Cnute vndertaketh the totall regiment of this land, he assembleth a councell at London, the nobles doo him homage, he diuideth the realme into foure parts to be gouerned by his assignes; Edwin and Edward the sonnes of Edmund are banished, their good fortune by honorable mariages, King Cnute marieth queene Emma the widow of Egelred, the wise and politike conditions wherevpon this mariage was concluded, the English bloud restored to the crowne and the Danes excluded, queene Emma praised for hir high wisedome in choosing an enimie to hir husband; Cnute dismisseth the Danish armie into Denmarke; Edrike de Streona bewraieth his former trecherie, and procureth his owne death through rashnesse and follie, the discordant report of writers touching the maner & cause of his death, what noble men were executed with him, and banished out of England, Cnute a monarch.
The Xj. Chapter.
CANUTE, or Cnute, whome the English chronicles doo name Knought, after the death
CANUTE, KNOUGHT OR CNUTE.
of king Edmund, tooke vpon him the whole rule ouer all the realme of England, in the yéere of our Lord 1017, in the seuentéenth yeere of the emperour Henrie the second, surnamed Claudus, in the twentith yéere of the reigne of Robert king of France, and about the
7 yeere of Malcolme king of Scotland. Cnute shortlie after the death of king Edmund, assembled a councell at London, in the which he caused all the nobles of the realme to doo him homage, in receiuing an oth of loiall obeisance. He diuided the realme into foure parts, assigning Northumberland vnto the rale of Irke or Iricius, Mercia vnto Edrike, and Eastangle vnto Turkill, and reseruing the west part to his owne gouernance. He banished (as before is said) Edwin, the brother of king Edmund; but such as were suspected to be culpable of Edmunds death, he caused to be put to execution: whereby it should appeere, that Edrike was not then in anie wise detected or once thought to be giltie.
The said Edwin afterwards returned, and was then reconciled to the kings fauor (as some
Wil. Malm. Ran. Higd. King of churles. Wil. Malm.
write) but shortlie after traitorouslie slaine by his owne seruants. He was called the king of churles. Others write, that he came secretlie into the realme after he had béene banished, and kéeping himselfe closelie out of sight, at length ended his life, and was buried at Tauestocke. Moreouer, Edwin and Edward the sonnes of king Edmund were banished the land, and sent first vnto Sweno king of Norweie to haue bin made away: but Sweno vpon remorse
of conscience sent them into Hungarie, where they found great fauor at the hands of king Salomon, insomuch that Edwin maried the daughter of the same Salomon, but had no issue by hir. Edward was aduanced to marie with Agatha, daughter of the emperour Henrie, and by hir had issue two sonnes, Edmund and Edgar surnamed Edeling, and as many daughters, Margaret and Christine, of the which in place conuenient more shall be said.
When king Cnute had established things, as he thought stood most for his suertie, he
Polydor. King Cnute maried to quéene Emma the widow of Egelred, in Iulie, anno. 1017. Polydor.
called to his remembrance, that he had no issue but two bastard sonnes Harold and Sweno, begotten of his concubine Alwine. Wherefore he sent ouer to Richard duke of Normandie, requiring to haue quéene Emma, the widow of king Egelred in mariage, and so obteined hir, not a little to the woonder of manie, which thought a great ouersight both in the woman and in hir brother, that would satisfie the request of Cnute herein, considering he had béene such a mortall enimie to hir former husband. But duke Richard did not onelie consent, that his said sister should be maried vnto Cnute, but also he himselfe tooke to wife the ladie Hestritha, sister to the said Cnute.
¶ Here ye haue to vnderstand, that this mariage was not made without great consideration & large couenants granted on the part of king Cnute: for before he could obteine queene
The couenants made at the mariage betwixt Cnute and Emma.
Emma to his wife, it was fullie condescended & agréed, that after Cnuts decease, the crowne of England should remaine to the issue borne of this mariage betwixt hir & Cnute, which couenant although it was not performed immediatlie after the deceasse of king Cnute, yet in the end it tooke place, so as the right séemed to be deferred, and not to be taken away nor abolished: for immediatlie vpon Harolds death that had vsurped, Hardicnute succéeded as right heire to the crowne, by force of the agréement made at the time of the mariage solemnized betwixt his father and mother, and being once established in the kingdome, he ordeined his brother Edward to succéed him, whereby the Danes were vtterlie excluded from all right that they had to pretend vnto the crowne of this land, and th English bloud restored thereto, chieflie by that gratious conclusion of this mariage betwixt king Cnute and
The English bloud restored. The praise of quéene Emma for hir wisdome. Encomium Emmæ.
quéene Emma. For the which no small praise was thought to be due vnto the said quéene, sith by hir politike gouernement, in making hir match so benenficiall to hir selfe and hir line, the crowne was thus recouered out of the hands of the Danes, and restored againe in time to the right heire, as by an auncient treatise which some haue intituled "Encomium Emmæ," and was written in those dales, it dooth and may appeare. Which booke although there be but few copies thereof abroad, giueth vndoubtedlie great light to the historie of that time.
But now to our purpose. Cnute the same yeare in which he was thus maried, through persuasion of his wife quéene Emma, sent awaie the Danish nauie and armie home into Denmarke, giuing to them fourescore and two thousand pounds of siluer, which was leuied
throughout this land for their wages. In the yeare 1018, Edrike de Streona earle of Mercia
was ouerthrowen in his owne turne: for being called before the king into his priuie chamber, and there in reasoning the matter about some quarrell that was picked to him, he began verie presumptuouslie to vpbraid the king of such pleasures as he had before time doone vnto him; "I did (said he) for the loue which I bare towards you, forsake my souereigne lord king Edmund, and at length for your sake slue him." At which words Cnute began to change countenance, as one maruellouslie abashed, and straightwaies gaue sentence against Edrike in this wise; "Thou art woorthie (saith he) of death, and die thou shalt, which art guiltie of treason both towards God and me, sith that thou hast slaine thine own souereigne lord, and my déere alied brother. Thy bloud therefore be vpon thine owne head, sith thy toong hath vttered thy treason." And immediatlie he caused his throat to be cut, and his bodie to be throwen out at the chamber window into the riuer of Thames. ¶ But
Edrike put to death.
others say, that hands were laid vpon him in the verie same chamber or closet where he murdered the king, & straightwaies to preuent all causes of tumults & hurlieburlies, he was put to death with terrible torments of fierbrands & links; which execution hauing passed vpon him, a second succeeded; for both his féet were bound together, and his bodie drawne through the streets of the citie, & in fine cast into a common ditch called Houndsditch; for that the citizens threw their dead dogs and stinking carrion with other filth into it, accounting him worthie of a worse rather than of a better buriall. In such hatred was treason had, being a vice which the verie infidels and grosse pagans abhorred, else would they not haue said, Proditionem, amo, proditorem odi;
Treason I loue, but a traitor I hate. This was the end of Edrike, surnamed de Stratten or Streona, a man of great infamie for his craftie dissimulation, falshood and treason, vsed by him to the ouerthrow of the English estate, as partlie before is touched.
Simon Dun. Encomium Emmæ.
But there be that concerning the cause of this Edriks death, séeme partlie to disagrée from that which before is recited, declaring that Cnute standing in some doubt to be betraied through the treason of Edrike, sought occasion how to rid him and others (whome he mistrusted) out of the way. And therefore on a day when Edrike craued some preferment at Cnuts hands, & said that he had deserued to be well thought of, sith by his flight from the battell at Ashendon, the victorie therby inclined to Cnutes part: Cnute hearing him speake these words, made this answere: "And canst thou (quoth he) be true to me, that through fraudulent meanes diddest deceiue thy soùereigne lord and maister? But I will reward thée according to thy deserts, so as from henceforth thou shalt not deceiue anie other," and so forthwith commanded Erike one of his chiefe capteines to dispatch him, who incontinentlie cut off his head with his axe or halbert. Verelie Simon Dunelmensis saith, that K. Cnute vnderstanding in what sort both king Egelred, and his sonne king Edmund Ironside had béene betraied by the said Edrike, stood in great doubt to be likewise deceiued by him, and therefore was glad to haue some pretended quarell, to dispatch both him and others, whome he likewise mistrusted, as it well appeared. For at the same time there were put to death with Edrike earle Norman the sonne of earle Leofwin, and brother to earle Leofrike: also Adelward the sonne of earle Agelmare and Brightrike the sonne of Alfegus gouernor of Deuonshire, without all guilt or cause (as some write.) And in place of Norman, his brother Leofrike was made earle of Mercia by the king, and had in great fauour. This Leofrike is commonlie also by writers named earle of Chester. After this, Cnute likewise banished Iric and Turkill, two Danes, the one (as before is recited) gouernor of Northumberland, and the other of Northfolke and Suffolke or Eastangle.
Then rested the whole rule of the realme in the kings hands, wherevpon he studied to preserue the people in peace, and ordeined lawes, according to the which both Danes and Englishmen should be gouerned in equall state and degrée. Diuers great lords whome he
Hen. Hunt. Lords pat to death.
found vnfaithfull or rather suspected, he put to death (as before ye haue heard) beside such as he banished out of the realme He raised a tax or tribute of the people, amounting to the summe of fourescore & two thousand pounds, besides 11000 pounds, which the Londoners
A taxe raised.
paid towards the maintenance of the Danish armie. But whereas these things chaunced not all at one time, but in sundrie seasons, we will returne somewhat backe to declare what other exploits were atchiued in the meane time by Cnute, not onelie in England, but also in Denmarke, and elsewhere: admonishing the reader in the processe of the discourse following, that much excellent matter is comprehended, whereout (if the same be studiouslie read and diligentlie considered) no small profit is to be reaped, both for the augmentation of his owne knowledge and others that be studious.