Cnut the Great

I am the King of England, of Denmark, and of Norway. I have earnt this empire - the North Sea Empire - on the battlefield, and also by right. Because of this I am called Cnut the Great, and not ever Cnut the Stupid. So why do my courtiers insist on treating me like an idiot?

After I took this country, this England, from Edmund Ironside and his followers, I set about uniting and improving it after the devastation of the years of invasion and internal conflict. I built this Royal Palace on Thorney Island in London, from here to rule my empire, and I then set about restoring the churches throughout the kingdom. This was the beginning of the events that led to this present stupidity.

Because I rebuilt the derelict churches, and because I am the King, many consider me to be the embodiment of God; his representative; his will being equal to my own. Effectively they consider me to be above God and to be able to bend his desire to mine as I see fit. In their eyes I can cause the rain to cease, and the Sun to stand still if I wish it to be so.

Two days ago, one of my sycophantic followers asked me if the crops in the fields would grow well this year. I asked how he thought I should know the answer to this? Did he believe that I controlled the elements?

''Sire, in your magnificence you know all. You can cause the tide to cease to rise if it should be your will.''

''Really? Do you think that this is really so? Do you think that perhaps we should try?'' I suggested.

I was being sarcastic in an effort to show his idiocy to all. The problem with sarcasm is that it goes largely unnoticed by those to whom it is directed. To no avail, I explain that secular power is vain when compared to the supreme power of God. So, today I must go down to the river to the place where my courtiers will set my throne down, and then I will show them how incompetent I am at bending God's will to mine.

When I arrive at my throne, it becomes apparent that there are going to be problems with the planned events. The river is tidal, and it does rise and fall once during every day, but all of this takes time, and it is a painfully slow spectacle for the observer. The throne has been set at the water's edge, and the tide is out. It sits upon a wooden pontoon which, although not great enough to float the weight set upon it, prevents the throne from sinking into the mud. This means that the tide will have even further to rise before we get to return to the palace.

I sit on the throne with my feet on the pontoon and look at the water in front of me, which is at the point where it flows neither to the East, nor to the West. I stand and command the tide not to rise and wet my feet and robes. Then I sit and wait. I fear that this may take some time.

At first the courtiers are ecstatic, as the river appears to have halted, but slowly the flow begins to reverse, and the tide begins to rise. But the courtiers are still convinced that it will stop again before it reaches my sovereign feet. I am just going to have to wait it out.

The tedium is telling on me, and I am starting to nod off as the water starts to cover the front of the pontoon. Twice I catch myself with the falling sensation as I nearly drop asleep, and then jump back to wakefulness, before the water finally and inevitably touches my feet. It is well above my ankles before my courtiers are sufficiently chastened so as to give it all up as a poor enterprise.

On the way back to the palace I usher all my followers into the church. Standing in front of them all, I tell them: -

''Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of Kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom Heaven, Earth, and the sea, obey by eternal laws.''

I then hang my golden crown on the Crucifix, and I mean never to wear it again.


I hope that you enjoyed this preview. The rest of the story can be found at: - King Canute