View it online, completely free, here on Rounded Globe’s website.
In the realm of popular history, it’s common to hear the claim that Æthelred the Unready, King of the English, was a military failure in an age where kings had to be warriors. Due to the unflattering nickname (unraed actually means “poorly-advised”) and the Danish Conquest of England, it might seem that these critics have won the argument before it’s even started.
That isn’t the case, though, as Bender’s research has found. This book seeks to redress King Æthelred’s military reputation, arguing that he was militarily prepared and often successful against his many enemies, including the Vikings. Tracking the king’s movement and activity over his 38-year reign, this book argues that Æthelred the Unready was anything but a battle-avoider.
Early Praise for England’s Unlikely Commander:
In this exciting new book, Brandon Bender sheds considerable new light on the life and military career of one of England’s most notorious kings. Both scholarly and accessibly written, it deserves a wide audience both within and beyond the halls of modern academe.
-Dr Levi Roach, author of Æthelred the Unready (Yale University Press, 2016), Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Exeter
A print version will be following soon, hopefully within the next few months. Follow me for more updates!
My first book is getting published! It’s called “England’s Unlikely Commander: The Military Career of Æthelred the Unready.”
My first book is getting published! It’s
called England’s Unlikely Commander: The
Military Career of Æthelred the Unready. While I have been fortunate enough
to publish articles, stories, and poems, this is my first book. It’s not a very
long book, but it’s taking on a subject of English history that has yet to be
England’s Unlikely Commander:
This book is about a king of England named Æthelred
the Unready whose reputation is exceptionally poor. In a list of “worst kings
ever,” his name is sure to come up. There have been numerous books and
biographies on Æthelred: Ryan Lavelle wrote one in 2002, Ann Williams in 2003,
Levi Roach in 2016, and Richard Abels just a few months ago. Those books cover
the 38-year reign in its entirety, and I’m deeply indebted to the research
contained in them. Each one has its own bent – its own set of themes. Lavelle’s
focuses on the king’s surprisingly strong use of his authority, while Roach’s
deals heavily with religion in Anglo-Saxon England.
My book also has its own focus, and I am
less concerned with covering the reign as a whole – that has already been done
extremely well in each of the existing books. Mine is different, however, in
that it focuses on perhaps the most-criticized aspect of the reign: the
military strategies of King Æthelred. During his long reign, Æthelred’s England
was relentlessly harassed and invaded by Vikings, culminating in two Danish
conquests: one in 1013 and another in just after his death in 1016. In popular
history books, podcasts, and articles, it’s common to hear the claim that Æthelred
was a military failure in an age where kings had to be warriors. The more
careless writers and presenters sometimes go so far as to claim that the king
never marched into battle at all! Due due to the unflattering nickname (which
actually means “poorly-advised” – unraed)
and the conquests, it might seem that these critics have won the argument
before it’s even started.
That isn’t the case, though, as my recent research
has found. My book seeks to redress this aspect of Æthelred’s reputation and
argues that he was militarily prepared and often successful against his many
enemies, including the Vikings. And yes, he did march into battle and often
left a trail of destruction in his wake. He even became one of the few English
kings to reconquer his own country after being deposed, something most other
exiled monarchs never accomplish.
Rounded Globe is home to some of the best scholarly e-books available, including two others on Anglo-Saxon England by Eleanor Parker and Christopher Monk. Rounded Globe’s goal is to be both accessible to the public and academically thorough. In other words, their readers don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for access to a thick tome full of academic jargon. In addition to being readable, all of Rounded Globe’s books are free to read online and free to download.
That does not mean the authors make no
money from their books, however. Rounded Globe also affords plenty of freedom
to its authors, who often sell their books on Kindle and Amazon. This leads to
the final advantage of this publisher: the reader can decide for themselves
what they want to do. If they merely wish to skim the article on the site, they
can. If they want to download it, they can. If they wish to buy a print copy,
they can. If they want to purchase the Kindle version, they can.
This was also appealing to me because in my
own research, I frequently was blocked by a paywall. Unless you’re a member of
academia, it’s hard to gain access to a lot of scholarly research.
Finally, I wrote this book for one main
reason: so people would read it! This
publisher will allow me the platform to share my research with the world. A
print and Kindle version will be following soon. Stay tuned.
The cover art and design are by Dasha Lebesheva. The cover art is a re-imagined version of the most famous image of King Æthelred, which comes from a copy of the Abingdon Chronicle (13th Century).