Aetheling


Aetheling

Aetheling, also spelt Ætheling, Atheling or Etheling, was an Old English term (æþeling) used in Anglo-Saxon England to designate princes of the royal dynasty who were eligible for the kingship. Aetheling is an Old English and Old Saxon compound of "aethele", "æþele" or "(a)ethel", meaning "noble family", and "-ing", which means "belonging to." [cite web |url=http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=atheling |title="Atheling " etymology |accessdate=2008-07-03 |last=Harper |first=Douglas |work= |publisher=Online Etymology Dictionary |date=November 2001] It is etymologically related to the modern German words "Adel", "nobility", and "adelig" or "adlig", "noble." It was usually rendered in Latin as "clito".

History

During the earliest years of the Anglo-Saxon rule in England the word was probably used to denote any person of noble birth. Its use was, however, soon restricted to members of a royal family. It was occasionally used after the Norman Conquest. The earlier part of the word formed part of the name of several Anglo-Saxon kings, e.g. Ethelbert, Ethelwulf, Ethelred, and was used obviously to indicate their noble birth. According to a document which probably dates from the 10th century, the wergild of an aetheling was fixed at 15,000 thrymsas, or 11,250 shillings, which is equal to that of an archbishop and one-half of that of a king.

The "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle", in the annal for 728, refers to a certain Oswald as "aetheling" due to his great-great-grandfather being king of the West Saxons. From the ninth century, however, the designation was used in a much narrower context and came to refer exclusively to members of the house of Cerdic, the ruling dynasty of Wessex, most particularly sons or brothers of reigning kings. Unusually, Edgar Ætheling receives this appellation due to being the grandson of King Edmund Ironside.

"Aetheling" was also used in a poetic sense to mean "a good and noble man". Old English verse often uses aetheling to describe Christ, prophets and saints, for example. The hero of the Old English saga Beowulf (8th century) is introduced as an aetheling (æþeling), possibly in the sense of a relative of the King of the Geats (Goths), though some translators render aetheling as "retainer". Since many early Scandinavian kings were chosen by competition or election rather than primogeniture, an "æþeling" may have been the term for a person qualified to compete for the kingship.

After the Norman Conquest the term was used only occasionally to designate members of the royal family. The Latinised Germanic form, "Adelin(us)", was used for William Adelin, the only legitimate son and heir of king Henry I, who died in the White Ship disaster of 1120.

It has been proposed, although the question remains an open one, that the idea of the tanáise ríg in Early Medieval Ireland was adopted from the Anglo-Saxon, specifically Northumbrian, concept of the aetheling. The earliest use of tanaíste ríg was of an Anglo-Saxon prince c. 628, and many subsequent ones relate to non-Irish rulers before the term attaches to Irish kings-in-waiting.

ources and references

*1911
* Miller, S., "Ætheling" in "The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England", ed. M. Lapidge, J. Blair, S. Keynes & D. Scragg. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003. ISBN 0-631-22492-0
* Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí, "Early Medieval Ireland: 400–1200." London: Longman, 1995. ISBN 0-582-01565-0


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • aetheling — aetheling, etheling, also atheling /iy8alirj/ In Saxon law, a noble; generally a prince of the blood …   Black's law dictionary

  • aetheling — aetheling, etheling, also atheling /iy8alirj/ In Saxon law, a noble; generally a prince of the blood …   Black's law dictionary

  • aetheling — /ath euh ling, adh /, n. atheling. * * * ▪ Anglo Saxon aristocrat also spelled  Atheling, or Etheling,         in Anglo Saxon England, generally any person of noble birth. Use of the term was usually restricted to members of a royal family, and… …   Universalium

  • AEtheling — Atheling Ath el*ing ([a^]th [e^]l*[i^]ng), n. [AS. [ae][eth]eling noble, fr. [ae][eth]ele noble, akin to G. adel nobility, edel noble. The word [ae][eth]el, E. ethel, is in many AS. proper names, as Ethelwolf, noble wolf; Ethelbald, noble bold;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Aetheling — Prince or lord. A member of a royal AS family; a prince of the blood royal and heir to the throne; a person considered worthy of the throne. When used in the *ASC it was nearly always applied to members of the West Saxon royal family. [<… …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

  • aetheling — A noble in Saxon times …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • aetheling — Usage: often capitalized variant of atheling * * * /ath euh ling, adh /, n. atheling …   Useful english dictionary

  • Edgar the Aetheling — born , Hungary died с 1125 Anglo Saxon prince. He was proposed as king of England after the Battle of Hastings (1066) but instead served the Norman kings William I (the Conqueror) and William II. Rebellions in favour of the aetheling (prince)… …   Universalium

  • William the Aetheling — ▪ duke of Normandy French  Guillaume Aetheling   born 1103 died Nov. 25, 1120, at sea off Barfleur, Fr.       Anglo Norman prince, only son of Henry I of England and recognized duke of Normandy (as William IV, or as William III if the earlier… …   Universalium

  • Alfred Aetheling — (Old English Ælfred Æþeling ), was one of the eight sons of the English king Ethelred II, called The Unready . He and his brother Edward the Confessor were sons of Ethelred s second wife Emma of Normandy.In 1013 during the siege of London by the… …   Wikipedia