North Sea Empire

The North Sea Empire, also known as the Anglo-Scandinavian Empire, was the thalassocratic domain ruled by Cnut the Great as King of England, Denmark, Norway and parts of what is now Sweden between 1016 and 1035.[a]

North Sea Empire

Flag of North Sea Empire
The dominions of Cnut the Great. (Note that the Norwegian lands of Jemtland, Herjedalen, Idre and Særna are not included in this map).
The dominions of Cnut the Great. (Note that the Norwegian lands of Jemtland, Herjedalen, Idre and Særna are not included in this map).
StatusPersonal Union of Denmark, Norway and England (also parts of Sweden)
CapitalRibe, Denmark
Common languagesOld Norse, Old English
Christianity, Norse paganism
GovernmentPersonal Union Monarchy
• 1028–1035
Cnut the Great
Historical eraViking Age
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Wessex dragon.svg Kingdom of England
Raven Banner.svg Kingdom of Denmark
Raven Banner.svg Kingdom of Norway
Kingdom of England Wessex dragon.svg
Kingdom of Denmark Raven Banner.svg
Kingdom of Norway Raven Banner.svg



Cnut was the younger son of the Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard. When his father died on 3 February 1014 during an invasion of England, Cnut, who had been left in command of the fleet in the River Trent while Sweyn was in the south of England, was acclaimed by the Danes. However, the invasion fell apart: the men of the Kingdom of Lindsey, who had promised to supply horses for a tactical raid, were not ready before the English nobles had reinstalled King Æthelred, whom they had previously sent into exile, after forcing him to agree to govern less harshly.[2]

Cnut's brother Harald became king of Denmark, but with help from Eric Haakonsson of Norway, Cnut raised a new invasion fleet of his own and returned to England in summer 1015. The English were divided by intrigue among the king, his sons, and other nobles; within four months one of Æthelred's sons had pledged allegiance to Cnut and he controlled Wessex, the historic heart of the kingdom. Before the decisive battle for London could be fought, Æthelred died on 23 April 1016. The Londoners chose his son Edmund as their king, while most of the nobles met at Southampton and swore fealty to Cnut. Cnut blockaded London, but was forced to leave to replenish his supplies and beaten by Edmund at the Battle of Otford; however, following the Danes as they raided into Essex, Edmund was in turn defeated at the Battle of Assandun. He and Cnut struck an agreement under which Edmund would retain Wessex and Cnut rule all of England north of the Thames. But on 30 November 1016, Edmund in turn died, leaving Cnut as King of England.[3]

In summer 1017 he cemented his power by marrying Æthelred's widow, Emma, although he had previously married an English noblewoman, Ælfgifu of Northampton.[4] In 1018 he paid off his fleet (with money especially from the citizens of London) and was fully recognised as King of England.[5]


Knut der Große cropped
Cnut the Great

King Harald died childless in 1018 or 1019, leaving the country without a king. Cnut was his brother's heir and went to Denmark in 1019 to claim it. While there he sent his subjects in England a letter saying he was abroad to avert an unspecified "danger",[6] and he only returned to quell incipient rebellions.[7] One Danish chronicle states that the Danes had previously deposed Harald in favour of Cnut, then brought back Harald because of Cnut's frequent absences, until Cnut finally became king permanently after his brother's death.[8]

King Olaf of Norway and King Anund Jacob of Sweden, seeing the combined Anglo-Danish kingdom as a threat – Cnut's father Sweyn had asserted power over both their countries – took advantage of Cnut's being in England to attack Denmark in 1025 or 1026, and were joined by Ulf Jarl, Cnut's Danish regent, and his brother. Cnut took Olaf's fleet by surprise and took the battle to the Swedish fleet at the Battle of the Helgeå.[9] The precise outcome is disputed, but Cnut came out best; Olaf fled and the threat to Denmark was dispelled.[10][11]

In 1027, Cnut travelled to Rome, partly to expiate his sin for having Jarl Ulf killed the previous Christmas, partly to attend the coronation of Conrad II as Holy Roman Emperor and to demonstrate his importance as a ruler. He secured relaxation of tolls levied on pilgrims journeying to Rome from Northern Europe, and on Papal fees for English archbishops receiving their pallium; he also began a relationship with Conrad that led to the Emperor's son Henry marrying Cnut's daughter Gunnhild and before that to the Emperor ceding to Denmark Schleswig and a strip of ancient Danish territory between Hedeby and the Eider that the Germans had occupied as a buffer zone against the Danes.[12][13]


Olaf II had extended his power throughout Norway while Jarl Erik was with Cnut in England.[14] Cnut's enmity with him extended further back: Æthelred had returned to England in a fleet provided by Olaf.[15] In 1024 Cnut had offered to let Olaf govern Norway as his vassal;[16] but after Helgeå, he set about undermining his unpopular rule with bribes, and in 1028 set out with 50 ships to subjugate Norway. A large contingent of Danish ships joined him, and Olaf withdrew into the Oslo Fjord while Cnut sailed along the coast, landing at various points and receiving oaths of allegiance from the local chieftains. Finally at Nidaros, now Trondheim, he was acclaimed king at the Eyrathing, and in a few months Olaf fled to Sweden.[17][18][19]

In 1030, Olaf attempted to return, but the people of the Trondheim area did not want him back and he was defeated and killed at the Battle of Stiklestad.


After Helgeå, Cnut also claimed to rule "part of Sweden" together with England, Denmark, and Norway.[20] He had coins minted either in the capital, Sigtuna, or in Lund, then part of Denmark, with the inscription CNVT REX SW ("Cnut King of the Swedes"). Western Götaland or Blekinge have been suggested.[21] Most England runestones are in Uppland. It was probably either overlordship or disputed rule; Cnut did not have to be present in Sweden to order the minting of coins, coins were also minted asserting he ruled Ireland,[22][23] and Swedish history at this early date is very uncertain.[24]

Tributary areas

North Sea Empire. Red: Countries where Cnut was king. Orange: vassals. Yellow: allies.

In addition to Sweden, of which he or the person who wrote the heading to his letter claimed he was king, Cnut received tribute from the Wends and was allied with the Poles; in 1022, together with Godwin and Ulf Jarl, he took a fleet east into the Baltic to confirm his overlordship of the coastal areas that the Danish kings dominated from the Jomsborg.[25]

Immediately after his return from Rome, Cnut led an army into Scotland and made vassals of Malcolm, the High King of Scotland, and two other kings,[26] one of whom, Echmarcach mac Ragnaill, was a sea-king whose lands included Galloway and the Isle of Man and would become king of Dublin in 1036. All these and likely also the Welsh[27] paid tribute, on the model of the Danegeld that Æthelred had instituted to pay off the Danes; and Cnut was thus reasserting the dominion over the Celtic kingdoms that recent English kings had had to let lapse, as well as punishing those who had supported Olaf against him.[16] A verse by the Icelandic skald Óttarr svarti calls Cnut "king of the Danes, the Irish, the English and the Islanders"; presumably Norway is omitted because Cnut had not yet come to power there.[28]


By the early 11th century, England had been Christian for centuries; the Danelaw was in transition from paganism to Christianity,[29] but the Scandinavian countries were still predominantly pagan.[30] Cnut's father, Sweyn, had initially been pagan but in later life had been basically Christian.[31] In England, Cnut assiduously promoted the interests of the church, and this brought him acceptance from the Christian rulers of Europe that no other Scandinavian king had previously been accorded.[32] In Norway, in contrast, he built churches and was both respectful and generous to the clergy, but also made allies of the heathen chieftains, and unlike Olaf, did not make laws benefitting the church until his power was on a solid footing.[16]


Earldoms of Anglo-Saxon England
Earldoms of England c. 1025
Cnut 1016 1035 a
Penny of Cnut the Great

Early in 1017, probably because he was king by right of conquest not more normal means, Cnut divided England into 4 earldoms on the Scandinavian model: Wessex he governed directly, and of his allies Thorkell the Tall became Earl of East Anglia, Eric Haakonsson retained Northumbria, which Cnut had already given him, and Eadric Streona became Earl of Mercia. But the last was disgraced and executed within a year. In 1018 Cnut revived at least two earldoms in Wessex and at a meeting at Oxford, his followers and representatives of the English agreed that he would govern under the laws of King Edgar.[33]

Anglo-Saxon historian Frank Stenton points out that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has relatively little to say about Cnut's reign except to note his frequent travels abroad, indicating that he was in strong control of England. Thorkell likely acted as his regent during his absences,[34] until they had a falling out and he was outlawed in 1021. The terms of their reconciliation in Denmark in 1023, with an exchange of sons for fosterage and Thorkell becoming Cnut's regent in Denmark, suggests that Thorkell had won them with an armed force.[35]

However, it was left to another of Cnut's earls, Siward, to protect his earldom of Northumbria by consolidating English power in Scotland; at his death in 1055 he, not the king, was overlord of all the territory that the Kingdom of Strathclyde had annexed early the previous century.[26]

The Danes had more reason to grumble about Cnut's absences than the English; he reigned primarily from England, leaving regents in charge in Denmark.[36][37][38] He replaced Thorkell as his primary advisor in England with Godwin, an Englishman whom he made Earl of Wessex,[39] while within three years of their reconciliation he had also been replaced as regent of Denmark, by Ulf Jarl, Cnut's sister's husband, whom Cnut also made guardian of his son by Emma, Harthacnut.[40] Ulf in turn proved less than loyal, first conspiring against him with the kings of Sweden and Norway, then making a power play by having the nobles swear fealty to Harthacnut (thus effectively to him); Cnut returned to Denmark at Christmas 1026, ordered his housecarls to kill Ulf, and it was done in Trinity Church at Roskilde.[39] By the end of his life, he had entirely replaced the Scandinavian inner circle who advised him with Englishmen.[41]

In Norway, Cnut stayed into the new year and then left Jarl Erik's son Hakon in charge as his regent (he had served Sweyn Forkbeard in the same capacity), but he drowned the following winter.[42] As his replacement Cnut sent Swein, the younger of his two sons by Ælfgifu and thus known as Sveinn Alfífuson in Norway – along with his mother as guardian. They were delayed in southern Norway while Olaf's return was rebuffed, but became even more unpopular than he had been. Ælfgifu tried to impose new taxation and stricter controls on a people who valued their independence and especially resented that the new customs were Danish.[42][43][44]

Cnut also prepared to hand over Denmark to one of his sons: upon taking power in Norway, he held a great court in Nidaros and proclaimed Harthacnut, his son by Emma, king of Denmark.[45] As Stenton points out, by appointing different sons his heirs in different countries, he demonstrated that he did not have "the deliberate intention of founding a northern empire . . . [which] would remain united after his death."[46] It may have been simply the custom of his people.[47] In any event, it was clear throughout Cnut's reign that the weakness of his empire lay in the impossibility of finding loyal and competent regents to govern when he could not be present.[48] And his sons could not hold it together.

After Cnut's death

The North Sea Empire collapsed immediately once Cnut died in 1035. As a matter of fact, in Norway, it was already collapsing: by the winter of 1033, Swein and Ælfgifu were so unpopular that they were forced to leave Trondheim. In 1034 the leader of the army that had rebuffed and killed King Olaf at Stiklestad went together with one of the king's loyal followers to bring his young son Magnus back from Gardariki to rule,[49] and in autumn 1035, a few weeks before Cnut's death, Swein and his mother had to flee the country altogether and go to Denmark.[46] Swein died shortly afterwards.

In Denmark, Harthacnut was already ruling as king, but he was unable to leave for three years because of the threat that Magnus of Norway would invade to exact revenge. In the meantime the English nobles, divided between him and Cnut's younger son by Ælfgifu, Harold Harefoot, decided to compromise by having Harold rule as regent, and by the end of 1037 Ælfgifu had persuaded the most important to swear allegiance to Harold, he was firmly ensconced as Harold I, and Harthacnut's own mother, Queen Emma, had been forced to take refuge in Flanders.[50]

Harthacnut prepared an invasion fleet to wrest England from his half-brother, but the latter died in 1040 before it could be used. Harthacnut then became king of England, reuniting it with Denmark, but made a generally bad impression as king. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle said of him that he never did anything royal during his entire reign.[51][52][53] He died suddenly in June 1042 "as he stood at his drink" at a wedding feast, and with him died the North Sea Empire.[54]

See also


  1. ^ As one historian put it: When the 11th century began its fourth decade, Canute was, with the single exception of the Emperor, the most imposing ruler in Latin Christendom. ... [H]e was lord of four important realms and the overlord of other kingdoms. Though technically Canute was counted among the kings, his position among his fellow-monarchs was truly imperial. Apparently he held in his hands the destinies of two great regions: the British Isles and the Scandinavian peninsulas. His fleet all but controlled two important seas, the North and the Baltic. He had built an Empire.[1]


  1. ^ Laurence Marcellus Larson, Canute the Great: 995 – c. 1035 and the Rise of Danish Imperialism During the Viking Age, New York: Putnam, 1912, OCLC 223097613, p. 257.
  2. ^ Frank Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd ed. Oxford: Clarendon, 1971, ISBN 978-0-19-821716-9, p. 386.
  3. ^ Stenton, pp. 388–93.
  4. ^ Stenton, p. 397.
  5. ^ Stenton, p. 399: "It is with the departure of the Danish fleet and the meeting at Oxford which followed it that Cnut's effective reign begins".
  6. ^ Stenton, p. 401.
  7. ^ Palle Lauring, tr. David Hohnen, A History of the Kingdom of Denmark, Copenhagen: Høst, 1960, OCLC 5954675, p. 56.
  8. ^ Edward A. Freeman, The History of the Norman Conquest of England: Its Causes and its Results, Volume 1 Oxford: Clarendon, 1867, p. 404, note 1.
  9. ^ Stenton, pp. 402–04.
  10. ^ Jim Bradbury, The Routledge Companion to Medieval Warfare, London: Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-22126-9, p. 125.
  11. ^ Philip J. Potter, Gothic Kings of Britain: The Lives of 31 Medieval Rulers, 1016–1399, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2009, ISBN 978-0-7864-4038-2, p. 12.
  12. ^ Stenton, pp. 407–08.
  13. ^ Viggo Starcke, Denmark in World History, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1962, p. 282.
  14. ^ Stenton, pp. 402–03.
  15. ^ Herbert A. Grueber and Charles Francis Keary, A Catalogue of English Coins in the British Museum: Anglo-Saxon Series, Volume 2, London: Trustees [of the British Museum], 1893, p. lxxvii.
  16. ^ a b c Starcke, p. 284.
  17. ^ Stenton, p. 404.
  18. ^ Starcke, p. 289.
  19. ^ Karen Larsen, A History of Norway, The American-Scandinavian Foundation, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University, 1948, repr. 1950, OCLC 221615697, p. 104.
  20. ^ In the probably later heading to a 1027 letter sent to his English subjects: Rex totius Angliæ et Denemarciæ et Norreganorum et partis Suanorum, "King of all England and Denmark and Norway and part of Sweden". Freeman, p. 479, note 2.
  21. ^ Brita Malmer, "The 1954 Rone Hoard and Some Comments on Styles and Inscriptions of Certain Scandinavian Coins from the Early Eleventh Century", in Coinage and History in the North Sea World, c. AD 500–1200: Essays in Honour of Marion Archibald, ed. Barrie Cook and Gareth Williams, Leiden: Brill, 2006, ISBN 90-04-14777-2, pp. 435–48, p. 443.
  22. ^ Henry Noel Humphreys, The Coinage of the British Empire: An Outline of the Progress of the Coinage in Great Britain and her Dependencies, From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, London: Bogue, 1855, OCLC 475661618, p. 54.
  23. ^ "The Hiberno–Norse Coinage of Ireland, ~995 to ~1150", Irish Coinage.
  24. ^ Franklin D. Scott, Sweden: The Nation's History, 2nd ed. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1988, ISBN 0-8093-1489-4, pp. 25–26, listing Cnut's claim.
  25. ^ Starcke, pp. 281–82.
  26. ^ a b Stenton, p. 419.
  27. ^ M.K. Lawson, Cnut: England's Viking King, Stroud: Tempus, 2004, ISBN 0-7524-2964-7, p. 103: "Cnut's power would seem in some sense to have extended into Wales".
  28. ^ Benjamin T. Hudson, Viking Pirates and Christian Princes: Dynasty, Religion, and Empire in the North Atlantic, New York: Oxford University, 2005, ISBN 978-0-19-516237-0, p. 119.
  29. ^ Lauring, p. 56: "the Danes in England very quickly became Christians".
  30. ^ Starcke, p. 283.
  31. ^ Stenton, pp. 396–97: "Swein ... first appears in history as the leader of a heathen reaction . . . [but] behaved as at least a nominal Christian in later life. ... Swein's tepid patronage of Christianity ..."
  32. ^ Stenton, p. 397: "the first viking leader to be admitted into the civilised fraternity of Christian kings".
  33. ^ Stenton, pp. 398–99.
  34. ^ Stenton, pp. 399–401.
  35. ^ Stenton, pp. 401–02.
  36. ^ Jón Stefánsson, Denmark and Sweden: with Iceland and Finland, London: Unwin, 1916, OCLC 181662877, p. 11: "Cnut's ideal seems to have been an Anglo-Scandinavian Empire, of which England was to be the head and centre".
  37. ^ Lauring, p. 56: "He was fond of England and regarded it as his principle [sic] kingdom.... Canute actually became an Englishman".
  38. ^ Grueber and Keary, p. 6: "Though England had been conquered by the Dane she was really the centre of his Danish empire".
  39. ^ a b Jón Stefánsson, p. 11.
  40. ^ Stenton, p. 402.
  41. ^ Stenton, p. 416.
  42. ^ a b Stenton, p. 405.
  43. ^ Larsen, pp. 104–05.
  44. ^ T. D. Kendrick, A History of the Vikings, New York: Scribner, 1930, repr. Mineola, New York: Dover, 2004, ISBN 0-486-43396-X, p. 125: "Danish taxes were introduced, Danish laws imposed, and preference was everywhere given to Danish interests".
  45. ^ Stenton, pp. 404–05.
  46. ^ a b Stenton, p. 406.
  47. ^ Grueber and Keary, p. 6: "But what more than anything else ruined these hopes, as they almost always ruined the hopes of extended Scandinavian rule, were the customs of inheritance which obtained among the northern nations".
  48. ^ Lauring, p. 57: "Now that a single king had assumed power after the pattern of Western Europe, the moment that king went away and omitted to leave strong men in charge behind him, or left a weak one, [the viking threat] became fatally weakened".
  49. ^ Larsen, p. 110.
  50. ^ Stenton, p. 420.
  51. ^ Joseph Stevenson, ed. and tr., The Church Historians of England, volume 2 part 1, London: Heeleys, 1853, p. 96, entry for 1040.
  52. ^ Stenton, p. 422.
  53. ^ Lauring, p. 57: "Canute's sons, despite the fact that they were both completely incompetent, were both proclaimed Kings of England".
  54. ^ Lauring, p. 57.

The 1020s was a decade of the Julian Calendar which began on January 1, 1020, and ended on December 31, 1029.

== Events ==

=== 1020 ===

==== By place ====

====== Europe ======

Summer – Emperor Henry II conducts his third Italian military campaign. He makes plans to invade the south, but remains non-commital.

June 15 – Byzantine troops under Catepan Basil Boioannes (supported by his ally Prince Pandulf IV) capture the fortress of Troia.

The French city of Saint-Germain-en-Laye is founded by King Robert II (the Pious).

King Canute the Great codifies the laws of England (approximate date).

=== 1021 ===

==== By place ====

====== Europe ======

November – Emperor Henry II conducts his fourth Italian military campaign. He crosses the Brenner Pass with a 60,000-strong army and reaches Verona, where he receives Lombard levies. Henry proceeds to Mantua and then into Ravenna, to spend the Christmas.

The Taifa of Valencia, a Moorish kingdom in Al-Andalus (modern Spain), becomes independent from the Caliphate of Córdoba (approximate date).

====== Africa ======

Last evidence of indigenous Christian and non-Arabophone culture in Tripolitania (modern Libya).

====== Asia ======

Senekerim-Hovhannes Artsruni, king of Vaspurakan (Greater Armenia), surrenders his kingdom to the Byzantine Empire. He receives in return Sebasteia and becomes governor of Cappadocia.

The Chinese capital city of Kaifeng has some half a million residents by this year; including all those present in the nine designated suburbs, the population is over a million people.

Emperor Rajendra Chola I extends his influence of the Chola Empire to the banks of the Ganges River (North India) and invades Bengal.

Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni appoints Malik Ayaz to the throne, making Lahore (modern Pakistan) the capital of the Ghaznavid Empire.

=== 1022 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

Spring – Battle of Svindax: The Byzantine army under Emperor Basil II defeats the Georgians at Svindax (modern Turkey). King George I is forced to negotiate a peace treaty, ending the Byzantine–Georgian wars.

Summer – Nikephoros Phokas (Barytrachelos) conspires with the Byzantine general Nikephoros Xiphias against Basil II. The rebellion collapses and Xiphias assassinates Phokas.

====== Europe ======

Spring – Emperor Henry II divides his army into three columns and descends through Rome onto Capua. The bulk of the expeditionary force (20,000 men) led by Henry, makes its way down the Adriatic coast.

Pilgrim, archbishop of Cologne, marches with his army down the Tyrrhenian coast to lay siege to Capua. The citizens open the gates and surrender the city to the imperial army.

Pilgrim besieges the city of Salerno for forty days. Prince Guaimar III offers to give hostages – Pilgrim accepts the prince's son and co-prince Guaimar IV, and lifts the siege.

Summer – Outbreak of the plague among the German troops forces Henry II to abandon his campaign in Italy. He reimposes his suzerainty on the Lombard principalities.

King Olof Skötkonung dies and is succeeded by his son Anund Jakob (or James) as ruler of Sweden. He becomes the second Christian king of the Swedish realm.

====== Africa ======

The 14-year-old Al-Mu'izz ibn Badis takes with support of the Zirid nobles the government over and ascends (as a minor) to the throne in Ifriqiya (modern Tunisia).

====== Asia ======

The Chinese military has one million registered soldiers during the Song Dynasty, an increase since the turn of the 11th century (approximate date).

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

King Robert II (the Pious) burns 13 Cathari heretics at Orléans. These are the first burning victims for heresy in Medieval Europe.

Pope Benedict VIII convenes a synod at Pavia. He issues decrees to restrain simony and incontinence of the clergy.

Æthelnoth, archbishop of Canterbury, travels to Rome to obtain the pallium, which is received by Benedict VIII.

=== 1023 ===

==== By place ====

====== Europe ======

The Judge-Governor of Seville in Al-Andalus (modern Spain) takes advantage of the disintegration of the Caliphate of Córdoba, and seizes power as Abbad I, founding the Abbadid Dynasty.

December – Abbad I declares the Taifa of Seville independent from Córdoban rule. Abd ar-Rahman V is proclaimed Caliph at Córdoba.

====== Asia ======

The Ghaznavid Empire occupies Transoxiana (approximate date).

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

The Dom Church at Utrecht (modern Netherlands) is severely damaged by fire. Bishop Adalbold II builds a new Romanesque style church.

=== 1024 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

Emperor Basil II prepares a Byzantine expedition to invade Sicily. Governor Ahmed al-Akhal appeals to the Zirids of Ifriqiya for help. They dispatch a fleet, but these is caught up in a storm and destroyed near Pantelleria.

Battle of Lemnos: Kievan Viking raiders (800 men) sail through the straits at Abydos to the Aegean Sea. From there they made for the island of Lemnos, but are defeated by a Byzantine fleet of the Cibyrrhaeot Theme.

====== Europe ======

July 13 – Emperor Henry II dies in his imperial palace at Göttingen (modern Germany). He leaves no heirs, thereby ending the Ottonian Dynasty. The Salian Dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire is founded by Conrad II.

September – Conrad II (the Elder) is elected and crowned as King of Germany in Mainz, while both he and his cousin Conrad the Younger (son of Conrad I, duke of Carinthia) are invested as joint dukes of Franconia.

Roger I of Tosny, a Norman nobleman, leaves the battlefield of the Ebro Valley after terrorising the Saracens, and capturing several towns and castles during the Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain).

====== Asia ======

The world's first paper-printed money, which later greatly benefits the economy of the Song Dynasty, originates in the Sichuan province of China.

Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni sacks the Hindu religious center of Somnath, and takes away a booty of 20 million dinars (approximate date).

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

April 9 – Pope Benedict VIII dies after a 12-year pontificate at Rome. He is succeeded by his brother John XIX as the 144th pope of the Catholic Church.

=== 1025 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

December 15 – Emperor Basil II (Bulgar Slayer) dies in Constantinople after a 50-year reign. Never married – he is succeeded by his brother Constantine VIII who becomes sole ruler of the Byzantine Empire. Constantine calls the Sicilian invasion off. Catapan Basil Boioannes diverts the Byzantine expeditionary force already assembled on Calabria to join the siege of Capua.

====== Europe ======

April 18 – Bolesław I (the Brave) is crowned in Gniezno as the first king of Poland. He takes advantage of the interregnum in Germany (see 1024), and receives permission for his coronation from Pope John XIX.

September – At the urging of Queen Constance of Arles, the three sons of King Robert II (the Pious) revolt against their father – Hugh Magnus (heir and co-king), Henry I and Robert I start a civil war over power.

December 25 – Mieszko II, son of Bolosław I, is crowned as king of Poland by Archbishop Hippolytus in the Gniezno Cathedral.

====== Africa ======

Emir Al-Mu'izz ibn Badis of the Zirid Dynasty in Ifriqiya (modern Tunisia) attempts to retake Sicily but fails.

====== Asia ======

Srivijaya, a Buddhist kingdom based in Sumatra, is attacked by Emperor Rajendra I of the Chola Empire of southern India, in a dispute over trading rights in Southeast Asia. It survives, but declines in importance.

=== 1026 ===

==== By place ====

====== Europe ======

Spring – King Conrad II (the Elder) assembles an army of thousands of armored knights for an expedition into Italy. He besieges Pavia and marches to Milan, where he is crowned with the Iron Crown by Archbishop Aribert as king of the Lombards. Duke William V (the Great) of Aquitaine, who is already en route for Italy, decides to renounce his claim to the Lombard throne and turns back.

April – Conrad II punishes (with the help of Milanese troops) the citizens of Pavia with starvation, for burning down the Royal Palace. He appoints Aribert as his viceroy ("imperial vicar") in Italy and charges him with ensuring that the order is complied.

Summer – Conrad II leaves the bulk of his army at the siege of Pavia and marches to Ravenna. The Ravennan militias close the town gates and assault the imperial train. Conrad rallies his troops and takes Ravenna, taking bloody revenge.

Conrad II proceeds to Pesaro, but a malarian outbreak forces him to withdraw back up north to the Po Valley. He subdues the March of Turin, where Count Ulric Manfred II opposes the election of Conrad.

Battle of the Helgeå (off the coast of Sweden): Naval forces of King Cnut the Great's North Sea Empire defeat the combined Swedish and Norwegian royal fleets.

Autumn – Pavia falls to the imperial forces. Only the intervention of Odilo of Cluny persuades Conrad to have mercy on the city and the defeated rebels.

The 9-year-old Henry VI (the Black) is made duke of Bavaria by his father, Conrad II. After the death of his predecessor Henry V.

Pietro Barbolano becomes the 28th doge of Venice.

====== Asia ======

A Zubu revolt against the Liao Dynasty is suppressed, with the Zubu forced to pay an annual tribute of horses, camels and furs.

=== 1027 ===

==== By place ====

====== Europe ======

March 26 – Pope John XIX crowns Conrad II (the Elder) and his wife Gisela as Holy Roman Emperor and Empress, respectively, in Old St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

May 14 – King Robert II (the Pious) sues for peace with his sons. Henry I is crowned co-king of France at Reims Cathedral, but has little power to rule (until 1031).

Duke Sergius IV of Naples donates the County of Aversa to a band of Norman mercenaries led by Rainulf Drengot, who support him in the war with Capua.

August 6 – Robert I (the Magnificent) becomes duke of Normandy after the death of his brother Richard III.

====== England ======

King Cnut the Great attends the coronation of Conrad II in Rome. This proves his position as sole ruler of the Danish North Sea Empire.

King Sitric Silkbeard of Dublin and sub-King Flannacán of Brega make a pilgrimage to Rome.

Ealdred is appointed abbot of Tavistock Abbey (approximate date).

====== Asia ======

August 16 – Bagrat IV becomes king of Georgia and succeeds his father, George I, after his death. Queen Dowager Mariam becomes regent for her underage son.

As recorded in the Song Shi, the Song Dynasty Chinese engineer Yan Su reinvents the 3rd-century south-pointing chariot, a mechanical-driven compass vehicle.

This is the first year of the first rabjyung (60-year) cycle started in the Tibetan calendar.

==== By topic ====

====== Literature ======

The Book of Healing (Arabic: کتاب الشفاء Kitab Al-Shifaʾ, Latin: Sufficientia), a comprehensive scientific and philosophical encyclopedia written by the Persian polymath Avicenna (Abū ʿAlī ibn Sīnā), is published.

=== 1028 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

November 11 – Emperor Constantine VIII dies at Constantinople after a 3-year reign. On his deathbed, and without a male heir, Constantine arranges that his eldest daughter, Zoë Porphyrogenita, succeeds him and marries the Byzantine nobleman, Romanos III (Argyros).

November 15 – Zoë Porphyrogenita takes the throne as empress consort. Her husband, Romanos III (age 60) becomes emperor of the Byzantine Empire.

====== England ======

Cnut the Great sails from England to Norway with a fleet of 50 ships. He defeats Olaf Haraldsson and is crowned king of Norway. Cnut becomes the sole ruler of England, Denmark and part of Sweden (known as the Danish North Sea Empire).

====== Europe ======

April 14 – The 10-year-old Henry III (the Black), son of Emperor Conrad II (the Elder), is elected and crowned king of Germany in Aachen Cathedral by Pilgrim, archbishop of Cologne.

King Sancho Garcés III (the Great) conquers Castile (modern Spain) (approximate date).

=== 1029 ===

==== By place ====

====== Europe ======

Prince Pandulf IV of Capua becomes the de facto ruler of southern Italy – holding Capua and Naples himself – this in support with his powerful allies Amalfi, Salerno and Benevento. Only the Duchy of Gaeta remains out of his grasp.

Rainulf Drengot, head of a mercenary band of Norman knights, is approached by Duke John V of Gaeta and is persuaded to change sides. With Norman help, Duke Sergius IV recovers Naples from Capuan occupation.

Duke Bretislav I (Bohemian Achilles) of Bohemia of the Přemyslid Dynasty reconquers Moravia from Poland (approximate date).

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

The seat of the Bishopric of Zeitz is moved to Naumburg (Saxony-Anhalt) in Central Germany.

1020s in England

Events from the 1020s in England.


Year 1026 (MXXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.


Year 1027 (MXXVII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.


Year 1028 (MXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.


Anglo-Scandinavian is an academic term referring to the archaeological and historical periods during the 8th to 13th centuries in which there was migration to - and occupation of - the British Isles by Scandinavians generally known as Norsemen or Vikings. It is used in distinction from Anglo-Saxon.

The term is also used in linguistic studies covering the same period.

For the early raids and occupations, see Viking Age: England, Norse activity in the British Isles or Viking Expansion: British Isles

For the later, political interactions between Britain and Scandinavia, see: Danelaw and North Sea Empire


The Chamavi were a Germanic tribe of Roman imperial times whose name survived into the Early Middle Ages. They first appear under that name in the 1st century AD Germania of Tacitus as a Germanic tribe that lived to the north of the Lower Rhine. Their name probably survives in the region today called Hamaland, which is in the Gelderland province of the Netherlands, between the IJssel and Ems rivers.

Cnut the Great

Cnut the Great (; Old English: Cnut se Micela; Old Norse: Knútr inn ríki; c. 995 – 12 November 1035), also known as Canute, whose father was Sweyn Forkbeard (which gave him the patronym Sweynsson, Old Norse: Sveinsson), was King of Denmark, England and Norway; together often referred to as the North Sea Empire.

Yet after the deaths of his heirs within a decade of his own, and the Norman conquest of England in 1066, this legacy was lost. He is popularly invoked in the context of the legend of King Canute and the tide, which usually misrepresents him as a deluded monarch believing he has supernatural powers, contrary to the original legend which portrays a wise king who rebuked his courtiers for their fawning behaviour.

As a Danish prince, Cnut won the throne of England in 1016 in the wake of centuries of Viking activity in northwestern Europe. His later accession to the Danish throne in 1018 brought the crowns of England and Denmark together. Cnut sought to keep this power-base by uniting Danes and English under cultural bonds of wealth and custom, as well as through sheer brutality. After a decade of conflict with opponents in Scandinavia, Cnut claimed the crown of Norway in Trondheim in 1028. The Swedish city Sigtuna was held by Cnut (he had coins struck there that called him king, but there is no narrative record of his occupation).Dominion of England lent the Danes an important link to the maritime zone between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, where Cnut, like his father before him, had a strong interest and wielded much influence among the Norse–Gaels. Cnut's possession of England's dioceses and the continental Diocese of Denmark—with a claim laid upon it by the Holy Roman Empire's Archdiocese of Hamburg-Bremen—was a source of great prestige and leverage within the Catholic Church and among the magnates of Christendom (gaining notable concessions such as one on the price of the pallium of his bishops, though they still had to travel to obtain the pallium, as well as on the tolls his people had to pay on the way to Rome). After his 1026 victory against Norway and Sweden, and on his way back from Rome where he attended the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor, Cnut, in a letter written for the benefit of his subjects, deemed himself "King of all England and Denmark and the Norwegians and of some of the Swedes". The Anglo-Saxon kings used the title "king of the English". Cnut was ealles Engla landes cyning—"king of all England". Medieval historian Norman Cantor called him "the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon history".


The Danelaw (, also known as the Danelagh; Old English: Dena lagu; Danish: Danelagen), as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the Danes held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. Danelaw contrasts with West Saxon law and Mercian law. The term is first recorded in the early 11th century as Dena lage. Modern historians have extended the term to a geographical designation. The areas that constituted the Danelaw lie in northern and eastern England.

The Danelaw originated from the Viking expansion of the 9th century, although the term was not used to describe a geographic area until the 11th century. With the increase in population and productivity in Scandinavia, Viking warriors, having sought treasure and glory in the nearby British Isles, "proceeded to plough and support themselves", in the words of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 876.Danelaw can describe the set of legal terms and definitions created in the treaties between the King of Wessex, Alfred the Great, and the Danish warlord, Guthrum, written following Guthrum's defeat at the Battle of Edington in 878.

In 886, the Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum was formalised, defining the boundaries of their kingdoms, with provisions for peaceful relations between the English and the Vikings. The language spoken in England was also affected by this clash of cultures with the emergence of Anglo-Norse dialects.The Danelaw roughly comprised 15 shires: Leicester, York, Nottingham, Derby, Lincoln, Essex, Cambridge, Suffolk, Norfolk, Northampton, Huntingdon, Bedford, Hertford, Middlesex, and Buckingham.


Danes (Danish: danskere) are a North Germanic ethnic group native to Denmark and a modern nation identified with the country of Denmark. This connection may be ancestral, legal, historical, or cultural.

Danes generally regard themselves as a nationality and reserve the word "ethnic" for the description of recent immigrants, sometimes referred to as "new Danes". The contemporary Danish ethnic identity is based on the idea of "Danishness", which is founded on principles formed through historical cultural connections and is not based on racial heritage.

Danes (Germanic tribe)

The Danes were a North Germanic tribe inhabiting southern Scandinavia, including the area now comprising Denmark proper, and the Scanian provinces of modern southern Sweden, during the Nordic Iron Age and the Viking Age. They founded what became the Kingdom of Denmark. The name of their realm is believed to mean "Danish March", viz. "the march of the Danes" in Old Low German, referring to their southern border zone between the Eider and Schlei rivers, known as Danevirke.

Danish Empire

The term Danish Empire can refer to:

The North Sea Empire of Cnut the Great (1016–1035)

Danish control of Danish Estonia (1219–1346, 1559–1645)

The Kalmar Union (1397–1523)

Denmark–Norway (1524–1814)

The Danish colonial empire in the West Indies, Gold Coast and India

The unity of the Realm, the relations between metropolitan Denmark and its two overseas regions, the Faroe Islands and Greenland

Harald Hardrada

Harald Sigurdsson (Old Norse: Haraldr Sigurðarson; c. 1015 – 25 September 1066), given the epithet Hardrada (Old Norse: harðráði, modern Norwegian: Hardråde, roughly translated as "stern counsel" or "hard ruler") in the sagas, was King of Norway (as Harald III) from 1046 to 1066. In addition, he unsuccessfully claimed the Danish throne until 1064 and the English throne in 1066. Before becoming king, Harald had spent around fifteen years in exile as a mercenary and military commander in Kievan Rus' and of the Varangian Guard in the Byzantine Empire.

When he was fifteen years old, in 1030, Harald fought in the Battle of Stiklestad together with his half-brother Olaf Haraldsson (later Saint Olaf). Olaf sought to reclaim the Norwegian throne, which he had lost to the Danish king Cnut the Great two years prior. In the battle, Olaf and Harald were defeated by forces loyal to Cnut, and Harald was forced into exile to Kievan Rus' (the sagas' Garðaríki). He thereafter spent some time in the army of Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise, eventually obtaining rank as a captain, until he moved on to Constantinople with his companions around 1034. In Constantinople, he soon rose to become the commander of the Byzantine Varangian Guard, and saw action on the Mediterranean Sea, in Asia Minor, Sicily, possibly in the Holy Land, Bulgaria and in Constantinople itself, where he became involved in the imperial dynastic disputes. Harald amassed considerable wealth during his time in the Byzantine Empire, which he shipped to Yaroslav in Kievan Rus' for safekeeping. He finally left the Byzantines in 1042, and arrived back in Kievan Rus' in order to prepare his campaign of reclaiming the Norwegian throne. Possibly to Harald's knowledge, in his absence the Norwegian throne had been restored from the Danes to Olaf's illegitimate son Magnus the Good.

In 1046, Harald joined forces with Magnus's rival in Denmark (Magnus had also become king of Denmark), the pretender Sweyn II of Denmark, and started raiding the Danish coast. Magnus, unwilling to fight his uncle, agreed to share the kingship with Harald, since Harald in turn would share his wealth with him. The co-rule ended abruptly the next year as Magnus died, and Harald thus became the sole ruler of Norway. Domestically, Harald crushed all local and regional opposition, and outlined the territorial unification of Norway under a national governance. Harald's reign was probably one of relative peace and stability, and he instituted a viable coin economy and foreign trade. Probably seeking to restore Cnut's "North Sea Empire", Harald also claimed the Danish throne, and spent nearly every year until 1064 raiding the Danish coast and fighting his former ally, Sweyn. Although the campaigns were successful, he was never able to conquer Denmark.

Not long after Harald had renounced his claim to Denmark, the former Earl of Northumbria, Tostig Godwinson, brother of the newly chosen English king Harold Godwinson, pledged his allegiance to Harald and invited him to claim the English throne. Harald went along and entered Northern England in September 1066, raided the coast and defeated English regional forces in the Battle of Fulford near York. Although initially successful, Harald was defeated and killed in an attack by Harold Godwinson's forces in the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Modern historians have often considered Harald's death, which brought an end to his invasion, as the end of the Viking Age.


The Hermunduri, Hermanduri, Hermunduli, Hermonduri, or Hermonduli were an ancient Germanic tribe, who occupied an area near the Elbe river, around what is now Thuringia, Bohemia, Saxony (in East Germany), and Franconia in northern Bavaria, from the first to the third century. At times, they apparently moved to the Danube frontier with Rome. The Thuringii may have been the descendants of the Hermunduri. Claudius Ptolemy mentions neither tribe in his geography but instead the Teuriochaemae, who may also be connected to both.

History of Anglo-Saxon England

Anglo-Saxon England was early medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th centuries from the end of Roman Britain until the Norman conquest in 1066. It consisted of various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 927 when it was united as the Kingdom of England by King Æthelstan (r. 927–939). It became part of the short-lived North Sea Empire of Cnut the Great, a personal union between England, Denmark and Norway in the 11th century.

The Anglo-Saxons were the members of Germanic-speaking groups who migrated to the southern half of the island of Great Britain from nearby northwestern Europe and their cultural descendants. Anglo-Saxon history thus begins during the period of Sub-Roman Britain following the end of Roman control, and traces the establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th and 6th centuries (conventionally identified as seven main kingdoms: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Wessex), their Christianisation during the 7th century, the threat of Viking invasions and Danish settlers, the gradual unification of England under Wessex hegemony during the 9th and 10th centuries, and ending with the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066.

Anglo-Saxon identity survived beyond the Norman conquest, came to be known as Englishry under Norman rule, and through social and cultural integration with Celts, Danes and Anglo-Normans became the modern English people.


King, or king regnant is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, while the title of queen on its own usually refers to the consort of a king.

In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contemporary indigenous peoples, the title may refer to tribal kingship. Germanic kingship is cognate with Indo-European traditions of tribal rulership (c.f. Indic rājan, Gothic reiks, and Old Irish rí, etc.).

In the context of classical antiquity, king may translate in Latin as rex and in Greek as archon or basileus.

In classical European feudalism, the title of king as the ruler of a kingdom is understood to be the highest rank in the feudal order, potentially subject, at least nominally, only to an emperor (harking back to the client kings of the Roman Empire).

In a modern context, the title may refer to the ruler of one of a number of modern monarchies (either absolute or constitutional). The title of king is used alongside other titles for monarchs: in the West, prince, emperor, archduke, duke or grand duke, and in the Middle East, sultan or emir, etc.The term king may also refer to a king consort, a title that is sometimes given to the husband of a ruling queen, but the title of prince consort is sometimes granted instead. A king dowager is the male equivalent of the queen dowager. A king father is a king dowager who is also the father of the reigning sovereign.

Kingdom of England

The Kingdom of England (Anglo-Norman and French: Royaume d'Angleterre) was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

On 12 July 927, the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were united by Æthelstan (r. 927–939) to form the Kingdom of England. In 1016, the kingdom became part of the North Sea Empire of Cnut the Great, a personal union between England, Denmark and Norway. The Norman conquest of England in 1066 led to the transfer of the English capital city and chief royal residence from the Anglo-Saxon one at Winchester to Westminster, and the City of London quickly established itself as England's largest and principal commercial centre.Histories of the kingdom of England from the Norman conquest of 1066 conventionally distinguish periods named after successive ruling dynasties: Norman 1066–1154, Plantagenet 1154–1485, Tudor 1485–1603 and Stuart 1603–1714 (interrupted by the Interregnum (England) of 1649–1660).

Dynastically, all English monarchs after 1066 ultimately claim descent from the Normans; the distinction of the Plantagenets is merely conventional, beginning with Henry II (reigned 1154–1189) as from that time, the Angevin kings became "more English in nature"; the houses of Lancaster and York are both Plantagenet cadet branches, the Tudor dynasty claimed descent from Edward III via John Beaufort and James VI and I of the House of Stuart claimed descent from Henry VII via Margaret Tudor.

The completion of the conquest of Wales by Edward I in 1284 put Wales under the control of the English crown. Edward III (reigned 1327–1377) transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe; his reign also saw vital developments in legislation and government—in particular the evolution of the English parliament. From the 1340s the kings of England also laid claim to the crown of France, but after the Hundred Years' War and the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses in 1455, the English were no longer in any position to pursue their French claims and lost all their land on the continent, except for Calais. After the turmoils of the Wars of the Roses, the Tudor dynasty ruled during the English Renaissance and again extended English monarchical power beyond England proper, achieving the full union of England and the Principality of Wales in 1542. Henry VIII oversaw the English Reformation, and his daughter Elizabeth I (reigned 1558–1603) the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, meanwhile establishing England as a great power and laying the foundations of the British Empire by claiming possessions in the New World.

From the accession of James VI and I in 1603, the Stuart dynasty ruled England in personal union with Scotland and Ireland. Under the Stuarts, the kingdom plunged into civil war, which culminated in the execution of Charles I in 1649. The monarchy returned in 1660, but the Civil War had established the precedent that an English monarch cannot govern without the consent of Parliament. This concept became legally established as part of the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

From this time the kingdom of England, as well as its successor state the United Kingdom, functioned in effect as a constitutional monarchy. On 1 May 1707, under the terms of the Acts of Union 1707, the kingdoms of England and Scotland united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

List of medieval great powers

This is a list of great powers during the medieval period. The term "great power" has only been used in historiography and political science since the Congress of Vienna in 1815.Lord Castlereagh, the British Foreign Secretary, first used the term in its diplomatic context in 1814. Use of the term in medieval historiography is therefore idiosyncratic to each author. In historiography of the pre-modern period, it is more typical to talk of empires (itself a poorly-defined term, see list of empires).


A thalassocracy (from Classical Greek θάλασσα (thalassa), meaning "sea", and κρατεῖν (kratein), meaning "power", giving Koine Greek θαλασσοκρατία (thalassokratia), "sea power") is a state with primarily maritime realms, an empire at sea (such as the Phoenician network of merchant cities) or a seaborne empire. Traditional thalassocracies seldom dominate interiors, even in their home territories. Examples of this are Phoenician Tyre, Sidon, and Carthage, or Srivijaya and Majapahit in Southeast Asia. One can distinguish this traditional sense of thalassocracy from an "empire", where the state's territories, though possibly linked principally or solely by the sea lanes, generally extend into mainland interiors: the Bruneian Empire (1368–1888) in Asia. Compare to tellurocracy ("land-based hegemony").The term thalassocracy can also simply refer to naval supremacy, in either military or commercial senses of the word supremacy. The Ancient Greeks first used the word thalassocracy to describe the government of the Minoan civilization, whose power depended on its navy. Herodotus distinguishes sea-power from land-power and spoke of the need to counter the Phoenician thalassocracy by developing a Greek "empire of the sea".

Culture and artifacts
and colonies
Arms and armour
and fortifications
Historical figures
History of the Germanic peoples
Pagan society
(until about
Early Middle Ages)

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