King Canute’s Charter of Liberties (Theonomy Applied)

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Canute the Great (994 – 1035) was a Danish Viking who conquered England, and ultimately ruled a northern empire as king of England (1016 – 1035), Denmark (1019 – 1035), Norway (1028 – 1035), and part of Sweden (1026 – 1035?).

Canute is believed to have said the following: “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings. For there is none worthy of the name but God, whom heaven, earth and sea obey.”

Such a God-centered emphasis we find in his “Charter of Liberties” (probably written around 1020). In addition, one author writes of the charter,

The Charter of Liberties given by Canute should be studied in connection with those later charters which render notable the reigns of Henry I. and John. The even-handed justice assured to all men, both English and Danes, finds a parallel in the laws enforced by William the Conqueror.[1]

Below we include most of the charter (minus some of the Roman Catholic-sounding aspects), and break it up into sections categorized by their more God-centered and theonomic aspects.


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