When it comes to this period of history as well as key people involved I have read my fair share of books about it. I studied The Norman Conquest and the years before it for part of my A-Level History course and thoroughly enjoyed the whole learning process and it fulled my love of Medieval England even more. So when I happened to contact Amberley Press to see if they had any books that I could request for review, I was very ecstatic to see on the press releases that were sent to me they had a book on King Cnut and the Viking Conquest of England 1016, I knew there and then that this was definitely a book I wanted to read and also love to review for my blog. So, once again I would like to thank Philip at Amberley Press for being kind enough to send me a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
King Cnut and the Viking Conquest of England 1016 by W.B.Bartlett was first published in 2016 to actually coincide with the 1,000 year anniversary since King Cnut’s conquest of England. This book centres on (offical blurb) “The Viking conquest of England in 1016 – a far tougher and more brutal campaign than the Norman conquest exactly half a century later – saw two great warriors, the Danish prince Cnut and his equally ruthless English opponent King Edmund Ironside, fight an epic campaign. Cnut sailed in two hundred longboats, landing first in September 1015 on the Wessex coast with 10,000 soldiers. The two forces fought each other to the point of exhaustion for the next fourteen months. It was a war of terrifying violence that scarred much of England, from the Humber to Cornwall. Edmund’s death soon afterwards finally resolved a brutal, bloody conflict and ended with Cnut becoming the undisputed King of England. This book tells the extraordinary story of Cnut the Great’s life. Cnut was far removed from the archetypal pagan Viking, being a staunch protector of the Christian church and a man who would also become Emperor of the North as King of Denmark and Norway. His wife, Emma of Normandy, was a remarkable woman who would outlive the two kings of England that she married. Their son Harthacnut would be the second and last Danish King of England, but the greatness of its dynasty did not long survive his death. This saga also features the incompetent Aethelred the Unready, the ferocious Sweyn Forkbeard and the treacherous Eadric Streona, recreating one of the great stories of Dark Age England.”
First of all this book is a detailed biography on Cnut who later becomes King Cnut of England as well as this it is also the first full biography on King Cnut and how actually conquered England. Throughout this book it does a good job of demonstrating how remarkable of a King, Cnut actually was. It also shows Cnut as being very different from other Vikings throughout history due to the fact he was an example of power especially as a Christian King compared to the other Scandinavian rulers that followed him. You are also given a fascinating glimpse into the life of a legendary king as well as a look into England before it was conquered again in 1066 by William the Conqueror and the Normans.
This book gives a fresh insight into King Cnut and the Viking conquest of England that took place in 1016 and often forgotten by history. It shows that Cnut in fact did not come to England to murder, pillage or even destroy the country; he came to it because he wanted to rule England and that is exactly what he did. It is such a shame that King Cnut has really been over shadowed within history because there is so much more to him and he definitely is a ruler of England that should get more credit in history. The main reason that many people do not know about the Viking conquest of England in 1016 is due to the fact the Norman Conquest took place only 50 years after Cnut’s Viking invasion which resulted in the Viking Conquest of 1016 being majorly over shadowed.
Overall, this book was a well-researched, well-written, hugely informative on certain areas and highly readable and one of the best books I have personally read on King Cnut. I would most definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in this period of history or in fact wants to learn more about Cnut and the period of history where England was in fact conquered by the Vikings in the year 1016 or anyone who simply loves the Vikings.
The edition I read was published by Amberley Press (2016).
(Image is my own please do not copy/take without permission first.)