The Marvellous Story of Knutti the Viking

Our young champion Knutti (kah-noo-tee) arrived on the shores of England in 1030.

In England, a mostly Christian land at this time, this was a year of great excitement, for many of the local population believed that a man of great esteem would return after one thousand years.

Knutti believed in the Nordic gods, and had been jolted into action by the news of the establishment of King Canute’s Great North Sea Empire. He believed this to be a wonderful opportunity for him!

In 1030, it was possible to sail by longboat along the rivers Humber and Ouse to arrive into the great city of Jórvík without stepping foot on land. When he disembarked, full of happy emotion, he was amazed by what he saw. For Jórvík was a city of hustle and bustle. He first heard the chimes of the great Minster church, visible on a low hill beyond the fallen Roman walls. There were many longships with brightly coloured sails unloading their wares along the wharves of the river.

Everywhere he saw smoke rising into the blue sky from houses and outside bake-houses. There were ruins of Roman buildings onto which the locals had built wooden structures. Knutti had the sense that a lot of history had taken place in this famous town.

As he began to walk up a narrow street toward the palace, a large and elaborate wooden structure to the south of the Minster, Knutti heard Old English for the first time. It was strange, but if he listened hard, he was astonished to find that he could understand this strange tongue! He had been told by sailors on the crossing across the North Sea that the language was similar to his own, but the pronunciation was exotic! He felt encouraged that he could understand so much of the language that lay 6-8 days away from his homeland in the fjords. His next step was to seek royal permission to open up his trading post.

King Canute, a fierce yet humble king, was known for his humility before the Christian God. Everyone knew the story of how he had rebuked his courtiers for their belief that he could control the tide. Knutti quickly learned at a butcher’s shop on a street called Shambles that the King would be in Jórvík in several days’ time. He was determined to take this fortuitous opportunity to seek an audience and request a royal warrant.

Sure enough, before a week had gone by, Knutti had met the King, and had been awestruck by the nobleman’s presence. The King had been kind and graceful in their conversation, and had immediately instructed his men to arrange the warrant for Knutti to begin trading without delay. Life in England was turning out to be everything Knutti had dreamt of, and more!

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