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Word Count: 2,552
For the English people King Cnuts reign from 1017 to 1035 was much like the month of March in like a lion and out like a lamb 1 Crowned in the turmoil of war and conquest Cnut quickly established an era of peace and prosperity England became so secure that Cnut could frequently leave the country to settle affairs elsewhere in his empire It was especially important to a people weary from thirty years of war that all of the fighting during his reign was on foreign soil By the time of his death in 1035 Cnut was recognized as an equal by the Holy Roman Emperor and had negotiated with the Pope as a Christian monarch Very little is known about Cnuts life before 1013 He may have spent some time in Poland with his mother Gunhild after his father King Svein divorced her to marry the Swedish Queen Sigrid 2 He may also have been the foster son of Thorkell the Tall at Jomburg 3 Cnut was in charge of the Danish army at Gainsborough north of Lincoln when Svein died suddenly on February 3 1013 While the Danish army proclaimed Cnut king the English Witan recalled King Ethelred from Normandy where he had gone into exile after his defeat in 1012 4 Ethelred immediately led an army north forcing Cnut to abandon England On leaving Cnut sailed along the coast south as far as Sandwich where he mutilated the hostages he held put them ashore and went to Denmark Cnut was well received in Denmark by his older brother Harald whom Svein had installed as king before he left for England Harald helped Cnut raise a large fleet for an invasion to regain the crown of England Various sources have numbered this fleet between two hundred and one thousand ships 5 The lowest estimate comes from the earliest source and is likely to be the most accurate indicating an invasion force of
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