King Canute The Great

King Canute The Great
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AMONG the many gigantic though somewhat shadowy personalities of the Viking age, two stand forth with undisputed pre-eminence: Rolf the founder of Normandy and Canute the Emperor of the North. Both were sea-kings; each represents the culmination and the close of a great migratory movement,—Rolf of the earlier Viking period, Canute of its later and more re­stricted phase. The early history of each is uncer­tain and obscure; both come suddenly forth upon the stage of action, eager and trained for conquest. Rolf is said to have been the outlawed son of a Norse earl; Canute was the younger son of a Danish king: neither had the promise of sover­eignty or of landed inheritance. Still, in the end, both became rulers of important states—the pirate became a constructive statesman. The work of Rolf as founder of Normandy was perhaps the more enduring; but far more brilliant was the career of Canute.