Viking chieftain, Hastein, was known as the “lusty and terrifying old warrior of the Loire and the Somme”.
The Norman monk Dudo described him as “…a man accursed: fierce, mightily cruel, and savage, pestilent, hostile, sombre, truculent, given to outrage, pestilent and untrustworthy, fickle and lawless. Death-dealing, uncouth, fertile in ruses, warmonger general, traitor, fomenter of evil, and double-dyeded dissimulator.”
The part Dudo left out was “dumb”.
Hastein had set his eyes on Rome. Unable to breach the walls, he feigned near death and a couple of his men carried him on a stretcher to the gates of the city where they told the guards Hastein wished to convert to Christianity before his death.
The good Christians let them in where he received the sacraments and then “died”.
Touched, the occupants of the city allowed fifty of his men through the gates for the funeral.
Hastein jumped off his stretcher and he and his men who had weapons under their robes promptly sacked the town.
It was during their victory celebrations that Hastein discovered they were not in Rome but in a city called Luna, some 250 miles from their intended target.
As Maxwell Smart would say, “Missed by that much.”