2 February 1169: Prince Henry the Seneschal
Just a short note today. 2 February 1169 must have been a very special day for young Prince Henry, the heir to the English throne and future Young King. I can imagine how extremely excited and elated he must have been, could not have slept a wink the night before probably. And little wonder, it was the first time he was to perform the duties of Senschal of France, the postion previously held by Theobald of Blois*, which his father-in-law, Louis VII of France (1120-1180) had bestowed upon him earlier in the year, in the opening days of January at the conference of Monmirail**.
Here's what Encyclopedia Britannica says about the office itself:
Even if the position was only representative one, to Henry - at the time a youth twenty-six days shy of his fourteenth birthday - it would mean his first full and personal responsiblity, even if he was only to be in charge of feasting arrangements and attending his father-in-law's table. I am certain that he took on his new responsiblities seriously and did a good job that day.
Note from whom the first responsibilty came, not from Henry's father, who was to thwart power from him for many years to come, but from King Louis, his father-in-law. You can read about Henry the Young King-Louis relations here.
* Theobald of Blois (1130-1191), the younger brother of Henri I the Liberal of Champagne, was Henry the Young King's brother- in-law, the husband of Henry's half-sister Alix (1151-1197/98), the younger of Eleanor of Aquitaine's daughters by Louis VII. The funny thing is that Theobald, before marrying Alix, was planning to capture and marry Eleanor herself, after she had been divorced from Louis in 1152.
** On Epiphany Day 1169 Henry the Young King's father and Louis II of France held a conference at Montmirail, a town of Maine, near to the French frontier. Henry II’s three eldest sons were there, as well as Louis’s beloved Dieu-Donne [the God given]Philip [later Augustus]. According to the treaty the English princes were to hold respectively: the young Henry Normandy, Brittany, Anjou and Maine, Richard Poitou and Guienne, Geoffrey Brittany under his brother Henry. It was also agreed that Richard would marry Alais, Louis's second daughter by his late wife Constance of Castile. Alais was the young Henry's sister-in-law. The next day saw the young Henry and Richard doing homage to Louis, as well as the papal envoys, Simon, Prior of Mont Dieu, Bernard de Corilo, Monk of Granmont and Engelbert, Prior of Val St.Pierre, delivering to king Henry the papal letter of May, 1168, in which the Pope exhorted him to reconcile with Thomas Becket, the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury. The latter appeared before the gathering, throwing himself on the king's mercy at first, but later stubbornly insisting on "certain salvos about the dignity of his Church” and the "Honour of God” (Eyton, p.119). The negotiations broke off. King Henry left the meeting angry and king Louis, so far Becket's staunch supporter, became estranged from him for a few days.
Court, Household and Itinerary of King Henry II by Robert William Eyton, 1878. Internet Archive. https://archive.org/details/courthouseholdit00eyto