On this day in history : 13th November 1002 – English King ‘Aethelred the Ill-advised’ orders the killing of all Danish men in England – it is known today as the St. Brice’s Day Massacre….

Aethelred – Public domain

In 2008 evidence of a brutal massacre of Vikings was found in Oxford during an archaeological dig…. At least 35 male skeletons, aged between 16 – 25, were discovered at St. John’s College in a dig prior to building work being carried out…. The bones showed obvious signs of violence, with fractured skulls and blade puncture marks, especially to the back of the head…. A similar mass grave, of at least 55 skeletons, again all young males, had been found previously when the Weymouth relief road had been built…. These finds indicated an intolerance towards Vikings at the time and gave evidence that violence had been rife….

Aethelred came to the throne in 978 at the age of 12, after his mother had arranged for the murder of his stepbrother…. All the while the Vikings were watching from their lands across the seas – and seeing this young king as weak thought it a good time to make a claim on England…. What followed were numerous Viking raids and Aethelred was powerless to stave them off…. The Danes were establishing themselves everywhere, whole Viking families trading and farming – the north and east of England was to become known as ‘Danelaw’….

Aethelred and his advisors became concerned that there would be a mass Viking uprising and that the whole country would fall under their rule…. So an order was given that all Danish men in England were to be executed – the massacre began on the feast day of St. Brice….

These ruthless mass killings angered Viking leaders and the attacks from overseas became more frequent and even more ferocious…. Particularly angry was King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark, as his sister Gunnhild had been slaughtered at Oxford…. Eventually in 1013 Sweyn was declared King of England….

Sweyn Forkbeard – Public domain

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