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Showing posts from May, 2015

26 May 1183: Uzerche and Caen or the Sad End Is Nigh

As we know, in the spring of 1183 Henry the Young King was leading military campaign against his younger brother Richard [later Lionheart] and his father, Henry II, treading the path that was to be his last. On 26 May he was in the town of Uzerche, suffering from - as it may seem - the first bout of illness which was to kill him seventeen days later. He quickly came to himself, though, and joined forces with Hugh of Burgundy and Raymond V of Tolouse, his much-awaited allies. He could not have known that at the same time, far in the north, at Caen, the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops of Bayeux, Evreux, Lisieux, Sees and Rochester, acting on his father’s orders, excommunicated all who “impeded the making of peace between the king and his sons”. All with the exception of the Young King. Although Henry himself avoided the severe punishment, he must have been in a poor mental and physical condition, as we can read in between the lines of Roger of Hoveden's account. 
Abbey chur…

The Battle of Lincoln and Other May Anniversaries

'Lords, your sworn foes have placed themselves behind their walls. That is according to God's plan. This day he gives us great glory. It is a preliminary victory for us that the French, who always have been the first at a tournament, hide from us. Let us do the right, for God wills it' William Marshal, the 1st Earl of Pembroke, to his men at Lincoln (The History of William Marshal in Sidney Painter, p. 216)
On Saturday 20 May 1217, Henry the Young King's one time military tutor and best friend, William Marshal, the regent of England at the time, won a decisive  and almost bloodless victory for the royalist forces at Lincoln during the First Barons' War. The leader of the French/rebel forces, Count Thomas of Perche ( the great-grandson of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and William's own relative), the English knight Reginald Croc and unknown serjeant were the only men who perished in combat, although later the folk of the countryside slaughtered many of the fle…

Musings on the 796th Anniversary of William Marshal's Death

By God’s sword, if all abandoned the king, do you know what I would do? I would carry him on my shoulders step by step, from island to island, from country to country, and I would not fail him not even if it meant begging my bread. (The History of William Marshal in the Platagenet Chronicles, p.323)
Exactly 796 years ago, on 14 May 1219, William Marshal lay dying at his manor house of Caversham. He lived his life to the full, becoming the epitome of chivalry and loyalty. Never in his long and active career had he abandoned or failed the king he served, and he happened to serve five English monarchs - I am not counting King Stephen, to whom he had been handed over as a hostage at the siege of Newbury (1152) and with whom he apparently made friends. He had been with his first overlord, Henry the Young King, till the very end, promising to take his crusader cloak to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the promise he fulfilled; he had been at Chinon with King Henry II, when the latter humilia…

Because of the Impeding Sins of the Son: Henry the Young King Through the Eyes of a Foreigner

From his wife, he [Henry II of England] had four sons and two daughters*, namely King Henry, a most virtuous, generous and handsome youth, who retained for himself any number of virtuous knights from everywhere as household knights. While still living, his father caused him to be crowned as king, which afterwards was turned to his own disadvantage.
Interesting to look at Henry the Young King and his short career as a co-ruler of England through the eyes of a foreigner, isn't it? The foreigner I am going to "employ" is Gilbert of Mons (b. 1140-1150), a cleric, who served at the court of Count Baldwin V of Hainaut, first as a chaplain (1175), then second and first notary (118-1184), only to come into office of chancellor of both Hainaut (1178/80-1195) and Namur (1192-1195). His greatest accomplishment, however, was the chronicle he was the sole author of and which went down in history as Chronicon Hanoniense, the Chronicle of Hainaut. He wrote it shortly after the death of …