Canute (King of England 1016-1035)

 Born  circa 995   Born At  
 Died  12 Nov 1035   Buried At  
 Father  Swein (Fork-Beard)   Mother  Gunnhilda
Preceded by  EDMUND (II Ironside, King of the English 1016) Succeeded by  HAROLD (Harefoot, King of England 1037-1040)

Titles Include

King of England from 1016 to 1035

Denmark

anute (also known as Knut or Cnut) was the son of Swein, King of Denmark. Swein and Canute had invaded England in 1013 taking control of Northumbria and the North before moving south to take control of the whole country. Aethelred, the king of England, had to flee in exile to Normandy with his wife Emma and two sons Alfred and Edward the Confessor). Swein was declared king of England in early 1014 but died in February. Canute could have assumed the role as King of England but decided to return to Denmark. Aethelred was invited to return from exile in Normandy and retake the English throne. The remainder of Aethelred's reign was complicated by conflicts with his son Edmund (Ironside) who became King of the England when Aethelred died in April 1016.

Truce with Edmund

When Aethelred died the Witan council's support was split between Canute and Edmund. Canute returned to England intent on taking the English throne, but he had to defeat Edmund to do so. Edmund's army dealt Canute's forces two defeats and forced the Danes on to the Isle of Sheppey, but Canute came back and at the battle of Ashington defeated the English. Edmund escaped from the battle field and at a meeting between Canute and Edmund a peace agreement was formed between the two sides. Canute may not have been unable to conquer the whole of England so it was decided to share the country. Edmund was given control of Wessex and Canute was allowed to control Mercia and Northumbria. Part of the agreement was that whoever died first should give their territory to the other. In November 1016 Edmund died and so Canute took total control of England.

Ensuring his power

Soon after Canute became king of England he married Emma the the widow of Aethelred. Emma was the daughter of Richard, Count of Normandy, making her an important person in her own right and the marriage made it more difficult for her children by Aethelred to claim the throne. Canute also arranged for the murder of Aethelred's children by his first wife Aelfgifu. He also had Saxon earls that he could not trust murdered as well. Eadric Streona, a particularly treacherous Saxon ealdorman, was killed on the order of Canute.

Explore

Do you want to explore a Saxon Hall, a medieval church or a large stone keep? Click the images below to enter a medieval world.

Partial Personal Timeline

YearMonthAgeEvent
1013   18yrsSwein Fork-Beard and Canute attack England
 Swein Fork-Beard and his son Canute sailed from Denmark to attack England. Again London defended itself and the Vikings moved elsewhere, taking Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria.

Episode: Viking Invasions  
1014   19yrsHarald II becomes King of Denmark
 As Swein's eldest son Harald became King of Denmark when Swein died. Harald controlled Denmark while his younger brother Canute was in England. 
1015 Qtr 3  20yrsCanute returns to England
 Canute invaded England taking control of Mercia and Northumbria. Aethelred was ill and England was in the hands of Edmund (Ironside).

Episode: Viking Invasions  
1016 Apr  21yrsEdmund II (Ironside) becomes King
 Edmund II became king at the death of his father Aethelred II in London. London chose prince Edmund as king but it was short lived as the Southampton Witan chose Canute, who then invaded England. 
 Apr  Canute attempts to take the throne
 Canute advanced on London for a fight with Aethelred but Aethelred died in the same month. London accepted Edmund Ironside as their ruler. Canute would have to defeat Edmund if he was to become King of England.[1]

Episode: Viking Invasions  
 May  Canute attacks London
 Edmund had gone to Wessex to accept the support of the people there as the new king of England but Canute had reached London and was besieging its inhabitants. The Londoners held out against Canute's attempts to defeat them while Edmund travelled back to help. Edmund's army grew as he advanced towards Canute. The English won a couple of battles forcing the Danes to retreat and regroup but the Danes won the important battle at Ashingdon.[2] 
 Oct 18  Treaty between Canute and Edmund
 Canute defeated Edmund Ironside at Ashingdon and a treaty was signed leaving Edmund with only the area of Wessex.

Episode: Viking Invasions  
 Nov 30  Canute becomes King of England
 Edmund Ironside died only a month after the treaty with Canute. Canute then became King of England.

Episode: Viking Invasions  
1017 Jul  22yrsCanute marries Emma
 Canute married Emma, the widow of Aethelred the Unready. This helped Canute secure ties with Normandy as Emma was the daughter of Count of Normandy.

Episode: Viking Invasions  
Please note that this area should be showing an interactive map of events. This area will not show if you are currently using an older version of web browser. The map viewer viewer has been tested on IE9 and the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome.