Thursday, October 14, 2010

Canute the Great /Knud den Store, o. 995-1035, ~ Emma of Normandy, - 1052. (his consort before Emma was Aelfgifu of Northampton)

Dansk Biografisk Lexicon
Carl Fr. Bricka
Project Runeberg
Canute the Great/Knud den Store, ab. 995-1035,
king of England, Denmark and Norway. K. was a son
of Svend Tveskæg (Sweyn Forkbeard) and Gunhild, a
daughter of hertug Miesko of Poland. Svend had after
many war expeditions conquered England, but when he
died 3 Feb. 1014, the ousted king Aethelred returned
from Normandy, and his son Edmund Ironside took
bravely up the fight with the Danes. K., who was
appointed king by the army, had to leave the country,
the hostages he had been given from the Anglo Saxons
were put ashore, mauled on nose, ears and hands.
In the North was realized though that England was now
ready to be taken by the Danes. Knud's brother
Harald, who was elected king in Denmark, and his
stepmother Sigrid Storråde's son, the Swedish king
Oluf , gave him ships for a new expedition, and the
Viking chief Thorkil the Tall came to his service.
With a splendid fleet of over 200 ships the attack
on England could take place (1015), but the brave
Edmund, who after his father's death, 23. April
1036, was elected king, gave in 6 great battles the
Danes the toughest resistance. The two army chiefs
therefore agreed in sharing the country, and in a
meeting at Olney in Severn the kingdom was divided,
K. got the northern part and Edmund the southern.
But Edmund died on 30. Nov. 1016, and this death
was so convenient that the chronicle-writers later
quite unfoundedly accused K. for having arranged
Edmund to be murdered by the traitor Eadric Streona.
Now was K. elected king of all England.

K.s politics at once intended to reconcile the
fighting parties and people.  He married (1017)
Aethelreds widow, Emma or Aelfgifu,a daughter of
hertug Richard I of Normandy, and it was decided
that K.'s and her sons became heirs to the throne.
The main part of the Danish fleet was sent back home,
and the Nordic chiefs, whom he in the first years
had given high positions, were gradually removed
from these, or they were exiled, while the Anglo
Saxons took their place. K. declaired, that the
existing laws, "King Edgar's Laws", had to be
maintained, and he joined closely church and clergy.
His kingdom had to rest upon national ground. But
K. had after his brother Harald's death (1018) also
won Denmark, and by new acquisitions his power soon
rose to a degree like an empire. In an expedition
in 1023 K. claimed power over large parts of the
south- and east coast of the Baltic Sea, he not only
controlled Jomsborg, he controlled several Slavic
people in Samland at the mouth of the river Weichsel.

When Norway's king Olaf den Digre (the Big) and the
Swedish king Anund Jacob joined against him, K. went
against them and fought a hard battle at Helgeå in
Skåne, (1026), but he did not win the battle. This
bad luck had to be revenged, and after K. by bribery
had won many supporters in Norway, he went there in
1028 with a fleet, which he had gathered in
Limfjorden. Without any battles he reached as far as
Nidaros, where he was celebrated king, and Olaf had
to leave the country.  Hakon, K.'s sister's son, was
made governor, but although the farmers at Stiklestad
(1030) destroyed Olaf's attempt to regain the country,
K.'s power rested upon weak feet. K. appointed his
son Svend governor or king in Norway, followed by his
mother Aelfgifu, the ealdorman Aelfhelm's daughter,
with whom K. had a relationship when young.  The
Norwegians found this foreign rule unbearable; the
killed Olaf's son Magnus was called back, and Svend
and Aelfgifu had leave. - K. had also to fight many
fights with the border-people in Wales, Cumberland
and Scotland, mostly with success.

But K. won his great name more by ruling in peace than
by wars and conquests. From the first day he showed
strange abilities in finding ways for his plans and
friends to work them out. His close connection to the
church was also very important. In his laws and public
messages to the people he always connected love for God
and for the king, religious belief and moral behaviour,
to keep the commands of the church and the secular laws,
and with a masterful hand he maintained both the power
of the state and the church. He supported churches and
kloster generously, and wisely he seeked papal support
for his power. A few months after the battle at Helgeå
he went to Rome and took part in emperor Conrad II's
coronation in St. Peter's Cathedral on Easter Day 1027.
It was the first time a Danish king visited Rome, and
it was certain  that the travel aimed at political
purposes to the pope and other princes. K. achieved
that emperor Conrad gave him the dispouted "danske Mark"
(Danish land) at the Eider. K.'s religious politics
were of great importance, especially to the still half
heathen Denmark, churches were built, the bishoprics
were changed, priests were summoned from England or
from other western districts, and klosters were

K.'s English laws were important because they created
a safe administration and a good order in the country,
and there is no doubt that he worked in the same way
in Denmark. In England he established an army of
3000 men, whose members (housecarls) were in a
brotherhood under a special law (vederlagsret): an
institution like this was made in Denmark, or the
English branched off to Denmark, where these laws soon
became important for the development of the aristocratic
landlords. Only few details from K's rule of Denmark
are known, but his influence is clear in the monetary

Many bad deeds which earlier were ascribed to K., have
been removed by new critics, or they are seen in another
light.His temper could make him violent, like when he
let his unreliable brother-in-law Ulf kill in Roskilde
Trefoldighedskirke. K. owned diplomatic ingenuity and
used often cunnings, but he was not faithless, either
hippocratic, he was a devout man, and the famous story
about how he acknowledged his scepter's lack of power
on the waves by the sea, is a good description of his
pious mind. He favored poetry and scalds; a stanza he
wrote is still preserved.

But like most members of his family his life was short.
He died in Shaftesbury 12. Nov. 1035 and was buried in
Winchester. That age called him "the rich" *c: mægtige
(great); when Denmark later had other kings by the name
Knud, he was named "the old", but the name "the Great"
was used from the late 12th century. By his sons'
incompetence and early deaths England was not in the
Royal Danish family for long.

With Aelfgifu he had 2 sons, Svend and Harald Harefoot ;
in his happy marriage to Emma he had the son Hardicanute
and the daughter Gunhild, who was married to Henrik III
of Germany.

Lappenberg, Geschichte v. England I.
Freeman, Norman Conquest I.
Steenstrup, Normannerne III og IV.
Ersch u. Gruber, Allg. Encyklopädie, 2. Section, XXXVII.
Stephen, Dictionary of national biography IX.
A. D. Jørgensen, Den nord. Kirkes Grundlæggelse S. 435 f.
Olrik, Konge og Præstestand i den danske Middelalder I.

Emma (Ælfgifu), --1052, queen, was a daughter of
hertug Richard I of Normandy; she was in 1002
married to king Aethelred of England, which
marriage was very unhappy, caused by the king's
incompetence as regent and his adultery. E. was
by the Anglo Saxons named Aelfgifu/Ælfgifu, she
had with the king the sons Alfred, Edvard
( the Confessor) and Goda (Godgifu). When Svend
Tveskæg attacked in 1013, E. had to (and shortly
after Aethelred) to flee to Normandy, where
Aethelred died 23. April 1016. King Knud den Store,
Canute the Great,had in the meantime subjected
England; he now asked her hand in marriage, and
after he had promised that their eventual sons
became first heirs to the throne, the wedding took
place in July 1017. The year after gave E. birth to
the son Knud (Hardicanute) and later the daughter
Gunhild (married 1036 to king Henrik III of Germany).

Knud lived in a happy marriage with his beautiful
and clever wife. E. was called "Normannorum gemma",
the Norman jewel, especially by the clergy, which
she protected. At Knud's death 12. Nov. 1035 E.
tried to keep the kingdom for her absent son
Hardicanute, but he stayed too long in Denmark, why
Knud's illegitimate son Harald Harefoot gained more
influence and chased E. out of the country in 1037;
the count of Flanders gave her residence and protection
in Brügge. Urged by E. Hardicanute came to Flanders
with a fleet in order to attempt an expedition against
England, but then Harald Harefoot died (1040). E. went
to England with Hardicanute, who was crowned king. At
his death (1042) Edvard inherited the kingdom, and
already the next year he robbed E. of her riches
"because she had done too little to help him, both
before he became king and later"; yet she kept enough
for her support and lived in Winchester. She died in
Winchester 6. March 1052 and was buried next to Knud
in the cathedral.

Freeman, Norman Conquest I.
Steenstrup, Normannerne III.
Johannes C. H. R. Steenstrup.

Dansk Biografisk Lexicon
Carl Fr. Bricka
Project Runeberg

Aelfgifu af Northampton (c. 990 – after 1040) was
an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who became the first
consort of King Cnut of England and Denmark, and
mother of king Harold I of England (1035–1040).
She served as regent of Norway from 1030 to 1035.
She is not to be confused with her rival, Emma of
Normandy, whose name could be rendered as Aelfgifu/
Ælfgifu in Old English,nor with king Aethelred's
first wife, Aelfgifu of York.
See: Aelfgifu af Northampton
translation grethe bachmann  ©copyright 

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