anute (also known as Knut or Cnut) was the son of Swein, King of Denmark. Swein and Canute had invaded England in 1013 taking control of Northumbria and the North before moving south to take control of the whole country. Aethelred, the king of England, had to flee in exile to Normandy with his wife Emma and two sons Alfred and Edward the Confessor). Swein was declared king of England in early 1014 but died in February. Canute could have assumed the role as King of England but decided to return to Denmark. Aethelred was invited to return from exile in Normandy and retake the English throne. The remainder of Aethelred's reign was complicated by conflicts with his son Edmund (Ironside) who became King of the England when Aethelred died in April 1016.
Truce with Edmund
When Aethelred died the Witan council's support was split between Canute and Edmund. Canute returned to England intent on taking the English throne, but he had to defeat Edmund to do so. Edmund's army dealt Canute's forces two defeats and forced the Danes on to the Isle of Sheppey, but Canute came back and at the battle of Ashington defeated the English. Edmund escaped from the battle field and at a meeting between Canute and Edmund a peace agreement was formed between the two sides. Canute may not have been unable to conquer the whole of England so it was decided to share the country. Edmund was given control of Wessex and Canute was allowed to control Mercia and Northumbria. Part of the agreement was that whoever died first should give their territory to the other. In November 1016 Edmund died and so Canute took total control of England.
Ensuring his power
Soon after Canute became king of England he married Emma the the widow of Aethelred. Emma was the daughter of Richard, Count of Normandy, making her an important person in her own right and the marriage made it more difficult for her children by Aethelred to claim the throne. Canute also arranged for the murder of Aethelred's children by his first wife Aelfgifu. He also had Saxon earls that he could not trust murdered as well. Eadric Streona, a particularly treacherous Saxon ealdorman, was killed on the order of Canute.