Who was King Canute and why is he on the new UK £5?

Today marks 1,000 years since the coronation of King Canute and to mark the anniversary, The Royal Mint have issued a brand new UK £5 coin. But who was King Canute?

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The Royal Mint have issued this brand new UK £5 coin to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of the coronation of King Canute

Hailed the ‘king of all England’

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50 years before the Norman Invasion of 1066, Canute crossed the North Sea and won the throne of England.

Recognised as one of the most prominent kings of the Anglo-Saxon era, Canute is widely remembered for conquering kingdoms across northern Europe including England, Denmark, Norway, and areas of Sweden.

Born in Denmark, King Canute’s exact birth year is unknown, although it is thought to be between 985–995 AD.  Canute grew up at a time when the crown of England was being ferociously fought over by the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings.

Canute became the undisputed successor to the English throne in 1016 after months of warfare between Canute and Edmund Ironside (son of Æthelred ‘The Unready’) and his coronation took place on the 6th January 1017 at the Old St Paul’s cathedral.

Canute or Cnut the Great?

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Canute was originally known as Knútr (which means ‘Knot’) in Old Norse and in Denmark he is still known as Knud den Store (‘Cnut the Great’).

Anglo-Saxons rarely used the letter K and the letter combination ‘CN’ was quite normal in Old English, so his name was spelt CNUT in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and, importantly, on coins issued in his name in England and Denmark.

Later medieval writers turned this into ‘Canutus’ which became the spelling ‘Canute’, often seen in modern English as a more familiar modern day spelling.

A historical coin

King Canute’s achievements and influence paved the way for the nation we recognise today. He strengthened the currency, initiating a series of coins of equal weight to those being used in Denmark, so it’s only fitting that the design of this brand new £5 coin has been inspired by the original currency of King Canute.

This is the first time ever The Royal Mint has commemorated a 1,000-year anniversary on a coin – an occasion of real significance.


Own Britain’s new £5 coin – the first release of 2017

king-canute-coin-and-coin-packThe 2017 UK King Canute £5

Today you can own the brand new 2017 UK £5 coin issued to mark the 1,000th anniversary of the coronation of King Canute – an anniversary never before celebrated on a UK coin.

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2 Responses to Who was King Canute and why is he on the new UK £5?

  1. David Crane says:

    I can see why “Canute” was used on this issue, had an earlier form, such as “Cnut” been used, I can imagine some dyslexic people being offended 😉

    Still it’s a great looking coin, and it would be great if these entered general circulation – after all these are the same size as the old crowns (5 shillings) and those definitely were in circulation

  2. kurto says:

    when are 5 pounds coins going to be currency instead of worthless tokens the mint sell

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