As Michael Smith describes "� Ribman has plunged into history and written a play about eleventh-century England and its pacifist King Ethelred. Ethelred has negotiated a treaty with Sweyn of Denmark whereby England pays tribute in silver and Sweyn gives his daughter Thulja is hostage to guarantee the peace. But Ethelred has hawks to contend with�the belligerent Earl of Sussex, his own hot-headed son Edmund, and a blood-thirsty mother-in-law�as well as a frustrated and jealous queen and a grasping Bishop. Eventually the proud Edmund kills four Danish immigrant farmers, picks a fight with the Danish ambassador, and is himself accidentally killed. His grandmother, the old Queen Alfreda, kills Thulja in vengeance, and the Danes prepare to invade England. At the end of the play Ethelred, who has sorrowfully taken refuge in a monastery, is being urged by even his most dovish advisers to march against the Danes and defend his throne. He refuses." And so the judgment of history goes against him�this benevolent, moral man who wanted only to bring a better life to his people, and to free them from the tyranny of constant, senseless wars.