Main content

Cnut: England's Viking king

King Cnut was seen as both the perfect Christian monarch and a ruthless warlord when he ruled much of northern Europe a millennium ago.

King Cnut the Great started life as a young Viking warrior, but quickly became one of the most successful kings in Anglo-Saxon history, reigning over a huge empire covering England, Denmark and Norway in the early 11th Century. For some, he was the perfect Christian king; for others, he was a ruthless warlord. Today in popular culture his name is associated with the tale of King Cnut and the waves - the legend of an arrogant king who believed he could stop the tide.

Joining Bridget Kendall to disentangle the facts from legends about King Cnut are Else Roesdahl, professor emerita of Medieval Archaeology at the University of Århus, Denmark; Eleanor Parker, lecturer in Medieval English Literature at Brasenose College, Oxford University, UK; and historian Timothy Bolton, author of the biography Cnut the Great.

(Image: An illustration where Cnut criticises his courtiers for believing that he could command the tide of the river. Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)

Available now

44 minutes

Last on

Mon 17 Jun 2019 03:06GMT

Broadcasts

Podcast