Athelred the Unready: The Ill-Counselled King Hardcover – 1 Jan 2004
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"fine-grained analysis" Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
ANN WILLIAMS is a leading historian of Anglo-Saxon England and the author of the English and Norman Conquest (1995). She is Senior Research Fellow at the University of East Anglia.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I respectfully disagree with the previous reviewer. I do not believe there is any way that Aethelred could be called a "great" king. Unlike William the Conqueror or Henry I or Henry II, I think a better analogy might be Stephen. They both had flashes of anger and at times courage combined with irrational follow-through and reliance on ministers who were mostly interested in benefiting themselves. I would rate Stephen as worse but Aethelred was no model king. As Williams documents events, Aethelred was in many ways a model of a weak king. In the Middle Ages intelligence, at least military intelligence, and a strength of character which follows through into strength of action was what was needed. While one can argue that Aethelred was overwhelmed by the constant threat of Viking terror, he failed in critical ways, especially later in his life. Williams' book is an enjoyable read and she puts together the narrative of Aethelred's life in a highly readable and coherent fashion. This is a must read book for anyone interested in the critical juncture when the Anglo-Saxon kings lost control of England. Edward the Confessor and Harold Godwinson notwithstanding, this was the beginning of the end for those who took over England from the Romans.
A fascinating individual in this biography, one of the few on this extraordinary man, the story of 10t century England comes alive, describing the people who populated England before the Norman invasion of 1066.
Seth J. Frantzman
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