On a gusty March day in 1016, as King Canute was completing his subjugation of the north of England, he commanded the appearance of teh greatest of his northern subjects, Earl Uhtred of Northumbria, at a place called Wiheal, probably near Tadcaster in Yorkshire. Uhtred had been loyal to Canute's predecessor, Ethelred the Unready, but realized that Canute had an overwhelming upper hand, and came with forty retainers to Wiheal to make his submission.;However, as Richard Fletcher recounts in his opening to this book, "Treachery was afoot". Uhtred and his men were ambushed and slaughtered by an old enemy of Uhtred's called Thurbrand, with Canute's connivance. This book analyzes the long bloodfeud which resulted from this act of treachery.