Time trav­eller’s hand­book

North-west­ern Europe, 1016-1035

All About History - - CONTENTS -

Sur­vival tips for vis­it­ing King Cnut’s North Sea Em­pire

While ‘North Sea Em­pire’ is not a phrase any­one from the era would recog­nise, the rule of Cnut the Great is just that. As king of Eng­land, Den­mark, Nor­way and parts of Swe­den, he rules over a vast ter­ri­tory. The ini­tial years of blood­shed, in which Cnut re­moved many of his ri­vals, have passed and his do­main now en­joys rel­a­tive peace. Mer­chants have taken ad­van­tage of the close links between king­doms, help­ing spread cus­toms, goods and knowl­edge.

A decade into his reign, Cnut has just re­turned from a trip to Rome, where he was af­forded a meet­ing with Pope John XIX, who gave the North Sea Em­pire a ring­ing en­dorse­ment. Back home, the king has made a zeal­ous at­tempt to out­law pa­gan­ism and con­tin­ues to fill the Church’s cof­fers with gold, help­ing pro­mote the fur­ther spread of Chris­tian­ity.

Where to Stay

Al­though Nor­way, Den­mark and Swe­den have their charms, mul­ti­cul­tural Eng­land gives you the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the cus­toms of An­glo-sax­ons, Britons and Scan­di­na­vians dur­ing your jour­ney. You would also be rel­a­tively safer there as, after years of fu­ri­ous Viking in­va­sions, Cnut has fi­nally stemmed the flow of ma­raud­ing, vi­o­lent and crazed raiders through al­liances and a lot of bribery (or ‘Dane­gold’ as the process of pay­ing off Vik­ings is known.) Food op­tions also vary, with ev­ery­thing from whale to game on the menu, along­side ale and the oc­ca­sional glass of mead.

Who to Be­friend

emma of Nor­mandy

It’s al­ways good to make friends with some­one who is well con­nected, and Emma of Nor­mandy is cer­tainly that. Wife to two kings (and, in the fu­ture, the mother to two more and step­mother to an­other), Emma can be counted on to give you the royal re­cep­tion and feed you the lat­est gos­sip from court. Emma is one of the rich­est landown­ers in Eng­land, so you won’t need to worry about where the roof over your head is com­ing from.

ex­tra tip: Don’t men­tion her ex-hus­band, ethelred the Un­ready. the pre­vi­ous King of eng­land or­dered a mas­sacre of Danes in eng­land on St

Brice’s Day, in 1002, which in­cluded men, women and chil­dren. that’s a bit awk­ward when emma and her fam­ily were from Den­mark!

Who to avoid

King Cnut

To­day Cnut is best re­mem­bered as a mad king who ar­ro­gantly be­lieved he could com­mand the tide to not wash against his shore. In fact, the monarch wanted to il­lus­trate to his courtiers that no man came close to god. How­ever, for all his piety, this is not a king that you want to cross. His first at­tempt at in­vad­ing Eng­land ended in fail­ure, but he kindly re­turned the hostages he had taken be­fore he left – after cut­ting off their ears and noses. Cnut also took ex­cep­tion to be­ing beaten at chess by his brother-in-law,

Ulf Jarl, re­spond­ing by hav­ing him killed soon after.

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