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Showing posts from June, 2013

Over His Dead Body

Henry the Young King died ‘in the flower of his youth’ on 11 June 1183, at Martel, Limousin. Henry’s chaplain, Gervase of Tilbury lamented his young king’s premature death, which ‘heralded the ruin of knighthood’. William Marshal, Henry’s tutor, guide and most faithful companion said that his young lord’s death ‘marked the end of all knightliness’. Both of them seem to be in the right, for the people who stood behind the events that followed the Young King’s untimely passing had nothing to do with what was to become known as chivalry.

Sancho
First of all, there was one Sancho de Savannac, ordinary mercenary, as it seemed. In reality old fox, cunning and ruthless, captain of the Basques hired by young Henry. It was him, who spoke in the name of his soldiers. The Young King had promised to pay them off, but he never had. It’s not their damned business that he died penniless. It’s not their damned business that he died. All they wanted was their money back. Sancho must have known that Wil…

Had He Lived...

19 June marked a sad date in Henry the Young King and his wife, Marguerite’s life. On this day in 1177 at Paris the queen gave birth to their only child, William. Born premature, the child died soon after.Interestingly enough, there are two different versions describing the event and apparently some controversy arose over it at the time. Roger of Howden, for instance, noted that: …queen Margaret, the wife of the king, the son, being pregnant, went to her father [Louis VII], the king of France, and, on arriving at Paris, was delivered of a still-born son. The Franks, however, asserted that this son of the king was born alive and was baptized, and named William. (The Annals, Vol I, p.456)I assume that in this case the Franks must have been in the right. After all theirs was the first-hand information.


In her wonderful novel The Greatest KnightElizabeth Chadwick poignantly described baby William’s arrival into this world and his quiet passing shortly after (excerpt quoted with Elizabeth …

14 June 1170. Henry’s First Coronation

On 14 June 1170, Henry II had his son Henry [since then called the Young King] crowned king of England at Westminster, with Rogerof Pont-l’Eveque, Archbishop of York performing the act instead of the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. Four English bishops assisted at the ceremony. These were Hugh of Durham, Gilbert of London, Jocelyn of Salisbury and Walter of Rochester. The Norman bishops present were Henry of Bayeux and Giles of Evreux. By crowning his eldest surviving son in his own lifetime Henry II followed the continental tradition, which had worked out for French and German kings. The king wanted to avoid future disputes over the succession. The coronation enraged Thomas Becket and renewed the long-lasting dispute over primacy betweenCanterbury andYork. The Archbishop of Canterbury reminded that it was the traditional right of the archbishop ofCanterbury, and not the archbishop ofYork, to perform coronations. In his turn, Archbishop Roger evoked Pope Gregory the Gr…

Safe Passage to Heaven

Saturday, 11 June 1183. Martel. The spring in the valley of the Dordogne lazily drifts into summer. A young man, with a sapphire ring fervently pressed to his lips, lies dying in the house of Etienne Fabri’s. He finds himself far from his family, among ‘quite barbarous people’ in Gascony, with only a few faithful companions at his side. That young man happens to be the King of England’s son and heir. Contemporary chroniclers refer to him either as Young Henry, Henry the Younger, the Young King or Henry III. He does not know that since he is destined to predecease his father, his name will vanish somewhere in a dim and distant… future, almost utterly lost to posterity. Ironically, it is Henry’s untimely passing-the best documented moment of his life-that he is mainly remembered for. Additionally, the actions surrounding his death serve as an invaluable source of information concerning the rituals performed at the twelfth-century deathbed. From his example we can learn a lot about medie…

Short Biographical Note

As the anniversary of Henry’s death is approaching and I’ve decided to make the month of June absolutely Henry-centric, I thought it a good idea to remind the Young King's readers a few important facts from his biography.

Henry the Young King (1155-1183)
In his Images of History, Ralph of Diceto notes that “…a son, Henry, was born in London to King Henry of England and Queen Eleanor on 28 February [1155] and was baptized by Richard bishop of London”. Henry was the famous couple’s eldest surviving son and a central figure in his father’s home and foreign policy. In 1158, aged three, he was betrothed to Marguerite, Louis VII’s first daughter by his second wife, Constance of Castile. The princess, still a baby, would bring the Norman Vexin- a heated point of contention between England and France- back under Angevin rule through her dowry. In 1169, Henry II made known that Anjou, Normandy and England should go to Young Henry. Richard, the second son, was to get Aquitaine, the maternal i…

Who’s Who? All Those Who Mattered to Henry the Young King. Part II

On 1 June 1191 Philip, count of Flanders died in the Holy Land, at the siege of Acre. He was one-time ally and mentor of his cousin, Henry the Young King. I thought it a good occasion to continue my story of those who were important to Henry in his lifetime and afterwards.
Members of Henry’s mesnie (military household): William Marshal (c.1147-1219), the fourth son of John Marshal (the second by his second wife, Sybil, sister of Patrick, Earl of Salisbury); in 1170 appointed tutor in arms of the newly crowned Henry the Young King. The latter’s mentor, guide and best friend for thirteen years, loyal to his young lord until the latter’s sudden death on 11 June 1183. Fulfilling Henry’s deathbed wish, he undertook the pilgrimage to the Holy Land to take the Young King’s crusader cloak to the Holy Sepulchre. Peter fitz Guy- the Young King’s seneschal in the 1170s; Hasculf de St Hilaire (d. before 1180) from the family of Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouet, member of Henry the Young King’s household…