King empire

King Canute True Story and What Happens to Him in Vikings: Valhalla

Warning: Spoilers for Netflix Vikings: Walhalla.

King Canute, later known as Canute the Great in the story, appears in Vikings: Walhalla as one of its main characters, and much of its plot and what happens to it in the series follows the true story of the real historical figure. The rest of the Vikings: Walhalla the actors have a real historical basis, although various creative liberties have been taken with this real historical basis, and Canute is no exception. However, unlike some unrecognizable Valhalla historical figures such as Leif Eriksson, the story of Canute in Vikings: Walhalla better represents its true historical counterpart.


Canute’s accomplishments on the show so far have certainly been many, and it’s clear that his ambitions are bigger than what he currently has. After successfully seizing the throne of England, Canute contemplates the continuation of his plan to realize his dream of an empire in Northern Europe, which he speaks of more openly after his conquest of London. While it’s fair to say that the historical events the show is based on have been somewhat condensed and fictionalized, it’s equally fair to acknowledge the true stories the show is based on.

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Behind the series’ major narrative is a true story that sets up a heartbreaking ending for many Vikings: Valhalla characters and plots. Those aware of Canute’s actual historical relevance will already know that he is destined for a certain level of greatness in the series, seemingly confirmed by Canute’s expressed ambitions. However, what this true story is and what level of greatness Canute will achieve beyond what the series has already told remains to be seen. Here’s how the show’s version of events and the real Canute compare.

How Canute Is Different in Vikings: Valhalla

Canute and Eadric Streona

The character of Canute in Vikings: Walhalla comes across as a fierce and cunning individual, open to both pagan and Christian religion, and some of that doesn’t seem too far from the historical truth. One of the most notable parts of the historical Canut’s personality is his piety and devotion to the Church, particularly the English Church, although his motives are perhaps more hazy. Vikings: Valhalla The story of Christianity versus Norse paganism rings utterly true to history. If the real Canute was indeed a Christian, devoted to his religion, it should be noted that the Norse/Viking lifestyle was very prevalent among the Scandinavians compared to the English.

While this culture shock is most certainly depicted in the show’s plot, it is presented in a different light. The show apparently pits two factions of Vikings against each other, those who converted to Christianity and those who follow the Old Gods, leaving leaders such as Canute left in the middle trying to balance the two. While this is by no means exaggerated, it largely ignores the difficult time in Canute’s real-life church relationship, seemingly repaired by redeeming the Church with donations and reparations. The real story of Vikings: Valhalla characters is ultimately more complicated than the show would have the viewer believe. While Canute’s religious beliefs and even some of his personal traits portrayed on the show are true, it’s likely that he was even more ruthless in real life and that his historical accomplishments were the result of buying power rather than of good will.

How and when did Canute really become King of England

canute the great

Despite the somewhat faithful portrayal of Canute’s historical personality in the series, the timeline of events is slightly less clear and even less historically accurate. The St. Brice’s Day Massacre that sets the show’s plot into action, actually happened about 14 years before Canute’s accession to the throne of England, and the Norse retaliatory invasion has in was led by Canute’s father, Sweyn Forkbeard. Vikings: Walhalla fails to avoid chronological errors, and although Canute may have been present during his father’s invasion, he did not have a significant impact on it.

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Instead, Canute’s invasion would take place years later, and the battles that took place weren’t as quick as the show shows. The battles were fought across England, from Dorset and Wessex, occupations in Northumbria and battles in Essex. The betrayal of individuals such as Eadric Streona shown in the series is historically true, although time and place are not so much. King Edmund’s final defeat saw Canute reign over the lands north of the Thames, with the rest of England promised to him upon Edmund’s death, an event that would occur weeks later in circumstances lost in the moment. ‘story. Yet, although the exact chronology and historical accuracy of Vikings: Walhalla are doctored, many story beats remain true.

When Canute becomes King of Denmark

King canut 2

A change more confusing than Vikings: Walhalla fact regarding Canute’s timeline is that it begins with him as King of Denmark. In real life, Canute actually reached the throne of England before Denmark, as his brother Harald (not the same Harald as in the series) sat on the Danish throne. It’s likely that the series condensed these brothers into one character for ease of the series’ storytelling, and to not have too many Haralds mixed into the plot (given Harald Sigurdsson’s story Valhalla participation). Still, it should be noted that Canute was not king before his victory over the English.

Compared to the show, the story tells of Canute’s ascension to the Danish throne following the death of his brother, with Canute traveling to Denmark to take the throne. While relatively insignificant to the show’s narrative, it’s still odd considering Canute seems to be walking away from England in a similar amount of time in the show anyway. Either way, in just a few years, Canute solidified himself as the king of Denmark and England. However, his aspirations do not stop there.

Is Canute’s Northern Empire dream real and did it succeed?

King Canut

As well as desiring the throne of England, Canute talks about establishing a Northern Empire in the series, matching the aspirations of his historical counterpart. The unparalleled legacy of vikings‘Ragnar remains important to the characters of Vikings: Walhalla, inspiring greatness to all who desired glory, a desire for glory that the historical Canut also nourished. In real life, Canute’s dreams of a northern empire most certainly came true, materialized by his North Sea Empire, a unification of the thrones of England, Denmark, Norway and even parts of Sweden and the Baltic coast.

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While the building of this empire was a cumulative process, with Norway being incorporated into the Empire 10 years after Denmark and only seven years before Canute’s eventual death, it was an event to behold. The map of Vikings: Walhalla and its geographic locations remain somewhat limited for now; however, if the show seeks to follow Canute’s realistic accomplishments, the show’s geographic reach will also need to expand. The power and reach of Canute’s empire rivaled the might of some of the most powerful empires of the day, such as the Holy Roman Empire (albeit briefly), and as a result Canute would go down in history as perhaps the most effective ruler of Anglo-Saxon England.

Why Canute Disappears From Valhalla History And What Happens Next

Canute and Godwin

In the second half of Vikings: Walhalla season 1, Canute is called out of England to care for a people called the Wends. While historically this refers to a wide range of people, the show likely refers to Canute’s feuds with the people of the Baltic region. While differing greatly from vikings in many ways the Wends mentioned in Valhalla likely occupy the same geographic area as Ragnar tired of plundering for meager rewards, prompting him to sail to England in the first place. While it’s a sweet and perhaps even unintended nod to the original show’s early days, it also remains somewhat faithful to Canute’s real-life story, as he not only ruled over lands in the region, but also waged war in the region after riding up against the English. throne. However, perhaps the most notable part of Canute’s absence is that Godwin remained in England; historically, he accompanied Canute on his journey to fight the Wends and his actions earned him the unique trust of the king.

The potential for their relationship to grow elsewhere remains, however, as Godwin’s importance to the plot is part of Vikings: Walhallato give Rollo one last victory over Ragnar. Historically speaking, Godwin’s son Harold ascended the English throne in 1066. He lost it soon after in a sequence of battles that would see William of Normandy, Rollo’s descendant, take the English throne. Godwin’s rise to power will no doubt be explored by the series as it rushes into this tumultuous time in history, with Godwin gaining influence at Canute’s court.

Canute’s conquest of England thus set in motion a sequence of events which can no longer be stopped. While the condensation and rewriting of history is clear in Vikings: Walhalla, it is also clear that it intends to respect the narrative rhythms of the true story, having already begun to set up conflicts that could take place in later seasons. Before Vikings: Walhalla dives too deep into the future, however, there’s still a lot of Canute’s story to tell, with plenty of exciting things from his true story waiting to be told.

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