AT the high-point of his reign, King Canute ordered his throne to be set upon the seashore as the tide was coming in, and then addressed the rising waters.
‘You and the land on which my throne is standing are subject to me. No one has ever defied my royal commands and gone unpunished. I command you, then, do not rise on my land, nor dare to splash either limb or robe of your lord!’
The sea however continued its customary rise, disdainfully splashing his feet and legs.
‘Let all the world’ he said, skipping backwards, ‘know that the power of kings is a vain and trifling thing. No king is worthy of that title except that King whose commands heaven, earth and sea obey, according to eternal laws.’
After this, Canute never again wore his crown upon his head, but set it upon an icon of the Lord’s crucifixion, in praise of God the Great King.
For a very different attitude to the sovereignty of Creation, see Xerxes Scourges the Hellespont.
In the early 11th century, King Canute placed his throne on the beach, and commanded the rising tide not to invade his realm. When it took no notice, Canute drew the moral that a king’s power is not as great as some think. Thereafter, he left his crown hanging on an icon of Jesus Christ, as the only true King. (60 / 60 words)