Skip to main content

Much Ado About... Coronation

14 June 1170 saw a new king of England crowned at Westminster Abbey with all the pomp and ceremony of a royal coronation. Later the coronation was to be found illegal by many an important personages, but at the time nothing could spoil the day for fifteen-year-old Prince Henry who from now on would be called Henry the Young King to distinguish him from his father, Henry II of England. I wrote about the event itself and the commotion it caused here. Today, let me just remind that Henry (b. 28 February 1155) was not meant to be king. The crown was to go to his elder brother, William (b.17 August 1153). Unfortunately, William became seriously ill and died, aged three, the only child of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, who failed to survive infancy. Upon his untimely passing, Henry, the second in line, became his father’s heir and from 1170 a co-king of England. Pity that only in name. Had his father been more  eager to share power and responsibilty with him, the history might have taken a different course. 

Speaking of which, I was delighted to come across a fascinating interview with Thomas Asbridge, historian and writer, known for both the BBC documentary (I had a small input in) and latest book on Henry's most loyal companion, William Marshal. The Tudor fans must forgive me, but I skipped the interview on Henry VIII and only listened to the one devoted to Henry the Young King. What I heard made me think that if not good, at least better times are coming for England's forgotten king. Find out what makes me think so here. Mr Asbridge mentions Professor Matthew Strickland's articles on Henry and the biography he is currently working on, so I guess he knows what he is talking about :-)


  1. I watched that documentary a few months back. I'll check out the other links.

    1. The interview is really worth listening to :-) At last someone to stand up for Henry not only in books but also in media. I do hope that Mr Asbridge's talk will renew/spark the interest in Henry.

  2. Great post. Shared on fb. xx :)

    1. Enjoyed the article Kasia.
      In Asbridge's The Greatest Knight, Asbridge puts Eleanor of Aquitaine at the Young King's coronation, when William FitzStephen tells us she was in Normandy. The William Marshal biography is packed with errors. However, his work on the Young King in that book is probably its saving grace and an interesting take.

    2. Thank you, Marsha. Much appreciated.

      I am happy to hear you enjoyed it, Elizabeth. Yes, I remember you warned your readers and William admirers against all the errors in the biography. Still I will read it for the sake of the Young King :-) Although, as I suspect, much of what is said in the book has been also said in the interview.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The History of William Marshal on the War of 1183. Part I

The anniversary of Henry the Young King's untimely passing is fast approaching and though I have discussed the surrounding events many times here, on the blog, I have never focused solely on the version introduced by one John, the author of the History of William Marshal. If we are believe to him, this is what happened in the spring of 1183 and these are the roots of the conflict that broke out between the Angevins, the conflict in which brothers stood against each other, and sons stood against father (following the translation by Nigel Bryant):

'(...) the following Lent saw conflict between the three brothers. The Young King and his brother Count Geoffrey, lord of Brittany, angrily left their father, offended and enraged that their brother, the count of Poitiers, with their father's backing, had made so bold as to wage war on the highest nobles of that land and to treat them most unjustly. They'd complained to the Young King and declared that they would sooner serve hi…

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…

A Few Facts About Henry the Young King

Henry the Young King was the only king of England crowned in his father’s lifetime. In this his father, Henry II followed the continental tradition. The Capetian rulers had their heirs crowned during their reign in order to avoid even a momentary interregnum and disorder. Louis VI, for instance, still active monarch, had his son, also Louis, anointed in Rheims cathedral already in 1131. It was not until 1137 that Louis began his independent rule and only upon his father’s death. The same Louis had his only son, Philip crowned in 1179, a year before he himself died. Today I would like to introduce a few facts about Henry the Young King everyone should know.
- Henry (b. 28 February 1155) was not meant to be a king. The crown was to be inherited by his elder brother, William (b.17 August 1153). Unfortunately, at the age of three, William became seriously ill and died, the only child of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, who failed to reach maturity. Upon his untimely passing, Henry, the s…