03 March 2014

If at first you don't succeed...

...skydiving isn't for you (that's my favorite ending for the phrase and often catches people a bit off guard).

One of the unexpected pleasures of living at the Casa Santa Maria - the American house for priests studying in Rome - is living also with two Englishmen and seven Australians with whom I can have conversations about English history.

A few days ago I saw a t-shirt on  Twitter that I found rather amusing; the Americans in the house did not understand it, but the English and the Australians did:

A descendant of the House of Wessex and son of King Edgar and Queen Ælfthryth, Æthelred was King of England from about 968 until his death on the 23rd of April in 1016. Though the circumstances of his ascension to the throne and his reign, in general, were not very pleasant, I've long enjoyed his name (and that of his mother).

His epithet is a bit unfortunate and is something of a play on his name.  Æthelred means "noble counsel" while unræd means "bad counsel". When first recording around the 1180s, he was not called "the Unready," but as Æthelred Unræd, "Noble counsel, no counsel." As such, it does not so much refer to the King himself as to his counselors.

King Æthelred was the father of King Saint Edward the Confessor.

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