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St Brice's Day massacre

St Brice's Day massacre, 13 November 1002. Considered a cardinal blunder committed by King Æthelred, who is said to have ordered the killing of all Danes in England on that day. This is scarcely credible, considering the numbers involved. Yet some action was taken, probably provoked by Pallig, the Dane who, after taking Æthelred's gifts, broke his pledge of loyalty by joining raiders ravaging the south coast. The murder of Pallig's wife Gunnhild, sister of the Danish king Sweyn, may well have provoked Sweyn's invasion in 1003, which was followed by continual onslaught, until in 1017 a Danish king was on the English throne.

Audrey MacDonald

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