King Canute

King Canute

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: King Canute and his wife Aelfgifu (Emma) presenting a golden altar cross to Winchester Cathedral. Canute(c.985-1035) is best known for his display of the power of natural forces by sitting on his chair by the seashore and commanding the incoming tide to halt. Canute was aware that this would not happen and undertook the experiment to prove to his courtiers that kings could not control natural forces. This power was reserved to God alone. This was first recorded by Henry of Huntingdon in the 12th century, some years after Canute's death and may be apocryphal.The story has often been misinterpreted as a display of arrogance on Canute's part.

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Keywords: aelfgifu, canute, cnut, control of tides, emma, environmental disasters, floods, golden altar cross, incoming tide, king canute, misinterpretation, natural catastrophes, natural forces, tsunami, winchester cathedral

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