Born at Roskilde, the second son of Eric the Good, king of Denmark, Canute stayed at the Saxon court for some years. When he returned with ideals of feudalism and military organization, his uncle King Niels appointed him duke of southern Jutland to rule from Schleswig (which he fortified) and defend the whole territory against the Wends. Canute, committed to peace and justice, also encouraged Vicelin in his efforts to convert them; but when Emperor Lothair recognized him as king of the Western Wends, King Niels was furious and regarded him as a rival. Two of Canute's cousins murdered him in the forest of Haraldsted (near Ringsted). When Canute's son, Valdemar I, became king of Denmark he requested his father's canonization at Rome. The archbishops of Lund and Uppsala presented evidence about Canute's life and miracles and Alexander III canonized him in 1169. His relics were enshrined at Ringsted in 1170. He was regarded as a martyr in Denmark, presumably for justice. Feast: 7 January; translation, 25 July.
M. C. Gertz, Vitae sanctorum danorum (1912);E. W. Kemp, Canonization and Authority in the Western Church (1948), pp. 79–86;B.L.S., i. 53;Bibl. SS., iii. 753–5.