Alternate History

Cnut IV of Anglia (The Kalmar Union)

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Cnut IV
Cnut IV Anglia (The Kalmar Union).png
Cnut IV
King of Anglia
Reign 6th December, 1161 - 8th February, 1191
Predecessor Cnut III
Successor Harold III
Spouse Catherine of Denmark
Issue Harold III Cnutsson

Sophia Cnutsdotter
Caecilia Cnutsdotter
Charles II Cnuttsson
Kristin Cnutsdotter
Sweyn Cnutsson
Helena Cnutsdotter
Gytha Cnutsdotter

Full name
Cnut Cnutsson
House Estridsson
Father Cnut III
Mother Joanna of Montferrat
Born 14th January, 1140
Lincoln, Anglia
Died 8th February, 1191
Norwich, Anglia

Viewed solely in comparision to his grandfather and fathers' reigns Cnut IV could be viewed as a failure. War with France and Wessex resulted in the loss of lands and high taxes which provoked revolt and disturbance for several years. However many have pointed out that Anglia's losses could have been much worse and for that he is generally seen as a good king.

The second son of Cnut III and Joanna of Montferrat, Cnut IV assumed the position of heir presumptive after the death of his older brother Karl (Charles) in 1156. Much of his own rule was taken up with improving relations with the states of the Low Countries and bureaucracy on both sides of the channel. Embracing the Cistercian movement he improved church relations while reforms to the currencies were welcomed by Anglian and Flemish merchants alike. Even in life he was widely known as Cnut Góðlog (Good Law). He met with the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I on more than one occasion and may well have been invited to join his Italian campaigns. However as Flanders officially was a French vassal not an Imperial one Cnut respectfully declined.

In 1181 the new king of France Charles IV invaded Flanders as part of a plan to curb his over-powerful vassals. This caused the north Francian states to choose sides and wildly lash out at each other, often over petty disputes. While the French forces pushed deep into Flanders, Sancerre took the opportunity to ravage Orleans. Meanwhile Maine revolted against Normandy leading it to ally with the French. The Flemish managed to reduce the damage Charles IV could cause in Flanders however by the time Anglian forces could be brought to bear Ghent would be under siege. The siege was lifted and the French pushed back. With Brabantian allies an on-off siege of Paris was attempted but was called off in late 1182 as funds dried up.

In 1183 the war took a darker turn as Wessex finally answered Normandy's calls for assistance. Taken unawares the Anglian army, which was under-strength was soon pushed into retreat. Lincoln was besieged and London fell. With catastrophe beckoning, Cnut IV sold the title of Earl of Lancaster to his brother-in-law, Haraldr, King of Man, for much needed funds. The Manx army, with a huge number of Irish men-at-arms and Orcadian vassals, therefore invaded Lancaster, ending the revolt there and then headed south into Mercia to threaten Wessex's fortresses and the Siege of Lincoln was soon abandoned. However it would take the death of William IV, Duke of Normandy, to really change the war's fortunes. His heir, Robert III, had long been intolerant of French interference on his own lands and arguing that 'the illegitimate Charles IV had no God-given authority' he came to an agreement with Anglia over Artesië and then promptly switched sides, turning his armies against Paris. Paris itself would fall to the new alliance in August 1184 and sued for peace. Man would eventually be pushed out of its fortresses in Mercia in 1185, properly ending the war. It technically owed fealty to Anglia for its Lancastrian holdings but this would slowly fade during the next century and to all intents and purposes it now formed part of the Manx kingdom.

Although Anglia effectively lost control of Lancaster and London, on the continent its influence grew. By the Treaty of Compiegne the direct rule of the French kings was reduced once more to a restricted area around the Ile de France and Orleans. This would have dire consequences for France as its nominal vassals in various duchies and counties around Francia could once again simply ignore any decrees issued by Paris. Attempts to reassert its dominance via war with southern Francia during the Albigensian 'Crusade' would end in ignomious failure and France would not truly recover until end of the 16th century.

Although now potentially more secure Cnut IV struggled with his nobles both in Anglia and Flanders. The war had left the crown in debt and attempts to restore the treasury provoked anger. Jorvikshire rose in revolt in 1185 as did Suffolk a year later. Southern Flanders at one stage in 1184 even called on Charles IV to reinvade and take his rightful land however the lords responsible were quickly defeated and dispensed with with the assistance of Hainault. In his last years he may have been planning to join the 3rd Crusade alongside his old friend Frederick I, though failing health soon put a stop to it.

After his death in 1191 he would be succeeded by two of his sons Harold III and Charles II in turn.

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