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Æthelbert's short reign is notable for little other than the renewal of the Danish raids. The Danes, having devoted themselves to other activities for about a decade, decided to invade England again, ravaging the city of Winchester, including its churches and the cathedral, and killing all the monks of the cathedral. On their way back to their ship, loaded down with booty, they were challenged by two alderman (Osric and Ethelwulf by name) and the men of Hampshire and Berkshire, who put the Danes to flight.

In 886, after a reign of five years, Æthelbert died and was succeeded by his brother Æthelred.