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he was again in a condition to dispute the field; when the Danish and English nobility, equally harassed with those convulsions, obliged their kings to come to a compromise, and to divide the kingdom between them by treaty. Canute reserved to himself the northern division, consisting of Mercia, East Anglia, and Northumberland, which he had entirely subdued: the southern parts were left to Edmond. This prince survived the treaty about a month : he was murdered at Oxford by two of his chamberlains, accomplices of Edric, who thereby made way for the suecession of Canute the Dane to the crown of England.
THE English, who had been unable to defend their country, and maintain their independency, under so active and brave a prince as Edmond, could, after his death, expect nothing but total subjection from Canute, who, active and brave himself, and at the head of a great force, was ready to take advantage of the minority of Edwin and Edward, the two sons of Edmond. Yet this conqueror, who was commonly so little scrupulous, showed himself anxious to cover his injustice under plausible pretences: before he seized the dominions of the English princes, he summoned a general assembly of the states, in order to fix the succession of the kingdom. He here suborned some nobles to depose that, in the treaty of Glocester, it had been verbally agreed, either to name Canute, in case of Edmond's death, successor to his dominions, or tutor to his children, (for historians vary in this particular :) and that evidence, supported by the great power of Canute, determined the states immediately to put the Danish monarch in possession of the government. Canute, jealous of the two princes, but sensible that he should render himself extremely odious if he ordered them to be despatched in England, sent them abroad to his ally, the king of Sweden, whom he desired, as soon as they arrived at his court, to free him,
by their death, from all farther anxiety. The Swedish monarch was too generous to comply with the request; but being afraid of drawing on himself a quarrel with Canute, by protecting the young princes, he sent them to Solomon, king of Hungary, to be educated in his court. The elder, Edwin, was afterwards married to the sister of the king of Hungary; but the English prince dying without issue, Solomon gave his sister-in-law, Agatha, daughter of the emperor Henry the second, in marriage to Edward, the younger brother; and she bore him Edgar Atheling, Margaret, afterwards queen of Scotland, and Christina, who retired into a convent.
Canute, though he had reached the great point of his ambition, in obtaining possession of the English crown, was obliged at first to make great sacrifices to it; and to gratify the chief of the nobility, by bestowing on them the most extensive governments and jurisdictions. He created Thurkill, earl or duke of East Anglia, (for these titles were then nearly of the same import,) Yric of Northumberland, and Edric of Mercia; reserving only to himself the administration of Wessex. But seizing afterwards a favourable opportunity, he expelled Thurkill and Yric from their governments, and banished them the kingdom: he put to death many of the English nobility, on whose fidelity he could not rely, and whom he hated on account of their disloyalty to their native prince. And even the traitor Edric, having had the assurance to reproach him with his services, was condemned to be executed, and his body to be thrown into the Thames; a suitable reward for his multiplied acts of perfidy and rebellion.
Canute also found himself obliged, in the beginning of his reign, to load the people with heavy taxes, in order to reward his Danish followers: he exacted from them at one time the sum of seventy-two thousand pounds; besides eleven thousand pounds which he levied on London alone. He was probably willing, from political motives, to mulct severely that city, on account of the affection which it had borne to Edmond, and the resistance which it had made
to the Danish power in two obstinate sieges. But these rigours were imputed to necessity; and Canute, like a wise prince, was determined that the English, now deprived of all their dangerous leaders, should be reconciled to the Danish yoke, by the justice and impartiality of his administration. He sent back to Denmark as many of his followers as he could safely spare: he restored the Saxon customs in a general assembly of the states: he made no distinction between Danes and English in the distribution of justice: and he took care, by a strict execution of law, to protect the lives and properties of all his people. The Danes were gradually incorporated with his new subjects; and both were glad to obtain a little respite from those multiplied calamities, from which the one, no less than the other, had, in their fierce contest for power, experienced such fatal consequences.
The removal of Edmond's children into so distant a country as Hungary, was, next to their death, regarded by Canute as the greatest security to his government: he had no farther anxiety, except with regard to Alfred and Edward, who were protected and supported by their uncle Richard, duke of Normandy. Richard even fitted out a great armament, in order to restore the English princes to the throne of their ancestors; and though the navy was dispersed by a storm, Canute saw the danger to which he was exposed, from the enmity of so warlike a people as the Normans. In order to acquire the friendship of the duke, he paid his addresses to queen Emma, sister of that prince; and promised that he would leave the children, whom he should have by that marriage, in possession of the crown of England. Richard complied with his demand, and sent over Emma to England, where she was soon after married to Canute. The English, though they disapproved of her espousing the mortal enemy of her former husband and his family, were pleased to find at court a sovereign to whom they were ac
• W. Malms. p. 72. In one of these sieges, Canute diverted the course of the Thames, and by that means brought his ships above London bridge. t Chron. Sax. p. 151. W. Malms. p. 73.
customed, and who had already formed connexions with them; and thus Canute, besides securing, by this marriage, the alliance of Normandy, gradually acquired, by the same means, the confidence of his own subjects". The Norman prince did not long survive the marriage of Emma; and he left the inheritance of the duchy to his eldest son of the same name; who, dying a year after him without children, was succeeded by his brother Robert, a man of valour and abilities.
Canute, having settled his power in England, beyond all danger of a revolution, made a voyage to Denmark, in order to resist the attacks of the king of Sweden; and he carried along with him a great body of the English, under the command of earl Godwin. This nobleman had here an opportunity of performing a service, by which he both reconciled the king's mind to the English nation, and gaining to himself the friendship of his sovereign, laid the foundation of that immense fortune which he acquired to his family. He was stationed next the Swedish camp; and observing a favourable opportunity, which he was obliged suddenly to seize, he attacked the enemy in the night, drove them from their trenches, threw them into disorder, pursued his advantage, and obtained a decisive victory over them. Next morning, Canute, seeing the English camp entirely abandoned, imagined that those disaffected troops had deserted to the enemy: he was agreeably surprised to find, that they were at that time engaged in pursuit of the discomfited Swedes. He was so pleased with this success, and with the manner of obtaining it, that he bestowed his daughter in marriage upon Godwin, and treated him ever after with entire confidence and regard.
In another voyage, which he made afterwards to Denmark, Canute attacked Norway, and expelling the just but unwarlike Olaus, kept possession of his kingdom till the death of that prince. He had now by his conquests and valour attained the utmost height of grandeur: having leisure from wars and intrigues, he felt the unsatisfactory " W. Malms. p. 73. Higden, p. 275.
nature of all human enjoyments; and equally weary of the glories and turmoils of this life, he began to cast his view towards that future existence, which it is so natural for the human mind, whether satiated by prosperity or disgusted with adversity, to make the object of its attention. Unfortunately, the spirit which prevailed in that age gave a wrong direction to his devotion: instead of making compensation to those whom he had injured by his former acts of violence, he employed himself entirely in those exercises of piety which the monks represented as the most meritorious. He built churches, he endowed monasteries, he enriched the ecclesiastics, and he bestowed revenues for the support of chantries at Assington and other places; where he appointed prayers to be said for the souls of those who had there fallen in battle against him. He even undertook a pilgrimage to Rome, where he resided a considerable time: besides obtaining from the pope some privileges for the English school erected there, he engaged all the princes, through whose dominions he was obliged to pass, to desist from those heavy impositions and tolls which they were accustomed to exact from the English pilgrims. By this spirit of devotion, no less than by his equitable and politic administration, he gained, in a good measure, the affections of his subjects.
Canute, the greatest and most powerful monarch of his time, sovereign of Denmark and Norway, as well as of England, could not fail of meeting with adulation from his courtiers; a tribute which is liberally paid even to the meanest and weakest princes. Some of his flatterers breaking out one day in admiration of his grandeur, exclaimed that every thing was possible for him: upon which the monarch, it is said, ordered his chair to be set on the sea shore, while the tide was rising; and as the waters approached, he commanded them to retire, and to obey the voice of him who was lord of the ocean. He feigned to sit some time in expectation of their submission; but when the sea still advanced towards him, and began to wash him with its billows, he turned to his courtiers, and remarked to them, that every creature in the universe