Two Important May Anniversaries
Two important anniversaries concerning the Young King these days:
On Sunday, 18 May 1152 Henry’s parents, Eleanor of Aquitaine (1124-1204) and Henry fitz Empress (1133-1189) were married in the cathedral of St Pierre, Poitiers, the match that was to result in forging the greatest empire of the 12th century-Europe. Henry, the eldest son of Geoffrey le Bel of Anjou and Empress Matilda, already the duke of Normandy, heir to England, Anjou and Maine was lucky to win the greatest prize on the then marital market- the former queen of France now free to be wed again. Duke William X’s eldest daughter and heiress, Eleanor, two months earlier was divorced, her first marriage declared null and void on grounds of consanguinity. For fifteen years she had been the consort of Louis VII of
(1120-1180), but apparently displeased her
husband with bearing him only two daughters, Marie (b.1145) and Alix (b.1151). By
marrying Henry fitz Empress just eight weeks after her first marriage was
annulled, she must have shocked entire Europe and angered the other candidates
eager to reach for the richest heiress of Christendom. Theobald of Blois,
second son of Louis’s vassal the count of France Champagne, and Henry’s own brother, Geoffrey
were both planning to kidnap her. Fortunately their plans came to naught and three
years after the Sunday wedding of 1152 our Henry was born, the couple’s second
son, who went down in history as Henry the Young King (J). Eleanor and Henry had eight children, seven
of whom reached maturity. They were: William (b.1153), Henry (b.1155), Matilda
(b.1156), Richard (b.1157), Geoffrey (b.1158), Eleanor (b.1162), Joanna
(b.1165) and John (b.1167).
14th century representation of Henry and Eleanor, via Wikipedia
On 19 May 1218, Henry the Young King’s nephew, Otto, Holy Roman Emperor died, aged 43. Fascinating albeit tragic figure. To learn more about the emperor pay a visit to a brilliant blog run by my friend Gabriele, who kindly agreed to post a link to her text on Otto. Also my favourite author Sharon Kay Penman shared her opinion on the emperor on her wonderful blog. By her kind permission I am including the link as well. Henry the Young King and his nephew could not have seen much of each other, but they probably met during Otto’s stay in
, when he
accompanied his exiled parents. There was one person, however, who Henry and
Otto “had in common”: Gervase of Tilbury (c.1152 - c.1222). In the 1180s he
had been Henry’s chaplain and wrote a work, now considered lost, for him, Liber Facetiarum (“Book of Entertainment”).
Gervase was a fervent admirer of the prince, and, when already in Otto’s
service, he wrote highly laudatory lines in his praise, which he included in
his major work Otia Imperialia,
written, as its title suggests, for the emperor to amuse his leisure hours. This
is how he described Henry the Young King: England
Gracious to all, he was loved by all; amiable to all, he was incapable of making an enemy. He was matchless in warfare, and as he surpassed all others in the grace of his person, so he outstripped them all in valour, cordiality, and the outstanding graciousness of his manner, in his generosity and his true integrity.
by Marion Meade. Pheonix Press Paperback, 2002.. Aquitaine
Historical Dictionary of the British Monarchy by Kenneth J. Panton. Google Books.
Otia Imperialia by Gervase of Tilbury. Fragments in “On the Instruction of a Prince: the Upbringing of Henry, the Young King” by Matthew Strickland in Henry II: New Interpretations. Ed. Christopher Harper-Bill and Nicholas Vincent.
Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2007
Change in Medieval Society: Europe North of the
1050-1500 by Sylvia Lettice Thrupp. Google Books.
A History of Anglo-Latin Literature. 1066-1422 by A.G. Rigg. Google Books.