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I will create a worldly paradise in this land. A place of peace and prosperity. An ideal country for those who live in suffering... Perhaps the work will not be finished in my generation. But I will be the one to take that first bold step.— Canute[5]

Canute (クヌート Kunūto?) is the king of Denmark and England, succeeding his father Sweyn for England, and his brother Harald for Denmark.

Appearance[]

Canute is first introduced with long blond hair, large blue eyes, pouty lips, and a feminine-looking face. Up to his late teens, he is often confused for a girl.[6][7][8] His beautiful likeness left many of his men wondering if he was the reincarnation of their goddess Freyja.

After becoming king, Canute cut his hair short, forming a bob haircut, and grew some facial hair on his chin. Below his left eye is a scar that was left by Thorfinn.[9] In his next appearance, he cut his hair shorter than before, grew a beard that formed a goatee, and wore a cape and a circlet very often.

Personality[]

Although initially timid, weak and always hiding behind Ragnar, Canute later begins to stick up for himself as Thorfinn constantly puts him down. Wanting revenge on his father for being secretly marked for death, Canute develops a more commanding and demanding personality. This was brought out by Askeladd's assassination of Ragnar, whom he wanted to eliminate as he was standing in the way of Canute's emotional maturity. Even Thorkell once commented on how Canute had the same mysterious eyes as his old comrade Thors, when he finally became a ‘true warrior’.

Later on, Canute becomes a clever and manipulative character who doesn't hesitate to get rid of anyone getting into his way of building a paradise on Earth for the Vikings. He even goes as far as poisoning his own brother to rule Denmark, plotting against Ketil to create a pretext to take his lands and increase his profits and even ordering the slaughter of several innocent people to get those lands.

Canute has also started to suffer hallucinations about his father, to the point of even having conversations with him.

History[]

Background[]

Canute was born on 12th of July in the summer of 996. He is a younger son of Sweyn, king of Denmark, who also conquered large parts of England and Wales. He has an older brother Harald and sister Estrid. Although his father is Sweyn, he spent most of his childhood being raised by Ragnar, who was his guardian and treated Canute as a son of his own. He took good care of Canute and sheltered him quite a lot from everyday schemes and politics that are part of the royal court. Canute was raised to be Christian and is portrayed as very devoted to his faith when we get introduced to his character.

War Arc[]

Chapter 22

Canute reveals his face to Askeladd and his men who all get taken aback by how feminine he looks, prompting Bjorn to question if he might be a princess instead of a prince

Canute is first mentioned in chapter 19. It is the year 1013 and King Sweyn's forces have successfully invaded huge parts of England but have been halted when they reached the trading city of London due to unexpected resistance, mostly because of Thorkell's decision to fight on the side of the English. Sweyn decides to leave London and conquer the rest of England with 4/5 of his men and let 4000 soldiers fight for London. He tells Floki and Ragnar that he will leave Canute to command forces in London. Ragnar protests this decision saying that Canute is still too young at the age of 17 to lead such a battle, but Sweyn insists on Canute staying and tells Ragnar that this might actually be good experience for his son, who he considers to be quite soft and assumes that might be the result of his Christian upbringing. In the following chapter "Ragnarok" through an informant who tells Askeladd about the event that took place in London we find out that Canute's forces have been defeated and he is taken hostage by Thorkell and his men who are on their way to the main force lead by King Sweyn. Askeladd comes up with a plan to face Thorkell and his soldiers and rescue Canute. Because he is a son of the king and second to the throne of Denmark, Sweyn would likely offer large sums of money for him. Canute is first shown on the cover of chapter 21 called "Valhalla", in the first scene of this chapter we see Thorkell's forces pursuing main army with their prisoners - Canute, Ragnar and Willibald. They are talking and joking amongst themselves and touch on the topic of Christianity and differences between Christian god and gods celebrated in Nordic mythology. This prompts Thorkell to ask Canute, who he calls little prince, about his opinion on the matter. But Canute stays completely silent and hidden behind his helmet, not even lifting his head. Thorkell's forces are met by some of Ragnar's men who demend Canute be handed back. Thorkell does this immediately but then insists Ragnar's soldiers fight him. Battle breakes here but it is disrupted by the fire that Askeladd's band causes. Canute, Ragnar and Willibald are later rescued from fire and Thorkell's men by Thorfinn who brings them to Askeladd. Ragnar, while not being too happy about Askeladd's scheme that wiped out his battalion, still entrusts Canute's safety to him. Askeladd kneels in front of Canute and swears on his father's name to serve him, but asks the prince to remove his helmet so he may look at his face. Wordlessly Canute does so, revealing his face and surprising everyone present with how feminine he looks.

Chapter 25

Ragnar remembers Canute's childhood on royal court, surrounded by schemes and murder

From that point forward Canute keeps travelling acompanied by Askeladd and his men. The night before meeting reinforcements Askeladd says to Bjorn that he can judge every man just by looking at his face, and when he saw Canute he thought that he has no face of a king. Bjorn agrees that he indeed looks more like a girl, but that might be due to his young age. In November of 1013 Ragnar, Canute, Willibald and Askeladd's band land on the shores of Wales in their attempt to get as far away from Thorkell and his soldiers as possible. Ragnar is relieved thinking they would continue their journey to Gainsborough on the ships, but Askeladd tells him that's impossible and they would have to walk from now on. Ragnar is upset by this and tries to argue with Askeladd. Meanwhile, during this exchange, Canute looks completely disintrested in the conversation and instead notices a falcon in the sky and calls for Ragnar to capture it for him. Askeladd appoints Thorfinn to be the personal guard of prince Canute, and he accepts this job annoyedly because he gets promised a duel with Askeladd once they reach Gainsborough. Gratianus demands Canute promises him that the Danish will sign non-aggression pact with Wales, but Canute doesn't respond to him, not even meeting his gaze. Instead he whispers something to Ragnar, who says that prince told him he would be willing to sign a pact under the condition that Welsh lend them three ships. Gratianus doesn't accept this, because he wants to hear those words come out of Canute's mouth, but the prince keeps his silence. While travelling through Wales, Akeladd's band gets attacked by forces from Brycheiniog, fellow Welsh kingdom. Askeladd is able to call their bluff and tries to convince Canute to speak up so they can reach a solution with envoys of Brycheiniog. But Canute is unable to say anything. Clearly uncomfortable and scared, he hides behind Ragnar's back. Seeing this, Ragnar defends Canute saying he has been uncomfortabe with speaking in public since he was a child. Askeladd insists that if he is to one day succeed the current king, he has to be able to speak and stand up for himself. This angers Ragnar who recalls Canute's childhood while he was on the royal court, where murder and scemes are part of everyday life, and says he doesn't want Canute to be used again for selfish ends of others. Askeladd decides not to press the matter further and goes to speak with envoys himself. Seeing this all play out in front of him, Thorfinn asks Canute how it is possible that the two of them are the same age, mocking Canute's incompetence. Canute doesn't say anything back to him but lowers his head instead.

Chapter 29

Canute says there is no father who doesn't love his own son

Thanks to Askeladd revealing his plan to the envoys, Canute and the rest safely continue their journey. While travelling, Thorfinn tries to provoke Canute into speaking by making fun of him. Canute seemingly annoyed finally breaks his silence and tries to explain to Thorfinn that the reason he is so quiet is because his words matter more because of who he is and therefore he has to be cautious with the way he uses them. Thorfinn tells him that that's a pretty good excuse and this frustrates Canute even more. He starts fuming and complaining how he was never treated like this before. The two of them continue bickering, while everyone else, including Ragnar, seems in awe of the fact that the prince finally started speaking. Despite his reluctance in the beginning, Canute signs the treaty with the Wales. During Askeladd's band's night attack of a village in the Earldom of Mercia he stays silent and unresponsive to the slaughter happening in front of him. In chapter 29 we witness a scene where Floki informs Sweyn of Canute's disappearance. King Sweyn first assumes he is dead, but then after hearing new information he says Canute is probably stuck somewhere in England, but he decides not to send any troops after him. Sweyn concludes that if Canute was more talented like his elder brother, he wouldn't have gone missing in the first place. Later on in the same chapter, Canute can be seen praying with the priest, Willibald, and Ragnar after the events in the village of Mercia. While praying, Willibald goes on a tangine finally proclaiming that sometimes he doubts god's love. Canute is deeply upset by this statement, immediately stopping Willibald's speech and yelling how unchristian-like that kind of doubt is and saying that there is no father who doesn't love his own son. Then he storms off, with clearly upset and moved Ragnar going after him.

Canute chapter 31

Askeladd tells Canute that shouting for Ragnar is useless after slapping him

Askeladd and his men decide to rest and recuperate in the village they attacked few days ago, but soon Askeladd finds out that they are surrounded by English forces and it's only a matter of time before they get attacked. Meanwhile, completely unaware of this Ragnar invites Thorfinn, who caught a rabbit, to join him and Canute for a stew they can cook with the rabbit. Canute and Ragnar serve a delicious meal and the three of them sit down to eat. Canute reminisces about a time long ago when he cooked a meal with a cod and proudly presented it to his father. But instead of eating it, Sweyn got mad and shouted that his son shouldn't do things that are slave's job. Ragnar tries to excuse the king's behavior by saying he was probably in a bad mood back then and that next time Canute makes him a meal they should use bird meat, which Sweyn prefers. Canute and Ragnar continue talking about possible dishes they could try cooking one day when suddenly informant bursts through the door and tells Ragnar they had been attacked by the English. Ragnar leaves Canute and Thorfinn to see what is happening. This turns out to be part of Askeladd's plan to get Ragnar alone so he can get rid of him. He succeeds in this, but before he dies Ragnar makes Askeladd promise that he will take care of Canute and reveals that King Sweyn wishes for his younger son to die. Vassals of Jelling are divided into two groups, one supporting Harold and another supporting Canute. Fearing a divide in his Kingdom Sweyn decided that Canute's death would be a good solution to this problem. Askeladd is very frustrated by this turn of events, but he still returns Ragnar's body to Canute and tells him he died valiantly fighting against some English soldiers. Canute is utterly shocked by Ragnar's death. He can't believe that just a moment ago Ragnar was there dining with him and now he is dead. Then, as if losing his balance, he falls to the ground still in the state of shock. Askeladd tells him and Thorfinn that they will be leaving the village soon. Canute refuses to go without Ragnar's body so Bjorn has to forcefully carry him to sleds, where Askeladd tells him there is no place for a corpse. But Canute keeps screaming after Ragnar and shouting that he won't go without him. He shuts up when Askeladd slaps him and tells him that Ragnar is dead and it's useless to call for him.

Canute chapter 36

Canute's dream in which he says his farewell to Ragnar

While on the run from Thorkell, Canute is shown to be quiet and somber the entire time. Askeladd senses his men's betrayal who wish to take Canute and surrender him to Thorkell and urges Bjorn to look after the sled where the prince is. When Askeladd's band turns on him as he suspected, Bjorn is already ready to escape with Canute, Willibald and Thorfinn in the sled. Infighting breaks out and Bjorn charges ahead, followed by Atli and some of his men who try to stop him in order to get the prince. One of the pursuers manages to hit a horse which is pulling Bjorn's sled with an axe, and Bjorn, Canute and Willibald get catapulted from the sled and fall into the snow. Thorfinn succeeds in kicking Atli off of his horse and turns to head back and save Askeladd, leaving the prince and the rest behind. Pursuers stop when they see Canute is unconscious, and as they are about to leave with him, Bjorn intervenes, attacking them in his berserker mode. While still unconscious, Canute has a dream in which Ragnar visits him. At first, he thinks it's real, but soon he realizes it's not. In this dream Ragnar admits how he failed Canute, raising him as his own child and not the prince he is. But Canute cries saying that that's all he wished for and that he never wanted to be born as a royal. He proclaims how he would have been the happiest if he had been born as Ragnar's son. Deeply touched by this, Ragnar reciprocates his feelings, and they share a hug. But after that Ragnar steps away from Canute, slowly fading and reminding him this is only a dream, and the time has come for Canute to open his eyes. He wakes up to the sight of violence and fight between Bjorn and his pursuers happening in front of him. Willibald, who is sitting nearby, explains to him how they are fighting over who gets to keep him. Canute recollects his dream and laments how there is no one else in this world who loves him now that Ragnar is gone. Priest questions if Ragnar ever truly loved the prince and this marks the beginning of a conversation that will permanently change who Canute is.

In chapter 37, "The meaning of love" Canute and Willibald talk about what kind of thing or being truly embodies love in our world. The priest says only dead people are able to love completely, because they can only give and never complain. Canute questions, if that is true, what are the feelings parents feel for children, partners for each other, or Ragnar felt for him. Willibald says that is discrimination/prejudice. Because we claim to "love" someone, we are able to watch hundreds suffer, if that would assure the safety of our loved one. Canute begins to realize what kind of love Willibald is talking about. He says that snow, wind, trees are love because they don't play favorites. Realizing that the world people were put on is so beautiful, Canute laments that despite that there is no love in the hearts of men. God and nature are able to love unconditionally, but that seems like an impossible achievement for any living person. In his own way, Canute rebels against God and the trials he sets for people. He thinks God expects them to love like he does but has taken that ability away from them. In the meantime, Bjorn finishes his fight but is still out of his senses. He tries to go after Canute, but without any fear Canute steps in front of him, proclaiming that he is the farthest from God, and hugs him. Bjorn comes to his senses, but then he falls into the snow attacked by Atli, who wounds him badly. Canute is very annoyed by the whole situation; he readies his horse, and when Atli tries to stop him, saying he has to take him to Thorkell, Canute explains that he is already going there himself. He orders Willibald to treat Bjorn's wounds. Bjorn yells in anger that he fought so Canute can escape Thorkell and that his battle loses all meaning if he goes to Thorkell now. Canute sneers that this kind of battle can never have any meaning, and that he, as is a duty of a king, will show him and other men how to fight battles that actually do.

Slave Arc[]

Relationships[]

Thorfinn[]

By order of Askeladd, Thorfinn is put in charge of being Canute's personal guard.[10]

Initially, upon meeting Thorfinn, Canute is frightened by him, immediately hiding behind Ragnar after being introduced.[11] However despite this Canute is found staring at Thorfinn on multiple occasions on their journey, seemingly interested in getting to know him better. This is not lost on Thorfinn as he starts prodding the prince to speak his mind after an encounter with the Welsh. Canute responds to Thorfinn, albeit with a noticeable stutter. Thorfinn teasingly refers to Canute as "Princess" which causes the young prince to spring up flustered. This is much to the surprise of Ragnar, as he notes that this is the first time Canute ever speaks to someone that isn't himself.[12] Making Thorfinn the first person Canute has spoken so openly to aside from Ragnar.

Thorfinn is later referred to by Canute as a dear comrade, who pursues the same goal as him but albeit by a different path.

Ragnar[]

Ragnar is Canute's chief retainer, having served him since he was a small boy. He also functioned as a foster father and guardian, educating the prince and ensuring he had a normal upbringing. Ragnar would speak for the prince, sheltering him and guiding the young prince through a difficult life in the Danish court. Where Ragnar describes Canute to have seen horrible things and being very sickly as a child.

Following Ragner's death Canute is devastated, the young prince who had previously been very sheltered and timid, underwent a dramatic shift in attitude and became a much more determined and courageous individual going so far as to go face to face with Bjorn.

King Sweyn[]

King Sweyn is Canute's father and appears to harbor very little affection for his second-born son. This is in stark contrast to Canute's older brother Harald who is the favorite of the two sons due to Harald's achievements and skill in battle. As a result, Canute was demoted to the role of "spare son" who got left to his own devices with Ragnar at court.

King Sweyn has therefore very little interest in keeping Canute alive since he would pose a threat to his older brother Harald. So in an attempt to kill or possibly mature his youngest son, King Sweyn sends Canute to battle against Thorkell's forces with a mere 4000 men. Resulting in Canute's capture early in the series.

King Sweyn returns later as an apparition to Canute, acting as the conscience of the crown.

Abilities[]

Canute is better known as a cunning and charismatic king; his enemies die swiftly and quietly from poison and assassinations due to his clever scheming. Despite his strong hatred for weapons in his youth, Canute takes up sword practice later in the series and becomes a decent and tactical fighter. He has fast reaction when Thorgil tried to assassinate him, It caught Canute offguard but he immediately stopped him with his sword. He also has good aiming in archery. With his North Sea Empire and the vast fleet, he becomes a terrifying force to be reckoned with.

Appearances[]

Manga Appearances[]

Manga Appearances
Chapters in order of appearance

War Arc

Eastern Expedition Arc

Vinland Arc

Anime Appearances[]

Anime Appearances
Episodes in order of appearance

Season 1

Season 2

Trivia[]

  • Canute is based off of the historical norse king, Canute the Great.
  • Yukimura confirmed on Twitter that Canute in Vinland Saga already has a wife [13][14] and kids [15] after the prologue, but he excused the fact that he forgot to draw them during the work. [4] As he mentions she's an "older widow," his wife may be the historical Canute's second wife, Emma of Normandy.

Gallery[]

References[]

  1. Yukimura Makoto [@makotoyukimura]. (2022, July 12). Canute Birthday Confirmation. Twitter.https://twitter.com/makotoyukimura/status/1546715901424443392?s=20&t=_ihAEntclUnbVgZoeK049g
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 VS Official Guidebook, p. 24 (Age at first appearance, height, weight)
  3. Vinland Saga Manga: Chapter 23, page 19
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Yukimura Makoto [@makotoyukimura]. (2012, January 23). Confirmation that Canute has a Wife and Children. Twitter. https://twitter.com/makotoyukimura/status/161512346479632386?s=20
  5. Vinland Saga Manga: Chapter 43, page 19–20
  6. Vinland Saga Manga: Chapter 22, page 36
  7. Vinland Saga Manga: Chapter 23, page 19
  8. Vinland Saga Manga: Chapter 49, page 12–13
  9. Vinland Saga Manga: Chapter 54, page 22
  10. Vinland Saga Manga; Chapter 24 page 76
  11. Vinland Saga Manga; Chapter 24 page 76
  12. Vinland Saga Manga; Chapter 26 page 148
  13. Yukimura Makoto [@makotoyukimura]. (2011, May 18). Confirmation that Canute is Married 1. Twitter. https://twitter.com/makotoyukimura/status/71061559505469440?s=20
  14. Yukimura Makoto [@makotoyukimura]. (2023, March 23). Confirmation that Canute is Married 2. Twitter. https://twitter.com/makotoyukimura/status/1635319895452942341?s=20
  15. Yukimura Makoto [@makotoyukimura]. (2012, January 23). Confirmation that Canute has Children as of Volume 11. Twitter. https://twitter.com/makotoyukimura/status/161494956257714176?s=20
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