|Ealdorman of York|
|Died||992 or 994|
|Issue|| Ælfgifu (died 1002)|
Æthelstan (died 1010)
|Father|| Gunnar (probable)/|
Thored (Old English :Ðoreð or Þoreð; fl. 979–992) was a 10th-century ealdorman of York, ruler of the southern half of the old Kingdom of Northumbria on behalf of the king of England. He was the son of either Gunnar or Oslac, northern ealdormen. If he was the former, he may have attained adulthood by the 960s, when a man of his name raided Westmorland. Other potential appearances in the records are likewise uncertain until 979, the point from which Thored's period as ealdorman can be accurately dated.
The Kingdom of Northumbria was a medieval Anglian kingdom in what is now northern England and south-east Scotland. The name derives from the Old English Norþan-hymbre meaning "the people or province north of the Humber", which reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary. Northumbria started to consolidate into one kingdom in the early seventh century, when the two earlier core territories of Deira and Bernicia entered into a dynastic union. At its height, the kingdom extended from the Humber, Peak District and the River Mersey on the south to the Firth of Forth on the north. Northumbria ceased to be an independent kingdom in the mid-tenth century, though a rump Earldom of Bamburgh survived around Bernicia in the north, later to be absorbed into the mediaeval kingdoms of Scotland and England.
Oslac is regarded as the first ealdorman of York and its dependent territories. These included but may not have been limited to the southern half of Northumbria. His background is obscure because of poor source documentation. The latter has facilitated disagreement amongst historians regarding his family and ethnicity.
Westmorland is a historic county in north west England. It formed an administrative county between 1889 and 1974, after which the whole county was administered by the new administrative county of Cumbria. In 2013, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, formally recognised and acknowledged the continued existence of England's 39 historic counties, including Westmorland.
Although historians differ in their opinions about his relationship, if any, to Kings Edgar the Peaceable and Edward the Martyr, it is generally thought that he enjoyed a good relationship with King Æthelred II. His daughter Ælfgifu married Æthelred. Thored was ealdorman in Northumbria for much of his reign, disappearing from the sources in 992 after being appointed by Æthelred to lead an expedition against the Vikings.
Edward the Martyr was King of England from 975 until he was murdered in 978. Edward was the eldest son of King Edgar the Peaceful but was not his father's acknowledged heir. On Edgar's death, the leadership of England was contested, with some supporting Edward's claim to be king and others supporting his younger half-brother Æthelred the Unready, recognized as a legitimate son of Edgar. Edward was chosen as king and was crowned by his main clerical supporters, the archbishops Dunstan of Canterbury and Oswald of Worcester.
Ælfgifu of York was the first wife of Æthelred the Unready, by whom she bore many offspring, including Edmund Ironside. It is most probable that she was a daughter of Thored, Earl of southern Northumbria.
Thored appears to have been of at least partially Scandinavian origin, suggested by the title applied to him in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for 992. Here, the ealdorman of Hampshire is called by the English title "ealdorman", while Thored himself is styled by the Scandinavian word eorl (i.e. Earl).
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great. Multiple copies were made of that one original and then distributed to monasteries across England, where they were independently updated. In one case, the Chronicle was still being actively updated in 1154.
Ealdorman was a term in Anglo-Saxon England which originally applied to a man of high status, including some of royal birth, whose authority was independent of the king. It evolved in meaning and in the eighth century was sometimes applied to the former kings of territories which had submitted to great powers such as Mercia. In Wessex in the second half of the ninth century it meant the leaders of individual shires appointed by the king. By the tenth century ealdormen had become the local representatives of the West Saxon king of England. Ealdormen would lead in battle, preside over courts and levy taxation. Ealdormanries were the most prestigious royal appointments, the possession of noble families and semi-independent rulers. The territories became large, often covering former kingdoms such as Mercia or East Anglia. Southern ealdormen often attended court, reflecting increasing centralisation of the kingdom, but the loyalty of northern ealdormen was more uncertain. In the eleventh century the term eorl replaced that of ealdorman, but this reflected a change in terminology under Danish influence rather than a change in function.
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England. The county town, with city status, is Winchester, a frequent seat of the Royal Court before any fixed capital, in late Anglo-Saxon England. After the metropolitan counties and Greater London, Hampshire is the most populous ceremonial county in the United Kingdom. Its two largest settlements, Southampton and Portsmouth, are administered separately as unitary authorities and the rest of the area forms the administrative county, which is governed by Hampshire County Council.
Two accounts of Thored's origins have been offered by modern historians. The first is that he was a son of Oslac, ealdorman of York from 966 until his exile in 975.This argument is partly based on the assertion by the Historia Eliensis , that Oslac had a son named Thorth (i.e. "Thored"). The other suggestion, favoured by most historians, is that he was the son of a man named Gunnar. This Gunnar is known to have held land in the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire.
The East Riding of Yorkshire, or simply East Riding, is an area in Northern England and can refer either to the administrative county of the East Riding of Yorkshire which is a unitary authority, to the ceremonial county (Lieutenancy) of the East Riding of Yorkshire or to the easternmost of the three subdivisions (ridings) of the traditional county of Yorkshire.
The North Riding of Yorkshire is one of the three historic subdivisions (ridings) of the English county of Yorkshire, alongside the East and West ridings. From the Restoration it was used as a lieutenancy area, having been part of the Yorkshire lieutenancy previously. The three ridings were treated as three counties for many purposes, such as having separate quarter sessions. An administrative county was created with a county council in 1889 under the Local Government Act 1888 on the historic boundaries. In 1974 both the administrative county and the Lieutenancy of the North Riding of Yorkshire were abolished, being succeeded in most of the riding by the new non-metropolitan county of North Yorkshire.
A riding is an administrative jurisdiction or electoral district, particularly in several current or former Commonwealth countries.
If the latter suggestion is correct, then Thored's first appearance in history is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recension D (EF)'s entry for 966, which recorded the accession of Oslac to the ealdormanry of southern Northumbria:
Recension is the practice of editing or revising a text based on critical analysis. When referring to manuscripts, this may be a revision by another author. The term is derived from Latin recensio "review, analysis".
In this year, Thored, Gunnar's son, harried Westmoringa land, and, in this same year, Oslac succeeded to the office of ealdorman.
The Anglo-Saxon scholar Frank Stenton believed that this was an act of regional faction-fighting, rather than, as had been suggested by others, Thored carrying out the orders of King Edgar the Peaceable.This entry is, incidentally, the first mention of Westmoringa land, that is, Westmorland. Gunnar seems to have been ealdorman earlier in the decade, for in one charter (surviving only in a later cartulary) dated to 963 and three Abingdon charters dated to 965, an ealdorman (dux) called Gunnar is mentioned.
Thored may be the Thored who appears for the first time in charter attestations during the reign of King Edgar (959–75), his earliest possible appearance being in 964, witnessing a grant of land in Kent by King Edgar to St Peter's, Ghent. This is uncertain because the authenticity of this particular charter is unclear.A charter issued by Edgar in 966, granting land in Oxfordshire to a woman named Ælfgifu, has an illegible ealdorman witness signature beginning with Þ, which may be Thored.
|O: Draped bust of Æthelred II left. +ÆĐELRED REX ANGLOR||R: Long cross. +EADǷOLD MO CÆNT|
|'LonCross' penny of Æthelred II, moneyer Eadwold, Canterbury, c. 997–1003. The cross made cutting the coin into half-pennies or farthings (quarter-pennies) easier. (Note spelling Eadƿold in inscription, using Anglo-Saxon letter wynn in place of modern w.)|
Thored's governorship as ealdorman, based on charter attestations, cannot be securely dated before 979.He did attest royal charters during the reign of Æthelred II, the first in 979, six in 983, one in 984, three in 985, one in 988, appearing in such attestations for the last time in 989. It is possible that such appearances represent more than one Thored, though that is not a generally accepted theory. His definite predecessor, Oslac, was expelled from England in 975. The historian Richard Fletcher thought that Oslac's downfall may have been the result of opposing the succession of Edward the Martyr, enemy and brother of Æthelred II. What is known about Thored's time as ealdorman is that he did not have a good relationship with Oswald, Archbishop of York (971–92). In a memorandum written by Oswald, a group of estates belonging to the archdiocese of York was listed, and Oswald noted that "I held them all until Thored came to power; then was St Peter [to whom York was dedicated] robbed". One of the estates allegedly lost was Newbald, an estate given by King Edgar to a man named Gunnar, suggesting to historian Dorothy Whitelock that Thored may just have been reclaiming land "wrongly alienated from his family".
His relationship with King Edgar is unclear, particularly given the uncertainty of Thored's paternity, Oslac being banished from England in 975, the year of Edgar's death.Richard Fletcher, who thought Thored was the son of Gunnar, argued that Thored's raid on Westmorland was caused by resentment derived from losing out on the ealdormanry to Oslac, and that Edgar thereafter confiscated various territories as punishment. The evidence for this is that Newbald, granted by Edgar to Gunnar circa 963, was bought by Archbishop Osketel from the king sometime before 971, implying that the king had seized the land.
Thored's relationship with the English monarchy under Æthelred II seems to have been good. Ælfgifu, the first wife of King Æthelred II, was probably Thored's daughter.Evidence for this is that in the 1150s Ailred of Rievaulx in his De genealogia regum Anglorum wrote that the wife of Æthelred II was the daughter of an ealdorman (comes) called Thored (Thorth). Historian Pauline Stafford argued that this marriage was evidence that Thored had been a local rather than royal appointment to the ealdormanry of York, and that Æthelred II's marriage was an attempt to woo Thored. Stafford was supported in this argument by Richard Fletcher.
The date of Thored's death is uncertain, but his last historical appearance came in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, recension C (D, E), under the year 992, which reported the death of Archbishop Oswald and an expedition against a marauding Scandinavian fleet:
In this year the holy Archbishop Oswald left this life and attained the heavenly life, and Ealdorman Æthelwine [of East Anglia] died in the same year. Then the king and all his counsellors decreed that all the ships that were any use should be assembled at London. And the king then entrusted the expedition to the leadership of Ealdorman Ælfric (of Hampshire), Earl Thored and Bishop Ælfstan [.of London or of Rochester.] and Bishop Æscwig [of Dorchester], and they were to try if they could entrap the Danish army anywhere at sea. Then Ealdorman Ælfric sent someone to warn the enemy, and then in the night before the day on which they were to have joined battle, he absconded by night from the army, to his own disgrace, and then the enemy escaped, except that the crew of one ship was slain. And then the Danish army encountered the ships from East Anglia and from London, and they made a great slaughter there and captured the ship, all armed and equipped, on which the ealdorman was.
Scandinavians led by Óláfr Tryggvason had been raiding England's coast since the previous year, when they killed Ealdorman Brihtnoth of Essex at the Battle of Maldon.
Historians think that Thored was either killed fighting these Scandinavians, or else survived, but became disgraced through defeat or treachery.Fletcher speculated that Thored was removed from office and replaced by the Mercian Ælfhelm as a result of his failure against the Scandinavians. Another historian, William Kapelle, believed Thored was removed because of his Scandinavian descent, an argument based on the Worcester Chronicle's claim, added to the text borrowed from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, that Fræna, Godwine and Frythegyst fled a battle against the Danes in the following year because "they were Danish on their father's side".
A man named Æthelstan who died at the Battle of Ringmere in 1010, "the king's aþum", was probably Thored's son.The term aþum means either "son-in-law" or "brother-in-law", so this Æthelstan could also have been Thored's grandson by an unknown intermediary. Thored's immediate successor was Ælfhelm, who appears witnessing charters as ealdorman from 994.
Æthelred II, known as the Unready, was King of the English from 978 to 1013 and again from 1014 until his death. His epithet does not derive from the modern word "unready", but rather from the Old English unræd ; it is a pun on his name, which means "well advised".
Coenwulf was the King of Mercia from December 796 until his death in 821. He was a descendant of a sibling of King Penda, who had ruled Mercia in the middle of the 7th century. He succeeded Ecgfrith, the son of Offa; Ecgfrith only reigned for five months, and Coenwulf ascended the throne in the same year that Offa died. In the early years of Coenwulf's reign he had to deal with a revolt in Kent, which had been under Offa's control. Eadberht Præn returned from exile in Francia to claim the Kentish throne, and Coenwulf was forced to wait for papal support before he could intervene. When Pope Leo III agreed to anathematize Eadberht, Coenwulf invaded and retook the kingdom; Eadberht was taken prisoner, was blinded, and had his hands cut off. Coenwulf also appears to have lost control of the kingdom of East Anglia during the early part of his reign, as an independent coinage appears under King Eadwald. Coenwulf's coinage reappears in 805, indicating that the kingdom was again under Mercian control. Several campaigns of Coenwulf's against the Welsh are recorded, but only one conflict with Northumbria, in 801, though it is likely that Coenwulf continued to support the opponents of the Northumbrian king Eardwulf.
Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians became ruler of English Mercia shortly after the death of its last king, Ceolwulf II in 879. His rule was confined to the western half, as eastern Mercia was then part of the Viking-ruled Danelaw. Æthelred's ancestry is unknown. He was probably the leader of an unsuccessful Mercian invasion of Wales in 881, and soon afterwards he acknowledged the lordship of King Alfred the Great of Wessex. The alliance was cemented by the marriage of Æthelred to Alfred's daughter Æthelflæd.
Siward or Sigurd was an important earl of 11th-century northern England. The Old Norse nickname Digri and its Latin translation Grossus are given to him by near-contemporary texts. Siward was probably of Scandinavian origin, perhaps a relative of Earl Ulf, and emerged as a powerful regional strongman in England during the reign of Cnut. Cnut was a Scandinavian ruler who conquered England in the 1010s, and Siward was one of the many Scandinavians who came to England in the aftermath of that conquest. Siward subsequently rose to become sub-ruler of most of northern England. From 1033 at the latest Siward was in control of southern Northumbria, that is, present-day Yorkshire, governing as earl on Cnut's behalf.
Osulf was high-reeve of Bamburgh and ruler of Northumbria. Sometimes called "earl", he is more surely the first recorded high-reeve of Bamburgh and the man who, after assisting in the death of its last independent ruler Erik Bloodaxe, administered the York-based Kingdom of Northumbria when it was taken over by the Wessex-based King Eadred of England in 954.
Anglo-Saxon charters are documents from the early medieval period in England, which typically made a grant of land, or recorded a privilege. The earliest surviving charters were drawn up in the 670s: the oldest surviving charters granted land to the Church, but from the eighth century, surviving charters were increasingly used to grant land to lay people.
Æthelstan Half-King was an important and influential Ealdorman of East Anglia who interacted with five kings of England, including his adopted son Edgar the Peaceful. Many of Æthelstan's close relatives were also involved in important affairs, but soon after the death of king Eadred in 955, he left his position and became a monk at Glastonbury Abbey.
Ælfhere was ealdorman of Mercia. His family, along with those of Æthelstan Half-King and Æthelstan Rota, rose to greatness in the middle third of the 10th century. In the reign of Edward the Martyr, Ælfhere was a leader of the anti-monastic reaction and an ally of Edward's stepmother Queen Dowager Ælfthryth. After the killing of Edward by Ælfthryth's servants in 978, Ælfhere supported the new king, Ælfthryth's son Æthelred the Unready, and was the leading nobleman in the Kingdom of England until his death in 983.
Ulfcytel was an Anglo-Saxon nobleman. He was apparently the ealdorman of East Anglia from 1004 to his death at the battle of Assandun, although he is not called an ealdorman in any of the charters he witnessed. Scandinavian sources refer to him as Ulfkell Snillingr, the byname meaning bold.
Wulfric, called Wulfric Spot or Spott, was an Anglo-Saxon nobleman. His will is an important document from the reign of King Æthelred the Unready. Wulfric was a patron of the Burton Abbey, around which the modern town of Burton on Trent later grew up, and may have refounded the Benedictine monastery there.
Northman was a late 10th-century English ealdorman, with a territorial base in Northumbria north of the River Tees. He appears in two different strands of source. These are, namely, the textual tradition of Durham witnessed by Historia de Sancto Cuthberto and the Durham Liber Vitae, and an appearance in a witness list of a charter of King Æthelred II dated to 994. The latter is Northman's only appearance south of the Humber, and came the year after Northumbria was attacked by Vikings.
Ælfhelm was the ealdorman of Northumbria, in practice southern Northumbria, from about 994 until his death. An ealdorman was a senior nobleman who governed a province—a shire or group of shires—on behalf of the king. Ælfhelm's powerful and wealthy family came from Mercia, a territory and former kingdom incorporating most of central England, and he achieved his position despite being an outsider. Ælfhelm first appears in charters as dux ("ealdorman") in about 994.
Northman was a Mercian chieftain of the early 11th century. A member of a powerful Mercian kinship (clan), he is known primarily for receiving the village of Twywell in Northamptonshire from King Æthelred II in 1013, and for his death by order of King Cnut the Great in 1017. His violent end by Cnut contrasts with the successful career enjoyed by his brother Leofric, as Earl of Mercia during Cnut's reign. Northman is believed to have been an associate of the troublesome ealdorman Eadric Streona, who was killed with him.
Muiredach was an ealdorman in northern England in the reign of Edgar the Peaceable. He is recorded in subscriptions to two royal charters.
Uhtred was an ealdorman based in Derbyshire in the 10th century. His date of birth and origins are unclear, although it has been suggested by some modern historians that he came from Northumbria. He is thought to have been the thegn who, having purchased land at Hope and Ashford in Derbyshire from the Vikings before 911, had it confirmed by King Æthelstan in 926. He was ealdorman in or before 930. It appears that he witnessed charters during the remainder of the reign of Æthelstan, the reign of Edmund I (939–46) and the reign of Eadred (946–55), and the last king appears to have granted Uhtred land at Bakewell in 949. It is thought that Uhtred may have used this land to found a minster there. An Uhtred witnesses charters from 955 to 958, in the reigns of Eadwig the Fair (955–59) and Edgar the Peaceable (957–75), but some historians believe this to be a different Uhtred, perhaps Uhtred Cild.
Thurbrand, nicknamed "the Hold", was a Northumbrian magnate in the early 11th-century. Perhaps based in Holderness and East Yorkshire, Thurbrand was recorded as the killer of Uhtred the Bold, Earl of Northumbria. The killing appears to have been part of the war between Sweyn Forkbeard and Cnut the Great against the English king Æthelred the Unready, Uhtred being the latter's chief Northumbrian supporter. Thurbrand may also have attested a charter of 1009 and given a horse to Æthelred's son Æthelstan Ætheling. The killing is the first known act, if it did not initiate, a bloodfeud between Thurbrand's family and Uhtred going into the time of Earl Waltheof. It is possible that Holderness took its name because of Thurbrand's presence or ownership of the peninsula.
Eadulf, Eadwulf, or occasionally Adulf, surnamed Evil-child, was Earl of Bamburgh in the late tenth century. Although Eadwulf is sometimes described as the Earl of Northumbria, he ruled only the northern portion of Northumbria from the River Tees to possibly as far north as the Firth of Forth.
| Ealdorman of York |
x 979–992 x 994