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King Ethelred the Unready (968–1016)


King Ethelred II (968–1016) came to the throne in 978 after the murder of his brother, and was nicknamed Ethelred the Unready.

Ethelred Court sign

 

King Ethelred is one of the earliest inhabitants of Headington known by name. His charter to St Frideswide’s Priory in 1004 was signed “In villa regia quae vocatur Hedindone” (“in the royal vill which is called Headington”).

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Ethelred built a royal palace at Headington, and legend has it that it was situated near Dunstan Road, on the site of Ethelred Court, which is of course named after him; while Dunstan Road is named after St Dunstan, the Archbishop of Canterbury who helped to get King Ethelred on the throne.

 

Clifford Jones in Barton Lane field

 

Clifford Jones of the University of Newcastle (pictured here pointing due north) believes that the palace is situated at the eastern end of Headington village.. He has studied aerial photographs, and thinks that it was opposite Emden House in Barton Lane, on the raised ground where his colleague Kristy Wonders is standing.

Excavations in the field, which is owned by Oxford Preservation Trust , were undertaken by  Dr Clive Waddington of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in May 2001.

Below is Ethelred’s full entry from The Dictionary of National Biography, written by “WH” in 1888, and reproduced by kind permission of Oxford University Press.

Ethelred or Æthelred II, the Unready 968?–1016, king of England, son of Eadgar and Ælfthryth, was born either in 968 or 969, for he was scarcely seven years old when his father died in 975. His defilement of the baptismal font is said to have caused Dunstan to foretell the overthrow of the nation during his reign (Henry of Huntingdon, p. 748). On the death of his father a strong party was in favour of electing him king instead of his brother Eadward. He lived with his mother at Corfe, and Eadward had come to see him when he was slain there. The child wept bitterly at his brother’s death, and it was said that his mother was enraged at his tears, and, not having a scourge at hand, beat him so severely with some candles that in after life he would never have candles carried before him, a story that, foolish as it is, may perhaps imply that he was badly brought up in childhood (Gesta Regum, sec. 164). He succeeded his brother as king, and was crowned by Dunstan at Kingston on 14 April 978 (A.-S. Chron. Abingdon, and Flor. Wig.; 979, A.-S. Chron. Worcester; on the discrepancy see Mon. Hist. Brit. p. 397 n. b); the archbishop on the day of his coronation is said to have prophesied evil concerning him because he came to the throne through the murder of his brother; it is more certain that Dunstan exacted a pledge of good government from him, and delivered an exhortation on the duties of a christian king (Memorials of Dunstan, p. 355 sq.). Æthelred was good-looking and of graceful manners (Flor. Wig.); his “historical surname”, the Unready, does not imply that he lacked energy or resource, but rede, or counsel (Norman Conquest, i. 286). He was by no means deficient in ability, nor was he especially slothful (Gesta Regum, sec. 165); indeed, throughout his reign he constantly displayed considerable vigour, but it was generally misdirected, for he was impulsive, passionate, cruel, and apt to lean on favourites, whom he did not choose for any worthy reasons; he had no principles of action, and was guided by motives of temporary expediency. During the first years of his reign there was no change in the government by the great ealdormen. The death of Ælfhere, ealdorman of Mercia, in 983, was probably a considerable loss to the country; he was succeeded by his son Ælfric, who was banished by the king in 985, cruelly it is said (Henry of Huntingdon). Dunstan, though he still attended the meetings of the witan, evidently took no part in political matters. The system of defence worked out by Eadgar must have perished at this time, which was naturally a period of disorganisation. A worthless favourite named Æthelsine appears to have exercised considerable influence over the young king, and to have led him to commit and to sanction many acts of oppression (Kemble, Codex Dipl. p. 700). By his advice Æthelred laid claim to an estate belonging to the bishopric of Rochester, some violence ensued, and in 986 Æthelred laid siege to Rochester; he was unable to take it, and ravaged the lands of the see. Dunstan interfered on behalf of the bishop, and, when the king disregarded his commands, paid him a hundred pounds of silver to purchase peace, declaring his contempt for Æthelred’s avarice, and prophesying that evil would shortly come on the nation (Flor. Wig.; Osbern). It is probable that by this date Æthelred had been some time married to his first wife, Ælfgifu. From 980 to 982 several descents were made on different parts of the coast by the Danes and Northmen. Southampton, Thanet, and Cheshire were ravaged; the coasts of Devon and Cornwall suffered severely, and a raid was made on Portland. To these years may perhaps be referred the story that Swend, the future king of Denmark, came over to England as a fugitive, and no doubt as the leader of a viking expedition, that Æthelred treated him as an enemy, and that he was hospitably received by the Scottish king (Adam Brem. ii. c. 32). These attacks were made simply for the sake of plunder; they ceased for a while after 982, and when they were renewed took a more dangerous form, for the invaders began to settle in the country. In 988 they landed in Somerset, but were beaten off after a sharp struggle. An invasion of a more formidable kind was made in 991 by a Norwegian force under King Olaf Tryggvason, Justin, and Guthmund; Ipswich was plundered, and the ealdorman Brihtnoth was defeated and slain at Maldon in Essex. Then Archbishop Sigeric, Æthelweard, the ealdorman of the western provinces, and another West-Saxon ealdorman, named Ælfric, offered to purchase peace of the Northmen, and promised to pay them ten thousand pounds of silver. So large a sum could not be raised quickly, and the Northmen threatened to ravage Kent unless they were paid. Sigeric obtained the money to make up the deficiency from Æscwig, bishop of Dorchester, and pledged an estate to him for repayment (Kemble, Codex Dipl. p. 689). The treaty was accepted by the king and the witan, and was concluded with the Norwegian leaders (Ancient Laws, p. 121). This was the first time that the disastrous policy was adopted of buying off the invaders. Unworthy as the step was, it is sometimes condemned too hastily. It was not taken consciously as an escape from the duty of defending the land; the men who made, and the king and the counsel who ratified, the treaty could not have done so with the expectation that other payments of a like kind would follow, and their action must be judged by itself. It was a moment of supreme danger, for the whole of the south of the country lay open to the enemy, and the three men who bore rule over it may well have thought that as no troops were ready their first duty was to save the people from impending destruction. And the money was not paid with the idea that the Norwegians would in return leave England; the treaty as made by Æthelred distinctly contemplates their remaining; each party, for example, was to refrain from harbouring the Welsh, the thieves, and the foes of the other. In fact, the king, by the advice of the archbishop and the two West-Saxon ealdormen, bought the alliance of Olaf and his host against all other enemies. War was actually going on with the Welsh, and their prince, Meredydd, was in alliance with the Northmen, whose help he had hired (Brut, ann. 988, 991; Norman Conquest, i. 313). And Æthelred can scarcely have failed to take into account the probability of a Danish invasion, and if so, he and his advisers may have flattered themselves with the hope of dividing their foes, and keeping off the Danes by the help of the Northmen (Conquest of England, p. 375). Even allowing that such a hope was certain to fail, time was gained by the treaty, and if it had been used in vigorous and sustained preparations for defence, the advice of the archbishop and the ealdormen might have turned out well. Unfortunately the kingdom was found defenceless again and again, and Æthelred and his nobles, having once got rid of immediate danger by a money payment, bought peace of the Danes on other occasions when they must have been fully aware of the folly of what they were doing. According to William of Malmesbury Æthelred made another treaty this year. He had causes of complaint against the Norman duke, Richard the Fearless; the ports of Normandy afforded convenient anchorage to the Scandinavian pirates, and it is not unlikely that they found recruits among the duke’s subjects. War seemed imminent, and Pope John XV undertook the office of mediator. A peace was made which provided that neither should receive the enemies of the other, nor even the other’s subjects, without “passports from their own sovereign” (Gesta Regum, secs. 165, 166; this, the only authority for this treaty, is, of course, late; the grounds on which Dr. Freeman accepts the story will be found in Norman Conquest, i. 313, 633; it certainly seems unlikely that any one should have invented the pope’s letter).

The peace purchased of the Northmen was broken by Æthelred. In 992 he and the witan “decreed that all the ships that were worth anything” should be gathered together at London (A.-S. Chron.). He put the fleet under the command of two bishops and two lay leaders, Thored, possibly his father-in-law, and Ælfric, the Mercian ealdorman he had banished (Henry of Huntingdon, p. 740). The scheme of taking the Northmen’s fleet by surprise was defeated through the treachery of Ælfric. Nevertheless the English gained a complete victory. Enraged at Ælfric’s conduct, the king blinded his son Ælfgar. The Northmen sailed off, and did much damage in Northumbria and Lindsey. In 994 the two kings, Olaf of Norway and Swend of Denmark, invaded the land with nearly a hundred ships; their forces were beaten off from London by the burghers on 8 Sept., but ravaged Essex, Kent, Surrey, and Hampshire, and then “took horses and rode whither they would”. Æthelred and the witan now offered them money and provisions if they would cease their ravages. They took up winter quarters in Southampton, and a tax was levied on Wessex to pay the crews, while a tribute of sixteen thousand pounds was raised from the country generally as the price of peace (it is possible that Æscwig gave the help which was the subject of an arrangement made in a witenagemot of the next year on this occasion; the threat of ravaging Kent, and the fact that Sigeric seems to have been acting on his own responsibility, appear, however, to point to the peace of 991). Æthelred for once used the time thus gained with prudence, for he sent Ælfheah, bishop of Winchester, and the ealdorman Æthelweard on an embassy to Olaf. The result was that the alliance between the invading kings was broken. Olaf came to Æthelred at Andover, made alliance with him, and, being already baptised, was confirmed by the bishop. Æthelred took him “at the bishop’s hands”, and gifted him royally; he promised that he would invade England no more, and kept his word. Swend sailed off to attack the Isle of Man, and the invasion ended. About two years of peace followed. In 995 Æthelred, probably at a meeting of the witan, acknowledged the faults of his youth, and made a grant to the bishop of Rochester (Kemble, Codex Dipl. p. 688). The next year he held another meeting at Celchyth (Chelsea), where the ecclesiastical element seems to have predominated (ib. 696). At some earlier date he had published at Woodstock a code regulating the English law of bail and surety, and in 997, at a witenagemot that met at Calne, and was adjourned to Wantage, a code was published on police matters, evidently designed for the Danish districts (Ancient Laws, pp. 119, 124; Codex Dipl. p. 698). At these meetings the king again acknowledged the sins of his youth, and restored some land he had unjustly taken from the church of Winchester. In this year the ravages of the Danes began again, though for about two years they were not especially serious, being chiefly confined first to the western coasts and then to the coast of Sussex. During the winter of 998, however, they took up quarters in the Isle of Wight, and forced the people of Hampshire and Sussex to send them provisions. This fresh trouble drove Æthelred to a renewed attempt to pacify heaven; he made a fresh and detailed acknowledgment of his youthful errors, especially in the Rochester matter, laid the blame chiefly on Æthelsine, whom he had deprived of his rank and wealth, and made full restitution to the bishop (Codex Dipl. p.  700). At the same time he was giving his confidence to another favourite as unworthy as Æthelsine, one Leofsige, whom in 994 he had made ealdorman of the East-Saxons (ib. p. 687). Kent was ravaged in 999, and Æthelred made another effort to defend his land. He commanded that the Danes should be attacked both by a fleet and an army, but the whole administration was hopelessly disorganised, and “when the ships were ready they delayed from day to day, and wore out the poor men that were on board, and the more forward things should have been the backwarder they were time after time. And in the end the expedition by sea and land effected nothing except troubling the people, wasting money, and emboldening their foes” (A.-S. Chron. an. 999; for the causes of this inefficiency see Lappenberg, ii. 160; Norman Conquest, i. 324).

After the ravaging of Kent the Danes sailed off to Normandy in the summer of 1000, probably to sell their booty. Æthelred took advantage of their absence and of the preparations of the previous year to strike at the viking settlements close at hand; he led an army in person into Cumberland, which was a stronghold of the Danes, and ravaged the country, while his fleet wasted the Isle of Man (A.-S. Chron.; Henry of Huntingdon, p. 750; for another view of these proceedings see Norman Conquest, i. 328). To this year also is perhaps to be referred Æthelred’s invasion of the Cotentin, for it was probably closely connected with the visit of the Danish fleet to Normandy. William of Jumièges (v. 4) says that Æthelred expected that his ships would bring him the Norman duke, Richard II, with his hands tied behind his back, but that they were utterly defeated. This expedition, if it ever took place, must have led to the marriage of Æthelred and the duke’s sister Emma. While the Danish fleet was wasting the coasts of Devonshire the next year it was joined by Pallig, the husband of Gunhild, Swend’s sister, who had been entertained by Æthelred and had received large gifts from him. The renewal of the war again stirred up the king to endeavour to get heaven on his side. In a charter of this year, granted with consent of the witan, the troubles of the country are set forth, and the king gives, in honour of Christ, and of his brother, the holy martyr Eadward, the monastery of Bradford to the nuns of Shaftesbury, where Eadward was buried, to be a place of refuge for them (Codex Dipl. p. 706). Early in 1002 he and the witan decreed that peace should again be bought of the Danish fleet, and he sent Leofsige to the fleet to learn what terms would be accepted. Leofsige agreed with the Danes that they should receive provisions and a tribute of 24,000l. Some change in the politics of the court seems to be indicated by Æthelred’s promotion of his high-reeve, Æfic, above all his other officers (ib. p. 719). The terms in which this promotion is described have been interpreted as conferring a distinct office, that of “chief of the high-reeves”, an office that has further been taken as a “foreshadowing of the coming justiciary” (Conquest of England, p. 394). This theory, however, is not warranted by any recorded evidence. In the south of England, at least, the high-reeve held an office that was analogous to that of the shire-reeve. The political tendency of the period was towards a division of the kingdom into large districts; ealdormen, instead of being simply officers each with his own shire, were appointed over provinces containing different shires, and in the same way the other shire-officer, the reeve, became the high-reeve of a wider district. There is no evidence that Æfic held any administrative office other than, or superior to, that of other high-reeves; the words of Æthelred’s charter seem to refer to nothing more than a title of honour, which may indeed scarcely have been recognised as a formal title at all. Æfic’s promotion excited the jealousy of the king’s favourite, Leofsige, and while on this mission to the Danes he slew the new favourite in his own house, an act for which he was banished by the king and the witan (A.-S. Chron.; Codex Dipl. p. 719). In Lent Emma came over from Normandy; her marriage with Æthelred was evidently not a happy one, and in spite of her great beauty he is said to have been unfaithful to her (Gesta Regum, sec. 165). The king now attempted to rid himself of his foes by treachery, and, on the ground that the Danes were plotting to slay him and afterwards all his witan, gave orders that “all the Danish-men that were in England should be slain”. Secret instructions were sent in letters from the king to every town, arranging that this massacre should take place everywhere on the same day, 13 Nov. As there was at this time peace between the English and the Danes, the foreign settlers were taken by surprise. Women as well as men were certainly massacred (Flor. Wig.), and among them there is no reason to doubt Swend’s sister, Gunhild, the wife of the traitor Pallig, who was put to death after having seen her husband and her son slain before her eyes (Gesta Regum, sec. 177). The massacre could not of course have extended to all parts of England, for in East Anglia and in some of the Northumbrian districts the Danes must have outnumbered the English. Still, not only in the purely English country, but also in many districts where the Danes, though dominant, were few in number, there must have been a great slaughter. Nor can the guilt of this act be extenuated by declaring that every man among the Danes was a “pirate” (Norman Conquest, i. 344). It is fairly certain that many had settled down in towns and were living in security. A curious notice exists of the slaughter of those who were living in Oxford; it is in a charter of Æthelred, and the king there speaks of the Danes as having “sprung up in this island as tares among wheat”, an expression that indicates that men of both races were living side by side (Early Hist. of Oxford, p. 320). In this charter, which bears date 1004, Æthelred speaks of this event as a “most just slaughter”, which he had decreed with the counsel of his witan.

The only result of the massacre was that the invasions were renewed with more system and determination. Swend himself came with the fleet in 1003. That year the storm fell on the west; Exeter was betrayed to the foe; an attempt made by the local forces of Hampshire and Wiltshire to come to a pitched battle failed, and Wilton and Salisbury were sacked and burnt. On his return the next year Swend attacked East Anglia, burnt Norwich and Thetford, but met with a gallant resistance from the ealdorman Ulfcytel, the husband of one of the king’s daughters. In 1005 there was a famine, so the fleet sailed back for a while to Denmark. During these years of misery nothing is known of Æthelred save that he made some grants to monasteries and to his thegns. Early the next year, however, one of those domestic revolutions took place which expose the thoroughly bad state of his court. For some years a thegn named Wulfgeat had stood far higher than any one else in the king’s favour and had enjoyed considerable power of oppression (Flor. Wig.; Wulfgeat appears in 987, Codex Dipl. p. 658). All his possessions were now confiscated, probably by the sentence of the witan, as a punishment for the unjust judgments he had given, and because he had abetted the king’s enemies. Moreover, while Æthelred was at Shrewsbury, where he seems to have been holding his court, Ælfhelm, the earl of part of Northumbria, evidently of Deira (Yorkshire), was treacherously slain, under circumstances that, as far as we know them, point to the king as the instigator of the deed. Shortly afterwards Ælfhelm’s two sons were blinded by Æthelred’s orders. It is probable that the murder of Ælfhelm, and possible that the treason of Wulfgeat, may in some way have been connected with a raid of Malcolm, king of Scots, that took place at this time; it was checked by Uhtred, son of Earl Waltheof, and the king made him earl over both the Northumbrian earldoms, and soon after gave him his daughter Ælfgifu to wife. The fall of Wulfgeat made way for the rise of another unworthy favourite, Eadric, called Streona, whom the king shortly afterwards made ealdorman of the Mercians, and who married another of Æthelred’s daughters. Later in the year the “great fleet” came back again from Denmark, and the ravages began again. Æthelred made another attempt to withstand the invaders, and called out the levies of Wessex and Mercia. All harvest-time they were under arms, but no good came of it; the Danes marched, plundered, and destroyed as they would, and then retired to their “frith-stool”, the Isle of Wight. About midwinter they began their work of destruction afresh, and Æthelred held a meeting of the witan to consult how the land might be saved from utter ruin. It was again decided to purchase peace, and this time the sum that was wrung from the people to buy off the invaders was 36,000l. After receiving this enormous sum the Danes left the land in peace for about two years.

The year 1008 is the date of a series of laws put forth by Æthelred with the counsel of the witan (Ancient Laws, p. 129). They contain several good resolutions, repeat some older enactments, deal with ecclesiastical as well as secular matters, and forcibly express a sense of the pressing need of patriotic unity. Provision was made for national defence; a fleet was to be raised and to assemble each year after Easter, and desertion from the land-force was to be punished by a fine of 120s. (a re-enactment of Ine’s law of “fyrd-wite”), and when the king was in the field the life and property of the deserter were to be at his mercy. The laws published at a witenagemot held at Enham (ib. p. 133) seem to belong to about the same date, and are of much the same character. Probably by mere chance, they do not mention the presence and action of the king. The fleet was raised by an assessment on every shire, inland as well as on the coast. The hundred was taken as the basis of the assessment, which was in ships and armour, not in money. Every three hundred hides furnished a ship, every ten a boat, every eight a helmet and breastplate (Earle, Saxon Chron. pp. 336, 337; Constitutional Hist. i. 105; on the difficulties as regards the assessment, see also Norman Conquest, i. 368; it does not seem clear why it should be supposed that any part of the levy affected private landowners, except as contributors to the quota of their shire). Æthelred’s assessment was quoted by St. John and Lyttelton acting for the crown in Hampden’s case in 1637 (Tryal of John Hambden, pp. 53, 91). The fleet met at Sandwich about Easter 1009, and Æthelred himself went abroad. An accusation was brought against Wulfnoth, the “Child” of the South-Saxons; he sailed off with twenty ships and began plundering the coast. Æthelred sent his accuser, Brihtric, a brother of Eadric Streona, after him with eighty ships. Some of Brihtric’s ships were wrecked and others were burnt by Wulfnoth. When the king heard this he went home, each crew took its ship to London, and the great effort that had been made came to nothing. Then a fleet came over under the jarl Thurcytel (or Thurkill), and soon after another under two other leaders; Canterbury and Kent purchased peace, and the Danes sailed to the Isle of Wight and thence devastated the southern shires. Æthelred now ordered “the whole nation” to be called out; he took the command of a large army, and he and his people are said to have been prepared to conquer or die (Flor. Wig.). Once he intercepted the enemy, but no attack was made, owing, it is said, to the bad advice of Eadric. The ravages continued unhindered, and early in 1010 Oxford was burnt. Later in the year East Anglia was attacked, and, after a gallant though unsuccessful resistance by Ulfcytel, was thoroughly harried. A series of ravages followed that seem to have crushed all hope of further resistance. By the beginning of 1011 sixteen shires had been overrun (A.-S. Chron.). Then Æthelred and the witan again offered tribute, and 48,000l. was demanded. During the truce Thurcytel’s fleet sacked Canterbury, took Archbishop Ælfheah, and, after keeping him in captivity for seven months, slew him on 13 April 1012. Meanwhile an expedition was made against the Welsh, who had probably taken advantage of the state of the country to make raids on Mercia. The tribute was paid at last, and the “great fleet” dispersed, Thurcytel, with forty-five ships, taking service under Æthelred, who promised to supply him and his men with food and clothing, and gave him an estate in East Anglia in return for his oath to defend the country against all invaders (A.-S. Chron.; Encomium Emmæ, i. 2; Gesta Regum, sec. 176). In the summer of 1013 Swend came over with a splendid fleet and received the submission of all northern England. Æthelred shut himself up in London, and when the Danish army, after pillaging Mercia and marching westward to Winchester, turned eastward, and appeared before the city, a vigorous defence was made, in which the king is said to have borne a foremost part, and the army again marched into the west. Swend was formally chosen as king, and Æthelred took shelter on Thurcytel’s ships, which lay in the Thames. Emma went over to Normandy to her brother, the king sent the two sons he had by her to join her there, sailed to the Isle of Wight, stayed there over Christmas, and early in January 1014 crossed over to Normandy. He is said to have taken over treasure with him from Winchester, and, though the city was then in the hands of Swend, it is not impossible that his voyage to Thurcytel’s station, the Isle of Wight, may have been made in order to meet some keeper of the royal “hoard”. He was hospitably received by Duke Richard, and resided at Rouen (Will. of Jumièges, v. 7).

When Swend died in February the “fleet” chose his son Cnut as king, but all the witan, clergy, and laity determined to send after Æthelred. Accordingly he received messengers from the assembly who told him that “no lord was dearer to them than their lord by birth, if he would rule them rightlier than he had done before”. Then he sent messengers to the witan, and with them his son Eadward, promising that he would for the future be a good lord to them, and would be guided by their will in all things. A favourable answer was sent back, and as Olaf (afterwards St. Olaf, king of Norway) happened to be in some Norman port with his ships, he brought Æthelred back to England in Lent (Othere, Corpus Poeticum Boreale, ii. 153). He was joyfully received, and a witenagemot was held in which some laws were published containing more good resolutions, and a declaration that ecclesiastical and secular matters ought to be dealt with in the same assemblies. At the head of a large force he marched into Lindsey, drove Cnut out, ravaged the district and slaughtered the people, evidently as a punishment for the help they had given to his enemies. The satisfaction that was felt at his return was lessened by his ordering that 21,000l. (A.-S. Chron.) or 30,000l. (Flor. Wig.) should be paid to Thurcytel’s fleet. The next year he held a great gemot at Oxford, and during its session he, and probably the witan also, must have agreed to the treacherous murder of Sigeferth and Morkere, chief thegns in the Seven Boroughs, by Eadric. He confiscated their property, and ordered Sigeferth’s widow to be kept at Malmesbury. Contrary to his wish his son Eadmund married her. When Cnut returned to England in September, Æthelred lay sick at Corsham in Wiltshire. He was in London early the next year, and when Eadmund gathered an army to oppose Cnut, his troops refused to follow him unless the king and the Londoners joined them, but Æthelred was probably too ill to do so. A little later he joined the ætheling. When he had done so he was told that there was a plot against his life, and he thereupon went back to London again. Cnut was preparing to lay siege to the city when Æthelred died there on St. George’s day, 23 April, 1016. He was buried in St. Paul’s. By his first wife, Ælfgifu, he had seven sons, Æthelstan, who died 1016; Ecgberht, who died about 1005; Eadmund, who succeeded him; Eadred; Eadwig, a young man of noble character and great popularity (Flor. Wig. an. 1016; Gesta Regum, sec. 180), who was banished by Cnut and was slain by his order in 1017; Eadgar; and Eadward (Codex Dipl. p. 714); and apparently three daughters, Wulfhild, married to Ulfcytel, ealdorman of East Anglia; Eadgyth, married to Eadric Streona; and Ælfgifu, married to Earl Uhtred; the Æthelstan who fell in battle with the Danes in 1010 and is called the king’s son-in-law (A.-S. Chron.; Flor. Wig.), was probably Æthelred’s sister’s son (Henry of Huntingdon). By his second wife, Emma, he had two sons, Eadward, who came to the throne; and Ælfred, who was slain in 1036; and a daughter, Godgifu, who married, first, Drogo, count of Mantes; and, afterwards, Eustace, count of Boulogne.

Sources: Little can be added to Dr. Freeman’s account of Æthelred in his Norman Conquest, i. 285-417; Green’s notices (Conquest of England) are chiefly valuable when they bear on the intrigues of the court, but some of his statements appear fanciful; Lappenberg’s Anglo-Saxon Kings, trans. Thorpe, ii. 150 sq.; Anglo-Saxon Chron.; Florence of Worcester; William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum; Kemble’s Codex Dipl. vol. iii. (all Engl. Hist. Soc.); Henry of Huntingdon, Mon. Hist. Brit.; Adam of Bremen; Encomium Emmæ, both Rer. Germ. Scriptt., Pertz; William of Jumièges, Duchesne; Parker’s Early Hist. of Oxford (Oxford Hist. Soc.); Vigfusson and Powell’s Corpus Poet. Boreale; Tryal of John Hambden, Esq., 1719; Stubbs’s Constitutional Hist.


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