Sweyn Forkbeard, King of Denmark. The identity of his mother is uncertain, although medieval tradition makes her a daughter of Mieszko I. As a Prince of Denmark, Cnut won the throne of England in 1016 in the wake of centuries of Viking activity in north-western Europe. His accession to the Danish throne in 1018 brought the crowns of England and Denmark together. Cnut maintained his power by uniting Danes and English under cultural bonds of wealth and custom, rather than by sheer brutality. After a decade of conflict with opponents in Scandinavia, Cnut claimed the crown of Norway in Trondheim in 1028.
Cnut ruled England for nineteen years. The protection he lent against 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. The resources he commanded in England helped him to establish control of the majority of Scandinavia, too.


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. It seems there were Danes in opposition to him, and an attack he carried out on the Wends of Pomerania may have had something to do with this.


Cnut died at Shaftesbury in Dorset, and was buried in the Old Minster, Winchester. The new regime of Normandy was 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 (Old Minster) and the previous burials, including Cnut's, were set in mortuary chests there. In Denmark he was succeeded by Harthacnut.


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