Beorhtric & Eadric Streona
Eadric Streona (died 1017 CE) was an ealdorman of the English Mercians. His name a loose translation of the Anglo-Saxon "the Grasper." He became the son-in-law to King Etherlred the Unready, and was slain by King Cnut.
Streona is historically regarded as the greatest traitor of the Anglo-Saxon period in English history. In 2005, he was selected by the BBC History Magazine as the 11th century's worst Briton.
Beorhtric was his brother, the history called him "lubricious". He owned Soulton, and is the first figure whose name reaches us by history.
In the struggle between the English and the Danes, Eadric Streona appears in the character of an arch-traitor. When Ethelred in 1009 proposed a great attack on the Danes, Eadric dissuaded him from carrying it into effect. Again, on the invasion of the Kingdom of England by Canute the Great in 1015, Eadric deserted Edmund II of England and joined Canute. After the Battle of Otford he returned to Edmund, but only by his treachery at the Battle of Ashingdon to secure the utter defeat of the national Saxon cause. He is said to have killed a soldier who looked like Edmund II (Ironside) and held up his head, only to realise his mistake (despite being supposedly on the same side). Eadric appears to have acted as a go-between for Ethelred and the Danes, attempting to rescue St. Alphege ("Alfheah") in 1012 by collecting a ransom. He was probably involved in other payments of Danegeld, as his (probable) father Aethelweard the Historian and Bishop Alphege were extensively involved in diplomacy with the Danes. Subsequent to the unauthorised murder of St. Alphege at Greenwich by Thorkell the Tall's men, Thorkell defected to Ethelred, possibly through Eadric's agency.
Although loyal to Ethelred, he had a personal enmity towards Ethelred's son Edmund Ironside, who favoured a confrontational policy towards the Danes, while Eadric Streona was a major proponent of the payment of Danegeld (presumably influenced by the opportunities for corruption it offered).
This was sealed when Edmund rebelled against his father and married Aelgifu, the daughter of one of Eadric Streona's victims in his role as Ethelred's hitman, giving him a northern power base. Despite his policy of appeasement, he is said to have persuaded Ethelred to undertake the genocide of Danish civilians in the St. Brice's Day Massacre - although this is uncertain - prompting Sir Frank Stenton's epigraphic footnote about him being the usual suspect for unknown crimes.
King Canute restored to Eadric the Earldom of Mercia. During Canute's reign, Eadric accompanied the Queen consort Emma of Normandy, widow of Ethelred and wife of Canute, to the Duchy of Normandy. At Christmas 1017, fearing further treachery, Canute had Eadric slain.
William of Malmesbury described him as "the refuse of mankind and a reproach unto the English"
Eadric features as the central villain in the anonymous play Edmund Ironside, now part of the Shakespeare Apocrypha.