When did he live?
Cnut was born in either 985 or 995. Nobody is sure where, but it is presumed in Denmark.
He died on November 12th, 1035.
Why is he famous?
Cnut was a Danish king who conquered much of England, leading to him being named king of England in 1016. He ruled until his death in 1035
He was also the king of Norway and parts of Sweden. He therefore created a union between the British Isles and Scandinavia.
What was his mark on history?
Cnut’s union of England and Scandinavia looked like it would shape northern Europe for many years. However, this was not to be the case. Cnut’s death in 1035, and the death of all his children in the next ten years, weakened the union. In 1066 William the Conqueror invaded from France, and England – and the English language – became more connected to France than Scandinavia.
‘Cnut and the Waves’ is a famous legend. It says that Cnut was told his word was so powerful that he could stop the tide. Because of this Cnut took his throne to the beach and tried to tell the tide to stop. He failed. However, a more realistic version is that Cnut’s humble aim was to show he was not that powerful.
History suggests that Cnut was generous to those who supported him, and strict on those who did not. Tax breaks were a keen tool in his reign.
After Cnut’s death, England became closer to France. However, Denmark, Norway and Sweden have continued their Scandinavian relationship, Denmark is still considered part of Scandinavia today.
Cnut is buried in Winchester Cathedral.