Cnut the Great (c. 985 or 995 – 12 November 1035), also known as Canute, was a king of Denmark, England, Norway and parts of Sweden. Though after the death of his heirs within a decade of his own and the Norman conquest of
1066, his legacy was largely lost to history, historian Norman F. Cantor has
made the paradoxical statement that he was "the most effective king in
He was generally remembered as a wise and successful king of
although this view may in part be attributable to his good treatment of the
Church, keeper of the historic record.
He was also swift to deal with his enemies and merciless. Before leaving
in 1014, he dispensed with the hostages his father had collected; but he
mutilated them in the process.
He was remembered as a splendid Viking, who never suffered in
the divisions and disloyalties which marred the milder rule of Ethelred.
“Gracious giver of mighty gifts, you made corselets red in
You will lose your life before your courage fails. Still you pressed on,
blunting swords upon weapons; they could not defend their strongholds when you
attacked. The bow screamed loud. You won no less renown, driver of the leaping
steed of the roller, on Thames’s bank. The wolf’s jaw
know this well. King bold in attack (we have moved on to 1026), and there the
she-wolf got much wolfs food. Terrible staff of battle, you held the land
against two princes, and the raven did not go hungry there. You are swift to
deal with the race of men.”