Book 2, Chapter 9, Edward 975 AD to 1016 AD – Thurkill Ravages England
He accepted the invitation, but his character was incurably weak, and he speedily showed by his conduct that adversity had produced in him no beneficial change, arbitrarily levying taxes, and alienating some of his most powerful nobles by the favouritism which he showed to others. Canute being called away by urgent affairs in his own kingdom of Denmark, Ethelred’s cruel weakness took advantage of his absence by a murder of all the Danes whom he could seize, an act for which Canute took reprisals by cutting off the hands and noses of the hostages left with his father, and sending them home to England in that mutilated state.
Judged by the usages of war at that time, such things were not deemed unfair, but apart from this, as a matter of prudence, it would have been better for Ethelred to have recruited his weakened forces, and thus have prepared for the conflict which was sure to be renewed. The prize of England was too rich, for the chance of gaining it to be lightly thrown away, and Canute was not the man to abandon it. Having settled his affairs at home, he returned within a year, accompanied by fresh troops, well equipped, and ready for any desperate conflict. The actual command of the Anglo-Saxons devolved upon Edmund, the eldest son of Ethelred, who was the nominal leader, but who seldom appeared among the troops, thereby depriving them of the stimulus and enthusiasm which the presence of a monarch is calculated to inspire.
Chapter 9, Edward the Martyr
Chapter 9, Ethelred
Chapter 9, Sweyn’s Revenge
Chapter 9, Thurkill Ravages England
Ethelred’s Flight and Return
Chapter 9, Edmund Ironside
Categories: Book 2