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Chapter XX, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 1


Hardicanute - His violent Reign and Death.
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Hardicanute, or Canute the Strong, had never resigned his pretensions to the crown of England; and the country was only spared the horrors of a civil war by the death of the late king. Under pretence of visiting the widowed queen in Flanders, he had assembled a fleet of sixty ships, his real intention being to make a descent upon England. The news of Harold's death induced him at once to set sail. He shortly afterwards entered London in triumph, and was acknowledged king without opposition.

The first act of Hardicanute's government afforded his subjects a bad prognostic of his future conduct. He was so enraged at Harold for depriving him of his share of the kingdom, m id for the cruel treatment of his brother Alfred, that, in an impotent desire of revenge against the dead, he ordered his body to be dug up, and to be thrown into the Thames; and when it was found by some fishermen, and buried in London, he ordered it again to be dug up, and to be thrown once more into the river; but it was fished up a second time, and then interred with great secrecy. Godwin, equally servile and insolent, submitted to be his instrument in that unnatural and brutal action.

That nobleman knew that he was universally believed to have been an accomplice in the barbarity exercised on Alfred, and that he was on that account obnoxious to Hardicanute: and perhaps he hoped, by displaying this rage against Harold's memory, to justify himself from having had any participation in his counsels; but Prince Edward, being invited over by the king, immediately on his appearance preferred an accusation against Godwin for the murder of Alfred, and demanded justice for that crime. Godwin, in order to appease the king, made him a magnificent present of a galley with a gilt stern, rowed by fourscore men, who wore each of them a gold bracelet on his arm, weighing sixteen ounces, and were armed and clothed in the most sumptuous manner. Hardicanute, pleased with the splendour of this spectacle, quickly forgot his brother's murder; and on Godwin's swearing that he was innocent of the crime, he allowed him to be acquitted.

Though Hardicanute, before his accession, had been called over by the vows of the English, he soon lost the affections of the nation by his misconduct; but nothing appeared more grievous to them than his renewing the imposition of Danegelt, and obliging the nation to pay a great sum of money to the fleet which brought him from Denmark. The discontents ran high in many places: in Worcester the populace rose, and put to death two of the collectors (a.d. 1041). The king, enraged at this opposition, swore vengeance against the city, and ordered three noblemen - Godwin, Duke of Wessex, Siward, Duke of Northumberland, and Leofric, Duke of Mercia - to execute his orders with the utmost rigour. They were obliged to set fire to the city, and deliver it up to be plundered by their soldiers; but they saved the lives of the inhabitants, whom they confined in a small island of the Severn, called Beverly, till by their intercession they were enabled to appease the anger of the tyrant. This violent reign was of short duration. Hardicanute died three years after his accession, in consequence of his excesses in drinking. This event took place at the marriage feast of a Danish nobleman at Lambeth, on June 8, 1042.


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Pictures for Chapter XX, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 1

The Death of Hardicanute.
The Death of Hardicanute. >>>>

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