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Showing posts from September, 2014

That Son of Perdition: Geoffrey Duke of Brittany

Today marks the 856th anniversary of the birth of Geoffrey, the younger brother of Henry the Young King, in England on 23 September 1158. Incidentally, at the time of his arrival, his father, King Henry II, was on the Continent, visiting Paris, where Princess Marguerite (b.1157/1158), the baby daughter of Louis VII of France and Constance of Castile, was confided to his care as the future bride for his eldest surviving son, Henry [our Henry]. But back to Geoffrey- as the fourth son (third surviving) he was to become the duke of Brittany upon his marriage to Constance, the only daughter and heiress of Duke Conan IV, in 1181. The ducal couple was to rule Brittany effectively till Geoffrey's untimely death in 1186. When he lived, Geoffrey supported his brother Henry in his revolts aginst their father, and later their brother Richard. After Henry's premature death in 1183, he allied himself with their youngest brother John [Lackland] against Richard, and later with Philippe August…

Louis VII of France, the Father-in-Law of Henry the Young King

Yesterday marked the 834th anniversary of Louis VII of France's death on 18 September 1180. I am not going to discuss Louis's career as a king of France. This I leave to my friend, Mr. Richard Willis, who wrote a brilliant post about the monarch. It is Louis the father-in-law of Henry the Young King who interests me today. As a matter of fact, I find it necessary to mention that Louis was the first husband of Henry's mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Unfortunately- or quite fortunately, as it turned out- the marriage proved to be as complete a failure as the Second Crusade, in which both Eleanor and Louis took part (he as one of the leaders). In 1152 the couple obtained the annulment, oficially on the grounds of consaguity, which, apparently had been overlooked for fifteen years of their marriage (hmm...). It was common knowledge, however, that Louis wanted to get rid of his wife because she had been unable to give him the much anticipated male heir. The annulment resulted in.…

Henry the Young King Takes Centre Stage II

Some time ago I wrote about a new biography of Henry the Young King by Professor Matthew Strickland which is to be ""the first full length study for a century of the eldest son and principal heir of Henry II". For further details check here. Today I have some exciting news to report as well: yesterday saw the publication of the long-awaited second part of Ms Elizabeth Chadwick's Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy, The Winter Crown. To my utter delight, Henry [the future Young King] gets a mention already in the first sentence of the novel. He attends his parents' coronation, giving his mother a vigorous kick in her womb as the Archbishop of Canterbury places the crown on her head!!! He is but seven months old and leads a very eventful prenatal life, it seems :-) For example, he can boast about, no more no less, but crossing the Narrow Sea in the royal boat esnecca (we can read about it in the first part of the trilogy, The Summer Queen). Anyway, in the first chapter o…

Two September Deaths

10 September 1167 saw the passing of one of the most important figures of the 12th century, Henry the Young King's paternal grandmother, Empress Matilda (b.1102). Matilda died at the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Prés, near Rouen and was buried at the Abbaye du Bec, the religious house she had cherished throughout her life. The monks, following their benefactress’s wish, interred her body before the altar of the Virgin Mary. According to Stephen (known as Stephen of Rouen- Fr. Etienne de Rouen), one of the monks, when she died the flower of the meadow (Fr.le pré) withered and a star fell. It was the first time when Empress Matilda was compared to a flower. Usually she was described in different terms, such as ‘haughty, hard, inflexible and lacking feminine qualities’. She is still best remembered for pitching England into a disastrous civil war while trying to win back what she considered her rightful inheritance. And she might have won, had she only not alienated those whom she ought t…

8 September 1157: Birth of King Richard I

Happy Birthday to HM Richard I, the younger brother of HM Henry the Young King, who was born on this day in 1157 as the third son (second surviving) of Eleanor of Aquitaine (1124-1204) and Henry II of England (1133-1189). He was four years younger than his brother William (b. 17 August 1153- d. spring of 1156), two years younger than his brother Henry (b. 28 February 1155), and one year younger than his sister Matilda (b. June 1156). He was the elder brother to Geoffrey (b. 23 September 1158), Eleanor (b. September 1161), Joanna (b. September 1165) and John (b. December 1166). From the day of his arrival he was destined to rule his mother's duchy, Aquitaine. I wonder whether it had ever occured to Richard to say (if only mentally) "Thank you!" to his brother Henry. After all he owed him, no more no less, but the throne of England itself (plus Normandy, Anjou, Maine, etc.) That might have been not possible had the Young King not died suddenly, prematurely and quite conven…

3 September 1189: Coronation of Richard I

Today marks the anniversary of the coronation of Henry the Young King's younger brother Richard on 3 September 1189. When Richard was born on 8 September 1157 he was second in line to succession after his brother Henry (b. 28 February 1157) and this did not change until the latter's untimely death in 1183. Then Richard's prospects of becoming king of England, duke of Normandy and count of Anjou boosted. One may think that Richard became his father's heir immediately upon Henry the Young King's death. Far from that. As John Gillingham has pointed out, Richard's inability to quell the 1183 revolt by effectively defeating his brothers could have been the reason for his father's stubborn refusals to recognize him as his heir. Also, there might have been more to this: Henry II probably feared that Richard would follow in his elder brother's footsteps and try to supplant him, as the Young King had tried to do in 1173 (see the Great Revolt of 1173-74). I wrote…