The power of kings

There is an interesting story of a 11th century English king that I particularly like. The story (as written by a 12th century chronicler) is told of how King Canute commanded that his throne be set on the seashore. When the tide began to rise, he spoke to the rising sea saying “You are part of my dominion, and the ground that I am seated upon is mine, nor has anyone disobeyed my orders with impunity. Therefore, I order you not to rise onto my land, nor to wet the clothes or body of your Lord”. But the sea carried on rising as usual without any reverence for his person, and soaked his feet and legs. Then he moved away and said: “All the inhabitants of the world should know that the power of kings is vain and trivial, and that none is worthy the name of king but He whose command the heaven, earth and sea obey by eternal laws”. Thereafter King Canute never placed the crown on his head, but above a picture of the Lord nailed to the cross, turning it forever into a means to praise God, the great king.

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~ by irwin on November 26, 2008.

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