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A Few Facts About Henry the Young King

Henry the Young King was the only king of England crowned in his father’s lifetime. In this his father, Henry II followed the continental tradition. The Capetian rulers had their heirs crowned during their reign in order to avoid even a momentary interregnum and disorder. Louis VI, for instance, still active monarch, had his son, also Louis, anointed in Rheims cathedral already in 1131. It was not until 1137 that Louis began his independent rule and only upon his father’s death. The same Louis had his only son, Philip crowned in 1179, a year before he himself died. Today I would like to introduce a few facts about Henry the Young King everyone should know.
- Henry (b. 28 February 1155) was not meant to be a king. The crown was to be inherited by his elder brother, William (b.17 August 1153). Unfortunately, at the age of three, William became seriously ill and died, the only child of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, who failed to reach maturity. Upon his untimely passing, Henry, the s…
Recent posts

The History of William Marshal on the War of 1183. Part I

The anniversary of Henry the Young King's untimely passing is fast approaching and though I have discussed the surrounding events many times here, on the blog, I have never focused solely on the version introduced by one John, the author of the History of William Marshal. If we are believe to him, this is what happened in the spring of 1183 and these are the roots of the conflict that broke out between the Angevins, the conflict in which brothers stood against each other, and sons stood against father (following the translation by Nigel Bryant):

'(...) the following Lent saw conflict between the three brothers. The Young King and his brother Count Geoffrey, lord of Brittany, angrily left their father, offended and enraged that their brother, the count of Poitiers, with their father's backing, had made so bold as to wage war on the highest nobles of that land and to treat them most unjustly. They'd complained to the Young King and declared that they would sooner serve hi…

Guest Post: The Three Sisters of the Young King by Sharon Bennett Connolly

Today I am delighted to welcome Sharon Bennet Connolly to the blog. Sharon is going to present her new book, Heroines of the Medieval World, and tell us a few words about Henry the Young King's younger sisters, Matilda, Eleanor and Joanna. Over to you, Sharon...

In history we tend to focus on the actions of the men in a family. Well, let’s face it, the life of Henry II and his sons is fascinating, full of love, honour, death and betrayal. Who wouldn’t be drawn into that world? But did you know that the women of the Young King’s family had no less exciting and eventful lives?
With a mother like Eleanor of Aquitaine, you would not expect her daughters to be shrinking violets. And, indeed, they were not. And neither were the girls sent off into the world, never to see their parents again. In what may be a unique occurrence for royal princesses, each of the three daughters of Eleanor and Henry II would get to spend time with their mother later in their lives.
Matilda of England, the elde…

28 February 1155: In Celebration of Henry the Young King's Birthday

On the pages of his Chronicon Geoffrey, prior of Vigeois, described in meticulous detail how young Henry packed as much repentance into his deathbed as he could before he passed away.  Geoffrey left nothing unsaid. The hair shirt, bed of ashes, halter around neck, Bernard, bishop of Agen administering the last rites, and many other men of religion … all was there to ‘draw the readers attention away from the affairs of this world to those of the next’. Of course, Geoffrey, a man of religion himself, must have seen young Henry’s untimely passing as a divine punishment. But there were other voices who disagreed with that of the prior. Thomas de Agnellis, for example, in his sermon claimed that as the Young King’s sad retinue was toiling over the jolly sunbathed hills and dales of Aquitaine, it became the focus for many miracles. The rumors of the late king’s sainthood began to circulate. The monasteries pillaged by him shortly before his death- as it happened some of the most sacred shri…

Thomas Agnellus and De morte et sepultura Henrici regis iunioris

The Young King is dead. "All are overjoyed, all rejoice: the father alone bewails his son". Oh, how wrong Roger of Howden was when he penned this. By "all" he obviously meant Henry II's supporters, but also representatives of the Church who regarded the late king as "second Absalom" and parricide. As we know, however, the young king's untimely passing caused the universal outpouring of grief and his posthumous fame as a prodigal son who returned to his father on his deathbed and died almost a martyr's death triggered off the events that could have led to his canonization. When Henry lay dying in the humble house of a blacksmith in the obscure little town of Martel, Limousin, he couldn't have foreseen that his death, the surrounding events and its aftermath would become a subject of sermons and, in the long run, research and dissertations not only of the acclaimed academic medievalists, but also of a young and promising Polish historians of…

Henry III. The Son of Magna Carta

2016 is the 800th anniversary of the accession of Henry the Young King's nephew Henry III to the throne. There has been little written about Henry's life, although the lives and careers of the key figures of his reign such as William Marshal and Simon de Montfort have been discussed many times in numerous publications. Our friend Darren Baker, the author of With All for All: The Life of Simon de Montfort is currently working on a biography of Henry III. Before his book is out, however, we would like to recommend the biography of Henry III by Matthew Lewis.
Matthew Lewis is an author and historian with particular interest in the medieval period. His books include history of the Wars of the Roses, a biography of Richard, 3rd Duke of York and two novels of historical fiction. As we are reading, his biography of Henry offers a look at the period from a different perspective. Sounds interesting. Even more so, when we look at the introduction:
"Henry III became King of England wi…

The Lens of History: Guest Post by Author Mark Richard Beaulieu

Today I am delighted to welcome author Mark Richard Beaulieu to the blog. He has kindly agreed to share his thoughts and impressions about Henry the Young King biography by Professor Matthew Strickland, with a particular regard to Henry the Young King's marriage.
The Lens of History
The upbringing of Lord Henry, the son who would struggle to succeed King Henri II, proves grounds to contrast the method of writing a historical biography with the method of researching a historical recreation of a life. The many sources Kasia cites in her distinguished blog of the Young King, underly my series about Eleanor of Aquitaine. The latest and greatest source of her advocacy on Henry is Professor Matthew Strickland’s definitive “Henry the Young King 1155-1183,” 472 pages of which 145 pages are notes, bibliography and index. It is excellent reading and written with some vivid verbs. In my writing, I care as much about history as understanding how people come to be, and of course, I allow Henry …

Fornham Revisited

‘[The earl of Leicester] … came with his army to a place near St Edmund’s, which is known as Fornham, situated on a piece of marshy ground, not far from the church of St Genevive. On his arrival being known, the earl, with a considerable force, and Humphrey de Bohun with three hundred knights, soldiers of the king, went forth armed for battle to meet the earl of Leicester, carrying before them the banner of St Edmund the king and martyr as their standard' (The Annals of Roger de Hoveden, p. 375)               Bury St Edmunds. Abbey Gate, rebuilt in the 14th century. Photo courtesy of Rambling Man (wikipedia.org)
Yesterday marked the 843rd anniversary of the Battle of Fornham, one of the most decisive battles of Henry II's reign. I posted about the momentous events of 17 October 1173 a few years ago, but in the light of what Professor Strickland writes about it in his Henry the Young King biography it is hard not to mention this severe blow to Henry the Young King's cause yet…