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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 church of St Peter and St Andrew at Uzerche (photo by Sjwells53, via Wikipedia)

Currently I am working on a longer post about Henry and his brother Geoffrey of Brittany's actions taken in the course of the afore-mentioned 1183 campaign. I am following the two of them into this terra indomita, Aquitaine, analysing their moves, step by step. I hope the post will be ready for the 7th of June, four days before the anniversary of Henry's untimely death. Using the occasion I would like to recommend a fascinating article by Professor John Gillingham, entitled "Events and Opinions: Norman & English Views on Aquitaine" in The World of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Literature and Society in Southern France between the Eleventh and  Thirteenth Centuries ed. by Marcus Bull and Catherine Leglu (The Boydell Press, 2005).  

There is one more recommendation to be made (although this author's posts need no advertising). At the Mortimer Society Conference Ms Elizabeth Chadwick gave a paper she is now sharing on her blog. The complex relationship between William Marshal and Henry's youngest brother King John is discussed in detail in it. Fascinating read. Henry and John's relationship is mentioned as well, so it is really worth reading.


  1. Poor Henry's illness dragged on for some time. Looking forward to your future posts:) Yes, John had a number of illegitimate children - Richard, it seems, also had a couple - I shall await your future posts to let me know if Young Henry or Geoffrey had any. I will check out the post on John and William Marshal - should make for interesting reading!

    1. Richard had one (I mean the one we know about) - Philip of Cognac. As for Henry and Geoffrey - there are no records of their illegitimate children. I have a few theories of my own. One of them says: Henry and Geoffrey, of all Henry and Eleanor's sons were the biggest fans of tournament (Richard preferred waging real wars) so perhaps followers of the "chivalric" code (chivalry itseldf is a later term, but the set of values must have been pretty much the same already in the 12th century). Plus they might have been disgusted at their father's behaviour - Henry II was in his forties when he took the young Ida de Tosney for his mistress and sired William Longespée, so he continued with his out of wedlock habits, whereas his rightful wife, his legitimate sons' mother, was kept in close confinement on his orders. Just speculating :-) As for the young king himself, I have an additional separate theory as well, but will leave it for the future post :-)

  2. Fabulous post, dear Kasia. Looking forward to your detailed account. Shared on fb. Elizabeth's lecture was brilliant. Loved it. xx

    1. Thank you, Marsha! Yes, the lecture was superb. I wish I could be there to listen to Elizabeth in person :-)

  3. Interesting theory Kasia. I look forward to more on the Young King:)

  4. Hmm, now I'm interested in hearing your separate theory on the young king! Will read Ms Chadwick's paper. You always include such interesting & important extras in your posts.

    Thanks Kasia,

  5. Now, that I am thinking about it, I shouldn't have written that Richard "preferred waging real wars", but that he had no choice but to wage them. Let us not forget about his unruly barons, the whole army of Bertrans de Born, as I like to call them :-) They were real troublemakers. On the other hand, Richard's ruling style was "the iron fist" so little wonder they rebelled against him time after time, drawing Henry and Geoffrey to their cause in 1182/83. Not that the latter two were innocent lambs, far from that :-D More in my upcoming post.

  6. I suspect innocent lambs could not even be found in monasteries in those times. At least not if they belonged to a family of birth and power. ;-)


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