Книга Famous Men of The Middle Ages. Содержание - Canute the Great King from 1014-1035
This proved to be a very fortunate thing, because it stopped the war for a long term of years. When the Magyar king learned that his son was a prisoner in the hands of King Henry he was overwhelmed with grief. He mourned for his son day and night and at last sent to the German camp a Magyar chief with a flag of truce, to bet that the prince might be given up.
"Our king says that he will give whatever you demand for the release of his son, " said the chief to the German monarch.
"I will give up the prince on this condition only, " was the reply, "the Magyars must leave the soil of Germany immediately and promise not to war on us for nine years. During those years I will pay to the king yearly five thousand pieces of gold."
"I accept the terms in the king's name, " responded the chief. The prince was, therefore, given up and the Magyars withdrew.
During the nine years of truce King Henry paid great attention to the organization of an army. Before this the German soldiers had fought chiefly on foot, not, as the Magyars did, on horseback. For this reason they were at a great disadvantage in battle. The king now raised a strong force of horsemen and had them drilled so thoroughly that they became almost invincible. The infantry also were carefully drilled.
Besides this, Henry built a number of forts in different parts of his kingdom and had all the fortified cities made stronger.
The following year the Magyar chief appeared at the German court and demanded a tenth payment.
"Not a piece of gold will be given you, " replied King Henry. "Our truce is ended."
In less than a week a vast body of Magyars entered Germany to renew the war. Henry held his army in waiting until lack of food compelled the barbarians to divide their forces into two separate bodies. One division was sent to one part of the country, the other to another part.
Henry completely routed both divisions, and the power of the Magyars in Germany was broken.
The Danes also invaded Henry's kingdom, but he defeated them and drove them back.
Henry reigned for eighteen years; and when he died all Germany was peaceful and prosperous. His son Otto succeeded him. He assumed the title of "Emperor, " which Charlemagne had borne more than a hundred years before.
From that time on, for nearly one thousand years, all the German emperors claimed to be the successors of Charlemagne. They called their domain "the Holy Roman Empire , " and took the title "Emperor" or "Emperor of the Romans, " until the year 1806, when Francis II resigned it.
Canute the Great King from 1014-1035
The Danes, you remember, had the eastern and northern parts of England in the time of Alfred. Alfred's successors drove them farther and farther north, and at length the Danish kingdom in England came to an end for a time.
But the Danes in Denmark did not forget that there had been such a kingdom and in the year 1013 Sweyn (swane), King of Denmark, invaded England and defeated the Anglo-Saxons. Ethelred, their king, fled to Normandy .
Sweyn now called himself the king of England ; but in a short time he died and his son Canute succeeded to his throne. Canute was nineteen years old. He had been his father's companion during the war with the Anglo-Saxons, and thus had had a good deal of experience as a soldier.
After the death of Sweyn some of the Anglo-Saxons recalled King Ethelred and revolted against the Danes.
Canute, however, went to Denmark and there raised one of the largest armies of Danes that had ever been assembled. With this powerful force he sailed to England . When he landed Northumberland and Wessex acknowledged him as king. Shortly after this Ethelred died.
Canute now thought he would find it easy to get possession of all England . This was a mistake.
Ethelred left a son named Edmund Ironside who was a very brave soldier. He became, by his father's death, the king of Saxon England and at once raised an army to defend his kingdom. A battle was fought and Edmund was victorious. This was the first of five battles that were fought in one year. In none of them could the Danes do more than gain a slight advantage now and then.
However, the Saxons were at last defeated in a sixth battle through the act of a traitor. Edric, a Saxon noble, took his men out of the fight and his treachery so weakened the Saxon army that Edmund Ironside had to surrender to Canute.
But the young Dane had greatly admired Edmund for the way in which he had fought against heavy odds, so he now treated him most generously. Canute took certain portions of England and the remainder was given to Edmund Ironside.
Thus for a short time the Anglo-Saxon people had at once a Danish and a Saxon monarch.
Edmund died in 1016 and after his death Canute became sole ruler.
He ruled wisely. He determined to make his Anglo-Saxon subjects forget that he was a foreign conqueror. To show his confidence in them he sent back to Denmark the army he had brought over the sea, keeping on a part of his fleet and a small body of soldiers to act as guards at his palace.
He now depended on the support of his Anglo-Saxon subjects and he won their love.
Although a king — and it is generally believed that kings like flattery — Canute is said to have rebuked his courtiers when they flattered him. On one occasion, when they were talking about his achievements, one of them said to him:
"Most noble king, I believe you can do anything."
Canute sternly rebuked the courtier for these words and then said:
"Come with me, gentlemen."
He led them from the palace grounds to the sea-shore where the tide was rising, and had his chair placed at the edge of the water.
"You say I can do anything, " he said to the courtiers. "Very well, I who am king and the lord of the ocean now command these rising waters to go back and not dare wet my feet."
But the tide was disobedient and steadily rose and rose, until the feet of the king were in the water. Turning to his courtiers, Canute said:
"Learn how feeble is the power of earthly kings. None is worthy the name of king but He whom heaven and earth and sea obey."
During Canute's reign England had peace and prosperity and the English people have ever held his memory dear.