Ancient Worlds: King Cnut with Dr Timothy Bolton

“We see through a glass, darkly”: the nearly-invisible ‘Vikings’ of the government of Anglo-Saxon England under King Cnut the Great.

Cnut’s invasion and takeover of power in England in 1016-1018 is commonly overlooked in favour of the Norman Conquest of 1066, but is no less important for our understanding of the final phase of Anglo-Saxon history, and for the changes it brought about to that society.

While our rich written sources tell us much about the Englishmen at the head of the government, only occasional echoes remain that point to a significant Scandinavian presence there.

These allow us to perceive something of the important roles of Scandinavians in the English administration in the years up until the death of Cnut in 1035 and the subsequent short-lived rules of his two sons, Harald Harefoot and Harthacnut, but also force us to question what these sources are not telling us, and most importantly why.

Join Dr Timothy Bolton in The Atkinson’s Galleries setting as he discusses the cultural importance and lasting legacy of King Cnut in depth. Discover why Medieval historians have called King Cnut “the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon history”.

Dr Timothy is the author of Cnut the Great.

About Dr Timothy:

Dr. Timothy Bolton joined Bloomsbury Auctions as Head of the Western Manuscripts and Miniatures department in February 2015.

Dr Bolton completed his doctorate at Cambridge, taught briefly at the University of Oslo, and then joined Sotheby’s, where he spent seven years as their expert in medieval manuscripts. He has catalogued and sold medieval manuscripts in Latin, almost every European vernacular language including Anglo-Saxon and Welsh, as well as an array of languages from the Christian Orient, such as Hebrew (setting world records for the sales of Torah Scrolls in 2007, 2008 and 2014), Greek, Armenian, Samaritan, Syriac and Coptic.

He holds the world auction records for sales in a number of categories, including that for a single miniature taken from a medieval manuscript (the fifteenth-century Kutnà Hora silver mining miniature in 2009, which made £612,000), for single fragments surviving from early medieval manuscripts (both the decorated bifolium from the so-called Sacramentary of St. Boniface, made in Northumbria in the early eighth century, which made £300,000 in 2007, and the bifolium from a copy of Aldhelm, De Laude Virginitatis, written c. 800, which sold in the Schøyen sale in 2012 for £340,000).

Dr Bolton was also the expert in charge for many significant auctions held over the last decade, notably the sale of 60 leaves and fragments from the Schøyen collection, 2012, illustrating the history of palaeography from the first century BC. to the thirteenth century AD.; the illustrated mid-sixteenth-century war manual of Albrecht of Brandenburg which made £290,000 in 2009; and the vast and monolithic fourteenth-century Rochefoucauld Grail manuscript with 107 miniatures depicting Arthurian scenes, which made £2.4 million in 2010. Other notable sales include the sumptuously illuminated mid-fifteenth century romance of Sir Gillion de Trazegnies from Chatsworth, which made £3.8 million in 2012.

Dr. Bolton is the author of a monograph on medieval history which appeared in 2009, the joint editor of another issued in 2014, and has published a number of scholarly articles on medieval manuscripts and related subjects. He has just completed another book which is a seminal biography of Cnut, the underappreciated eleventh-century Scandinavian warlord-turned-Anglo-Saxon monarch who united the English and Danish crowns to forge a North Sea empire

It has been described as “A gripping and revelatory biography of Britain’s Danish conqueror.”— Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Week

Historian Timothy Bolton offers a fascinating reappraisal of one of the most misunderstood of the Anglo-Saxon kings: Cnut, the powerful Danish warlord who conquered England and created a North Sea empire in the eleventh century. This seminal biography draws from a wealth of written and archaeological sources to provide the most detailed accounting to date of the life and accomplishments of a remarkable figure in European history, a forward-thinking warrior-turned-statesman who created a new Anglo-Danish regime through designed internationalism.

Tim currently lives in Sweden.

“A gripping and revelatory biography of Britain’s Danish conqueror.”— Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Week

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