Short Notes On Work In Progress II

Henry/Richard post I am currently working on is getting longer and longer as I often find myself straying from the main subject matter, probing into subthreads found in the primary (and secondary) sources I am working with and finding myself totally immersed in the family history. And it is quite a history, isn't it? Of course, I am staying in Henry and Richard's company all the time, but my attention is being drawn to the aspects of their lives different from the one I am discussing in my post. 

                                                               Gaucelm Faidit

And thus I have come across this quote from Kate Norgate's England under the Angevin Kings (it has struck me that she found Henry such a puzzling figure, she had nothing but condemning words for him, true, but she sounded genuinely perplexed as well, which I find quite "refreshing" :)
"... one of the most puzzling figures in the history of the time ... this undutiful, rebellious son, this corruptor and betrayer of his younger brothers, this weak and faithless ally, was loved and admired by all men when he lived, and lamented by all men after he was gone..."

I am not sure why Norgate used plural when referring to younger "brother(s)". Surely she meant only Richard. I can't quite recall how and when Henry betrayed Geoffrey or John - as for the latter and the question of his inheritance which pushed the Young King to rebellion in 1173 - for only this comes to mind - I do not think we can call Henry's actions taken back then a betrayal against John.

Yet one more time I have stumbled across this worn-out "driven by jealousy of his brother Richard, who held Aquitaine in fact as well as in title, he assumed leadership of the revolt of 1183". Whatever his reasons, jealousy of his brother Richard was not the main of them - it was always the question of Henry's empty title, lack of land to rule over or a castle of his own to hold and live in, dependence on his father, the latter's restrictions and the strategy Henry II employed while dealing with his eldest son and heir, the one described in my previous post.

And finally this really surprising discovery - for I have never heard or read about it before - namely that Geoffrey amused himself and others with poetry - as I am reading in notes to Poems of Bertran de Born (ed. by Paden, Sankovitch, Sablein, 1986) - he has been identified uncertainly as the author of an erotic partimen, with Gaucelm Faidit. I need to ask Geoffrey expert, Mr Malcolm Craig about it, for it does sound intriguing, doesn't it? :)

I hope my Henry/Richard post will be ready for Saturday. Till then, then...

PS My Henry the Young King blog has just reached 120,000 pageviews. Thank you, everyone! This wouldn't be possible without you :)


  1. Congratulations on the 120!!! And thanks for the update :-)

    As for Henry's feelings about Richard, isn't it a bit which came first: chicken-or-egg? Young Henry might have been jealous of his younger brother, yes, but given the situation Henry Sr. had put him in, it's a small wonder!

    In hindsight Henry Sr.'s strategy of "keeping aspirants waiting in hope" - or his execution of it - as you described in your previous post, backfired spectacularly I must say. Not only with the Great Rebellion but the wars that followed between the older Henry and esp. The Young King and Richard. And it seems as if Henry Sr. thought he could use it on everyone, including his less-than-mousy wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who had already been queen once!

    It is speculation of course ... but I have this idea that Henry Sr. giving away some of Henry Jr.'s castles in Normandy (or the castles he expected to inherit, anyway) as a dowry for John (IIRC), alarmed Eleanor as much as it infuriated young Henry. What would Henry Sr. slice away next, perchance, for his political plans - maybe a part of her beloved Aquitaine?

    The scene was probably set for more than *one* clandestine talk between mother and her eldest son about ... the future of the kingdom in those early 1170s! :-)

    "Jealousy" makes it all sound so petty. I think using that word to describe the Young King (or Richard's or anyone else')s decisions to fight each other over inheritance is a little misplaced, a little too modern a view, making one thing of family feuds over who gets the fortune in the bank and who gets the house when grandma has died.

    In the 12th century, I will argue, it was *also* very much a matter of power-politics and securing one's future position, very literally, in an uncertain age where allegiances could shift like the wind. And if you weren't strong enough, had land enough, money enough - of your own - then you could easily end up on the wrong side of being alive, when somebody decided it was his (or her) turn to take over.

    Just a few thought this morning. I'd better get on with doing that webshop now ... :-)

  2. All very pertinent points, Ulrik. I am going to pick up the "jealousy" subject in the post I am working on, for I too find it such a superficial explanation for Henry's motives.

  3. Hi Kasia, I'm not surprised it's taking you so long researching this post. It deserves a book of it's own. It must be difficult to contain the post to relevant research. Or indeed, what is relevant. Norgate's comment is quite a paradox! How could someone so wretched be so well-loved?

    1. Hi Anerje, in my post I am trying to focus on these pivotal moments which might have been the ones resulting in the rift between Henry and Richard that couldn't be mended. Still, there's lots of work to be done.

  4. Congratulations! Looking forward to your new post. :)


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