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Aethelred II: King of the English by Ryan…
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Aethelred II: King of the English

by Ryan Lavelle

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It wasn't enough to change my mind about Aethelred The Unready. I guess I have more reading to do! ( )
  a1stitcher | Jun 22, 2019 |
Definitely not a book for beginners, if you don't know anything about Aethelred II than this book isn't for you. It assumes you have at least a basic knowledge of the period and then sets out to put forward the authors opinions. This is not a straight out history, it is an academics look at the Kings reign and how and why people have criticized him.

The author has some interesting insights on the control of the King over England during this period and his relationships with his nobles. I don't agree with some of his opinions, but as the author points out there is much we do not know about the King and his reign, much that we must assume because the documents don't always tell us what we want to know.

I read the book as a stand alone book, but for a student of Anglo-Saxon England who is reading a number of opinions I think this book would really shine. I loved the maps and photos of modern England talking about the Kings reign as well as the drawing on the backcover of a Hill fort. ( )
  bookmarkaussie | Dec 21, 2013 |
Excellent account of the life and times of this somewhat misunderstood ruler (the Unready). Unlike for the reign and life of his father, Edgar, it is possible to construct much more of the course of events of his reign and the Anglo Saxon Chronicle is much more informative, supplemented by other primary sources of evidence. The author's central contention is that Ethelred's reputation suffers because of the Viking invasions of the last half dozen or so years of his reign, particularly of course that of Swein Forkbeard who effectively took over the Kingdom and saw Ethelred exiled to the Isle of Wight until he was recalled after Swein's opportune death. These traumatic events have implanted the image of Ethelred as weak in the face of the Viking onslaught onto the earlier much less serious Viking incursions of the 990s. But the evidence is that those earlier Viking incursions were less serious at least partly because there was an effective system of defence which the King was able to use. His reputation has also suffered because of his coming to the throne at the expense of his murdered half brother, King Edward called the Martyr, traditionally said to have been killed on the orders of Ethelred's mother Aelfthryth. Even if this account is true (and there is room for doubt - the killing may have been in a brawl), Ethelred was almost certainly a mere boy at the time. What emerges from this book is a picture of a King and an era much more interesting than the simple one of a ruler and country weak and helpless before the Viking onslaught. This is well worth reading and is not too dry or academic for the general reader. There is a useful chronology and a glossary also. The only slight criticism is that the photographs are not well reproduced. 5/5 ( )
  john257hopper | Jun 4, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0752419935, Paperback)

Too often dismissed as the unready king—unprepared, ill-advised, and incapable of dealing with the military and political crises that faced the Anglo-Saxon kingdom, not least of which were a series of Viking onslaughts—King Aethelred has gone down in history as an incompetent failure. This new biography redresses the indictment, placing Aethelred into his proper historical context. Central to the study is the authoritarian manner in which the king ran the English kingdom for much of his reign. King Aethelred is shown to have made effective use of the infamous Danegel and to have demonstrated royal power on a number of occasions with devastating results. While there were mishaps, disasters, and family intrigue, Aethelred managed to come through these crises until the final Danish invasion of 1013. Illustrated and including original reconstruction paintings, this study gives an insight into the turbulent politics of a 38-year reign and addresses the manner in which King Aethelred used his authority as a medieval English monarch.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:06 -0400)

"Too often dismissed as the 'unready' King, unprepared, ill-advised and incapable of dealing with the military and political crises that faced the Anglo-Saxon kingdom, not least of which were a series of Viking onslaughts, King Aethelred has gone down in history as an incompetent failure. This new biography redresses the indictment, placing Aethelred into his proper historical context." "Central to the study is the authoritarian manner in which the King ran the English kingdom for much of his reign. King Aethelred is shown to have made effective use of the infamous 'Danegeld' and to have demonstrated royal power on a number of occasions, with devastating results. While there were mishaps, disasters and family intrigue, Aethelred managed to come through these crises until the final Danish invasion of 1013." "Illustrated, including original reconstruction paintings specially prepared for this book, this study gives an insight into the turbulent politics of a thirty-eight-year reign and addresses the manner in which King Aethelred used his authority as a medieval English monarch."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved… (more)

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