Themed Set: Vikings

“From the fury of the Norsemen, oh Lord, deliver us!”

-Medieval prayer

Deep in the reptile brain of western Christendom lies the ancestral memory of Norse longships, heavy with bearskin-clad berserkers and Wagner extras, cleaving the icy North Seas en route to a remote commune whose altar relics want relieving.

These semimythical encounters are a difficult topic for this here blog because although they undoubtedly featured violence, and even executions, the Viking Age is also the European “Dark Ages” precisely because they didn’t keep a lot of reliable almanacs of bloggable execution dates.

This weekend, we fill that gap with two executions from the misty past of England: two near-fabulous near-executions linked to one another by family ties, and to posterity by national mythology.

On this day..