One of the most renowned figures in history was King Cnut, who ruled over a vast empire that covered half of England and Denmark; he also had conquests in Norway, Sweden, parts of Scotland and France. He was born in 995 AD and died on 12 November 1035 at the age of 40 years old. Here we can see the king lying in his ship during its last voyage to Normandy where he eventually wanted to be buried at the same place as his uncle, Æthelred the Unready. The Death of a King
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Author’s/Brand’s point of view
The death of Cnut is said to have taken place at Shaftesbury, Dorset. According to Florence of Worcester, he was buried in Old Minster in Winchester, translated to Hyde Abbey and reburied in 1110. There are no surviving sources mentioning or describing Cnut’s final illness.
Current events that lead up to the death
Though no one is sure how Cnut died, it is commonly believed that he was killed by his successor, Harold Harefoot. Harefoot was forced to take over as king when he was just ten years old after his father died in 1035 AD. His claim to power was shaky at best and Cnut’s son Magnus (who inherited control of Norway, Denmark and parts of Sweden) sent men to kill Harefoot in order to reinstate his own power and support.
Key events leading up to death
Cnut was one of only two Scandinavian kings known to have an affinity for England. Upon being elected King in 1016, he turned back to Denmark and left Eadric Streona, an English earl and leading politician, in charge as regent. In 1025 he took a second wife, Emma of Normandy. Soon after his death in 1035 rumours started to spread that Cnut’s widow Emma had poisoned him.
Main character’s state at time of death
Killed by an arrow to the eye. Turns out, he and his brother had been fighting for years for control over England. Cnut won at Assandun in 1016, but Aethelred didn’t give up that easily. The two would continue to fight until Aethelred died in 1017 after falling ill at London.
Key events after death
After death, some Vikings were taken to Valhalla. This was reserved for fallen warriors who died in battle and any other Viking that had died far from home. Valhala was ruled by Odin and therefore anyone from another religion would be punished severely upon entry. It is thought that entry into Valhalla could not be avoided, however if someone was considered worthy enough for Valhalla then they would be taken straight there after death. Those who entered Valhala stayed there until Ragnarok, when everyone would have to return and fight against Loki.
Significance of the event
The reign of Cnut, who was known as both the Great and the Dane, is one of the most important periods in early English history. He was an English king who gained dominance over large parts of Britain and Scandinavia. His achievements meant that he would never be forgotten, even hundreds of years after his death. The impact that Cnut had on Britain in particular is still felt today through our language, laws and everyday names.