of England, Ethelred II

Birth Name of England, Ethelred II
Nick Name The Unready
Gender male
Age at Death 48 years, 3 months, 22 days


Ethelred II, called The Unready (968?-1016), Anglo-Saxon king of England (978-1016), son of King Edgar and half brother of Edward the Martyr. His reign was marked by bitter military struggles. After negotiating a treaty with Richard II, duke of Normandy (reigned about 996-1026), Ethelred married Richard's sister Emma. This marriage provided the basis for the subsequent Norman claim to the English throne. Although Ethelred paid tribute to the plundering Danes, Sweyn I (the Forkbeard), king of Denmark, invaded England in 1013 and proclaimed himself king. In 1014 Ethelred fled to Normandy (Normandie) but returned a few months later upon Sweyn's death. Sweyn's son and successor, Canute II, invaded the country a year later and, following Ethelred's death, became king of England. Ethelred's sobriquet, “The Unready,” is a corruption of the Old English unraed,”bad counsel,” which is a reference to his misfortunes.

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Ethelred II (Old English: Æþelred), known as the Unready (968-1013 and 1014-1016), was a King of England.

According to William of Malmesbury, Ethelred defecated in the baptismal font as a child, which led St. Dunstan to prophesize that the English monarchy would be overthrown during Ethelred's reign.

Ethelred succeeded to the throne aged 10 following the death of his father King Edgar and subsequent murder of his half-brother Edward the Martyr. His nickname "The Unready" does not mean that he was ill-prepared, but derives from the Anglo-Saxon unræd meaning without counsel. This is also a pun on his name, the Anglo-Saxon form of his name, Æþelred, which means "Well advised".

Ethelred had at least sixteen children from two marriages, the second of these, in 1002, being to Emma of Normandy, whose great-nephew, William I of England, would later use this relationship as the basis of his claim on the throne.

He attempted to buy off the Vikings by payment of what was to become known as Danegeld; he had little choice in the matter since he was unable to place any trust in his generals.

In 1013, Ethelred fled to Normandy, seeking protection by his brother-in-law, Robert of Normandy, when England was over-run by Svein Haraldsson of Denmark and his forces. He returned in February, 1014, following the death of Svein Haraldsson. Ethelred died on April 23, 1016, in London, where he was buried. He was succeeded by his son, Edmund II of England.


Event Date Place Description Sources
Birth 968     1
Event Note

B: Abt. 968

Death 1016-04-23 London, England   1

Age: 48y


Relation to main person Name Birth date Death date Relation within this family (if not by birth)
Father of England, Edgar944975-07-08
Mother of Devon, Aelfrthryth9471000
         of England, Ethelred II 968 1016-04-23


Family of of England, Ethelred II and , Eadgyth

Unknown Partner , Eadgyth ( * 965 + ... )
Name Birth Date Death Date
, Ecgfrida993
Saxe-Wessex, Aelfgifu995

Family of of England, Ethelred II and Normandy, Emma

Unknown Partner Normandy, Emma ( * 982 + 1052-03-06 )
Name Birth Date Death Date
of England, Eldred994
of England, Alfred10021036
of England, Goda10041055

Family of of England, Ethelred II and Gunnarsson, Elfreda of Mercia

Unknown Partner Gunnarsson, Elfreda of Mercia ( * 963 + 1002-02-00 )
Name Birth Date Death Date
of England, Edmund II9891016-11-30