Who Is King Canute From Vikings: Valhalla? (& What They Got Wrong About Him)

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Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla has become one of the best historical drama shows that you can stream today. True to its nature as a historical series, the different characters featured in the show are all based on historical characters. One of the central characters in the series is Canute. So, who is Canute from Vikings: Valhalla, and what did they get wrong about him?

King Canute was the Danish king that led the Norsemen on a retaliatory attack on England following the St. Brice’s Day Massacre that killed the Vikings living in the country. However, historically, Canute wasn’t king until his father, King Sweyn, died. It was also Sweyn who led the retaliation on England.           

One of the most confusing things about Vikings: Valhalla is that both Canute and Sweyn are kings and that it was Canute who led the attack on England. However, this isn’t historically true, as Vikings: Valhalla isn’t the most accurate series about the Viking Age. Still, let’s get a good look at who King Canute is in Valhalla and how his character compares to the real-life King Canute.

Who Is King Canute From Vikings: Valhalla?

Like the original Vikings series, Vikings: Valhalla is a show that includes a host of different characters that all play a good role in the entire plot. One such character that played a huge role in the overall narrative is Canute, who became one of the key leaders that allowed the story to progress. But who is King Canute from Vikings: Valhalla?

In the Vikings: Valhalla series, King Canute was the king that amassed an entire army that was there to attack the country of England in an effort to retaliate against the English king responsible for killing countless Vikings during the beginning of the series.

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The series began with King Aethelred of England ordering the death of all of the Norsemen living in his country. That was the real-life historical event called the St. Brice’s Day Massacre, as Aethelred basically culled the numbers of the Danes in England in an effort to decrease the Viking raids that were happening.

King Canute succeeded in his effort of taking London from the Englishmen against the boy king Edmund, who was far too inexperienced to defeat the Viking forces. But instead of executing Edmund and ruling England on his own, Canute decided to spare his life and use him as a puppet second king. The purpose of keeping Edmund alive was to make sure the other English nobles in the area would respect Canute’s rule as the new king of England.


Who Is King Edmund From Vikings: Valhalla? (& What They Got Wrong About Him)

Canute ended up marrying Emma of Normandy, the widowed queen of the late King Aethelred, to solidify his claim on England. However, he had to leave England so that he could return to Denmark to defend it against invaders. Meanwhile, he left his father, King Sweyn Forkbeard, to rule the newly annexed country in his place.

Who Plays King Canute In Vikings: Valhalla?

For those who think that King Canute of Vikings: Valhalla looks familiar, the character is portrayed by Welsh actor Bradley Freegard, who is in his first role in a Netflix original series. However, he is actually a veteran actor who has had his fair share of appearances in different productions in a career that has spanned more than 20 years.

Bradley Freegard made his first on-screen appearance as an actor in Human Traffic. Since then, he earned himself smaller acting roles, such as a brief appearance in Da Vinci’s Demons and Hinterland, among others. He also went on to star in Keeping Faith.

From the looks of it, his role as King Canute in Vikings: Valhalla, although not the starring role of the series, is set to become the biggest acting job in his two-decade career, as he set to appear in the entire three-season run of this series.

What Vikings: Valhalla Gets Wrong About King Canute

While Vikings: Valhalla did a good job of portraying a strong and wise king that was willing to not only lead his men to battle but also make the best political decisions as a ruler, the thing that is important to note is that the showrunners did have a lot of leeway when it came to accuracy of how King Canute was portrayed. That’s because, while there were several things right about Canute, there were still plenty of things that they got wrong about him.

First off, it wasn’t Canute who led the Danes in a retaliatory attack against England following the St. Brice’s Massacre. Instead, it was King Sweyn Forkbeard that led the Norsemen against England. 


The St. Brice’s Day Massacre In Vikings: Valhalla Explained (True Story)

The historical Canute (or Cnut) actually did not become king until he took over England back in 1016, which his 14 years after the St. Brice’s Day Massacre. By the time he became king, his father, King Sweyn, was already dead, as he died in 1014, just shortly after he was proclaimed the Danish King of the English.


At that time, Canute actually became King of England before he became King of Denmark, and that wasn’t the case in the series because he was already the King of Denmark at the beginning of Vikings: Valhalla.

Historically, it was only after his brother’s death that he became King of Denmark in 1018, two years after he ascended to the throne of England. That means that he was still a prince before he ascended to the throne of England.

Another thing that the series got wrong about Canute was that, in the series, he went to battle with the Wends without bringing Godwin with him. However, historically, Godwin became one of his most trusted advisers when he allowed the Englishman to accompany him in his fight against the historical counterparts of the Wends.

Instead, in the series, it was his father, King Forkbeard, that learned to trust Godwin as an underling working under him.

And speaking of Forkbeard, Canute and his father never ruled England together. That’s because King Sweyn had already died by the time Canute ascended to the throne of England shortly after Aethelred took back London from the Danes following Forkbeard’s death. And Canute also never ruled together with King Edmund, but they did have an agreement that allowed Canute to rule over Mercia while Edmund ruled over Wessex. 

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