Æthelred: Ready to Rule

Æthelred the Unready was king of a divided nation that lived in fear of the ‘divine punishment’ of the Vikings. Piety and prayer became his weapons of choice. 

Portrait of Æthelred from the Abingdon Chronicle, c.1220.

The reign of the Anglo-Saxon king Æthelred the Unready ended badly, paving the way for two and a half decades of Anglo-Danish rule by Cnut and his heirs. The need to explain this apparent failure was felt by contemporary writers. The most detailed account of these years, that of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, was written shortly after the events in an attempt to comprehend this disaster.

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