No doubt Alphege would have wished to spend his years in Canterbury tending the needs of the English Church and caring for the spiritual needs of his flock. But the times were unsettled and Alphege was caught up in a period of chaos and tragedy.
In 1011, after a period of relative peace, the Danes again invaded southern England seizing Canterbury and taking Alphege prisoner. They expected him to raise a ransom for his release, as was the custom, but Alphege’s flock were already in poverty as a result of the Danegeld they had had to raise to buy off previous raids. The sum demanded for Alphege (£3,000) was an enormous amount in those days. Alphege steadfastly refused to let his people raise a ransom and he remained in prison.
On the 19th April 1012 the Danes were feasting in their camp at Greenwich by the Thames. In their drunken fury they remembered Alphege languishing in prison close by and decided to take out on him their frustration at his resistance. They started by pelting him with ox bones and stones. Then, as he was dying from his injuries, a soldier killed him with an axe blow to the head – some say it was intended to be an act of mercy.