Why Did Canute Poison King Harald in Vinland Saga?

Canute's quest for power gets even more disturbing.

by Gabriel Rodrigues
King Canute Vinland Saga
Image: Netflix

The second season of Vinland Saga is proving itself to be one of the best anime of the 2023 Winter Season. With Thorfinn, we have a dramatic story about finding purpose and the meaning of violence; while we follow Canute on a journey filled with deaths and betrayals guided by the search for more power. But fans still don’t understand some of his abominable acts; why did Canute poison King Harald in Vinland Saga episode 10? How killing his brother helps with his plan?

Why Did Canute Kill King Harald in Vinland Saga?

The Slave Arc is one of the best parts of Vinland Saga. After killing Askelad, Canute’s life changed more than he could ever imagine. Now he sees himself faced with the challenge of becoming a true ruler and, to have more power in his hands, he even poisons King Harald, his own brother.

Harald is the eldest son of King Sweyn and the king of Denmark, while Canute is responsible for England. The boys cared for each other when they were children, but Canute is desperate to attain more power for himself. Even though they are both on good terms and his brother supports his English conquest, Canute refuses the idea of having two kings, saying it’ll only lead to disaster.

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For that reason, Canute poisons his brother, making him fall sick. Harald, innocent of what’s happening, hands over Denmark to Canute on his deathbed. This event is extremely important in the world of Vinland Saga, as it makes the ruler of the North Sea. However, that comes with a curse. Canute’s dad is haunting him, saying that the “curse of the crown” will destroy him.

The curse is the ambition inside Canute that’ll drive him toward attaining even more power and that’ll make him suspect everything and everyone, as seen at the end of Vinland Saga season two episode 10, when Canute refuses to eat the food brought to him, fearing it might contain poison. Canute did kill his brother and obtained more power, but the cost might have been too high.

- This article was updated on March 14th, 2023