King Aethelred the Unready of England 966 – 1016


Aethelred the Unready

Father – King Edgar
Mother – Aelfthryth
Spouse – Aelfgifu of York, Emma of Normandy 
Children – Aethelstan, Edmund, Eadred, Eadwig, Edgar, Eadgyth, Aelfgifu, Wulfthryth, Edward, Alfred, Godgifu
King of England – 978 – 1013 
Predecessor – Edward the Martyr
Successor – Sweyn Forkbeard
King of England – 1014 – 1016 
Predecessor – Sweyn Forkbeard
Successor – Edmund II (Ironside)


966 (during)
A second son, Aethelred was born to King Edgar and his wife Aelfthryth. Aethelred also had an older half-brother, Edward.
970 (during)
Aethelred’s elder brother, Edmund, died.
973 (11th May)
Aethelred’s father, King Edgar and his wife Aelfthryth were crowned at Bath by Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury. This second coronation was held at this point in his reign because it was felt that he had reached the zenith of his Kingship.
973 (during)
Aethelred’s father, Edgar, received the submission of eight kings of the North, including the Kings of Scotland and Strathclyde at Chester thus strengthening his position.
975 (8th July)
Aethelred’s father, Edgar died at Winchester. He was succeeded by his son from his first marriage, Edward.
975 (after July)
Aethelred’s stepbrother, Edward, was crowned by Archbishop Dunstan at Kingston upon Thames. Aethelred’s mother was unhappy that Edward had become King and believed that Aethelred should have been made King. 
976 (during)
Aethelred’s mother and her faction continued to work against Edward.
978 (18th March)
King Edward was murdered at Corfe Castle, when he was visiting his stepmother, Aelfthryth, by assassins acting on her behalf. Aethelred was proclaimed King.
978 (4th April)
Aethelred was crowned at Kingston upon Thames. Because he was still a child, his mother, Aelfthryth, acted as regent for her son.
980 (during)
There were Danish Viking raids on Chester and Southampton.
981 (during)
There were Danish Viking raids on Devon and Cornwall.
982 (during)
There were Danish Viking raids on Dorset.
984 (during)
Aethelred came of age and took control of government. He chose a new set of younger advisors.
985 (during)
Sweyn Forkbeard took leadership of the Vikings from his father, Harald Bluetooth
985 (during)
A son, Cnut, was born to the Viking leader Sweyn Forkbeard.
985 (during)
Aethelred married Aelfgifu, daughter of Thored, earl of Northumbria
986 (during)
A son, Aethelstan, was born to Aethelred and Aelfgifu.
988 (during)
A son, Ecgbert, was born to Aethelred and Aelfgifu.
988 (19th May)
Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, died.
990 (during)
A son, Edmund was born to Aethelred and Aelfgifu
991 (10th August)
Battle of Maldon – Byrhtnoth of Essex was defeated by the Danish Vikings led by Olaf Tryggvason.
991 (during)
Following the Viking victory at Maldon Aethelred was forced to pay the Vikings £10,000 pounds (3.3 kg of silver) to make them leave Wessex alone. The payment was known as a Danegeld.
992 (around)
A daughter, Eadgyth, was born to Aethelred and Aelfgifu.
994 (during)
A party of Viking raiders sailed up the River Thames and put London under siege. Aethelred was forced to make another Danegeld payment to make the raiders leave. This time the Viking leader Olaf Trygvasson, demanded £16,000 (5.3 kg of silver)
992 (around)
A daughter, Aelfgifu, was born to Aethelred and Aelfgifu.
995 (around)
A son, Eadred, was born to Aethelred and Aelfgifu.
996 (around)
A son, Eadwig, was born to Aethelred and Aelfgifu.
996 (around)
A daughter, Wulfthryth, was born to Aethelred and Aelfgifu.
999 (around)
A son, Edgar, was born to Aethelred and Aelfgifu.
1000 (Summer)
The Vikings left England. Aethelred began a series of raids on Strathclyde and the Isle of Man.
1001 (during)
The Danish Vikings made a series of raids along the South coast.
1002 (during)
St Brice’s Day Massacre – Aethelred ordered the massacre of all Danes living in England. He hoped that by ridding England of Danes he would minimise the risk of attack from within. A significant number of Danes were killed including the sister of Sweyn Forkbeard.
1002 (during)
Sweyn Forkbeard and a party of Vikings raided the South coast retaliation for the St Brice’s day massacre. They gained control of land from Exeter to Hampshire.
1002 (during)
Aethelred had no choice but to pay the Danes to leave his land alone. The Danegled demanded was £24,000 (8kg of silver).
1002 (February)
Aethelred’s wife Aelfgifu died.
1002 (5th April)
Aethelred married Emma the daughter of Richard, Duke of Normandy. The marriage was part of an alliance treaty with Normandy.
1002 (17th November)
Aethelred’s mother, Aelfthryth died at Wherwell Abbey.
1003 (during)
A son, Edward, was born to Aethelred and Emma at Islip, Oxfordshire. He would become known to history as Edward the Confessor.
1004 (during)
Sweyn Forkbeard destroyed the town of Norwich.
1005 (around)
A son, Alfred, was born to Aethelred and Emma.
1005 (during)
Aethelred’s son, Ecgbert, died.
1005 (16th November)
Aelfric of Abingdon, Archbishop of Canterbury, died. He left his fleet of ships to the people of King. He also left his best ship to Aethelred.
1006 (around)
A daughter, Godgifu, was born to Aethelred and Emma.
1006 (during)
Aethelred appointed Aelheah Archbishop of Canterbury.
1006 (July)
Sweyn Forkbeard and the Vikings returned and made a series of raids on Kent and Sussex.
1007 (during)
Aethelred was unable to raise sufficient forces to defeat the Vikings and so was forced to make another Danegeld payment to keep the Vikings away. The sum demanded was £36,000 (12 kg of silver).
1008 (during)
Aethelred decided that he could not keep paying off the Danes and so decided to build a new fleet of ships.
1009 (during)
A group of Vikings led by Thorkell the Tall made a series of devastating raids on the coast. Aethelred was unable to defeat the Vikings using his new ships because his Captain, Wulfnoth had taken 20 boats on a piracy mission. Another Captain, Brihtric, who had tried to stop Wulfnoth had run several ships aground.
1010 (during)
The Danes invaded East Anglia. A battle was fought near Ipswich which left the Danes in control of the town.
1011 (during)
The Danish Vikings captured Canterbury and took Archbishop Aelheah prisoner.
1012 (during)
Aethelred’s son, Edgar, died.
1012 (during)
Aethelred’s son, Eadred, died.
1012 (19th April)
The Danish Vikings in Canterbury went on a drunken raid and murdered Archbishop Aelheah of Canterbury. The Viking leader, Thorkell the Tall, tried to stop the murder but was unsuccessful. He was so angry at his comrades that he defected and joined Aethelred’s forces.
1012 (April)
Aethelred made another Danegeld payment of £48,000 (17 kg of silver) to stop the destruction being caused by the Vikings.
1013 (during)
Lyfing was appointed the new Archbishop of Canterbury.
1013 (during)
Sweyn Forkbeard returned and took Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria. London alone held out against the Danes.
1013 (December)
Having conquered the majority of England Sweyn Forkbeard proclaimed himself King of England. Aethelred, Emma and their children fled to Normandy.
1014 (during)
Aethelred’s son, Aethelstan, died fighting the Danes.
1014 (3rd February)
Sweyn Forkbeard died. He nominated his son, Cnut to succeed him.
1014 (Spring)
Although the English nobles had accepted Sweyn as King they were not so keen to support his young son so called for Aethelred to return. The people of Lindsey declared their support for Cnut.
1014 (Autumn)
Aethelred and his family returned to England. Aethelred made it clear that he was unhappy with the people of Lindsey for not supporting him.
1015 (Summer)
Eadric of Mercia killed the two leading thegns of Lindsey in retaliation for their supporting Cnut.
1015 (August)
Determined to claim the English throne, Cnut invaded England with a large Danish force.
1015 (late August)
Aethelred’s son Edmund, nicknamed Ironside, married Edith one of the murdered thegns from Lindsey.
1015 (Autumn)
Edmund Ironside raised an army against his father. He was supported by the five towns of Danish Mercia – Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford.
1016 (early January)
Cnut began attacking more regions of England. Edmund Ironside summoned an army but the men refused to fight without authorisation from Aethelred. Aethelred summoned an army but was warned that his son may betray him and returned to London.
1016 (Spring)
Cnut took Northumberland then marched towards London.
1016 (April)
Edmund Ironside marched to London to try to stop Cnut from taking the city.
1016 (23rd April)
Aethelred died. He was succeeded by his son, Edmund Ironside as King Edmund II.




Published Jul 15, 2016 @ 7:17 pm – Updated – Mar 14, 2018 @ 2:25 pm


Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2016 – 2018). Aethelred the Unready of England 966 – 1016. Available: Last Accessed May 28th, 2018


You may also like:

  •   This timeline gives a chronological listing of the main events in English History for the years 980 - 989 The king of England for this period was Aethelred (the Unready)     980 (during) There were Danish Viking raids on Chester and Southampton. 981 (during) There were Danish Viking…
    Tags: aethelred, aelfgifu, son, born, died, england, king, vikings, sweyn, forkbeard
  •     Father - Aelfhelm Ealdorman of Northampton Mother - Unknown Spouse - King Cnut Children - Sweyn, Harold     990 (around) A daughter, Aelfgifu, was born to Aelfhelm, ealdorman of south Northumbria. 1002 (during) Sweyn Forkbeard invaded England in revenge for the St Brice's Day Massacre where Danes…
    Tags: king, england, son, aelfgifu, sweyn, aethelred, died
  •   Father - Harald Bluetooth Mother - Gyrid Spouse - Gunhilda, Sigrid Children -  Thyra, Cnut, Harald, Estrid King of England - 1013 - 1014 Predecessor - Aethelred Successor - Aethelred     960 (during) A son, Sweyn, known as Forkbeard, was born to Harald Bluetooth, King of Denmark and his wife Gyrid…
    Tags: sweyn, forkbeard, aethelred, vikings, king, england, born
  • Father - King Aethelred the Unready Mother - Aelfgifu of York Spouse - Ealdgyth Children - Edward the Exile, Edmund King of England - 1016 Predecessor - Aethelred the Unready Successor - King Cnut     990 (during) A son, Edmund was born to Aethelred the Unready and Aelfgifu. He…
    Tags: aethelred, england, king, sweyn, vikings, forkbeard, died, son
  •   This timeline gives a chronological listing of the main events in English History for the years 990 - 999 The king of England for this period was Aethelred the Unready     990 (13th February) Aelfgar, Archbishop of Canterbury, died. 990 (After 13th February) Sigeric was appointed new Archbishop…
    Tags: aethelred, vikings, born, died, son, sweyn, aelfgifu, forkbeard, england, king