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St Brice's Day Massacre

The 13th of November 1002 AD

Surely the biggest error made by King Ethelred Unraed (Ethelred the ill-advised), and a heinous crime to boot, the massacre on St Brice’s Day, November 13th 1002, renewed the conflict with the Danes and eventually led to the loss of his throne.

The Danes had long troubled England, but by 1002 an uneasy co-existence had been arrived at. Ethelred was paying protection money, Danegeld, to Sweyn Forkbeard, the King of a Viking super-state of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Sweyn had left hostages against his good behaviour. But demands from other Vikings troubled the English King, and the number of Danish settlers was increasing yearly.

Ethelred’s solution was an attempt to engineer the slaughter of all Danes in England, “like weeds in the wheat” according to his decree, on November 13th 1002.

Whole settler villages were wiped out. Oxford saw the burning of St Frideswide’s church where fleeing Danes had sought sanctuary. Those attempting to escape were cut down outside, the rest burned in the church. One of the hostages left by Forkbeard, Gunnhild, possibly his sister, or perhaps just an unlucky Viking noble-woman, was also murdered. Whatever her status, she was to be revenged by Forkbeard, who in the following year arrived with a huge fleet to raid and ravage the country. The Vikings only departed when a famine of which they were a major cause hit the land in 1005.

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Comment

From graeme webster on 28th February 2011
Google Weymouth Vikings for 2010 find of fifty massacred Vikings dated from the century of the massacre (890-1030) Since the find site is otherwise inexplicable could they be related?

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On this day:
Scilly Naval Disaster – 2000 Drown - 1707, First Plastic Surgery in Britain - 1814, Blantyre Mining Disaster - 1877, Crippen convicted at Old Bailey - 1910, George Blake Escapes from Wormwood Scrubs - 1966
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