Skip to main content

Henry III. The Son of Magna Carta

2016 is the 800th anniversary of the accession of Henry the Young King's nephew Henry III to the throne. There has been little written about Henry's life, although the lives and careers of the key figures of his reign such as William Marshal and Simon de Montfort have been discussed many times in numerous publications. Our friend Darren Baker, the author of With All for All: The Life of Simon de Montfort is currently working on a biography of Henry III. Before his book is out, however, we would like to recommend the biography of Henry III by Matthew Lewis.

Matthew Lewis is an author and historian with particular interest in the medieval period. His books include history of the Wars of the Roses, a biography of Richard, 3rd Duke of York and two novels of historical fiction. As we are reading, his biography of Henry offers a look at the period from a different perspective. Sounds interesting. Even more so, when we look at the introduction:

"Henry III became King of England within days of his ninth birthday. His father, King John, had overseen a disastrous period in English history and the boy king inherited a country embroiled in a bitter, entrenched war with itself. With barons inviting a French prince to take the crown, the young Henry was forced to rely on others to maintain his position. As he grew into adulthood, Henry had to manage the transition to a personal rule, wrenching power from men who had held it almost unchecked for years. With a settled position at home, attention could turn to the recovery of lost territory abroad and the salvaging of Henry’s family reputation. All would not go according to plan. Failures abroad led to trouble back in England as restless barons became disillusioned. They found a figurehead in Simon de Montfort, a man who would transform himself from Henry’s favorite to a de facto king. Imprisoned and stripped of his power, Henry would again have to fight for his kingdom, now relying on his immensely capable son. Henry was handed a monarchy in peril, a crown that was cracked and tarnished. He was given 56 years to mend his father's damages. It would spell over half a century of highs and lows in a country crying out for stability; the final measure of Henry’s achievement displayed in the crown that he left to his son, Edward I."
As we all know the general opinion on Henry that prevails is of no achievements at all, so it would be really refreshing to meet the different Henry. The book can be purchased here.



Comments

  1. I'll look out for this book. It's amazing that Henry III had such a long reign but is over-shadowed by others - his father John, his son Edward, as well as William Marshall and Simon de Montfort. I primarily know about his building work at the Tower of London.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Let's see if the site lets me comment today. ;-) I think Henry had the misfortune to sit between the hated but interesting John and the formidable Edward I, with opponents like Montfort, and thus he gets neglected because he seems to be boring. Which I very much doubt, though I admit I'm not as well read about the Plantagenets following Henry II and his wonderfully dysfunctional family. :-)

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

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…

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…

14 June 1170. Henry’s First Coronation

On 14 June 1170, Henry II had his son Henry [since then called the Young King] crowned king of England at Westminster, with Rogerof Pont-l’Eveque, Archbishop of York performing the act instead of the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. Four English bishops assisted at the ceremony. These were Hugh of Durham, Gilbert of London, Jocelyn of Salisbury and Walter of Rochester. The Norman bishops present were Henry of Bayeux and Giles of Evreux. By crowning his eldest surviving son in his own lifetime Henry II followed the continental tradition, which had worked out for French and German kings. The king wanted to avoid future disputes over the succession. The coronation enraged Thomas Becket and renewed the long-lasting dispute over primacy betweenCanterbury andYork. The Archbishop of Canterbury reminded that it was the traditional right of the archbishop ofCanterbury, and not the archbishop ofYork, to perform coronations. In his turn, Archbishop Roger evoked Pope Gregory the Gr…