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Guest Post: The Three Sisters of the Young King by Sharon Bennett Connolly

Today I am delighted to welcome Sharon Bennet Connolly to the blog. Sharon is going to present her new book, Heroines of the Medieval World, and tell us a few words about Henry the Young King's younger sisters, Matilda, Eleanor and Joanna. Over to you, Sharon...

In history we tend to focus on the actions of the men in a family. Well, let’s face it, the life of Henry II and his sons is fascinating, full of love, honour, death and betrayal. Who wouldn’t be drawn into that world? But did you know that the women of the Young King’s family had no less exciting and eventful lives?
With a mother like Eleanor of Aquitaine, you would not expect her daughters to be shrinking violets. And, indeed, they were not. And neither were the girls sent off into the world, never to see their parents again. In what may be a unique occurrence for royal princesses, each of the three daughters of Eleanor and Henry II would get to spend time with their mother later in their lives.
Matilda of England, the elde…

28 February 1155: In Celebration of Henry the Young King's Birthday

On the pages of his Chronicon Geoffrey, prior of Vigeois, described in meticulous detail how young Henry packed as much repentance into his deathbed as he could before he passed away.  Geoffrey left nothing unsaid. The hair shirt, bed of ashes, halter around neck, Bernard, bishop of Agen administering the last rites, and many other men of religion … all was there to ‘draw the readers attention away from the affairs of this world to those of the next’. Of course, Geoffrey, a man of religion himself, must have seen young Henry’s untimely passing as a divine punishment. But there were other voices who disagreed with that of the prior. Thomas de Agnellis, for example, in his sermon claimed that as the Young King’s sad retinue was toiling over the jolly sunbathed hills and dales of Aquitaine, it became the focus for many miracles. The rumors of the late king’s sainthood began to circulate. The monasteries pillaged by him shortly before his death- as it happened some of the most sacred shri…

Thomas Agnellus and De morte et sepultura Henrici regis iunioris

The Young King is dead. "All are overjoyed, all rejoice: the father alone bewails his son". Oh, how wrong Roger of Howden was when he penned this. By "all" he obviously meant Henry II's supporters, but also representatives of the Church who regarded the late king as "second Absalom" and parricide. As we know, however, the young king's untimely passing caused the universal outpouring of grief and his posthumous fame as a prodigal son who returned to his father on his deathbed and died almost a martyr's death triggered off the events that could have led to his canonization. When Henry lay dying in the humble house of a blacksmith in the obscure little town of Martel, Limousin, he couldn't have foreseen that his death, the surrounding events and its aftermath would become a subject of sermons and, in the long run, research and dissertations not only of the acclaimed academic medievalists, but also of a young and promising Polish historians of…