King Cnut the Great 1016-1035

King Cnut the Great was the King of Anglo-Scandinavian or North Sea Empire that included the areas such as England, Denmark, Norway, and parts of Sweden.

Medieval Kings King Cnut - Skt Knud den Hellige

He ruled England from 1016 to 1035. He is considered one of the most effective kings of Anglo-Saxon history, but he is unique in the fact that he was not of British or Anglo-Saxon origin but Danish.

Viking Longboats viking raids with sail

His nineteen years-long reign provided prosperity to England, especially from the Vikings who had been attacking England since around the 980’s but were now most of them under his command and control.

King Cnut the Great Timeline

  • King Cnut the Great was born around 995 in Denmark
  • His father Sweyn Forkbeard died on 3rd February 1014
  • The Battle of Nesjar was fought in 1016
  • King Cnut the Great ruled England from 1016 to 1035
  • His coronation took place on 6th January 1017
  • Cnut’s elder brother Harald II of Denmark died in 1018
  • Cnut also became King of Denmark in 1018
  • He became King of Norway in 1028
  • Cnut married Emma of Normandy in July 1017
  • King Cnut the Great died on 12th November 1035

King Cnut the Great Early Life

King Cnut the Great was the son of Sweyn Forkbeard, a Danish Prince. It is not confirmed who his mother was but according to unconfirmed sources, his mother was either Swietoslawa, Sigrid the Haughty, or Gunhild of Wenden.

His grandfather was King Harald Bluetooth. The exact place and birth date of King Cnut the Great are also unknown and his elder brother Harald was the crown prince.

Cnut took military training on the island of Wollin. It was the Vikings’ stronghold and was off the coast of Pomerania. Chieftain Thorkell the Tall, the legendary Joms and Jarl of mythical Jomsborg trained Cnut there.

What kind of Ruler was King Cnut the Great?

King Cnut the Great was considered an intelligent and successful king of England. He had a very good relationship with the Church. He is credited for bringing the Danish and English kingdoms closer.

When King Cnut took control of England he ended the Viking attacks and used some of their systems in favor of England. Cnut re-introduced the Danelaw and the extant laws. Currency was also strengthened during his rule. On a personal level, it is believed that Cnut had a very bad and sinful relationship with his two wives.

King Cnut the Great Death

King Cnut the Great died on 12th November 1035 at Shaftesbury, Dorset, England. His burial took place at Old Minster, Winchester.

Cnut and his wife Ælfgifu of Northampton had two children, Svein Knutsson and Harold Harefoot. With his wife, Emma of Normandy Cnut had a son Harthacnut and a daughter Gunhilda of Denmark.

Medieval King Harthacnut

On his death, King Cnut was succeeded by Harold Harefoot who had served as regent of England from 1035 to 1037.

Queen Emma had wanted his son Harthacnut to become king, but due to pressure from Harefoot’s supporters, she was made to flee to Bruges in Flanders.