Thored

Last updated
Thored
Ealdorman of York
Reign c. 964/974x979–992x994
Predecessor Oslac (?)
Successor Ælfhelm
Born unknown
unknown
Died 992 or 994
Burialunknown
Issue Ælfgifu (died 1002)
Æthelstan (died 1010)
Father Gunnar (probable)/
Oslac (potential)
Mother unknown

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.

Kingdom of Northumbria Medieval kingdom of the Angles

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 of York Earl of york

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 historic county in England

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.

Contents

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 King of the English

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.

Origins

The area shaded under "Jorvik" (York), probably corresponds very roughly with Thored's territory of southern Northumbria; it should be noted that the Danelaw as a territory is a modern construct, though Yorkshire was in the area where Dena lagu ("Scandinavian law") was practised Kingdom of Jorvik.png
The area shaded under "Jorvik" (York), probably corresponds very roughly with Thored's territory of southern Northumbria; it should be noted that the Danelaw as a territory is a modern construct, though Yorkshire was in the area where Dena lagu ("Scandinavian law") was practised

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). [1]

<i>Anglo-Saxon Chronicle</i> Set of related medieval English chronicles

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

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 County of England

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. [2] This argument is partly based on the assertion by the Historia Eliensis , that Oslac had a son named Thorth (i.e. "Thored"). [3] The other suggestion, favoured by most historians, is that he was the son of a man named Gunnar. [4] This Gunnar is known to have held land in the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire. [5]

East Riding of Yorkshire County of England

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.

North Riding 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. [6]

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. [7] This entry is, incidentally, the first mention of Westmoringa land, that is, Westmorland. [7] 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. [8]

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. [9] 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. [10]

Ealdorman

Coin of AEthelred the Unready.jpg Aethelred rev2.jpg
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. [11] He did attest royal charters during the reign of Æthelred II, the first in 979, [12] six in 983, [13] one in 984, [14] three in 985, [15] one in 988, [16] appearing in such attestations for the last time in 989. [12] It is possible that such appearances represent more than one Thored, though that is not a generally accepted theory. [17] His definite predecessor, Oslac, was expelled from England in 975. [18] 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. [19] 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". [20] 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". [21]

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. [2] 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. [5] 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. [5]

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. [22] 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). [23] 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. [24] Stafford was supported in this argument by Richard Fletcher. [25]

Death

Modern imaginative depiction of the ship of Olafr Tryggvason, the "Long Serpent" (Illustration by Halfan Egedius) Olav Tryggvasons saga - Eriks menn entrer Ormen lange - Halfdan Egedius.jpg
Modern imaginative depiction of the ship of Óláfr Tryggvason, the "Long Serpent" (Illustration by Halfan Egedius)

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. [26]

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. [27]

Historians think that Thored was either killed fighting these Scandinavians, or else survived, but became disgraced through defeat or treachery. [28] Fletcher speculated that Thored was removed from office and replaced by the Mercian Ælfhelm as a result of his failure against the Scandinavians. [29] 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". [30]

A man named Æthelstan who died at the Battle of Ringmere in 1010, "the king's aþum", was probably Thored's son. [31] 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. [32] Thored's immediate successor was Ælfhelm, who appears witnessing charters as ealdorman from 994. [33]

Notes

  1. Whitelock, "Dealings of the Kings", p. 79; entry quoted below
  2. 1 2 ASC MS D , E , retrieved 2009-03-26, s.a. 966, 975; Oslac 7 , Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England (PASE), retrieved 2009-03-26; Williams, Smyth and Kirby, Biographical Dictionary, s.v. "Oslac ealdorman 963–75", p. 194, s.v. "Thored ealdorman 979–92", p. 223
  3. Fletcher, Bloodfeud, pp. 70–1; Whitelock, "Dealings of the Kings", pp. 77–8
  4. Fletcher, Bloodfeud, p. 71; Stenton, "Pre-Conquest Westmorland", p. 218; Woolf, Pictland to Alba, p. 211
  5. 1 2 3 Fletcher, Bloodfeud, p. 71
  6. ASC MS D , retrieved 2009-03-26, s.a. 966; Stenton, "Pre-Conquest Westmorland", p. 218; Whitelock, English Historical Documents, vol. i, p. 227
  7. 1 2 Stenton, "Pre-Conquest Westmorland", p. 218
  8. Whitelock, "Dealings of the Kings", p. 78
  9. Sawyer 728, Anglo-Saxons.net, retrieved 2009-03-26
  10. Sawyer 738, Anglo-Saxons.net, retrieved 2009-03-26; Keynes, Atlas of Attestations, Table LVI (2 of 3)
  11. Fletcher, Bloodfeud, p. 70
  12. 1 2 Sawyer 834, Anglo-Saxons.net, retrieved 2009-03-26
  13. Sawyer 848 ; Sawyer 846 ; Sawyer 844 ; Sawyer 851 ; Sawyer 843 ; Sawyer 845, Anglo-Saxons.net, retrieved 2009-03-26
  14. Sawyer 855, Anglo-Saxons.net, retrieved 2009-03-26
  15. Sawyer 856 ; Sawyer 858 ; Sawyer 860, Anglo-Saxons.net, retrieved 2009-03-26
  16. Sawyer 872, Anglo-Saxons.net, retrieved 2009-03-26
  17. Thored 4 , Thored 5 , Thored 6 and Thored 7 , PASE, retrieved 2009-03-26; compare Keynes, Atlas of Attestations, Tables LVI and LXII
  18. Fletcher, Bloodfeud, p. 44; see also William, Smyth & Kirby, Biographical Dictionary, s.v. "Oslac, ealdorman 963–75", p. 194; Whitelock, Historical Documents, vol. i, p. 229
  19. Fletcher, Bloodfeud, p. 45
  20. Whitelock, "Dealings of the Kings", p. 79
  21. Whitelock, "Dealings of the Kings", p. 79. n. 6
  22. Williams, Smyth and Kirby, Biographical Dictionary, s.v. "Thored ealdorman 979–92", p. 223
  23. Keynes, "Æthelred II"; Whitelock, "Dealings of the Kings", p. 80
  24. Stafford, Unification and Conquest, pp. 57–8
  25. Fletcher, Bloodfeud, p. 72
  26. Whitelock (ed.), English Historical Documents, vol. i, p. 234; ASC MS C , D , E , retrieved 2009-03-26, s.a. 992
  27. Whitelock (ed.), English Historical Documents, vol. i, p. 234; ASC MS A , which gives Óláfr's name as the leader; also MS C , D , E , retrieved 2009-03-26, s.a. 991
  28. Fletcher, Bloodfeud, p. 72; Kapelle, Norman Conquest, pp. 14–5; Stafford, Unification and Conquest, p. 60; Whitelock, "Dealings of the Kings", p. 80
  29. Fletcher, Bloodfeud, pp. 72–3
  30. Darlington and McGurk, Chronicle of John of Worcester, vol. ii, pp. 442, 443; Kapelle, Norman Conquest, p. 15
  31. Suggested in Williams, Smyth and Kirby, Biographical Dictionary, s.v. "Thored ealdorman 979–92", p. 223
  32. Whitelock (ed.), English Historical Documents, vol. i, p. 243, n. 4
  33. Sawyer 880 ; Sawyer 881, Anglo-Saxons.net, retrieved 2009-03-22; Keynes, Atlas of Attestations, Table LXII (1 of 2)

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References

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Oslac (?)
Ealdorman of York
x 979–992 x 994
Succeeded by
Ælfhelm