King Ethelred ENGLAND, II 1
- Born: Abt 965-968, , Wessex, England
- Married (1): Abt 980-985, , Wessex, England
- Married (2): Abt 1002, , Normandy, France
- Died: 23 Apr 1016, London, Middlesex, England
- Buried: St Pauls, London, Middlesex, England
Other names for Ethelred were Aethelred, "No-Counsel", "Unread", "The Redeless", ENGLAND King and "The Unready".
Ancestral File Number: 8HS0-CN. User ID: 2420445256.
"The Redeless", "The Unready", "Unread", or "No-Counsel", King of ENGLAND
Reigned 978/979- 1013 (Deposed), and 1014-1016.
Battle 1066, Brigadier C.N.Barclay, D Van Nostrand Co Inc, Princeton, NJ, 1966
p17: "Edward the Confessor was born at Islip in Oxfordshire about 1005. He was the son of Ethelred the Unready and Emma, daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy. According to modern laws of heredity his claim was indisputable: there was no successor to the throne to follow Hardicanute in the Danish line. The only possible rival was Edward, the son of Edmund Ironside; but this was an illegitimate line, as Ironside was only a natural son of their common father Ethelred. Although illegitimacy was not a fatal bar to succession in those days it did have some bearing on the matter. Moreover the rival Edward was far away in Hungary; whereas the Confessor had been established in England for some little time, having been brought over from exile in Normandy in Hardicanute, who treated him with generosity and respect..."
Barber Grandparents: 125Kings, 143 Generations, Ted Butler Bernard and Gertrude Barber Bernard, 1978, McKinney TX, p85: "364U Etheldred (sic) II, King of England, (S of 352, F of 373); married Elgifa."
Kings and Queens of Europe, Genealogical Chart, Anne Taute and Romilly Squire, Taute, 1989: "Knud I, Son of Svend I Tveskagg, King of England 1016, King of Danmark 1019, King of Norge 1028-1035, Mar =1 Aelfgifu of Northampton, =2 (2) Emma Widow of Aethelred II King of England."
Kings and Queens of Great Britain, Genealogical Chart, Anne Taute and RomillySquire, Taute, 1990: "Emma Mar =1 (2) Aethelred II, =2 (2) Canute...Aethelred II The Unready (Unraed= without counsel) King of England 978-Deposed 1013, 1014- Died 1016, Mar =1 Aelfgifu Daughteror Thored or Daughter or Eadldorman Aethelbert, =2 Emma Daughter of Richard I Duke of Normandy =ii Canute."
A History of the Plantagenets, Vol II, The Magnificent Century, Thomas B Cos- tain, 1964, Doubleday & Co, p152:
"On June 18 of that year  a healthy male child was born at Westminster...As soon as a loud clangor of bells conveyed the intelligence that the child was a boy, the city was illuminated and the streets filled with excited people. Already the descent of theroyal infant had been traced back from Matilda, the Saxon wife of Henry I; to Margaret, her mother, who had been Queen of Scotland; to Edward the Exile, Edmund Ironsides, Ethelred, Edgar, Edward, Alfred. There it was to con, to talk over, the proof of descent from Alfred the Great, Alfred of glorious memory! For the first time in many years Henry [III] had succeeded in making his people happy. For days later the child was baptized and given the name of Edward, which again delighted the people because it was so completely English..."
The Oxford Book of Royal Anecdotes, Elizabeth Longford, 1991, Oxford Univ Press, pxviii: "Saxons and Danes Genealogy: Aethelred II The Unready (979-1016) mar (1) Aelfgifu, (2) Emma."
A History of the English Speaking People Winston S Churchill Vol I The Birth of Britain Dodd Mead & Co p132: "...Twentyfive years of peace lapped the land, and the English, so magnificent in stress and danger, so invincible under valiant leadership, relaxed under its softening influences. We have reached the days of Ethelred the Unready. But this expression, which conveys a truth, means literally Ethelred the Ill-counselled, or Ethelred the `Redeless...'
"In 980 serious raids began again..."
p136: "We have seen that Alfred in his day had never hesitated to use money as well as arms. Ethelred used money instead of arms. He used it in ever- increasing quantities, with everdiminishing returns. He paid as a bribe in 991 ten thousand pounds of silver, with rations for the invaders. In 994, with sixteen thousand pounds, he gained not only a brief respite, but the baptism of the raider, Olaf, thrown in as a compliment. In 1002 he bought a further truce for twenty-four thousand pounds of silver, but on thsi occasion he was himself to break it. In their ruin and decay the English had taken large numbers of Danish mercenaries into their service. Ethelred suspected these dangerous helpers of a plot against his life. Panic-stricken, he planned the slaughter of all Danes in the south of England, whether in his pay or living peaceably on the land. This atrocious design was executed in 1002 on St Brice's Day. Among the victims was Gunnhild, the wife of Pallig, one of the chief Vikings, and sister of Sweyn, King of Denmark. Sweyn swore implacable revenge, and for two years executed it upon the wretched Islanders...At last [in 1006] Ethelred, for thirty-six thousand pounds of silver, the equivalentof three or four years' national income, bought another short-lived truce..."
p138: "...In 1013 Sweyn, accompanied by his youngest son, Canute, came again to England, subdued the Yorkshire Danes and the five boroughs in the Danelaw, was accepted as overlord of Northumbria and Danish Mercia, sacked Oxford and Winchester in a punitive foray, and, though repulsed from London, was proclaimed King of England, while Ethelred fled for refuge to the Duke of Normandy, whose sister he had married. On these triumphs Sweyn died at the beginning of 1014. There was another respite. The English turned again to Ethelred, `declaring that no lord was dearer to them than their natural lord, if he would but rule them better than he had donebefore.'
Story of Civilization, Will Durant, Vol IV, The Age of Faith, Bk IV, The Dark Ages, Ch XX, The Rise of the North, Sec I, England, p485: "Toward the end of of the tenth century the Scandinavian attack on England was resumed. In 991 a force of Norwegian Vikings under Olaf Tryggvesson raided the English coast, plundered Ipswich, and defeated the English at Maldon. Unable to resist further, the English under King Ethelred (978-1013, called Redeless- counselless- because he refused the advice of his nobles) bought off the Danes with successive gifts of 10,000, 16,000, 24,000, 36,000, and 48,000 pounds of silver, which were raised by the first general taxes levied in England-the shameful and ruinous Danegold...
Believing or pretending that the Danes of England were plotting to kill him and the nation's Witenagemot or parliament, Ethelred secretly ordered a general massacre of the Danes everywhere in the island (1002). We do not know how thoroughly theorder was carried out; probably all male Danes of arms-bearing age in England were slaughtered, and some women; among these was the sister of King Sweyn of Denmark. Swearing revenge, Sweyn invaded England in 1003, and again in 1013, this time with all his forces. Ethelred's nobles deserted him, he fled to Normandy, and Sweyn was master and king England. When Sweyn died (1014) Ethelred renewed the struggle; the nobles again deserted him, and made their peace with Sweyn's son Cnut (1015). Ethelred died in besieged London..."
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1981, Micropaedia, Vol III, p976, Ethelred (Aethelred) II the Unready: "Born Abt 968, Died 23 Apr 1016 London, King of the English from 978 to 1016. He was an ineffectual rulerwho failed to prevent the Danes from overrunning England. The epithet `Unready' is derived from `unraed', meaning `evil counsel'. The son of King Edgar (ruled 959-975), Ethelred ascended the throne upon the assassination of his half brother King Edward the Martyr in March 978. Widespread suspicion that Ethelred may have had a part in the murder created much of the distrust and disloyalty that undermined this authority. Hence, there was no unified defense when the Danish invasions resumed in 980.
"Nearly all of the country was ravaged, and Ethelred's efforts to buy peace only made the invaders more rapacious. When they did begin to settle down in towns, Ethelred provoked further invasions by launching a massacre of Danish settlers (13 Nov 1002). By the end of 1013 the Danish King Sweyn I had been accepted as King of England, and Ethelred had fled to Normandy. After Sweyn died in February 1014, Ethelred's council of advisers invited him to return to the throne on condition that he agree to satisfy their grievances. At the time of Ethelred's death in 1016, Sweyn's son Canute was ravaging England. Ethelred was succeeded by his son Edmund II Ironside (ruled 1016); one of his other sons ruled Englandas Edward the Confessor from 1042 to 1066."
Macropaedia, Vol III, p203, Britain and Ireland History of: "...The monastic revival reached its zenith in the troubled years of King Ethelred II (reigned 978-1016)...
"...Ethelred succeeded asa child in 978, after the murder of his stepbrother (sic) Edward. He took the throne in an atmosphere of insecurity and distrust, which partly accounts for the incompetence and treachery rife in his reign. Viking raids began in 980 and steadilyincreased in intensity. They were led by formidable leaders: from 991 to 994 by Olaf Tryggvason, later king of Norway, and frequently from 994 by Sweyn, king of Denmark. Ethelred's massacre of the Danes in England of St Brice's Day, 1002, called fro vengeance by Sweyn and from 1009 to 1012, by a famous Viking, Thorkell the Tall. In 1013 the English, worn out by continuous warfare and heavy tributes to buy off the invaders, accepted Sweyn as king. Ethelred, his wife Emma, and his younger sons sought asylum with Richard, Duke of Normandy, borther of Emma. Ethelred was recalled to England after Sweyn's death in 1014; but Sweyn's son Canute (Cnut) renewed the invasions..."
The New Columbia Encyclopedia, 1975, p26, Aethelred:"Born Abt 965, Died 1016, King of England (978-1016), called Aethelred the Unready (from Old English `unroed' = without counsel). He was the son of Edgar and the half brother of Edward the Martyr, whom he succeeded. Aethelred began his reign under a cloud of suspicion because fo the mureder of Edward. He was a weak king, but his efforts to resist the Danes, who resumed their raids on England in 980, were also considerably hampered by the frequent treachery of his commanders. In 991 he began playing tribute to the Danes, which he raised by the `Danegeld', but his tributary status did not prevent the Danes from returning. In 997 they came not only to raid but to remain and plunder the rich realm until 1000. A massacre of Danes in England in 1002 (possibly on the king's order) provoked another major raid (1003) led by the Danish King Sweyn. Aethelred tried to defend his kingdom: in 1002 he married Emma, sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy, perhaps in an attemptto gain an ally; in 1007 the army was placed under a single commander; by 1009 a navy had been built, but many of its commanders took to piracy. A severe harrying (1009-1012) by the Danes left England disorganized and without hope, and when Sweyn returned in 1013 to conquer, he was well received in the Danelaw, and London capitulated with little resistance. Aethelred fled to Normandy. Upon Sweyn's death in 1014, Aethelred's restoration was negotiated in the first recorded pace between an English king and his subjects. Sweyn's son, Canute, withdrew but returned with a powerful army in 1015. War was in progress when Aethelred died in April, 1016. His son Edmund Ironside was declared his successor, but after concludeing a treaty with Canute, he died in November. Aethelred's heirs were restored to the throne only with Edward the Confessor [in 1042]."
From Alfred to Henry III 871-1272, Christopher Brooke, 1961, Norton Library History of England, p49: "...Alfred's positive achievements, however sensation- al, did not give Wessex stability or permanent security. His work would have foundered if he had not been succeeded by a line of able kings. It was carried on, and in certain respects completed, by his remarkably able descendents, notably by his son Edward, his grandson Athelstan (King 924-939) and his great- grandson, Athelstan's nephew, Edgar (959-975). After Edgar's death the thone passes to lesser men, and the long rule of Ethelred II (978-1016) coincided with the renewal of Danish attacks. With Ethelred the dynasty collapsed, though not, as we shall see, the kingdom."
From Alfred to Henry III 871-1272, Christopher Brooke, 1961, Norton Library History of England, p58: "Edgar died suddenly, while still a young man, in 975, and was succeeded in turn by his two sons, Edward (975-978) and Ethelred (978-1016)...In 978 [Edward] was treacherously murdered, and replaced by Ethelred, who was then still a boy.
"The crimewhich brought him to the throne cast a shadow over the reign of Ethelred and may partly explain the stunted weakness of his character throughout life. It was not the violence of the murder but the treachery of it- betrayal of a lord by his subjects- which shocked contemporaries. In 1008 Ethelred issued a code including this clause: `The councillors have decreed that St Edward's festival is to be celebrated over all England on 18 March.' In this ironical fashion Ethelred was compelledto celegrate the event which had made him king. The name Ethelred means literally `noble-counsel'. We do not know whose with first divised the pun `no-counsel' or `unraed' for the unfortunate king; the nickname is first recorded in the thirteenth century. But the word had other meanings too, including `evil-counsel', or `a treacherous plot'. If it was devised in his lifetime, it would certainly have got home. The subtlety of the nickname has been lost in the modern corruption `Ethelred the Unready', though that too is not inappropriate.
"The death of a king of high prestige was commonly followed by disorder among leading nobles hitherto held in check by fear or respect for the dead man. The disorder following Edgar'sdeath was added the horror of Edward's `martyrdom'. But greater misfortune than these was in store for the unfortunate Ethelred. The mainland of Scandinavia, remarkably quiescent since the fall of Eric Bloodaxe, was ready for another wave of expansion; Viking attacks began again; and the unsettled politics of England combined with England's growing wealth to make it a favoured target.
"The second wave of Danish attacks began, like the first with plundering raids. But the attacks of the period 980-1016 differed fundamentally from those of the ninth century. From the early nine-nineties they became large-scale, highly organised raids, planned by the leading figures of the Scandinavian world, conducted by highly professional armies. This phase lasted until 1013, when Swein, the Danish King, decided to take over the government of his prey, and came in person.
"The first of the great leaders of the Vikings in the nine-nineties was Olaf Tryggvason, who camein the raid of 991 which led to the battle of Maldon, celebrated in poem:
p37: "...Finest of all is the poem on the battle of Maldon, which describes very movingly the last stand of an English leader against the Danes. The incident took placemuch later than Alfred's time, in the second wave of Danish invasions at the end of the tenth century; ealdorman (or earl) Brihtnoth fell in 991. Thus the poem serves to show the continuity in the ideals of English warriors. It is very short.It opens with an account of the preparation for the fight; it tells how Brihtnoth deployed his men: `he rode and gave counsel and taught his warriors how they should stand and keep their ground, bade them hold their shields aright, firm with their hands and fear not at all. When he had meetly arrayed his host, he alighted among the people where it pleased him best, where he knew his bodyguard to be most loyal.
"`The the messenger of the Vikings stood on the bank, he called sternly, uttered words, boastfully speaking the seafarers' message to the earl, as he stood on the shore. "Bold seamen have sent me to you, and bade me say, that it is for you to send treasure quickly in return for peace, and it will be better for you all that you buy off an attack with tribute, rather than that men so fierce as we should give you battle. There is no need that we destroy each other, if you are rich enough for this. In return for the gold we are ready to make a truce withyou. If you who are richest determine to redeem your people, and to give to the seamen on their own terms wealth to win their friendship and make peace with us, we will betake us to our ships with the treasure, put to sea and keep faith with you."
"`Brihtnoth lifted up his voice, grasped his shield and shook his supple spear, gave forth words, angry and resolute, and made him answer: "Hear you, searover, what this fold says? For tribute they will give you spears, poisoned pointand ancient sword, such war gear as will profit you little in the battle. Messenger of the seamen, take back a message, say to your people a far less pleasing tale, how that there stands here with his troop anearl of unstained renown, who is ready to guard this realm, the home of Ethelred my lord [the King], people and land; it is the heathen that shall fall in the battle. It seems to me too poor a thing that you should go with our treasure unfought to your ships, now that you have made your way thus far into our land. Not so easily shall you win tribute; peace must be made with point and edge, with grim battle-play, before we give tributel."
"`Then he bade the warriors advance, bearing their shields, until thay all stood on the river bank.' There the two armies waited as the tide went out and left them dry land on which to fight. For all their heroism, the English company was defeated, and their leader killed.
"`Brihtwold spoke and grasped his shield(he was anold companion [follower]); he shook his ash-wood spear and exhorted the men right boldly: "Thoughts must be the braver, heart more valiant, courage the greater as our strength grows less. Here lies our lord, all cut down, the hero inthe dust. Long may he mourn who thinks now to turn from the battle-play. I am old in years; I will not leave the field, but think to lie by my lord's side, by the man I held so dear."' Another member of the following also encourages them to battle, leads his men against the Vikings, falls in the strife; and there, as suddenly as it began, the poem ends..."
p59: "...Olaf shortly after became the first Christian King of Norway; but he never ceased to be a Viking adventurer. In 994 hecame accompanied by Swein, heir to the throne of Denmark, at the head of a formidable host. There was talk of making Swein King of England; but his alliance with Olaf was precarious and his campaign not wholly successful, so he agreed to peacefor a payment of L16,000. In most years after this, down to 1006, a Danish host attacked England and levied plunder or tribute- the `Dane-geld'- or both. Then came a gap of two years, when Ethelred and his councillors made feverish attempts to prepare the country's defences against further attacks. From 1009 the attacks were continuous, and aimed for the first time at the conquest of the kingdom...
"...Swein's armies in 1009 were led by three experiences Vikings, including Thorkell the Tall and one of his brothers. From 1009 to 1012 they raided many English shires systematically. In 1012 they made peace with the English in exchange for an immense ransom, assessed in the `Chronicle' at L48,000. But before the Danes would disperse, they demanded an extra ransom from their most illustrious prisoner, Aelfheah, Archbishop of Canterbury. Aelfheah first agreed, then felt this concession to be wrong and withdrew it. Thorkell struggled to control his men; but they were in ugly mood and murdered the Archbishop in barbarous fashion. Before the end of the year Thorkell and forty-five ships from the Danish fleet went over to Ethelred. It is likely that the two incidents were connected.
"In 1013 Swein himself came to England for the third and last time- hehad raided in the country in 994 and 1003. This time he was determined on conquest, and after a rapid campaign described in brief but vivid phrases by the chronicler he was accepted as king over most of the country. Then in February 1014 he suddenly died. The period between the death of Swein and the final acknowledgment of his son, Cnut, as king, at the end of 1016 is exceedingly confusing. At the time of his father's death Cnut was about eighteen, and the sudden access of responsibility was evidently too much for him. He withdrew hastily from England; and when he returned, he was supported by three great Viking leaders: his elder brother, Harold, King of Denmark; Eric,the Rengent of Norway; and Thorkell the Tall, who had returned to his old allegiance. At one point Cnut held Wessex and Mercia, while Edmund `Ironside', Ethelred's son, held the northern Danelaw- both in defiance of King Ethelred, who was stillholding out in the south-east. It was Cnut's unheralded withdrawal which had alienated the Danelaw and made Edmund's intrusion there possible; while in spite of the momentary recovery of Ethelred in 1014 and 1015, there was treachery in the English court, which aided Cnut to overrun Wessex and Mercia. Ethelred died in April 1016; a few months later Edmund was decisively beaten by Cnut, and the uneasy truce which followed was quickly ended by Edmund's sudden death. The events of thecivil war had shown that there was no simple division of loyalty between English and Danes, and that a number of leading thegns and jarls were prepared to support a monarch from either side, if he proved more competent than Ethelred, and capable of holding the allegiance of his subjects. It was these circumstances which made possible the notable success of the young Cnut.
The Wall Chart of World History, Edward Hull, 1988, Studio Editions, England 978: "Ethelred II, half-brother ofEdward, King of England 978-1013, succeeded by the Dane Sweyn..."
Ethelred II., the Unready was born in 968, a boy of ten when he became king in 978. He died April 23, 1016 in London, reigning for thirty-eight years from 979 to 1016. He was the last of the Boy Kings. The epitaph "The Unready" which is usually assigned to him is a misrepresentation of a word which properly means the Rede-less, the man without counsel. He was entirely without the qualities which befit a king. He married in 984 (1) Elfflaed (Elgifa) (Aelfgifu), daughter of Earl Thorad. Ethelred married in 1002 (2) Emma of Normandy, "The Flower of Normandy", daughter of Richard I., Duke of Normandy, and sister of Richard II., Duke of Normandy. This marriage was one of the first that joined the Anglo-Saxon lines to the French. ("The Genealogy of Homer Beers James", V1, JANDA Consultants, © 1993 Homer James) Æthelred II succeeded his brother Edward when he was murdered in 978. He negotiated a peace treaty with Duke Richard II of Normandy, and married his sister Emma. Throught his reign, he fought many successful battles against the Welsh, mainly in Cornwal and Cumbria. Although he paid tribute to the Danes throughout his reign, in 1013 King Sweyn of Denmark and Norway invaded England and Æthelred fled to Normandy. He returned the next year when Sweyn died to contend with his son and successor Cnut. He died in 1016, the same year Cnut conquered all of England. [Internet source: http://www.ghg.net/shetler/oldimp/493.html] Reigned 979-1013 (deposed) and 1014-1016. In the face of Danish raids, he was forced to pay huge tributes (Danegeld) to the enemy. He was driven into exile by Sweyn but returned after his death. Died during Canutes invasion of England. Burke says he died 1010. His tomb was lost when the old St Pauls was destroyed in the great fire of London. [Internet source: http://www.dcs.hull.ac.uk/cgi-bin/gedlkup/n=royal?royal01533]
Ancestral File Ver 4.10 8HS0-CN, 915X-G5, 9HMF-JT, B19R-5C.
Ethelred married Queen Alfgifu Gunnarsson ENGLAND, daughter of Ealdorman Thored Gunnarsson MERCIA and Mrs Mercia Thored Gunnarsson, about 980-985 in , Wessex, England. (Queen Alfgifu Gunnarsson ENGLAND was born about 968-970 in , Wessex, England and died in 1002.)
Ethelred also married Queen Emma Normandy ENGLAND, daughter of Duke Richard NORMANDY, I and Duchess Gonnor De Crepon NORMANDY, about 1002 in , Normandy, France. (Queen Emma Normandy ENGLAND was born about 980-984 in , Normandy, France, died on 6 Mar 1052 in Winchester, Hampshire, England and was buried in St Martins Church, Winchester, Hampshire, England.)