Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Heretics - Albigensian Crusade II

The Results of Shock and Awe

Seal of Simon de Montfort
The loss of Carcassonne sent a shock wave throughout Occitane. The Cathar priests went underground; the perfecti took off their black robes, disguising themselves as burghers or artisans. The local seigneurs professed the Catholic faith or took off into the mountains. 

The besiegers at Béziers had failed to distinguish between Catholic and Cathar in their rapacity and now de Montfort decided to treat the whole region as heretical. Between them de Montfort and the circa thirty knights of his personal escort[i] left with him could call upon the services of around 300 men, and the few mercenaries that de Montfort could afford.

The region was up in arms; in the south Raymond-Roger, Count of Foix[ii], had his forces intact and in the west the Count of Toulouse was a most unreliable ally. And the region around Limoux and Albi held numerous small strongholds held by the enemy. Having been elected Viscount of Béziers de Montfort was finding it difficult to give homage to his new liege lord, the King of Aragon.
The inhabitants of the region had reason to be wary of the religious zeal of the Captain-General of the army of the Church. In 1210, after the capture of Bram, which resisted for a mere three days, the garrison of over 100 men was seized and de Montfort had their eyes gouged out and noses and upper lips cut off. One man was left with a single eye and de Montfort deputed him to lead his comrades to the scene of the next planned action.  

The cruelty was not limited to just the Crusaders; there were instances of;
‘Knights being flayed alive, chopped into pieces or otherwise mutilated.’[iii]
On both sides; the influence of religion legitimised a descent into inhumanity; de Montfort was content to allow rapine, fire slaughter and razing of lands that he now considered his own. His actions went a long way to destroying what had hithertofore been a vibrant economy. Simon de Montfort, during his reign of terror, presided personally over three mass executions of perfecti.

The death of Raymond-Roger of Béziers induced a revolt among his former vassals and isolated garrisons were attacked. Forty chateaux were lost in a few months; including the Chateau of Priexan, taken by the Count of Foix.
De Montfort was able to alienate with ease those who had sworn oaths to him as their new overlord. He treated all the Provençal seigneurs as his inferiors including those who supported him. He distributed lands among his men; that were not his to give. De Montfort also attempted to enforce French laws and customs on the south, which had always been separate and different from the northern kingdom of the Franks.

Regrouping – the de Montfort’s Rally
In March 1210 de Montfort’s wife arrived, bring with her 100 much needed troops. De Montfort retook the chateaux of Priexan and now marched on Minerve, supported by the citizens of Narbonne. Minerve surrendered after being starved out and cut off from their water supply. De Montfort was criticised for his leniency by the Papal Legates. The legates were aware that a large number of perfecti had taken refuge in the city and presumably wished to make examples of them.
The negotiations were halted by the legates’ chicanery and the city surrendered unconditionally. Everyone was expected to recant and repent or die. The church’s fervent supporters were horrified that the perfecti might escape justice; they were pleased to be proved wrong.

‘He had them brought forth from the château; and a great fire having been got ready, more than a hundred and forty of these heretical perfecti were flung thereon at the one time.’[iv]
De Montfort was now in a much stronger position which was boosted by the success of the three month siege of the chateau at Termes.

Chateau de Termes
Turning on a Crusader

The church was concerned that large numbers of the heretics were to be found in the lands of one of the Crusaders, the Count of Toulouse. In September 1209 the Papal Legates presented an indictment against him to the Pope. They claimed that he had not made good his indemnifying of plundered abbeys and destruction of fortifications.
By January 1210 Raymond VI had received an audience with the Pope. He claimed;

‘The Legates, who have treated him exceedingly ill though he had already fulfilled the majority of his obligations which our Notary….had imposed upon him.’[v]
The count was treated leniently to ensure that he remained in the church’s camp. Raymond VI was only to be attacked under Canon law and Arnald-Amalric was determined to leave this enemy no loophole, and was prepared to use trickery to gain his own way. In his turn Raymond VI wanted to come to an agreement with de Montfort and two met in January 1211.

In an attempt to clear his name, of the heinous crimes he was accused of by Arnald-Amalric, Raymond VI attended a council at Arles and was given a list of offensive conditions, not commensurate with one of the count’s high estate and supporter hereto of the crusade. He was ordered to;
·         Cease protecting Jews and heretics and to surrender them within the year

·         Rid himself of all mercenaries

·         Wear brown homespun

·         Raze all properties belonging to him and his nobles to the ground

·         They were to live like villeins in the countryside; town life was forbidden to them

·         If attacked by Crusaders they were to proffer no resistance.
These conditions were a considered insult and meant to be discarded by Raymond. Arnald-Amalric was determined to force Raymond VI to break with the Crusade, which is what happened. Raymond was much loath to do so; it went against his pragmatic nature.

Having declared war by leaving the Legates without an answer Raymond VI was excommunicated and 6th February 1211 they decreed his domains forfeit to the first person to take them.
Meanwhile de Montfort was taking control of what remained of the lands belonging to the former Viscount of Béziers. He seemed to think that there was no difference in the fealty of his own vassals and those compelled by force majeur to swear loyalty to him. Those Occitan knights who were foreworn of their forced oaths were treated with a deliberate and terrible cruelty by de Montfort. In May 1211 the town of Lavaur saw the largest of the mass killings when four hundred people were burned to death.

The Siege of Toulouse
In June 1211 de Montfort moved into the lands of the Count of Toulouse, who even now was attempted peaceable overtures to the Papal Legates, who were pressurising the Pope to ignore any representation on Raymond’s part.

‘If the Count were to obtain the restitution of his Chateaux  at Your hands……everything we have done to procure peace in Languedoc would be annulled.’[vi]
At the same time there was another auto-da-fé in Cassès.

Raymond VI had taken refuge in Toulouse and the Crusaders were prepared to smoke him out. The population in the city was roughly divided between Cathars and Catholics. The Catholic bishop of Toulouse, having fled to the Crusaders’ camp, now demanded that the city’s Catholics refuse to obey the orders of Raymond VI and expel him from the city. If they failed to follow this course of action the city would be placed under interdict. Their proposals being rejected the city was made lawful prey for the crusaders.
Simon de Montfort was forced to lift the siege, as the Crusaders had come to the end of the Forty days of service to the Cross. His reputation took a huge knock and lifted the spirits of the heretics. As an alternative to attacking Toulouse the Crusaders instead laid waste to the lands of the Count of Foix. In the spring of 1212 new drafts of Crusaders arrived, giving de Montfort the advantage again.
Chateau of the Comtes de Foix
Mopping Up
Raymond VI and Raymond-Roger retired to the Aragonese court, leaving de Montfort in control of the Languedoc. De Montfort had fallen out with Arnald-Amalric, who had been promoted to Archbishop of Narbonne and had granted himself the title of Duke. De Montfort summonsed an assembly in Pamiers which granted the church many material advantages, but failed to give the clerics any role in government.

De Montfort was happy to leave the role of outing heretics to the church, while eager to appropriate their lands. The Pope meanwhile was asking his legates why the Count of Toulouse, still the rightful seigneur, had not been allowed to enter a plea of self-justification. This letter of September 1212 was the result of pressure from Raymond VI and his liege lord, the King of Aragon. The Pope declared the crusade over and criticised the Legates and de Montfort for excessive zeal;
‘Certain foxes were destroying the Vine of our Lord in this Province. They have been caught…..Today we have to prepare ourselves against a more formidable danger.’[vii]

Peter of Aragon
The Legates now faced a rather more formidable enemy; Peter II of Aragon who on 16th July 1212 had beaten the Spanish Moors at the Battle of las Navas de Tolosa. As a champion of the church against the infidel, Peter’s star was high in Rome. The people of Languedoc sent representations to Peter requesting that he protect his sovereign rights in the region. His son wrote;
‘The people of Carcassonne, of Béziers, and of Toulouse came to my father and told him that only if he would conquer them, he could become Lord of the Realm.’[viii]
Peter hoped to divert the crusaders from southern France to fight against the Moors in Spain. He viewed the crusade in Languedoc as a crusade against his sovereign rights. Arnald-Amalric now threatened even this saviour of the church in Spain with excommunication; the church in Languedoc could only be saved by preventing the Count of Toulouse from regaining his rights.

The Pope, acting on information from his vindictive Legates now threatened Peter with
‘Divine Wrath, and to take steps against you such as would result in you suffering grave and irreparable harm.’[ix]
The church in the middle ages could and did use their powers spiritual to direct the temporal affairs of nations.

A strong supporter of the church Peter was angered by the Pope’s attack and even more so by the refusal to allow him to divorce his wife. In retaliation Peter gathered an army of one thousand knights to conquer the Languedoc.
Battle of Muret
Peter’s army besieged Muret but his death in the battle of Muret on 12th September 1213 led to his men returning to Aragon. De Montfort’s victory meant a crushing of Aragon’s power in France[x]. De Montfort now spent the ensuing eighteen months mopping up isolated pockets of opposition to his rule. He and the Legates were able to use the suspicion of heresy to make enormous land grabs.
In January 1215 Raymond VI was dispossessed of his lands by the Council of Montpellier; his lands were given to Simon de Montfort by the church, at the suggestion of the Papal Legates. By the May the Dauphin Louis, on a pilgrimage rather than a crusade which was now officially over, entered Toulouse with de Montfort by his side. De Montfort had been wary of entering the nest of vipers on his own.

As a token of appreciation of his assistance Louis returned to Paris bearing with him the jawbone of St Vincent. One of the side-effects of the crusade had been to deflect crusader interest in Outremer, resulting in several years of peace in the region. Sadly that was to change.

Massacre at Montségur – Zoe Oldenbourg, Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1989
Saint Louis – Frederick Perry, AMS Press Inc, 1978

The Thirteenth Century – Sir Maurice Powicke, University of Oxford Press 1988
The Templars – Piers Paul Reid, Weidenfeld & Nicholson 2000

The Monks of War – Desmond Seward, the Folio Society 2000

[i] Some were neighbours or relatives. Later de Montfort’s brother Guy was to return from crusading in the Holy Land to join him
[ii] Not to be confused with Raymond-Roger, Viscount of Béziers, now deceased
[iii] Montségur - Oldenbourg
[iv] Ibid
[v] Ibid
[vi] Ibid
[vii] Ibid
[viii] Ibid
[ix] Ibid
[x] Peter’s son James was a four year old child

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Heretics - The Albigensian Crusade

The Cathars

Raymond of Toulouse
The popularity of a new religion in the south of France in the early years of the thirteenth century, which had the support of the powerful Count of Toulouse, Raymond VI , resulted in Pope Innocent III calling for a crusade against the Cathars, or pure ones as they called themselves. Innocent was determined to crush the Cathars, whose beliefs were declared heretical, in order to maintain the supremacy of the church in Rome.

This offshoot of Christianity had its roots in Albi and origins in Zoroastrian beliefs. The Cathars held that there were two gods, a benevolent one in the spiritual realm and a malevolent one in the physical world. Salvation depended on separating oneself from the flesh. It followed that a church should not enrich itself. Cathars hated the cross, so important to Christians, considering it blasphemous[i], and thought of the Catholic mass as sacrilegious[ii].

Among the Cathars themselves only a few of the believers, known as parfaits[iii] led lives of extreme self-denial. The majority of believers, or credentes, relied upon taking the sacrament of consolamentum[iv] before death. Women parfaits were given the same reverence as male parfaits.
‘Men may invent heresies but it is women who spread them and make them immortal.’[v]
Toulouse had been a stronghold of heretical beliefs for over one hundred years.

Responding to the Threat
The Pope was determined that there was to be no deviation from the teachings of the church. And he was horrified by attacks on the church’s wealth by the rising merchant class in Languedoc, Lombardy and Provence. This wealth was also viewed with antagonism by the nobility[vi] bringing both classes into conflict with the church hierarchy.

The spread of the new religion was also aided by the poverty of ideas in the priesthood and the negligence of that priesthood in succouring their flocks. Contacts with the Moors in Spain produced a climate of tolerance to other religions in Provence and Languedoc.

St Dominic
The Cathars had bishops in Albi, Toulouse, Carcassonne and Agen. Innocent was aware of the problems within the Catholic church in the region and deposed seven bishops. He also sent Dominic Guzman[vii], of Osma Cathedral, to convert the Cathars; Dominic failed in his mission.

Innocent called on the local magnate Raymond VI to take action against the Cathars, he failed to do so, despite a promise in 1205. Innocent had written to Philip II, king of France on 10th March 1204
‘It is your responsibility to harry the Count of Toulouse out of those lands which at present he occupies; to remove this territory from the control of sectarian heretics; and to place it in the hands of true Catholics who will be enabled, under your beneficent rule, to serve Our Lord in all faithfulness.’[viii]

Philip II of France
Determined to overthrow the Catholic church, in 1207 the Cathars in Carcassonne ejected the Catholic bishop from the city. The Papal Legate Peter of Castelnau created a league of barons in the region to hunt down heretics and Raymond was asked to join; this he refused to do.
Following a meeting with Raymond VI, Peter was murdered by one of Raymond’s men on 15th January 1208. Peter had already excommunicated Raymond for failing to join the league and his lands placed under interdict;
‘He who dispossesses you will be accounted virtuous, he who strikes you dead will earn a blessing.’[ix]
The murder gave the Pope a causus belli to act against the heretics in the midst of Christendom, and a war it was most certainly going to be.

Raising the Crusade

Innocent III
On 10th March 1208 Innocent sent forth a call to Christendom asking for help in his fight against the evils of Catharism. The Cathars were accused of unnatural vices[x];
‘These heretics desecrated Communion chalices and asserted that by receiving the Sacred Host one swallowed a devil; they uttered blasphemies against the Saints, declaring that they were all damned.’[xi]
The call was accompanied by the promise of redistribution of the heretics’ property.

Frederick II
The King of France demanded a declaration from the King of England that he would not attack French domains if he joined the crusade. He was also wary of the intentions of the German king, Frederick II, who was allied with Raymond VI. Innocent wanted to use Philip as a secular agent of the church, in an attempt to divert attention away from the fact that this was a war of religion.
‘It is to you that we especially entrust the cause of God’s Holy Church. The army of the faithful that is forming to combat heresy must have a leader to whom its members must owe unquestioning obedience.’[xii]
It may also be possible that Philip was wary of attacking Raymond VI, one of the major French magnates, on his home ground. The fact that Raymond VI was related to the French royal family probably did not enter into his calculations. The kings of France were intent on bringing the whole of France under their control and the Languedoc was, like Normandy before it, semi-autonomous. For Philip the prize would be, not the crushing of the Cathars, but the crushing of the power of the counts of Toulouse and the nobility of the region and bringing it under his direct control.

Franks against Franks
In June 1209 Raymond VI was scourged and became solemnly reconciled with the church in the presence of three archbishops and at least nineteen bishops. The army, that was to descend upon his lands and peoples, was ready to march. Raymond decided to join the invading crusader army, thus protecting his own lands[xiii]. The church had no time to lose[xiv].

The Cathars, these crusaders were about to fight, had taken no precautions since the demand for assistance by Innocent III in March the previous year. There was no agreement amongst the Cathars about how to respond to the threat, apart from offers of submission. They probably did not realise that the war, about to descend upon them, was a war of eradication not conquest. Raymond VI wrote to his nephew Raymond-Roger, the Count of Béziers, begging him
‘Not to make war upon him, not to quarrel with him; let both stay on the defensive.’[xv]
Notwithstanding the centuries old history of strife between the two families.

A Quick Campaign
In early July the crusaders marched towards Languedoc under the leadership of the Papal Legate Arnald-Amalric, Abbot of Cîteaux. Not all the soldiers were crusaders, the church was also employing mercenaries.

In Valence the crusade was joined by Raymond VI and his men and they reached Montpellier by the 20th. They were now just fifteen leagues from Béziers, one of the major cities of the region. The crusaders besieged and sacked the city and massacred the inhabitants.
The will of their opponents was paralysed by the atrocities visited upon the city. The head of the Cathars defending troops was the city’s count. He had not stayed to be caught in the inevitable siege, but hurried to his capital at Carcassonne. When the crusading army arrived outside the walls of Carcassonne Raymond-Roger called upon his liege lord Peter II, the king of Aragon, for assistance.
Arnald-Amalric[xvi] agreed that, as the Viscount was innocent, he and twelve of his knights would be granted safe-conduct out of the city. The remainder of the citizens would be treated as they deserved. The siege commenced. At this point, Raymond-Roger panicked and according to one account offered himself as a hostage, as long as the citizens of Carcassonne were allowed to go free.

Another version says that the Viscount of Béziers, having been given the safe-conduct, was tricked into attending a meeting with the Papal Legate; he said of himself.
‘He had given himself up as a hostage of his own free will, and had been out of his mind to do so.’[xvii]
He was dead by the 10th November, dying in his own dungeons of either poisoning or dysentery. The loss of their commander gave the people of Carcassonne little choice but to surrender. They left their homes and possessions to the rapacity of the crusaders. Within ten days of Raymond-Roger’s death his wife agreed to dispossess her two year old son receiving a lump sum and annuity[xviii].
The Cathars expelled from Carcassonne
It took barely two months to dispossess the Viscount of Béziers and eradicate two of the Cathar strongholds. The crusaders were jubilant.
Mopping up the Pieces
Raymond-Roger’s lands were now hawked around potential leaders of the next phase of the crusade, as Arnald-Amalric looked for a good Catholic to be overlord in the region. As Raymond-Roger had not been found guilty of heresy, the nobles amongst the crusaders were uneasy at this casual dispossession of Raymond-Roger’s son.

‘No-one could fail to feel himself dishonoured by accepting these domains.’[xix]
The Duke of Burgundy, the Count of Nevers and the Count of Saint-Pol are reputed to be among those who turned down the offer from the Papal Legate. Eventually it was a man with few lands of his own[xx] who accepted the task of expanding the terror amongst the remainder of the Cathar infected territories. That man was Simon de Montfort, who was elected Captain-General of the crusaders in 1209.

De Montfort, a friend of Dominic Guzman of Osma[xxi] and himself a devout follower of the church, now set about bribing those he would need to rely in the coming war. He placed garrisons in all the major towns and raised a levy from each household of three deniers as his personal tribute to the pope.
The army, that had brought success to the church’s crusade, now split up to go their separate ways as all the crusaders had fulfilled their forty days service. By September 1209 de Montfort was left with just twenty-six knights to prosecute a war that had only just begun.

Massacre at Montségur – Zoe Oldenbourg, Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1989

Saint Louis – Frederick Perry, AMS Press Inc, 1978
The Thirteenth Century – Sir Maurice Powicke, University of Oxford Press 1988

The Templars – Piers Paul Reid, Weidenfeld & Nicholson 2000
The Monks of War – Desmond Seward, the Folio Society 2000

King John – WL Warren, Yale University Press 1997

[i] The cross depicted suffering divinity
[ii] Because of the claim that the bread became the body of Christ
[iii] Also known as the Bonhommes or perfecti; they did not eat food of animal origin
[iv] Which washed away sin
[v] The Templars - Reid
[vi] Many of whose ancestors had given lands and monies to the church
[vii] Later Saint Dominic, founder of the order of Dominican Monks
[viii] Massacre at Montségur - Oldenbourg
[ix] Ibid
[x] A stock in trade accusation freely bandied about for perceived enemies of the church, including the Templars over a century later.
[xi] Massacre at Montségur - Oldenbourg
[xii] Ibid
[xiii] A crusader’s lands were inviolable
[xiv] Crusaders only had to follow the Cross for forty days of active service
[xv] Massacre at Montségur - Oldenbourg
[xvi] A churchman who appeared to have little sympathy for those not in complete agreement with him
[xvii] Massacre at Montségur - Oldenbourg
[xviii] 25,000 Melguil sous as a lump sum and 3,000 livres annuity
[xix] Ibid
[xx] His lands in Leicester having been seized by King John
[xxi] Who in turn was a friend of Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Anglo-Saxon England - Knut, Cnut, Canute III

Trips Abroad Rome
Conrad II
Cnut attended the coronation in Rome of Conrad II, on 26th March 1027, as Holy Roman Emperor. Cnut processed across Europe, bestowing munificent gifts at religious establishments, including the monastery of St Bertin in St Omer.  The trip established Cnut as very devout, if a trifle ostentatious and overly dramatic, possibly being a penance for any involvement in the murder of Ulf the previous year;

‘In a manner wonderfully reverent, fixing his eyes upon the ground, and freely flowing forth, so to speak, rivers of tears. But when the time came when he desired to heap the holy altars with royal offerings, how often did he first, with tears, press kisses on the pavement.’’[i]

But it also confirmed Cnut as a player on the international scene. While attending the celebrations in March Cnut probably started the negotiations that resulted in the marriage of his daughter Gunnhilde to Conrad’s heir Henry.
Henry III
Cnut wrote back to England informing them of his actions;

‘Be it known to you, that a great crowd of nobles was there at the very Easter celebration with the Lord Pope John and the Emperor Conrad, to wit all the princes of the peoples from Mount Garganus[ii] to the nearest sea[iii], who have both received me with honour and honoured me with precious gifts. However, I was honoured most by the Emperor with various gifts and priceless presents, both in gold and silver vessels and in cloaks and in extremely precious garments.’[iv]

Cnut managed to abolish the taxes payable by English pilgrims and traders journeying to Rome. He also got an agreement to reduce the cost to his archbishops of receiving the pallium. Conrad and Cnut got on well together; indeed Cnut and Rudolph, the king of Burgundy, walked alongside Conrad in the imperial procession, and Conrad gave Cnut a grant of lands in the Mark of Schleswig.
Trips Abroad Scotland
There appears to be some dispute about the date of the trip to Scotland[v]. Some sources claim 1027 and others 1031. There is no dispute about the trip; Cnut rode up to Scotland; which was divided into six provinces, each with their own king. According to contemporaneous sources Cnut and Malcolm had long been enemies. Malcolm’s son Kenneth had besieged Durham in 1006. The region remained volatile for a long time.

‘King Cnut went to Rome, and in the same year he went to Scotland. The Scottish king Malcolm bowed to him, and two other kings, Maelbeth and Iehmarc[vi].’[vii]
It is possible that Malcolm took advantage of Uhtred’s murder in 1016 and expanded down into Lothian. Siward[viii], the Earl of Northumbria did not challenge Malcolm’s expansion into Lothian, but he in his turn expanded his earldom into the west. Sighvat Thordarsson, who was one of Cnut’s skalds, states that;

‘The most famous princes in the North from the midst of Fife have brought their heads to Knutr; that was to buy peace.’[ix]
To undertake trips of such magnitude shows how very confident Cnut was in his thanes and in the people of England and his counsellors. The country was left in the care of the king’s council where Godwine[x], Earl of Wessex, was becoming a dominant character on the council.

Cnut's Empire

In 1028 Cnut drove King Olaf Haraldsson from the throne of Norway and assumed the title for himself. He made Haakon Eriksson his deputy in Norway.
‘King Cnut went from England with fifty ships to Norway, drove king Olaf from the land, and secured his claim on it.’[xi]
In 1030, when Haakon died, Olaf Haroldsson attempted to regain his throne. After Olaf was defeated Cnut sent his son Svein Knuttson to rule with his mother Aelfgyfu as regent.

‘King Olaf was killed in Norway by his own people, and was afterwards made a saint; and this year before that Hakon, the doughty eorl, died at sea.’[xii]
Aelfgyfu’s rule was not appreciated by the Norwegians .The taxes she imposed and harsh laws that were introduced resulted in the regent and her son being expelled from Norway in 1034. Svein fled to Denmark, where he died not long afterwards.

Cnut’s Last Years

Cnut from a 13th century manuscript
Earl Godwine came to prominence in Cnut’s last years. His wife, Gytha Thorkelsdottir , was the sister of Cnut’s sister’s murdered husband Ulf. Godwine attached himself to the rising star that was Cnut Sveinsson and, unlike Eadric, stayed loyal. Cnut made Godwine earl of east Wessex in 1018 and earl of all of Wessex by 1023. Sources claim that Godwine fought with Cnut in Denmark in 1019.
‘He [Cnut] also found 0ut how profound he [Godwine] was in eloquence, and what advantage it would be to him in his newly acquired kingdom if he were to bind him more closely to him by means of some fitting reward.’[xiii]

Glastonbury Abbey
In late 1032 Cnut made a pilgrimage to the burial place of his old rival Edmund Ironside, buried in the abbey at Glastonbury. Cnut arrived with his entourage on 30th November and laid a cloak, decorated with peacock feathers, on the tomb. William of Malmesbury records that Cnut was very moved by the ceremony, calling Edmund his brother.
Most of Cnut’s actions in his last three years of life are not shown in the written record, apart from grants of lands to various religious establishments and to Godwine and others.

In late autumn 1035 Cnut and Emma were on a royal progress and had visited Sherborne, where Cnut issued a charter to the church, granting it sixteen hides of land at Corscombe in Dorset, requesting that the monks offer prayers for him. The royal entourage then travelled to Shaftesbury. Cnut died on 12th November 1035. The Knytlingasaga gives details of symptoms that could be jaundice.

‘King Cnut passed away at Shaftesbury; he is buried in Winchester in the Old Minster. He was king over all England for very nearly twenty years…………..a meeting of all counsellors, in Oxford……chose Harold to hold all England for himself and his brother Harthacnut, who was in Denmark.’[xiv]

Emma's son Edward, known as the Confessor
Cnut’s sons had neither the ability nor personality to hold together the empire Cnut had forged for himself. His son Harold Harefoot reigned for five years in England, dying before his brother Harthacnut, (whom Cnut had wished to inherit both England and Denmark), King of Denmark could launch a planned invasion fleet. In his turn Harthacnut reigned only two years, before dying. He was succeeded by Emma’s son Edward[xv]. In Norway Cnut was succeeded by Magnus Olafsson, son of Olaf II.

The Vikings – Magnus Magnusson – Tempus Publishing Ltd 2000
Queen Emma and the Vikings – Harriet O’Brien – Bloomsbury Publishing 2005

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles – Anne Savage (translator), Colour Library Books 1995
Anglo-Saxon England – Frank Stenton, Oxford University Press 1997

Cnut – MJ Trow, Sutton Publishing Ltd 2005

[i] Cnut - Trow
[ii] Mont St Angelo in the then Kingdom of Naples
[iii] The Adriatic
[iv] Cnut - Trow
[v] There are more than one manuscript of the Anglo Saxon Chronicles, there is one from Abingdon and another from Worcester as well as others
[vi] Possibly Echmarrach Ragnallson, whose kingdom at one time stretched from Dublin to Galloway
[vii] The Anglo Saxon Chronicles - Savage
[viii] Who first appears in the records identifiably in Northumbria in 1033
[ix] Cnut - Trow
[x] Father of King Harold and Tostig, who in 1066 was defeated by Harold at the Battle of Stamford Bridge thus opening the way for the invasion of Emma’s great-nephew William the Bastard of Normandy
[xi] The Anglo Saxon Chronicles - Savage
[xii] Ibid
[xiii] Cnut - Trow
[xiv] The Anglo Saxon Chronicles - Savage
[xv] Known as the Confessor