Taunton School Main Building at Dusk

On This Day In History – 30th November

Posted: 30th November 2018

Each Tuesday, the intrepid team of TPS History detectives meet to delve into the past and research famous events to coincide with the publishing date of this week’s Courier. This term, as we will shortly be remembering the 100 year anniversary of the WW1 Armistice, we have decided to focus on events which happened between the years 1914-18.
The pupils have only one hour to research, write and illustrate their articles. We hope you enjoy them and discover some fascinating bits of History.

Joanna Hall-Tomkin
Head of History and Pastoral Head Years 5 & 6

Cnut Is Crowned King of England

According to the Peterborough Chronicle manuscript, one of the major witnesses of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, early in September 1015, “(Cnut) came into Sandwich, and straightway sailed around Kent to Wessex, until he came to the mouth of the Frome, and harried in Dorset and Wiltshire and Somerset”, beginning a campaign of an intensity not seen since the days of Alfred the Great.

Cnut was the ruler of England for 19 years – he conquered the country in 1016 after his father Sweyn Forkbeard died (he had only ruled England for a few months), and later became also the King of Denmark and King of Norway. Most historians have found him to be a very capable ruler, with one even calling him “the most effective King in Anglo-Saxon history.”

For most people, what they might remember about Cnut is a short story where the King goes to the seashore to order the waves from the incoming tide to stop.

The original version of the story appears in the Historia Anglorum, by Henry, Archdeacon of Huntingdon, a twelfth-century chronicle covering the history of England from ancient times to the year 1154. In a section following his mention of Cnut’s death in 1035, Henry offers some words of praise for the King:

In addition to the many wars in which he was most particularly illustrious, he performed three fine and magnificent deeds. The first is that he gave his daughter in marriage to the Roman emperor, with indescribable riches. The second, that on his journey to Rome, he had the evil taxes that were levied on the road that goes through France, called tolls or passage tax, reduced by half at his own expense. The third, that when he was at the height of his ascendancy, he ordered his chair to be placed on the sea-shore as the tide was coming in. Then he said to the rising tide, “You are subject to me, as the land on which I am sitting is mine, and no one has resisted my overlordship with impunity. I command you, therefore, not to rise on to my land, nor to presume to wet the clothing or limbs of your master.” But the sea came up as usual, and disrespectfully drenched the King’s feet and shins. So jumping back, the King cried, “Let all the world know that the power of Kings is empty and worthless, and there is no King worthy of the name save Him by whose will heaven, earth and sea obey eternal laws.” Thereafter King Cnut never wore the golden crown on his neck, but placed it on the image of the crucified Lord, in eternal praise of God the great King. By whose mercy may the soul of King Cnut enjoy rest.

Aryan Sharma, Charlie Webber and Joanna Hall-Tomkin


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