Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Aethelred the Ill-Advised

With the discovery of King Richard III's remains recently I've been thinking of Britain's monarchs. An interesting and bizarrely named AEthelred the Unready springs to mind and makes me dip into some etymology. His name in Old English was in fact 'Æþelræd Unræd' which meant AEthelraed 'Bad Counsel' (or Ill advised). Nothing to do with being unready, simply a mis-translation of 'Unræd' (potentially used by biographers to their own end).

"Unræd", thinks I. "Hmmm….link to Dutch?"

Of course!

Counsel (or an advisory position) is 'raad' in Dutch (synoniemen: advies, advocaat, counsel).

Etymology for 'raad': [advies, adviserend college] {oudnederlands rat 901-1000, middelnederlands raet [advies, adviserend lichaam]} van raden.

Synonymous with German, 'rat', cf Rathaus (town hall).

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