- "I want Uhtred Ragnarson taken immediately! (...) No one sleeps until he is found! (...) Avenging my child is not a distraction! Jackdaw! (...) He killed my firstborn, and Esgar is still with him! If I have no heir, all of this... All of this is for nothing!"
- —Cnut to Brida after learning of the supposed death of his son[src]
Cnut "Longsword" Ranulfson was a main character and antagonist in both The Saxon Stories novel series, and The Last Kingdom television series. Cnut was a powerful Danish Warlord, cousin of Ragnar, Thyra and indirectly "foster cousin" of Uhtred.
Cnut appears the first time in "The Burning Land" when the Jarls meet in Dunholm with Ragnar Ragnarson after Uhtred's return from the rather disappointing raid in Frisia. Cnut is described by Uthred with almost a figure like the swift Finan, just with white hair, although he wasn't an old man at that time. Cnut also had a sense of humour and liked to tell jokes. Cnut appears again early in the novel The Pagan Lord when he accuses Uhtred of the abuction of his new young wife and his twins. Uhtred meets him at Tameworþig to discuss this matter at a rich feast.
Cnut and Brida, spot a group of Saxons and Danes traveling. They’re protecting the cart and the man that rides on it. Cnut then remarks how fortunate his cousin Ragnar is to have a woman to both love and fight. He wonders why she allows him to shame her. Brida doesn't answer, she simply orders Cnut to allow the men to continue on their path undisturbed. ("Episode 3.2")
Brida recovers Uhtred and brings him back to Dunholm. Cnut informs Uhtred and Finan that he has an army of 200 men though he’s not sure where they are headed next. Though, if Wessex is undefended, Cnut is considering heading south. Uhtred is not fond of the name Dane-Slayer and tells Cnut to stop referring to him as such. Ragnar remarks that the prospect of Alfred without Uhtred will bring many Danes, Ragnar included. ("Episode 3.2")
Ragnar, Hæsten, Bloodhair, and Cnut join their four armies to make one great army, all led by Ragnar in effort to defeat Alfred and claim Wessex. Æthelwold tells stories to Cnut and the other Danes of Alfred in his youth. Uhtred then asks what Æthelwold said to Æthelred when he visited Mercia. Æthelwold spoke of an opportunity to enrage Alfred and cause division, which included killing Æthelflæd. Æthelwold questions why Uhtred cares. He surmises that the real reason Beocca came was to ask that Uhtred save her. Æthelwold predicts that Uhtred is about to desert them. Cnut reminds Uhtred that they’re supposed to be joined as one. Ragnar tells Uhtred to choose to either stand with them or abandon them. Uhtred decides to leave and save the princess. ("Episode 3.3")
Æthelwold demands to know why Ragnar and Cnut are allowing Uhtred to leave after he defeated Bloodhair. He suggests they kill him. Ragnar questions his worth and why he shouldn’t kill Æthelwold. Cnut reminds him that Æthelwold can drip poison into the ears of Saxons. Still, Ragnar grows upset and attacks Æthelwold, striking him several times. Cnut reminds him that it is Uhtred who has caused their division and they need to remember their task ahead. Ragnar states that nothing has changed and they will march when the time comes. Cnut helps Æthelwold up and agrees that they shouldn’t have allowed Uhtred to leave. ("Episode 3.4")
Ragnar leads Brida, Cnut, Bloodhair, Æthelwold, and the great army to Wessex. Ragnar informs Cnut that he wishes to send a few men ahead tomorrow to scout for Alfred’s army. Himself, Cnut, and Bloodhair will each send a man. Cnut then goes looking for Brida and tells her that Ragnar belittles her, as he continues to hump other women. She replies that he’s plowing a new field in the hope of sowing the seed of another son. Cnut would like to be with her, however, he will leave because she asked him to. Cnut then tells Bloodhair that Ragnar wants to send a spy ahead to watch for Alfred. He goes on to say that it was an insult for Ragnar to interrupt his battle with Uhtred. Cnut believes that their spies should also act as messengers to carry word of their intentions in order to grow their armies. ("Episode 3.4")
Æthelwold has been contemplating his next actions after Cnut told him that Ragnar will likely kill him. Æthelwold intends to kill Ragnar first. Cnut wonders how he will do so. Æthelwold will wait until he sleeps. Cnut encourages him to do so tonight. Once it is done, Æthelwold will have Cnut’s protection. ("Episode 3.4")
Jackdaw returns to camp to report to Brida, Cnut, and Bloodhair that Alfred is dead. Brida rushes to inform Ragnar but discovers him dead in his tent. Cnut enters Ragnar’s tent and demands to know the man responsible, despite being fully aware who killed Ragnar. Brida exits the tent, suspecting that it was someone at the camp who took his life. When Bloodhair accuses Brida of killing Ragnar, she charges at him, but he knocks her to the ground. Despite Ragnar’s death, Cnut wants to go on. He and Bloodhair will march. ("Episode 3.5")
Cnut and Brida bury Ragnar. Some of his men believe this to be a sign. To die without his sword means they will lose the battle. Cnut states that Ragnar’s men are now Brida’s men, and together, they could lead. Brida fears that without Ragnar, they shall become separate tribes. Brida suspects that it was either Cnut or Bloodhair that killed him, but Cnut insists that Ragnar was killed by his whore. Brida hands Ragnar his sword and proceeds to bury him with rocks. ("Episode 3.5")
Hæsten arrives in Hunstanton with Skade, where he regroups with Bloodhair and Cnut. Hæsten informs Bloodhair that Skade belongs to him now. He reveals that Alfred lives and that they came at night in thousands. And that Uhtred is with him. Æthelwold is doubtful, but Hæsten insists that Alfred lives. Cnut tells Bloodhair to rest and afterward, they will discuss what comes next. ("Episode 3.6")
Bloodhair believes Ragnar’s death to be an omen and that they should postpone the fight, but Cnut wants to push forward. He wishes to send Æthelwold back to Winchester to raise a Saxon army. He also reveals to Hæsten and Bloodhair that it was Æthelwold who killed Ragnar in his sleep. ("Episode 3.6")
Cnut asks Brida when will her men become their men. He doesn’t care about the seer or the others. And so, Brida invites him into her tent. They later get word from Offa that Uhtred will come for them all as a shadow walker and they all will die as Ragnar died. This sparks an altercation between Bloodhair and Hæsten. Cnut sanctions the fight, during which time, Bloodhair is killed by Skade. Cnut then learned of Uhtred’s capture and leaves camp to kill him. ("Episode 3.7")
Hunstanton, East Anglia; Cnut tells Brida to join him, however, all she can think about is how he sent Æthelwold to kill Uhtred. Cnut explains that he actually sent Æthelwold to raise a Saxon army and sow unrest. She informs Cnut that men are claiming that Æthelwold killed Ragnar. Cnut claims that he doesn’t know, but Æthelwold was in fear of Ragnar. Brida declares that Æthelwold is to be protected in battle because he is hers to kill. ("Episode 3.9")
Hæsten announces to Cnut and Brida that Alfred is dead. Dagfinn reassures the, that it’s true this time. Many mourn the death of Alfred and the time for war is near. Brida looks to Cnut and makes him swear to the gods that it was Æthelwold who killed Ragnar. Cnut swears. And so, Brida declares that he must not fall in battle. Æthelwold cannot fall to any sword. ("Episode 3.10")
Cnut, Brida, Hæsten, and Æthelwold lead their army into the woodlands, where they find their spies hanging from trees. Suddenly, they are ambushed by the Wessex and Merican army. Sigebriht arrives with his men, however, they fight in honor of Wessex, taking out many Danes. Cnut takes a spear and launches it into the chest of Sigebriht, killing him. The Danes eventually lose the battle, though Cnut escapes with his life. ("Episode 3.10")
East Anglia; Young Cnut and his younger brother Esgar run through the woods, taking cover behind trees. Cnut is captured by Brida, who holds a knife at his throat and asks if he wants her to show him mercy. He nods his head yes. She reminds him that mercy is for Christians and the only appropriate action when captured by the enemy is to take his own life. They are joined by Cnut, who tells Brida that the boys must like her. The women of East Anglia are shipped off to the settlements for the winter. They must be hidden away while the men go to war. Cnut warns them that if any of them are caught humping a Saxon, they will be executed on their return. ("Episode 4.1")
Hæsten informs Cnut and Brida that he met with Eardwulf and told him that they were leaving for Irland. With their plan in motion, they’ll attack Mercia while their backs are turned. They’ll sail to the estuary before dawn, head upstream and keep the boats apart to avoid any scouts. When they reach Mercia, they’ll assault Aegelesburg in two bands and Cnut will kill King Edward. Brida explains that they’ll kill Æthelred as well. Wessex is honor-bound to come to Mercia's aid. So, they’ll lure out Edward from behind his walls and fight on their terms and take the country. Hæsten questions how Cnut managed to tame Brida. He replies that he treated her with respect and gave her love. ("Episode 4.1")
Tetsworth, Mercia; Cnut, Brida, and Hæsten lead their army into Tetsworth. They’ll rest there for the night and attack at first light. Catch the Mercians sleeping in their beds. Hæsten asks how far Aegelesburg is. "Close enough to surprise them." Brida replies. And with that said, Hæsten plans to part ways. He has no interest in war; only women and silver. Brida warns Hæsten that he’ll miss a great gathering of armies. Edward is honor-bound to defend the land of his sister and mother. Æthelred's death will force swift retaliation. They will ride into Mercia in a fury and will force Mercia to a battle place where they won’t have the advantage. ("Episode 4.2")
Cnut calls young Cnut and Esgar over. He wants them to leave with Hæsten, who will take them north until the campaign is over. Hæsten wonders how Cnut was able to draw Brida to him. She replies they made a bond in blood. Hæsten then reveals that he knows Brida is pregnant with Cnut’s child. He says he can tell by her breasts. Brida threatens to cut off Hæsten’s balls and feed them to him if he tells Cnut. Cnut then calls Brida over as he rallies the men. He tells them to rest well because at day break, they’ll strike and Mercia will burn. ("Episode 4.2")
Aegelesburg, Mercia; Just as planned, Cnut and Brida lead an army into Avlesburv the following morning, where they slaughter the unsuspecting Mercians. They search for Æthelred but he is nowhere to be found. ("Episode 4.2")
Brida instructs the men to send scouts and scavenge for food. She finds Cnut in Æthelred’s room. Cnut asks if she's seen the Ealdormen, who he tortured. And while they didn't find Æthelred, they make the most of their time together; the two of them have sex on King Æthelred’s bed. ("Episode 4.2")
Mercia; Later, Brida asks if he's heard anything of the Saxon armies, but he hasn't. And so Cnut is willing to burn every village in Mercia until Edward has no choice but to fight. Brida tells Cnut that his sons should be here to see this, but Hæsten will keep them safe. Cnut is intent on slaughtering Edward and Æthelred’s armies. And when the kings are dead, Cnut promises that he and Brida will sit on the throne. She reminds Cnut that they do this in Ragnar’s memory. ("Episode 4.3")
Cnut, Brida, Jackdaw, and Bjorgulf learn that the lady Æthelflæd has returned to Mercia. If she’s alone, the rest of the Saxons won’t be far behind. If they manage to capture her, then they will have the upper hand. Cnut tasks Bjorgulf with bringing her back. ("Episode 4.3")
Cnut and Brida command their soldiers to have their defenses built by sunset. Just as Brida is about to tell him something, Bjorgulf returns, but without Æthelflæd. Bjorgulf reveals that Uhtred was in Aegelesburg with Cnut’s sons, and he beheaded young Cnut. Cnut grabs Jackdaw’s bludgeons Bjorgulf with it. He commands that Uhtred be brought in immediately. Brida tries to remind him of their actual goal, but Cnut is blinded with rage. Cnut orders Jackdaw to prepare the men to march and send men ahead to follow them. ("Episode 4.4")
Jackdaw reports to Cnut and Brida that Uhtred is waiting at Tettenhall. Cnut says that he will have his revenge and he and his men ride out. ("Episode 4.4")
Tettenhall, Mercia; Cnut, Brida, Jackdaw, and the Dane army arrive in Tettenhall. Brida notes that something isn’t right and orders them to fallback, but Cnut leads his men forward, right into Uhtred’s trap; a large, camouflaged ditch. As the Danes try to recover, Uhtred and Æthelflæd leas their army forward. Brida is knocked off her horse, but she manages to take out two enemies in the same breath. ("Episode 4.4")
Tettenhall woods, Mercia; Cnut follows Uhtred into the woods and they fight. Cnut demands to know why Uhtred killed his first born. Uhtred claims it was revenge for Ragnar. Brida arrives as the two fight for control, though she doesn’t intervene. Cnut claims that Ragnar was weak and needed him to die, while his son was innocent. Unbeknownst to Cnut, Brida has overheard him admit to killing her former lover. As Uhtred places him in a chokehold, he tells Brida to give him his seax. She slowly picks up his blade and Uhtred lets Cnut go. She confronts him for sending Æthelwold to kill Ragnar and stabs him with his own sword. As Cnut kneels there with his sword in his chest, gasping for air, Uhtred reveals that both of Cnut’s boys are alive just before he dies from his wounds. ("Episode 4.4")
This list shows the victims Cnut has killed:
This list shows the victims Cnut has killed:
- Numerous unnamed Saxon soldiers and civilians
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- Ice-Spite was a blade belonging to Cnut Longsword.
- The name Cnut is deprived from Old Norse. The name is made up of the word knútr, which means "knot".
- Cnut was a noble; he was a Jarl (Earl).