King Canute and the Virus Tide

by Jeffrey A. Tucker
The American Institute for Economic Research

Nine-hundred years ago, the English historian Henry of Huntingdon wrote down an older Anglo-Saxon story/myth of King Canute who claimed the throne of England in 1016. The story was of appalling arrogance. It resonated in this land where the idea of limited government and human rights was gradually being forged.

King Canute insisted that his throne be taken to the edge of the ocean where he thereupon commanded the tide not to rise. But rise it did, lapping his feet and beginning to swallow the chair. The courtiers rushed him back. The King thereby proclaimed the following: “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.”

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