King Canute (Cnut)
by Dr Ken Lawson

Date: Thursday 11 January 2018

Denmark, England and the Conquest of 1016


King Canute (Cnut)

By his death in 1035, Cnut was the most powerful monarch in Northern Europe. With his father Swegen Forkbeard he invaded England in 1013, driving its king Aethelred II(the “Unready”) into temporary exile in Normandy. Aethelred’s son, Edmund Ironside, took up the struggle; but the deaths of Swegen and both Aethelred and Edmund left Cnut master of the entire kingdom. He subsequently added Denmark itself and Norway with part of Sweden to his territories.

Cnut was able and ruthless and more than just a successful opportunist. His government was efficient and powerful enough to sustain a very high  level of taxation.  Cnut himself  became – for reasons as much political as pious – a great patron of the English Church. It is not by chance that his name lives on in the national memory through a folk tale enshrining both pragmatism and propaganda.

Ken Lawson studied medieval history at the Universities of York and Oxford where his doctoral thesis was on the reign of Cnut.  Before retirement he was Assistant Master at St Paul’s School London.

Dr Lawson is  the author of a definitive history of Cnut’s reign  published by Longmans and also 1066  - The Battle of Hastings.



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