Home >> Comptons-pictured-encyclopedia-vol-02-bro-edi-p3 >> A Folklore Tale Of to Thomas 1795 1881 Carlyle >> Canute


death, king and england

CANUTE (Icti-nur) (994-1035). This great king of the Danes and Norwegians, who in addition ruled England from 1017 to 1035, was much more than a conquering viking. Since the days of Alfred, over a century before, the Northmen had never ceased to cherish their dreams of overcoming England. Ca nute's father Sweyn, king of Denmark, died in the midst of his attempted conquest of that land, and Canute (or Cnut) immediately resumed the struggle.

For a brief time there was a division of the country between Canute and the Saxon Edmund Ironside, but the death of Edmund, in 1017, gave the whole kingdom to the young Danish conqueror. Canute put to death some of the more powerful English nobles, but from this time onward until his death, in 1035, his character seems to have completely changed. At once he laid aside his ruthless temper, to become a wise ruler and a devout Christian. He made a pilgrimage to Rome, and wrote back a letter to his subjects which shows the noble simplicity of his character and the high idea he had formed of the duty of a king. The death of his elder brother brought him the throne of Denmark, and that of Norway soon followed. Canute gave England 18 years of peace and order, but at his death his king dom fell to pieces, as it had depended upon his own personal greatness.

A story is told of how this monarch rebuked the flattery of his courtiers, who had said that all things were possible to him. He had his throne placed on the seashore and when the rising tide came near, he ordered the sea to fall-back at his command. When the water wetted his feet, he turned to his courtiers and said: "Let all men know how empty and worth less is the power of kings; for there is none worthy of the name but Him whom heaven, earth, and sea obey."