Tuesday, 1 May 2012

House of Denmark (restored)

Having lost the Battle of Ashington on 18 October 1016, King Edmund signed a treaty with Canute in which all of England would be ruled by Canute, save Wessex, which Edmund retained rule over, however Edmund died later that same year (the circumstances of which are unknown) leaving Canute as Sole King of England and thus restored the House of Denmark to the throne.

13th C portrait of Cnut
Cnut (Canute) 1016 - 1035: Canute's rule saw the restoration of prosperity to the country, which was last seen disappearing over the hills as the Vikings attacked back in the 980's.  This providence ensured Canute's control over most of scandinavia as well.

Having married Æthelred's widow, an heir was produced (Harthacnut), even though he already had two sons from his earlier marriage.

Canute extended the trend of merging multiple shires under a single ealdorman, thus dividing the country only into four large administrative units.  The officials responsible for these areas (Wessex, Northumbria, East Anglia and Mercia) were called Earls.

Cnut died on 12 November 1035 at the Abbey in Shaftesbury, Dorset and was burial at Winchester, the English Capital at the time.

Harold Harfoot
Harold Harefoot 1035 - 1040: Harold's younger half-brother was the proper heir to the throne of both England and Denmark but was unable to travel to his coronation due to the threat of Sweden and Norway eyeing up upon Denmark as a target for invasion.  England's magnates then deciding to install Harold temporarily as Regent despite the Queen's, and the Earl of Wessex's objections, and managed to survive an attempt to unseat him from Ælfred Ætheling and Edward the Confessor(his step-mother's sons from her marriage to Æthelred the Unready).

His name of "Harefoot" referrred to his speed and huntsmanship skills.

He died at Oxford after a period of sickness on 17 March 1040 as his half-brother, Harthacnut, was preparing an invasion force of Danes, and was buried at Westminster Abbey, however, his body was exhumed, beheaded and thrown into a fen, bordering the Thames after Harthacnut's coronation.

Coin depicting Harthacnut
Harthacnut 1035 - 1042: Was King of Denmark in the absence of his father (having returned to England) in 1028, and became King in his own right when his father died in 1035.

Being unable to come to England due to the invasion threat by Sweden and Norway, he agreed to his brother, Harold, acting as regent, but effectiviely 'lost' his crown with those of England viewing Harthacnut having spent too long a time in Denmark, and by this time Emma of Normandy (Harthacnut's mother) fleed to Bruges for her own safety.

It is widely known that Harthacnut generally wanted to avoid campaigns and wars where possible but is thought that due to his mother's efforts in sponsoring Enconium Emmae Reginae, which attacked Harold as being responsible for killing her other son, Alfred, persuaded Harthacnut to prepare to invade England but delayed this upon news that Harold was ill and near death's bed.

Although having most likely been invited to take the throne, he came as conqueror, and had levied a geld of 21,000 ponds to paid his crew which made him unpopular.  Having doubled the size of his fleet of ships (to 32), he severely increased the rate of taxation to pay for this, and together with a poor harvest at the time cause severe hardship.

Having suffered from bouts of illness before and after being crowned King, and most likely knowing he did not have much time left, he invited his half-brother, Edward the Confessor, back from exile in Normandy, and most likely made him his heir as he had no children of his own.

He died on 8 June 1042 at a wedding, as he was drinking to the health of the bride, and became the last Danish King to rule Britain.  However, modern historians believe him to have been a ruthless and feared King, and had he not died young, may have prevented the Norman conquest from happening.

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