Setting me straight on King Canute

A reader writes about my post the other day:

Dear Whale

I must straighten you up with the truth about King Canute.

Alone among the Kings of England he is known as the wise.

He took his foolish councillors who had an overweening notion about his powers as a King to the edges of the sea to demonstrate to those fools that his powers were limited.

They thought like all modern governments that the state could do anything,

The good King took the misguided fools to the beach to demonstrate to them that his powers to actually effect matters were limited.

The destruction of modern society comes from hundreds of thousands of socialists, dirisgiste statists and latter day big spenders of the public money thinking the state can do everything and anything.

He was King of Norway, England, and Danmark, no mean feat.

He ruled well and wisely.

The financial and social tragedy of the modern world stems from governments well overstepping their capacities.

Alas we have no King Canute to demonstrate the follies of their ways.

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  • Mike Johnson

    It was truly fitting that Copenhagen was also the setting for another bunch of loons who believed they could raise taxes and make global temperatures rise by “only” two degrees.

  • coelacanth

    That is as I understood it as well.  Canute – tho’ I prefer the more correct (and amusing) spelling ‘Cnut’  – was making a statement about the sycophancy of his courtiers; modern leaders seem to prefer grovely underlings.  I don’t think England was a concept back then.  There was a people who called themselves Angli  – ‘The English’.  They lived in a place with variable borders (subject to the fortunes of war)  known as the Danelaw – i.e. where the writ of the Danish kings ran.  I don’t think Cnut had rule over ‘Norway’ tho’.  They may have been fellow Scandis, but the Norse where a fearsome enemy who kept raiding and generally pissing everyone in the embryonic England off.  Harold (the last ‘King of the English’ gave the Vikings an arse-kicking they never recovered from at Stamford Bridge in 1066 before he got his handed to him a few weeks later by a bunch of Frogs (we call them Normans ‘cos they had some Scandi ancestry and admitting total defeat to ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ would be the absolute end).  After this the whole feudal/class-system now associated with the English was set in train – but it was really the Frogs fault.  Of course, this could be absolute b/s, but I am far too lazy to check any facts.  That is my version of hist and I am sticking to it.

    • Ploughman

      All dead right Coelacanth, but the point being made was that Canute demonstrated the limits to power.  Now we suffer from similarly strange and irrational beliefs that Canute’s advisers did, and we need a modern Canute to guide us.  Can’t see it with either Key or Shearer, so we will continue slipping down the OECD rankings while we blindly continue writing policy to make the tides obey us.