England’s had kings of all races
from Norman to Saxon to Scot.
Viking and Angle, German and Jute,
French, Dutch and a few I’ve forgot.
At th’end o’ tenth century, trouble
were brewin’ in t’nordic nations
Vikings were feightin each other and t’winners
were comin’ ‘ere, for their vacations.
King Aethelred two, “Unready” to some
were sick of all t’Danes breakin’ t’law
so on thirteenth November, Saint Brices day
he slaughtered ‘em all in one go.
Well that were a sick’ner for t’Vikings
an’ chilled ‘em right through to their bones
‘specially th’owd king, Harald Bluetooth
th’inventor o' th’ands free phone?
A good slice o’ t’Vikings were Danish
an’ them lads were rasher than t’rest
So Forkbeard a sea-king that led ‘em
Were soon puttin’ England to t’test.
He ‘ad four good do’s at invading’
‘fore getting’ ‘is ‘ands onto t’crown
but Svein, as new England managers do
would shortly be ‘andin’ it down.
He were dead a few weeks after t’crownin’
an’ Canute were declared as ‘is ‘eir.
But by Easter Canute were in Denmark again
“Unready” were back, it weren’t fair!
Aethelred, he ‘ad bin re-instated
by t’Witen-a-gemot, a crew
of aldermen, nobles an’ clergy
who wi’ Danes, wanted nothin’ to do.
Canute an’ ‘is oppos’ weren’t suited
an’ were soon back in England to brawl,
wi‘ th’Unready, an’ after he’d turned up ‘is toes,
wi’ Edmund ‘is nipper an’ all.
So then after a couple o’ scuffles,
t’title decider were on.
An’ on thirteenth October ten sixteen
came t’Battle of Ashingdon.
Edmund had t’nickname of “Ironside”
because he were good in a fight.
He weren’t a detective, or even a Cop
an’ there wasn’t a wheelchair in sight.
Canute won t’scrap at a canter
but tried to keep Ed on his side.
He’d let him rule Wessex while he took all t’rest,
creatin’ first north south divide.
They met on an island in t’Severn
But as neither ‘ad paper or quill,
th’agreement it ‘ad to be verbal
wi’ an ‘andshake as t’sign o’ goodwill.
Arrangement for t’crown were as follows.
They’d both rule t’bit they’d agreed.
But if “eddy” or “nute” popped ‘is clogs in t’meantime,
t’other would then supersede.
Well strangely enough a month later
The death we suspected ‘ad come.
When Edward were spendin’ a penny
Some sly bugger stabbed ‘im in t’bum.
Poor lad he were just twenty seven
Too young to be killed apropos
When at Glastonbury Edward were buried
‘twere said they could hear Status Quo?
Canute were now t’sole king of England
an’ were plannin’ to rule for a spell.
He’d got shut of Edmund an’ Aethelred too
so he married ‘is wido’ as well.
Aethelreds widow were Emma
whose dad were a big shot in France.
a duke name of “Richard the fearless”
It were more of a ploy than romance.
A clever an’ scrupulous ruler
Canute started off as he’ planned
Th’establisment an’ civil servants
imported from t’kings native land.
He’s noted for throwin’ a wobbler
Just once in ‘is time in control
Th’ostages taken for t’loyalty pledge
‘ad some bits hacksawed off as a toll.
He split up ‘is kingdom in quarters
a thing that were common to t’Danes
Northumbria, Wessex were earldoms
East Anglia, Mercia t’same.
Protection money called Danegeld
‘ad bin paid to invaders of t’land
but Canute sorted one final payment.
The sum, eighty two an’ ‘alf grand.
He were now feelin’ safe ‘ere in England
so 72 grand went wi’ t’fleet
back home pay t’wages an’ t’mortgage o’ crews
what were left paid for lodgin’ an’ treats.
We know “nute” married Aethelreds wido’
an’ in time she give ‘im a lad,
“Harthacanute” or “Artha” for short
were reckoned dead spit of ‘is dad.
He planned to ‘ave “Artha” succeed ‘im
‘cause Emma were t’favourite bride.
Harold ‘is son wi’ Aelgifu were scorned
as she were a bit on the side.
Canute were enjoyin’ this king lark
In truth he were ‘avin’ a ball
but when Harald ‘is brother snuffed it, he said
“I can’t do our kids job an’ all!”
Nepotism were rampant in them days
an’ as th’earldom he ‘ad to bestow
so to look after t’Danes in ‘is ‘omeland, he picked
Ulf Jarl ‘is brother-in-law.
King Swede Anund Jakob saw “Nute” were away
an’ launched an attack of ‘is own
backed up wi’ Norwegian, Saint Olaf
they both ‘ad their eyes on “Nutes” throne.
Brother Ulf had a ruse of his own on the boil
As t’kings absence were causin’ alarm
He wanted th’election of “Artha” as king,
locals fell for ‘is plan like a charm.
As “Artha’s” care-taker he would be in charge
an’ ruler of all o’ Denmark
but Canute got a whiff of ‘is carryin’s on
an’ uttered “sod that for a lark!”
He were on t’first long-ship to Roskilde
an’ met wi’ Ulf Jarl an’ ‘is mates
they beat back th’invaders at Helgea
but Ulf’s coup had settled ‘is fate.
Christmas Eve dinner were splendid
but o’er chess, “Nute” an’ Ulf ‘ad a scrap
Canute sent his housecarl to find ‘im in t’church
Which he did, an’ he stabbed him in th’apse.
Two years later he took on Norwegians
Who’d ‘elped Swedes attackin’ ‘is land
Fifty warships departed from England
An’ soon ‘ad “t’nil Pointers” in ‘and.
“Nute’s” doxy Ael-gifu an’ son were at th’elm
to govern as Norwegians would
but peasants revolted an’ kicked Danish out
Installin’ king Magnus the Good.
Well Canute didn’t dwell long on t’matter,
at politics he wouldn’t be outdone
His daughter were wed to young Henry
th’oly Roman Emperor’s son.
Empererors name it were Conrad the Second
an’ thought ‘is new son-in law grand
he give ‘im t’mark o’Schleswig to rule
and Pomerania too, to expand.
His rule were regarded successful
but th’istory on which we depend
were written by clerics an’ t’others in t’church
who weren’t goin’ to risk their stipend.
At Shaftsbury, Dorset In 1035
Canute died with ‘is wife by ‘is side
Town’s one o’ ‘ighest in England an’ so,
at th’end he were well safe from t’tide.
His burial were at Win-chester
an’ soon t’veneration began
he were named as a saint by t’catholic church
his feast day on nineteenth o’ Jan.
I’ve told of ‘is life an’ adventures,
‘is family, friends an’ ‘is foes
but Canute were more famous for paddlin’
in t’story that everyone knows.
The tale of Canute an’ ‘is day by the sea.
Were caused by a thousand remarks
Of brown-noses tellin’ ‘im ‘ow good he were.
‘is response were a bit of a lark.
He set off for t’day at Southampton.
Wi’ all ‘is retainers in tow
T’were probably seaside at Lepe they pitched up
To be honest I don’t flippin know.
He gathered ‘is cronies around ‘im
All fawnin’ an’ showin’ devotion
an’ asked if they thought that t’king were divine,
an’ master of t’weather an’ th’ocean.
They all stood there shufflin’ an’cringin’
‘til one broke the silence an’ said
“my liege is the master of all he surveys”.
It were first thing that popped in ‘is head.
“So” said Canute, to ‘is minion,
“if th’elements my words obey?
I’ll order t’briny not to come in,
an’ t’Seacat’ll stay out all day!”
When they set out ‘is throne on t’shingle,
Canute took ‘is seat wi’ a grin
all t’cronies were crossin’ their fingers an’ ‘opin’
that Solent weren’t bahnd to come in!
King sat awhile watchin’ breakers
then stood tall and barked ‘is command,
“stay bounding main, at your majesty’s charge,
do not trespass on my land!”
T’waves showed no sign of consentin’
rollin’ up t’sands unabated
T’retainers were sweatin’ an’ bitin’ their nails
As Canute smiled at t’waters an’ waited.
Because all ‘is crew were behind ‘im
They didn’t see t’grin on ‘is clock
He knew ‘is new trainers were in for a soakin’
But t’cronies were in for a shock.
As t’tide washed over ‘is reeboks
assembled retainers all wailed
Canute turned to face ‘em wi’ face full o’ rage
Shoutin’, “this bloody sea must be gaoled!”
Crowd were stunned when they ‘eard ‘is instruction
Bemused by their lordship’s caprice.
“We’ll throw it in Winchester prison,
now go get a bucket apiece!”
so gallons o’t’Solent were now behind bars
an’ Monarch ‘ad proven ‘is case
“only one Lord rules t’sea”, he said doffin’
‘is crown which he’d never replace.
Among’ King Canute’s achievements
were decades of justice an’ calm,
he went to see t’Pope as a pilgrim
an’ kept all ‘is subjects from ‘arm.
‘istory ‘as shown us that monarchs an’ despots,
princes an’ others so blessed,
‘ave thought that their destiny sets ‘em apart
but they still get their feet wet like t’rest.