CANUTE VI. (1163-1202), king of Denmark, eldest son of Valdemar I., was crowned in his seventh year (1170), as his father's co-regent, so as to secure the succession. In 1182 he succeeded to the throne. During his twenty years' reign Denmark advanced steadily along the path of greatness and prosperity marked out for her by Valdemar I., consolidating and extending her dominion over the North Baltic coast and adopting a more and more independent attitude towards Germany. The emperor Frederick I.'s claim of overlordship was haughtily rejected at the very outset, and his attempt to stir up Duke Bogislav of Pomerania against Denmark's vassal, Jaromir of Rügen, was defeated by Archbishop Absalon, who destroyed 465 of Bogislav's 500 ships in a naval action off Strela (Stralsund) in 1184. In the following year Bogislav did homage to Canute on the deck of his long-ship, off Jomsborg in Pomerania, Canute henceforth styling himself king of the Danes and Wends. This victory led two years later to the voluntary submission of the two Abodrite princes Niklot and Borwin to the Danish crown, whereupon the bulk of the Abodrite dominions, which extended from the Trave to the Warnow, including modern Mecklenburg, were divided between them. The concluding years of Canute's reign were peaceful, as became a prince who, though by no means a coward, was not of an overwhelmingly martial temperament. In 1197, however, German jealousy of Denmark's ambitions, especially when Canute led a fleet against the pirates of Esthonia, induced Otto, margrave of Brandenburg, to invade Pomerania, while in the following year Otto, in conjunction with Duke Adolf of Holstein, wasted the dominions of the Danophil Abodrites. The war continued intermittently till 1201, when Duke Valdemar, Canute's younger brother, conquered the whole of Holstein, and Duke Adolf was subsequently captured at Hamburg and sent in chains to Denmark. North Albingia, as the district between the Eider and the Elbe was then called, now became Danish territory. Canute died on the 12th of November 1202. Undoubtedly he owed the triumphs of his reign very largely to the statesmanship of Absalon and the valour of Valdemar. But he was certainly a prudent and circumspect ruler of blameless life, possessing, as Arnold of Lübeck (c.1160-1212) expresses it, "the sober wisdom of old age even in his tender youth."
See Danmarks Riges Historic. Oldtiden og den aeldre Middelalder (Copenhagen, 1897-1905), pp. 721-735.
(R. N. B.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)