Above: Richard Kiley portrays King Æthelred in The Ceremony of Innocence, one of the many depictions examined in the article.
I’m very pleased to announce the publication of my first peer-reviewed journal article. The article, titled “Æthelred the Unready and William of Malmesbury: The Death of a Reputation,” appears in volume 34 of The Year’s Work in Medievalism, released August 5th, 2021.
The article surveys portrayals of Æthelred II in popular culture, the majority of which depict him negatively — he is variously a coward, drunkard, weakling, or all of the above. Most of this material can be traced back to the medieval chronicler William of Malmesbury, who was writing well after Æthelred had died. Why did William’s account become so common? How does it compare to earlier or alternate medieval views of the king? And finally, is there any hope for Æthelred in mass media, or is he doomed to play the fool forever? I explore all of these questions in the article.
The paper is open access, meaning anyone can read it in its entirety for free or download it: