Back in the year 859, with a fleet of 62 red-sailed ships, the Viking chieftain Hasting negotiated the Straits of Gibraltar, sacked Algericas, spent a week in Morocco rounding up “blue men” for subsequent sale in Ireland and then wintered on La Camargue in the Rhône Delta, “causing great annoyance and detriment to the inhabitants”.
Come spring, he was ready for Italy. After looting Pisa, he turned south and came across a city of such marbled magnificence that it could only be Rome.
Hasting dispatched messengers who related that their leader was dying, and his last wish was to be given a Christian burial in hallowed ground. Permission granted, the gates admitted a coffin followed by a long procession of mournful Vikings.
As the local bishop was praying over the coffin it flew open and out leapt Hasting himself. The startled bishop was run through with Hasting’s sword, and the mourners went off to reduce the city to ashes. Only then dis Hasting learn that he had destroyed Luna, not Rome, and felt so cheated that he ordered the massacre of all male prisoners.
Feature image (on top) Paul B. Moore/Shutterstock