On This Day

Cnut the Great

King of England, Denmark and Norway Cnut the Great

Full Name: Canute
Profession: King of England, Denmark and Norway


Biography: Cnut (also referred to as King Canute) ruled over what is collectively called the North Sea Empire - England, Denmark, Norway and parts of Sweden - between 1016 and 1035. Originally a Danish prince, he captured the throne of England from Edmund Ironside in 1016. The Vikings had centuries of history in England and repeatedly laid claim to the lands and its crown.

He soon succeeded his brother Harald II as King of Denmark, and then claimed the crown of Norway in 1028. Thus his empire was complete, held in personal union. This gave him enormous power and prestige, particularly with North Sea maritime routes and with the Roman Church. He used the latter to his advantage to reduce the cost of vestments for his bishops and attending the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor.

Cnut is often wrongly remembered today in the story of 'King Canute and the tide', which is said to depict an arrogant king thinking he has enough power to control the tides, when in actual fact it shows a humble and wise king scolding his courtiers for their sycophantic behavior.

Birthplace: , Denmark

Died: November 12, 1035

Historical Events

  • 1016-11-30 Cnut the Great [Canute], King of Denmark, claims the English throne after the death of Edmund 'Ironside'
  • 1017-01-06 Cnut the Great crowned King of England in London by Lyfing, Archbishop of Canterbury

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