Aethelred the Unready

The following post is reblogged from Susan Abernathy’s the Freelance History Writer. It’s the first in a long line of reblogs I’ll be doing in conjunction with our 1014 series. Aethelred the Unready was unseated as King of England by Sweyn Forkbeard just before Christmas in 1013. As we’ve seen, Sweyn passed away in February, paving the way for Aethelred’s return from exile, which he’ll do sometime in March.

If you haven’t checked out Susan’s blog, you should do so. Some of us write funny or interesting pieces about the things we like. Susan writes posts that can be used as a resource. Enjoy!

The Freelance History Writer

Image of Aethelred the Unready A thirteenth century chronicler recorded Aethelred as being named “Un-raed” which has come to mean Unready in modern terms. The name Aethelred is a compound of two words: Aethel meaning “prince” and raed meaning “noble counsel”. Un-raed means “no counsel” so the chronicler was basically making a pun on Aethelred’s name. But this pun had overtones and alternative meanings including “evil counsel” or “a treacherous plot”. Calling Aethelred “Unraed” could mean he was given bad counsel, he did not take advice from his counselors or that he himself was unwise. Perhaps all were true. Let’s look at the story and see.

Aethelred was the great-great grandson of Alfred the Great and born c. 968. His father was Edgar the Peaceable, King of England and his mother was Queen Aelfthryth. Edgar died in 975 leaving a young Aethelred and an elder son by a previous…

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2 thoughts on “Aethelred the Unready

  1. Lillian C.G says:

    I’m sure you’re familiar with Dr. Ryan Lavelle work on the subject?
    Thought his book-work in general, could be useful in this 1014 project you got going!

    Cheers

    • No I was not familiar with him before now. I’m pretty amateur when it comes to all this. Do you know of people who have some expertise from this time period outside of Europe?

      I’ve got Mexico and Europe covered, and have some help with the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim World. I’m specifically looking for contributions / material from China, India and the Khmer.

      It’s hard work compiling all the knowledge in the world from a certain year! I just want to make sure I do 1014 justice.

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