14 Aetheled the Unready and the Rising Tide


Aethelred’s mother gets her son onto the throne at last. But it’s not long before the disadvantages of kingship become clear, as the Danes begin to return with increasing force. Aethelred turned 18 in 983, and by 984 has sent his mother away and reigns with his own men. But three years of raids, 997-999 beging to demonstrate the weakness of the English reponse. And by 1002, England face a national opponent as Svein Forkbeard joins the party.

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Below is a really rubbish map I have done, which has the main place names in this week’s podcast; it does have the Shires as they’d have been in the 10th Century though, which is nice. There’s also another much better map further down, but you’d have to print it to read.


Towns in Danish Raids

This map (phot) below┬áis from Tinity college Cambridge’s website. It shows all the raids between 991 and 1005.

View this photo



8 thoughts on “14 Aetheled the Unready and the Rising Tide

  1. Hi David
    Just wanted to say that I came across your podcast and am really enjoying listening in. I appreciate the accessible and conversational style and am learning a great deal. It is making my daily commute a much richer experience.

  2. Hey David, I like the podcast, keep it up. I knew absolutely nothing about this era before listening. No, I won’t be volunteering as a guest podcaster :-).
    Keep posting maps, even if rubbish. As a Yank, I don’t know English geography very well and can’t tell where all the action is happening.
    You know what would also be nice? Some sort of family tree or roadmap of all the various kings. I keep losing track of who disposed whom. You do a good job of pointing out the relationships in the podcast but a written reference would be quite handy.

  3. Thanks Rob; I suspect you will find other errors along the way. I try to do the quality control as much as I can, but sometimes time just doesn’t permit. There’s one horrendous episode around the mid 20’s with no start and end…anywya, despite that hope you keep enjoying it.

  4. Hi David. I discovered your podcast some time ago but didn’t get to listening to it. I recently started and haven’t been able to put it down, as it were. Lively, instructional, and entertaining. Good pace, not too deep into the weeds.
    One question I’ve had, and I know you’re centuries beyond this, but it sounds like of odd to hear that the ‘Danes’ conquered ‘Anglo-Saxon’ England. I mean, The Angles, Jutes, and Saxons all resided in what is now Denmark, which would appear to make the Danish invasion something of a civil war rather than foreign conquest, right?
    The fighting between the Anglo-Saxons versus the ‘Danes’ sounds a little like the ‘East Anglians’ taking on the English. Other possible analogies would be the relationship between Scottish clans or the Angevins and the Kings of France.
    Why is the Danish invasion always treated like the Mongol or Hunnish invasion? Any ideas?
    I hope you get this, love the podcast, keep up the good work.
    P.S.: When listening to the podcast, I rarely have a computer in front of me, so the verbal descriptions of places and their geographic relationships are a big help. Thanks!

  5. Perhaps part of the answer is that there were 300-400 years, perhaps 12-20 generations apart, Aodhan? Most of the original European residents of US State of Kentucky, or of Massachusetts were of Scots-Irish and English ancestry, yet what Yanks term the War of 1812 was not considered a civil war within England or the States, only 2-5 generations later. Even in the areas of Shlesweg-Holstein, Frisia,and Jutland in the 5th century, there was no uniformity and identity or government, and by the 8th century differences between the people of the NW Baltic and the “Anglo-Saxons” had developed along quite different lines. William the Conqueror was only a few generations removed from the Old Scandanavia-speaking Vikings who became the French-speaking Normans, and was closely related in kinship to the rulers of England, but no one thinks of 1066 as an English civil war, and the changes the Norman imposed from the top down on the English world were definitely those of a conqueror, not a victorious winner of a civil war, I think?

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