Template talk:Mercian monarchs

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Old English letters[edit]

I suggest that OE letters be changed to modern equivalents in this template. I think "Æ" and "æ" can be preserved, since they are still in use in modern English orthography, but "þ" has not been in use for centuries. I also suggest that the accents on the names be removed -- this may be correct OE usage, but the common use in secondary sources now does not include them.

The relevant guideline, Naming conventions, makes it clear there's debate on similar issues, so I thought I'd post here before making any changes. If I hear no objections I'll make the edits in a few days. Mike Christie (talk) 10:34, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

I see TharkunColl has reverted the changes I made. Could you post here and comment? I still think it would be better to use the modern spelling. Mike Christie (talk) 11:38, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
My aim has been consistency, but as it happens I have been thinking along the same lines. I'll go through it and remove the accents, and change the thorns to th. May take a bit of time though. TharkunColl 11:42, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
No hurry. I've been doing it as I edit each article. Sometimes consistency is difficult; I haven't checked yet, but I rather suspect "Egbert" is the common form for the king of Wessex, but "Ecgberht" seems to be used for the king of Kent. I've been using a count of spellings in the scholarly sources I have access to, with a bit of a bias towards the most recent ones if it seems there are two good choices. Mike Christie (talk) 11:46, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Okay done it. TharkunColl 11:50, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Ealdorman vs. deputy[edit]

I changed "earldormen" to "ealdormen" just to get the spelling right, but I don't think it's the right change in the first place -- I would be surprised if the Lady of the Mercians was ever called an ealdorman. I don't know if deputy is correct either, but if we're going to include the rules from the second Ceolwulf onwards (which we don't have to do) then it's probably better than ealdorman. I don't think these Ceolwulf or Aethelred were ever called "King", were they? How about just leaving them off the template? Mike Christie (talk) 11:44, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Ceolwulf II was king: PASE. Æthelred is not king in any source: PASE. Æthelflæd is sometimes queen: PASE. I'd go with "ruler" or "lord" and "lady". But shouldn't Æthelstan be on the list? He was king in Mercia (only) after Edward's death. Angus McLellan (Talk) 12:02, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Edgar and Canute too. Although they were kings of other places as well, just not Wessex - at least, not at first. TharkunColl (talk) 12:06, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Post-850 I have little opinion and less knowledge so I'll let y'all sort it out. One thing I'd say is that a good way to figure out who should be in the template is to invert it and figure out which templates would be on the articles involved. For example, if a later ruler such as Edgar or Canute would have a king of England template of some kind, that's probably better than using a Mercia template. I don't think there's a lot of value in having multiple templates at the bottom of the article -- one is a definite help to a reader; two isn't great but can be done if it's really necessary; I don't think we should ever have more than two. (Actually I don't like having more than one but I think there are cases where it's the best choice.) Mike Christie (talk) 12:50, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Apologies for my misspelling. One of the recent books (I think by Walker) was able to show that Mercia retained an identity distinct from Wessex for a generation or so after Aethelfaed's death. Her daughter Aelfwynn was in practice prevented from ruling. I would suggest that successors should appear up to the point where there was a common ruler for Mercia and Wessex. Cnut was king of England, not merely of some of its constituents and should thus not appear. I am not sure whether the template could be amended to make "ruling ealdormen" a separate section. Peterkingiron (talk) 16:32, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Egbert vs. Ecgberht[edit]

TharkunColl just changed Egbert to Ecgberht; this came up above and I still think Egbert would be better -- it's almost universal in modern secondary sources. Any objections to changing it back? Mike Christie (talk) 13:11, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

To keep it consistent with the other names, the original spelling is used here. ðarkuncoll 21:43, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
OK. I'd prefer to stick with the usage in the secondary sources myself. How about we invite others to comment? Deacon isn't active at the moment, but we could ask Angus, Cavila and a couple of others who've contributed to A-S articles. Or I could try to find a central place, perhaps WP:MA or something associated? Mike Christie (talk) 22:14, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
At the moment I'm on a ship in the middle of the North Sea, costing 25p per minute satellite Internet access lol. I may not be able to make as full a contribution to the discussion as I'd like. My position is simply this - in a list such as this, consistency is always best. It just looks funny otherwise. ðarkuncoll 08:45, 31 August 2009 (UTC)
When will you be back on shore? No reason we can't wait till then to make a decision. Mike Christie (talk) 10:53, 31 August 2009 (UTC)
I've posted a note or two; we'll see what people say. We can wait till you have time to comment before a decision is made. Mike Christie (talk) 12:49, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
Tough one. This actually appears to be one of those grey areas where common usage in modern RS is divided. For what it's worth, "Ecgberht" is the preferred form for all persons of this name in ODNB, but with "Egbert" between square brackets. In a situation like this, the consistency argument may count for something, though by way of comparison, we shouldn't be surprised to find Egbert and Ecgfrith used beside one another in the same secondary source. Personally, I'd prefer "Ecgberht" because (a) I presume it's closer to the 'original form', retaining some features of pronunciation, and more importantly, (b) it matches the conventional spellings of other Anglo-Saxon names containing either Ecg- or -berht.Cavila (talk) 14:51, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
Agree with Cavila's reasoning. Perhaps the least bad way to go for templates would be "Ecgberht (Egbert)", as readers unfamiliar with the issue-at-hand will need a hint that "Ecgberht" alone does not necessarily provide. Regards, Notuncurious (talk) 17:29, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
So long as we don't have to go as far as Æthelstan (Athelstan), that seems reasonable to me. Angus McLellan (Talk) 21:38, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
Hi, 'tis me, speaking from a fjord somewhere near Bergen, Norway. Anyway, the above sounds fairly reasonable for this template - unless it becomes the thin end of the wedge, as it were, and we end up with multiple names for everyone and everything. How can we prevent the Æthelstan (Athelstan) situation occurring in the future, with this as a precedent? Is it really necessary at all? Can't we just stick with consistent spelling throughout? ðarkuncoll 22:13, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

Here's what the sources I have use. For sources that predate the Egbert/Ecgberht in question (or discuss other Egberts) I've looked at how they spell others of the same name, and marked those sources by underlining them.

  • Egbert
    1. Anglo-Saxon England series (I looked at vol. 5)
    2. Swanton, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (giving one abbot as "Ecgberht" and all others as "Egbert")
    3. Keynes & Lapidge, Asser's Life of Alfred the Great
    4. Yorke, Kings and Kingdoms of Early Anglo-Saxon England and Wessex in the Early Middle Ages
    5. Campbell, The Anglo-Saxon State. Campbell uses "Egbert" for the king of Wessex but "Ecgberht" for the archbishop of York.
    6. Grierson & Blackburn, Medieval European Coinage
    7. Campbell, Anglo-Saxon England (specifically Patrick Wormald's essays)
    8. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England
    9. Whitelock, English Historical Documents
    10. Walker, Mercia and the Making of England
    11. Plummer, Bedae Opera Historica
    12. Farmer, The Age of Bede and also Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica
    13. Colgrave & Mynors' Bede, also giving alternative spellings of "Ecgberct" and "Ecgberect"
    14. Wallace-Hadrill's commentary on Bede
    15. Dorey, Latin Historians
    16. Rollason, The Mildrith Legend
  • Ecgberht
    1. PASE
    2. Kirby, The Earliest English Kings
    3. Lapidge, Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England
    4. Plunkett, Suffolk in Anglo-Saxon Times
    5. Zaluckyj, Mercia
    6. Colgrave, Felix's Life of Saint Guthlac
    7. [Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Added by Cavila (talk) 09:10, 3 September 2009 (UTC)]
  • Ecgbert
    1. Yorke, The Conversion of Britain
    2. Higham, An English Empire

I think it's worth noting that in some cases Egbert of Wessex is spelled "Egbert", but other Egberts are spelled "Ecgberht". (Those cases are included under "Egbert" above; I pointed a couple of them out in the list.) Perhaps the fact that this Egbert is better known than any of the others means that the "Egbert" spelling has become established in the minds of some writers, rather as Alfred is never spelled "Ælfred"?

This suggests to me that Colgrave's Life of Saint Guthlac and Higham's An English Empire should be discarded from the list above, since spelling other people "Ecgberht" does not imply they would have spelled the king of Wessex that way; and in Colgrave's case another of his works uses "Egbert". The writers of works that only mention other Egberts (spelled that way) are, however, unlikely to have spelled the king of Wessex as "Ecgberht" -- when there's an inconsistency it's always the king of Wessex who is Egbert. So I would suggest this is a fairly strong bias in the secondary sources in favour of "Egbert", and I think that's the spelling we should use.

Having said that, there are three very reliable sources going with "Ecgberht": PASE, the Blackwell, and Kirby. So if everyone still thinks, after seeing the list above, that "Ecgberht" is better, I can live with that. I would suggest that in that case we drop "Egbert" completely, and we should also move Egbert of Wessex to Ecgberht of Wessex; it's silly to have the template say one thing but the article say another. Mike Christie (talk) 00:43, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Hi Mike. I'm not going to belabour the point, but "Ecgberht" for the king of Wessex is a little more common than you might think based on those sources. That said, the balance is indeed in favour of "Egbert", as our friend Google Books has just confirmed to me: "Egbert of Wessex" (672 hits) against "Ecgberht of Wessex" (545). Leaving the name (and the article title) at "Egbert" should be fine and I don't think a dab like "Egbert (Ecgberht)" is necessary for the template. (Btw, PASE is a slightly different ball-game - it's a database that needs to normalise spellings in order to systematically organise names. We have dab pages to sort out those differences). Cavila (talk) 09:10, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
So you're suggesting "Ecgberht" (without the parenthetical "Egbert") for the template, and "Egbert" for the article? I.e., no change from the current situation?
No, "Egbert" for the pair of them (which I assumed was originally in the template, but now I see the edit history goes back a bit further). Cavila (talk) 10:24, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
With regard to Google Books, I wondered how many of those sources are older works and don't reflect current usage. I tried searching for e.g. "Egbert of Wessex" + 1991, and found the same thing you did: "Egbert" is slightly the more common form. Mike Christie (talk) 10:01, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, I always feel hesitant about using those 'statistics', admittedly. Adding a relevant modern scholar or year sometimes helps to restrict your searches, though that has side-effects as well. I haven't considered using the variant "X king of Wessex", which may get you different results. Cavila (talk) 10:24, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

I'm not English, and I'm not familiar with this area of English history or language, but my feeling as a reader is that if it's close to a draw - and from the discussion this seems to be pretty close - the version that is likely to be more familiar to the casual reader should be used, in this case Egbert. Scolaire (talk) 13:18, 3 September 2009 (UTC)