Who do you think you are?
Ethelred the Unready was crowned King of England in 987 A.D. at the age of 9, after the murder of his older brother Edgar. Contrary to Mel Brooks’ declaration in “The History of the World, Part 1”, for Ethelred, “it was not good to be King” because the word was out that he was Unready.
Historically, throughout his 39-year reign he lived up – or is it down – to the name with everything he did. Shortly after his coronation, the Danes attacked England and succeeded because Ethelred was…Unready; He bought off the invaders for 10,000 pounds, but they went on to besiege London, a turn of events for which Ethelred was of course, through no fault of his own…Unready; In 1013 King Sweyn of Denmark was proclaimed King of England, forcing Ethelred to flee, and he almost missed the boat because he was, once again…need I say it. In his defense had he been dubbed, “Ethelred the Young” or “Ethelred the Boy King”, people might given the kid a chance to Get Ready
What’s in a name? Think about it. Who knows how brave Richard would have been without “the Lion Hearted”; how victorious William, minus “the Conqueror”; vicious Ivan, sans “the Terrible”; wise Solomon, or great, Catherine. Their names said it all, and there was poor Ethelred…Unready. He never stood a chance.
Those royal names created an image – a medieval spin- that let you know what to expect from a leader. Maybe it’s time to resurrect the naming thing in our current political culture; it would be boon for online dating. Think of all the time and emotion that would be saved if Audrey the Needy knew, no matter how attractive he appeared, that Len the Wounded wasn’t going to be there for her, and how much better her chances with Monty the Giving even though he didn’t like musical theater. And poor Len the Wounded was so close to happiness with Evelyn the Healer, if he could have just gotten past her being a vegan.
I know it would have saved me a lot of pain if my first wife had been know as Ellen the Angry, my accountant as Ralph the Shifty, and my agent, Lenny the Inept. In all fairness, though I think of myself as Billy the Nice, I’m sure my friends and family would have some more colorful suggestions.
So. Who do you think you are?