Canute, the son of Sweyn Forkbeard and Gunnhild of Poland, was
born in Denmark in about 995.
Canute with his first wife, Aelfgiu
Canute went back to Denmark shortly after his father died but returned to England the following year to begin a long struggle with Edmund Ironside. After a battle at Ashingdon in Essex, Canute claimed the English throne.
Canute deprived English nobles of their land. Some were killed as Viking earls took over Northumbria and East Anglia. He ordered Edmund's brother, Edwy, to be killed, but the King's two young sons, Edward and Edmund escaped to seek asylum in Hungary. In 1018 Canute paid off his Danish fleet and changed his policy by appointing Englishmen to titles in Wessex and Mercia. Eventually he brought peace and prosperity to his conquered country.
Victorian impression of Canute ordering the
Canute died at Shaftsbury in November 1035 and was buried in the Old Minster at Winchester. He was succeeded in England by his son, Harold the Harefoot.