Canute IV the Holy

King Canute IV, also known as Canute the Holy (1042-1086) is the patron saint of Denmark and the first Dane to be canonized. His father was King Sweyn II Estridsson and his mother was an unknown concubine. Saint Canute's holy day is the 10th of July.

Canute IV was a warrior like his father and helped to lead raids against England in 1069 and 1075. In 1080, he became king of Denmark and married Adela of Flanders. He donated land and wealth to churches throughout Denmark, especially to Lund Cathedral. He founded Lund Cathedral School in 1085, the oldest school in Scandinavia. He also increased royal power which alienated both nobles and peasants alike as they lost many old privileges.

Canute IV regarded King William I "the Conqueror" as a usurper to the throne of England and decided to invade in 1085. Canute IV assembled an invasion fleet in north Jutland with allied forces from Flanders and Norway, but this was delayed due to problems on the southern border in Schleswig. In early 1086, peasants in north Jutland, who was led by dissatisfied nobles, rose up against Canute IV who fled to Odense.

The rebels broke into the monastery of St Albans where Canute IV was seeking sanctuary and killed him, his brother Benedict and seventeen others. The murder shocked the Christian world and Canute IV was canonized soon after in 1101. He was reburied in 1300 in Odense Cathedral that was renamed as "Saint Canute Cathedral" after him. His brother Olaf I Hunger followed him as king. Olaf I got his unfortunate nickname because of the many years of crop failure and famine during his reign that was seen as God's punishment for the murder of Canute IV.

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