Reign of Ethelred

Book 2, Chapter 9, Edward 975 AD to 1016 AD – Ethelred


Ethelred was appointed to the vacant throne because he was the only surviving member of the blood royal, but he was only ten years of age, and as a child he gave no promise of character and ability which could successfully meet the gathering troubles of his kingdom. His spirit had been cowed and broken by the severities of his mother, and it is said that when he wept for the death of his half brother Edward, to whom he was much attached, she seized some large wax tapers which happened to be at hand, and beat him so cruelly that he fainted, and his life was endangered. In the popular estimate, he ascended a throne which was stained with blood, although he was not chargeable with the crime, and the reign thus inauspiciously commenced was one of deepening gloom and disgrace, more calamitous, on the ‘whole, than any other reign in English history.

Ethelred’s general conduct gained for him the appellation of “the Unready,” one which serves to express the national opinion concerning him. The ceremony of the coronation was performed at Kingston, on the Sunday after Easter, 14th April, 978, and the following is the oath which was administered to the king by Archbishop Dunstan, previously to the coronation. “In the name of the most holy Trinity: I promise, first, that the church of God and all Christian people shall enjoy true peace under my government, secondly, that I will prohibit all manner rapine and injustice to men of every condition: thirdly, that in all judgments I will cause equity to be united with mercy, that the most element God may, through his eternal mercy, forgive us all. Amen.”

Chapter 9, Edward the Martyr

Edward, Commonly Styled “the Martyr”

Elfrida’s Intrigues

Chapter 9, Ethelred

Reign of Ethelred

Dunstan’s Prophecy

Condition of the Country

Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Danes

Fresh Attacks by the Northmen

They are Bribed to Depart

Origin of the Danegeld

Ethelred’s Marriage with Emma of Normandy

Massacre of the Danes

Chapter 9, Sweyn’s Revenge

Sweyn’s Vengeance

Murder of Archbishop Alphege

Levy for a Fleet

Chapter 9, Thurkill Ravages England

Its Failure

A Contemporary Picture

Sweyn prepares for the Conquest of England

Sweyn Dies and’ is Followed by Canute

Ethelred’s Flight and Return

Chapter 9, Edmund Ironside

Death of Ethelred

Divisions and Treachery among the English

Edmund Ironside Proclaimed King

Successive Battles with Canute

Partition of the Country

Brief Reign of Edmund


Categories: Book 2

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