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Canute IV, King of Denmark, St.


Reigned 1080 to July 10, 1086; b. c. 1043; d. Odense, Denmark. He was the son of King Sweyn Estrithson and the grandnephew of King Canute the Great of England and Denmark. Before succeeding his brother Harold Hen to the throne, Canute had spent his youth in Viking expeditions to England and the Baltic countries. He proved to be an energetic, reforming king, seeking to extend the royal tax laws at home and to challenge William the Conqueror's hold on England. After his marriage to a Flemish princess, Adele, he attempted to organize the Danish Church on a Continental pattern. His donation to the cathedral of Lund is the first recorded act of a Danish king. He established an abbey of English Benedictines at Odense. The rural aristocracy resented his fiscal policy, and in 1085 a revolt broke out as he was about to sail for England. He was captured and killed in the church he had founded in Odense (today, Sankt-Knud). Miracles at the tomb of this "martyr" led King Erik Evergood to request his canonization, and this was granted in 1099 by Pope Paschal II. The monks at Odense fostered his veneration and wrote his life. Traditionally the patron of Denmark, he was also popularly regarded as the patron of numerous guilds until eclipsed by Canute Lavard. His relics are still at Odense in a 12th century wooden reliquary. Canute was the father of Bl. Charles the Good, Count of Flanders.

Feast: Jan. 19; July 10.

Bibliography: Knuds-bogen 1986: studier over Knud den Hellige, ed. t. nyberg, h. bekker-nielsen, and n. oxenvad (Odense 1986). m. c. gertz, Vitae sanctorum danorum (new ed. Copenhagen 190812) 27168, 531558; Knud den Helliges Martyrhistorie (Copenhagen 1907). b. schmeidler, "Eine neue Passio S. Kanuti regis et martyris," Gesellschaft für altere deutsche Geschichtskunde/Neues Archiv 37 (191112) 6797. p. d. steidl, Knud den Hellige (Copenhagen 1918). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 1:121. t. gad, Kulturhistorisk Leksikon for nordisk Middelalder, ed. j. danstrup (Copenhagen 1956) 8:596600.

[l. musset]

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