The Fable of the Rising Tides of the River Trent
Among many others, West Lindsey is host to the folklore that King Canute once stood on the shores of the River Trent, gazing at the rising Aegir and commanded it to stop.
The tale goes, tired of his follower’s vain flattery and persistence of his god-like status, he decided once and for all to prove who the true God is, that they should revere Him and set aside their love of the crown over Christ. When he was at the height of his ascendancy, he ordered his royal throne to be placed on the shore as the tide was coming in. King Canute then said to the rising tide, ‘You are subject to me, as the land on which I am sitting is mine, and no one has ever resisted me. I command you, therefore, not to rise on to my land, nor to presume to wet the clothing or limbs of your master.’ But the waters came up as usual, and disrespectfully drenched the king and his fine expensive clothing.
Canute cried, ‘Let all the world know that the power of kings is empty and worthless, and there is no king worthy of the name save Him by whose will heaven, earth and sea obey eternal laws. He who causes the sea to rise is the right and proper person to place one’s trust in and to honour. He is a just and virtuous king, whereas I am a miserable wretch. I am a mere mortal, whereas He is everlasting.
Thereafter King Canute never wore his royal golden crown, but placed it on the image of the crucified Lord, in eternal praise of God – The one great King.