“The Unready”, King Eathelred’s sobriquet, meant “ill-advised”, but he might justifiably be termed unlucky, as his accession in 979 at 13, was quickly followed by the resumption of concerted Viking raiding after a hiatus of several decades. His defeat by a Viking army at Maldon (991) led to a resumption of Danegeld tribute. But the raids resumed in 997, and intensified until an infuriated Eathelred ordered the killing of all Danes in England: the St Brice’s Day Massacre (1002). With his sister amongst those slain, the Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard ordered a series of attacks on the English culminating in the full-scale invasion of 1013, forcing Eathelred into exile. Sweyn then died, and was succeeded by h Cnut the Great, the king of Denmark and Norway. When Eathelred’s son Edmund Ironside rebelled against his father, Cnut exploited the situation, achieving a decisive victory at Assandun to claim the English throne. Cnut reigned largely unchallenged until 1035, but turmoil in Denmark allowed the House of Wessex to regain England under Edward the Confessor (1042).
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