Thursday, 26 November 2015

Henry the Young King Recommends...

Dear Henry the Young Kings Readers,

Recently I  have been busy supporting one very special tower and haven't had much time for proper blogging, but I would like to recommend a few books, articles, blogs and blog posts well worth reading.

Firstly, many thanks to my firiend Ulrik Kristiansen for drawing my attention to the doctoral thesis of Elizabeth Jane Anderson of University of Huddersfield entitled Establishing adult masculine identity in the Angevin royal family c.1140-c.1200, which can be downloaded here. I am going to take a closer look at it and use it while working on one of my upcoming posts.

Secondly, a huge request for those who still haven't read Sharon Kay Penman's Devil's Brood and Elizabeth Chadwick's Winter Crown, please do! You are going to meet Henry the Young King in them :-) Just click the titles to get access to the novel extracts. I am looking forward to meet Henry in The Autumn Throne.

I would also be very grateful if you could re-read those of my Henry the Young King posts, which I find most revealing, namely the Warren post (as I get used to call it), the Walter Map one and finally the (hopefully) illuminating one on Henry's career as the tournament patron and champion.

As always, I strongly encourage you to pay frequent visits to the blogs that do not need further introduction: Kathryn Warner's Edward II, Anerje's Piers Gaveston, Gabriele's Lost Fort, but also to Susan Abernethy's The Freelance History Writer, Sharon Bennett Connolly's History... the interesting bits and Gianna Baucero's The Maze.

Dr Helena Schrader does an excellent job Defending the Crusader Kingdoms and I highly recommend each of her first-rate, in-depth posts.

I would also like to encourage you to read and support the new and very promising blog The Medieval Mediterranean. Really interesting stuff there. Let us not forget about Magna Carta and a great blog, being a part of a website run to mark the Charter's 800th anniversary. It provides resources and commentary on the Charter itself but also on King John and his court.

And finally, the post I will always be enormously and especially proud of. Thank you for taking us in, Kathryn :-) 

I am hoping to get back to proper blogging soon. You may expect either a post about one belicose troubadour closely connected with our Liege or the one dealing with one of Henry's younger brothers. I haven't decided yet, but sooner or later both will get my attention. The images I used to "decorate" this post may provide some clues as who the articles are going to be dedicated to :)

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Philippe II of France, "God-given"?

1 November marked the anniversary of the coronation of the young Philippe Capet (b.1165) at Reims Cathedral in the presence of his brother-in-law*, Henry the Young King, who accompanied by his younger brothers, Richard and Geoffrey represented the House of Anjou in the absence of his father, Henry II of England. Here is a detailed account I wrote to commemorate the occasion three years ago as one of the first posts on this blog:

Reims and Lagny-sur-Marne. November 1179

“… William, Archbishop of Rheims, crowned … Philip, the son of his sister Ala who was now in the fifteenth year of his age, and anointed him king at Rheims, in the church there of the Pontifical See, on the day of the feast of All Saints, being assisted in the performance of that office by William, archbishop of Tours and the archbishops of Bourges and Sens, and nearly all the bishops of the kingdom. Henry, the king of England, the son, in the procession from the chamber to the cathedral on the day of the coronation, proceeded him, bearing the golden crown with which the said Philip was to be crowned, in right of the dukedom of Normandy.”

Henry the Young King, aged four and twenty, accompanied by his younger brothers, Richard, duke of Aquitaine and Geoffrey, duke of Brittany represented the House of Anjou at the coronation of his brother-in-law, Philip, later known as Augustus*. On All Saints’ Day, 1179, not yet fifteen-year-old Philip, following Capetian tradition, was anointed and crowned at the cathedral of Reims by the archbishop of Reims, William Whitehands [Guillaume aux Blanches Mains], his uncle. At the time of the ceremony, Philip’s father, Louis VII was yet alive, but “labouring under old age and a paralytic malady” unable to attend. Philip’s mother, Adela of Champagne was also absent, probably tending to her ailing husband...

And here's a great post about Philippe by Mr Richard Willis. Highly recommendable!

Les Rois de France: Philippe II

"Every sobriquet tells a story. Henry I was called “Beauclerc” for his scholarly interests (unusually for someone outside of the clergy, he could read Latin), Charles I was called Charles the Great (Charlemagne, as we know him today) because united much of Western Europe for the first time since the fall of Rome, and Frederick I was known as Barbarossa for his red beard.However, there was one sobriquet that was probably revered above all others. Taken as the honorific of Caius Octavius Thurinus (Caius Iulius Caesar Octavius, or Octavian) on his ascension as princeps (“the first” – he never called himself emperor, though he basically was one), the sobriquet of Augustus, “the revered one” (hence an august elder statesman), has not been conferred upon many other rulers throughout the years.Philippe II, king of the Franks (King of the French from 1190 on), was originally given the sobriquet due to his birth in the month of August. And yet, somewhat curiously, that fact has been forgotten – because Philippe himself accomplished enough to call himself revered. In 43 years on the throne – ruling alone for most of that period – he managed to triple the holdings of the French crown, most of it at the expense of his hated rivals, the Angevin kings of England..."

* Henry was the husband of Philippe's elder half-sister, Marguerite (1157/58-1197)

Monday, 19 October 2015

‘And Death Will Have His Day’: Guest Post by Gillian Polack, Co-Author of The Middle Ages Unlocked

I have been invited by Amberley Publishing to participate in a blog tour for "The Middle Ages Unlocked: A Guide to Life in Medieval England, 1050-1300" by Dr Gillian Polack and Dr Katrin Kania, and today I am delighted and honoured to welcome one of the authors to our Lesser Land. Dr Gillian Polack is going to share her thoughts on how medieval people always kept in mind that "death would have his day" and tried to prepare themselves for his coming. The subject matter of her post is even more relevant in the context of what happened today in medieval history. 19 October marks the death anniversary of the two medieval figures I have taken a lively interest in, namely Henry the Young King's youngest brother, John, king of England (d. 1216) and, moving East, Queen Ryksa Elżbieta of Bohemia (d. 1335), the mother-in-law of Henryk I of Jawor to whom we owe the world's only surviving Lancelot of the Lake wall paintings. Let us find out how they may have prepared themselves to meet their Maker.

"A good death was important to people. This entailed being prepared for death, preferably after a long life. It wasn’t good to die young, violently, or without confessing and receiving absolution for one’s sins. Pain was often considered an essential part of Christian death because it was thought to be the deserved punishment for sins. Having foreknowledge of one’s time of death enabled a person to take the actions necessary for a good death.

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Church had fixed ideal rites for the death of a person. These rites began with confession and penance. Since a dying person was usually not able to do the prescribed penance, someone else was required to do it instead, unless the sick person recovered and then had to do it in person. The sick one was then washed, dressed in clean clothes and brought into church if possible. For the actual death, the person should ideally rest upon straw and ashes. Priests brought the cross, spoke the peace rite and sprinkled blessed water and blessed ashes on the dying. They then spoke a set of prayers, followed by anointment with blessed oil (Extreme Unction). Finally, everybody present recited the Credo and the Lord’s Prayer, followed by communion for the sick (the viaticum). Of course, the ideal rites were not always what really happened. During the High Middle Ages, the cleric performing the Extreme Unction usually demanded the items necessary for the rite as donation: the linen cloth used as bedding, the necessary candles, and so on. Later, the priest might demand money or the best garment or best animal for his services, a practice that must have made Extreme Unction a rite that was disliked or even hated by the public. While Extreme Unction was always administered by a priest, the viaticum was quite frequently given to the dying by a family member in the house. This was allowed because of the common wish of Christians to die with the viaticum host still on the tongue.” Extract from The Middle Ages Unlocked.

In The Middle Ages Unlocked we give a sense of the ideal death, the perfect end to a proper Christian life. This was the dream. Death was terribly important to Christians in the Middle Ages, because it led to Heaven. It also led to less savoury places: it was to be desired and to be feared. An ideal departure, a perfect ending to a good life, helped poeple handle this. William Marshall was famous for having achieved it: many people did not. Some of them died in war, in accident, through illness and there was no time to find a priest, or the priest couldn’t come, or the priest wasn’t speaking to someone in the family because of an argument about chickens. Everyday life intervened in death far more often than war did, or plague, and it was everyday life that coloured most peoples‘ deaths.

We only know about the death of William Marshal because he was famous. We know about the young man who died on the sports‘ field through stabbing himself with his belt knife (which he should not have been wearing) when he tripped and fell. We know about him because he’s written up in a report because his death needed to be investigated. We know about the murders of Jews who dared to give Richard I a coronation present (the cheek!) because it was such a terrible thing and was reported in chronicles. We don’t know about the old man who died unshriven because the priest was angry about his chickens. This is documented only in my imagination.

                           An abbot's grave at Fountains Abbey. Photo courtesy of Dr Gillian Polack

Most deaths in the Middle Ages have either not been documented or the documents have gone missing or been destroyed. Time devours historical documents and between us and the Middle Ages is much time. Most Christian deaths in the Middle Ages may have been perfect deaths, but we really don’t know. We can make intelligent guesses, but we don’t know. We don’t even know exactly how many people lived in a given place, much less how they died.

We know that not everyone wanted a good Christian death. Jews, in particular, did not want good Christian deaths. Jewish beliefs and practices were different to Christian. We talk about this in The Middle Ages Unlocked. It’s important. It’s not just that people had different expectations of death, it’s that they had different expectations of life. There was more than one religion in England during much of the Middle Ages, which means that there was more than one way of thinking about things and doing things.

Jews and Christians talked to each other. We have a great deal of evidence for this. We don’t know what English Jews thought of the Christian perfect death, for time (and destruction) has eaten most of our evidence for this. Like the imaginary chickens of the imaginary priest with the imaginary bad temper, however, it’s wonderful to imagine. 


Dr Gillian Polack is a novelist, editor and medieval historian as well as a lecturer. She has been published in both the academic world and the world of historical fiction. Her most recent novels include Langue[dot]doc 1305 and The Time of the Ghosts (both Satalyte Publishing). Find her webpage at and her tweets under @GillianPolack.

Dr Katrin Kania is a freelance textile archeologist and teacher as well as published academic who writes in both German and English. She specialises in reconstructing historical garments and offering tools, materials and instructions for historical textile techniques. Find her website at and her blog at She also tweets under @katrinkania.

Friday, 16 October 2015

"A Frisky, Gay Elena": Matilda, Duchess of Saxony and Bavaria (1156-1189)

Lady, because of you I am pensive night and day here in Normandy; I dream that you always smile at me in beauty and happiness (from Casutz sui de mal en pena)

Thus wrote the famed bellicose troubadour Bertran de Born after he spent some time in Argentan, Normandy in the fall of 1182, where Henry the Young King's father, Henry II held a great court. Bertran who accompanied his overlord, Henry's younger brother Richard [the future Lionheart] complained that he was nearly killed by the "boredom and vulgarity of Argentan", but "the noble, lovable body and sweet, mild face and good companionship and conversation of the Saxon lady" protected him. Who was "a frisky, gay Elena", the Saxon lady of "such a loving look" that saved Bertran's life?

Matilda, the younger sister of Henry the Young King was born as the eldest daughter of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine in June 1156, fifiteen months after her brother Henry (b. 28 February 1155) and three years after her brother William (b. 17 August 1153). The latter's premature death must have coincided with Matilda's arrival. The girl was named to honour her paternal grandmother, the Empress, and christened by Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury at Holy Trinity Aldgate. Altogether Henry the Young King was to have three younger sisters, but it was Matilda, fifteen months his junior, with whom he spent the greater part of his early years. They were Eleanor and Henry's two eldest survivng children and from a very tender age accompanied their mother on her travels between England and the family continental domains (Matilda's first sea voyage took place when she was but one month old).

Henry II and his children. Matilda is placed between Richard and Geoffrey, but she should be placed between Henry and Richard.

The records made it clear that Matilda spent most of her early childhood with her mother and brothers. She did not see much of her father, who at the early stage of his reign was always busy consolidating power over his vast domains. Frequemt absences from England worried Henry's subjects to the point that the Archbishop of Canterbury felt obliged to remind the king in a letter of his kingdom and his children "from the sight of whom scarce even the hardest-hearted father could any longer withhold his gaze" (John of Salisbury). The letter was written in 1160, so the children were Henry, Matilda, Richard (b. 8 September 1157) and Geoffrey (b. 23 September 1158). As king's eldest daughter Matilda had an important role to play in her father's dynastic politics. In spring 1165, Rainald, archbishop of Cologne met with Henry II and proposed the marriage between her and Heinrich der Löwe [the Lion], Duke of Saxony. Heinrich (born c. 1130), who was the son of Heinrich the Proud and Gertrude, daughter of Emperor Lothar III, represented the Welfs, the greatest German family after the Hohenstaufen emperors. His and Matilda'a union was to be of great political significance and culminate in the alliance between Matilda's youngest brother John and her son Otto IV in the opening years of the 13th century. The agreement was reached and the marriage contract signed near the end of the year. Matilda's marriage portion was set by the covenant. According to feudal custom, one of three occasions, next to the knighting of an eldest son or his own ransom if taken captive on the battlefield, on which a lord could levy a common tax or an aid, or tribute against each of his subjects was the marriage of his eldest daughter. And thus the contracted marriage between Matilda and Duke Heinrich the Lion of Saxony prompted the 1166 survey. Prior to her departure for Germany in fall 1167, Matilda was staying with her mother, who was Henry's regent in Anjou and Maine from May 1165 till March 1166, while Henry was in England waging campaign against the Welsh. He joined his family to celebrate Easter 1166 at Angers. Some time afterwards Eleanor returned to England, taking Matilda with her. They spent much of 1167 - several weeks at Winchester - on preparations for Matilda's marriage.

Coronation of Matilda and her husband in the Gospels of Henry the Lion comissioned by Heinrich in the 1170s and produced in the monastery of Helmarshausen, one of the leading schools of manuscript illumination in Germany. The ducal couple presented it to the church of St Blaise, Brunswick, founded by Heinrich upon his return from the Holy Land (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Matilda, who turned 11 in spring 1167, departed for Saxony late in September the same year. Her mother accompanied her as far as Dover. The princess was escorted by Earls of Arundel and Striguil and many others. She took the same road as her paternal grandmother 50 years before her, when she moved to Germany to marry her first husband, Heinrich V. Matilda was married to the Duke on 1 February 1168. At the time of their wedding he was in his late 30s, so the same age as her father, his first marriage annulled on grounds of consanguinity. What do we know about Heinrich? Rahewin, the co-author of the Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa offers a vivid description of the duke as a ruler of Bavaria (which he received from the Emperor). Most of it sounds like a conventional praise, but also gives us a hint of the man Matilda was married to: 'Learning the character and habits of its men, by his great vigilance and wisdom he soon achieved such fame that, after establishing peace throughout all Bavaria, he became exceedingly dear to the good and a source of great terror to the bad. So, fearing him in his absence as though he were present, no one dared break the laws of peace which he had established upon pain of death.' (p.278) Despite her youth, Matilda often administered her husband's vast lands during his absences, such as his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1172-73. She also played an instrumental role in establishing the cult of St Thomas Becket, her father's one time adversary, in her duchies through patronage and by doing so, demonstrate to the world that her father had recieved the martyr's forgiveness.

Brunswick Cathedral dedicated to St Blaise and St John the Baptist (later also to St Thomas Becket), rebuilt by the ducal couple, consecrated by their eldest son, Heinrich on 29 December (the feast day of St Thomas Becket) 1226.

In 1180 crisis arose between Matilda's husband and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. As a result the former was deprived of his fiefs and sent into exile. The banishment was to last three years and even after this period the duke needed the emperor's approval to return. The ducal couple left Saxony the following year to seek refuge at Henry II's court: 'as the time came near when the duke had to leave his land and kindred, he and his wife , with his sons and daughters, and with the counts and barons and great men of his land, left their land and kindred and came to Normandy, to Henry, king of England, the duchess' father, who received them joyfully' (Roger of Howden. 2, p. 269). Soon afterwards Heinrich's men returned to Saxony, whereas he himself set off on pilgrimage to Compstella, leaving Matilda in her father's care. She was pregnant at the time. Upon Heinrich's return they joined Henry II's 1182 Christmas court at Caen and witnessed the heated argument that arose between Matilda's brothers, Henry and Richard. Apparently Matilda and Heinrich spent the whole of 1183 in the Angevin continental domains, watching with concern as her family was being torn apart by the war between Henry the Young King and Geoffrey of Brittany on one side and Richard and Henry II on the other, the strife which culminated in Henry the Young King's untimely death on 11 June. We can only guess how Henry's passing affected the sister who had spent most of his childhood with. 1184 saw Matilda with child again. Curiously, this son, William, was born in the ancient English capital Winchester and was to become the ancestor of the Hanoverian kings of England. Soon after his arrival his parents received the much awaited news - Henry II's attempts to secure their return to Germany had borne fruit - Frederick, persuaded by the Pope, allowed them to come back, which they did in October 1185, leaving three of their children behind. Richenza, Otto and baby William were to be raised at their grandfather's court. Unfortunately, Heinrich was to be exiled again in 1188. 

Matilda and Heinrich, tomb effigies in Brunswick Cathedral (photo:

Matilda died in June 1189, aged 33, shortly prior to her father's death on 6 July. She was buried in the Brunswick Cathedral. Heinrich was to outilve her for six years. He died on 6 June 1195 and was buried next to her. They had at least six children: Richenza/Matilda (b.1172), Hienrich (b. 1173/74), Lothar (b. 1174/75), Otto (b. 1175/76) and William (b. 1184), but also a few more who did not survive infancy. The eldest daughter, Richenza/Matilda married Count Geoffrey of Perche, by whom she had a son Thomas, who met his death at the Second Battle of Lincoln (20 May 1217), being the only notable casualty of the engagement. Her second husband was Enguerrand III, Lord of Coucy. The eldest son, Heinrich was to become Count Palatine of the Rhine in 1195 and the younger son, Otto the only German king of the Welf dynasty and Holy Roman Emperor in 1209.

Back to Matilda herself, was she really "a frisky, gay Elena" from Bertran's sirventes? There may be a grain of truth in the troubadour's words, especially when it comes to her good looks, but one the other hand, Matilda was the epitome of religiousness and conjugal fidelity - not without reason she was called "die Fromme" [the pious"] by her subjects - so it would be groundless to assume that there might have been any impropriety in her behaviour towards Bertran. Still, we have to admit that the duchess emerging from Bertran's songs sounds far more interesting than "die Fromme" of her subjects.

For further reading and... watching:

I highly recommend this fascinating documentary on Frederick Barbarossa and Heinrich der Löwe.
Interesting posts on medieval Brunswick and Gospels of Henry the Lion here and here.
Interesting post on Matilda here.


The Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa. Translated and annotated with an introduction by Charles Christopher Mierow with the collaboration of Richard Emery. 

The Poems of the Troubadour Bertran de Born edited by William D. Paden, Tilde Sankovitch and Patricia H. Stablein

Eyton, Robert William. Court, Household and Itinerary of King Henry II

Bartlett, Robert. England Under the Norman and Angevin Kings 1075-1225

Keefe, Thomas. Feudal Assessments and the Political Community under Henry II and His Sons

Turner, Ralph. Eleanor of Aquitaine 

PantonKenneth. Historical Dictionary of the British Monarchy

Slocum, Kay. Liturgies in Honour of Thomas Becket

Friday, 11 September 2015

Henry, Richard and Geoffrey: "Three Sons Bearing Witness to The Fruitfulness of Their Mother"

To celebrate the birthdays of Henry the Young King's younger brothers, Richard and Geoffrey, who were born respectively on 8 September 1157 and 23 September 1158, I have prepared something special. With Ms Sharon Kay Penman's kind permission I would like to share one of my favourite scenes from her bestselling novel Devil's Brood, featuring the three Angevin princes. Their mother, Queen Eleanor, the duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, is kept in close confinement by her husband for the part she played in the Great Revolt of 1173-74, King Henry is pondering the annulment of their marriage, their three oldest sons meet to discuss their mother's and their own future. They come as a united band of brothers this time, just as they are to come in 1181 as the allies of the young Philippe Capet against Philip of Flanders. As Ralph Turner points out in his biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine ' fact that stands out is the devotion to Eleanor demonstrated by her sons in their adult lives, and it testifies that their experience of her love was more powerful than their father's fitful affection. Clearly the queen had cemented  solid ties of affection with them at some point, whether during their infancy or adolescence...' (p.145)

The tavern was located in Goldstret in the goldsmiths' quarter, close by St Clement's Church. Richard had been waiting long enough for his simmering impatience to reach boiling point. He was fidgeting restlessly, drumming his fingers on the scarred, wax-splattered table, waving away a serving maid who'd approached to see if he wanted more wine. Finally the door was shoved open and his brothers swaggered in. Geoffrey was accompanied only by a squire, but Hal had his usual entourage of household knights, and they made such a noisy entrance that all heads turned in their direction.
'What took you so long?' Richard demanded as soon as they approached his table. 'I told you by Compline!'
'Blame Sir Bountiful here,' Geoffrey said, pointing his thumb at Hal. 'He had to stop and give alms to every beggar within a half-mile of the castle, even chasing one across the street to press coins upon him.'
'Charity is a virtue.' Hal responded, jostling Geoffrey good-naturedly, 'but then you'd not know much about virtues, would you?'
'Sit down.' Richard said quickly, before Geoffrey could retort in kind. 'We need to talk.' Hal's knights were milling about nearby, and he added, 'Alone', with a pointed glance towards other men.
Hal dismissed them with an airy 'You heard my little brother. Go off and debauch yourselves. I'll pay for your wine, but not for your whores. There you're on your own.' As they grinned and obeyed, he looked around at the other tavern patrons and said, 'Ah, why not? I'll buy drinks for everyone!'
His generosity won him enthusiastic cheers from all but his brothers and the tavern keeper. Richard saw Hal's magnanimous gesture as shameless grandstanding, and Geoffrey laughed out loud at the look of horror on the tavern owner's face. Pulling up a stool to the table, he said, "The poor sot knows he has a better chance of sprouting wings than collecting so much as a farthing.'
'That is not so.' Hal protested. 'I always pay my debts... eventually.' He and Geoffrey both laughed, and looked vexed when Richard waved the serving maid away again.
'I did not ask you here to drink this swill. We need to talk about Fontevrault Abbey. Maman says that-"
'I already know all about it.' Hal interrupted, with a hint of smugness. 'Papa told me last night.'
'Well, no one bothered to enlighten me,' Geoffrey said testily, 'so suppose one of you lets me in on the secret.'
Richard looked around to make sure the other customers had gone back to their drinking and gambling. 'He wants Maman to agree to an annulment and then retire to Fontevrault Abbey - as an abbess.'
'As bribes go, that is not a bad one,' Geoffrey allowed, and Hal grinned, saying that was his thinking, too.
Richard glared at his brothers. 'She does not want to enter a nunnery!'
Hal shrugged. 'Is she sure of that? It is a generous offer, would give her far more influence than she is enjoying these days. Maman could make of it what she wanted. We're not talking about life as a recluse or an anchoress, for pity's sake. She's to be abbess of Fontevrault, and there are queens who might well envy that.'
'Is your hearing faulty? I said she does not want to do it, Hal!'
Hal returned Richard's scowl in full measure, and Geoffrey could see another of their squabbles brewing. Before Hal could respond, he said sharply, 'Enough!'
They looked at him in surprise, and he glanced over his shoulder to see if they'd attracted attention. 'As usual, Hal, you see only what is right in front of your nose. As for you, Richard, even when you're right, you're right for all the wrong reasons. Neither one of you has fully considered the consequences of their annulment.'
Temporarily united in their irritation with Geoffrey, they launched a joint attack, Hal insisting that he understood the situation quite well and Richard wanting to know what he meant by the 'wrong reasons'.
'Keep your voices down,' Geoffrey warned. 'Tell me this. How old is Papa?'
'I do not know,' Richard said snappishly. 'Forty-two?'
'No, forty-three,' Hal corrected, remembering Chinon and his his father's March birthday. 'What of it?'
'To us, that seems as old as God. But he is not. He could easily wed again and have sons with his new queen. Think about it for a moment.'
Hal was already shaking his head. 'He would never disinherit me!'
Richard did not look so sure. 'You truly think we could be put at risk, Geoff?'
'I do not know,' Geoffrey admitted. 'But I am not willing to take that chance. Are you? Look how he has begun to dote upon Johnny, even giving him the earldom of his uncle Rainald. I am just saying that if he had a few more sons, we could become superfluous. At the very least, it would give him a formidable club to hold over our heads. Now if you both have utter faith in his good will, there is no cause for concern. So... do you?'
Niether Hal nor Richard answered him, but words were not needed. They regarded one another in silence, in a rare moment of mutual understanding and total accord.

(Devil's Brood, pp. 315-317)

Read Devil's Brood to learn what followed. Of course it is the author's interpretation of the events that took place in the spring of 1176 at Winchester, but I find it quite convincing :-)

The quote in the title comes from The Images of History by Ralph of Diceto

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

A Few Telling and Thought-Provoking Quotes

Today I would like to share a few Henry the Young King quotes with you. They have given me food for thought and made me wonder what kind of  king Henry would make if given a chance.
From History of William Marshal:
He [Young King Henry] gathered so many worthy men around him that no emperor, king, or count ever had such an expeirenced company, nor would such have been found at any time, for there is no doubt that he had the pick of the bravest young knights in France, Flanders and Champagne. He did not haggle with them, but he acted in such a way that all the worthy men came and joined him.

From The Topography of Ireland by Gerald of Wales:
One thing appeares almost miraculous, namely, that almost all the world attached themselves to a man who was totally without resources, either in money or territory.
In peace and in private life, he was courteous, affable gentle, and amiable, kindly indulgent to those by whom he chanced to be injured, and far more disposed to forgive than to punish the offenders.

Bertran de Born on Henry the Young King and his court in Mon chan fenis ab dol et ab maltraire:
Noble hospitality and giving without fickle heart, and fair conversation and warm welcome, and a great court, well paid and well kept up, presents and gifts of arms and living without doing wrong, eating to the sound of viol and song, with many a companion bold and mighty among the best.
You were indeed the guide and father of youth. And hauberks and swords, and beautiful buckram, helmets and golfalons, doublets, and lappets and joy and love have nobody to maintain them or to bring them back. They will follow you; like all mighty honorable deeds they will disappear with you.
From Chronicle of the War between the English and the Scots by Jordan Fantosme, the spiritual chancellor of the diocese of Winchester and eyewitness to the main events of the Great Revolt of 1173-74:
After this coronation and after this investiture you [Henry II] filched from your son something of his honor/ You took away from him his will, he could not get the mastery of it… A king of land without honor does not know well what to do: the young sovereign did not know it, the gentle and good.
 From The History of William Marshal:
Alas! How chivalry is now dead and buried, how generosity is cast aside! And that is only right, for the leading light which used to guide them on earth is extinguished. Now those who are poor young knights will have to go looking for their daily bread. There will be nobody again prepared to give them horses, arms, and money, as this man gladly gave them.

And here is something for those who find it hard to believe that when the need arose the three eldest sons of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, contrarily to what had been said about them, could be united in supporting a common cause and be formidably efficient in doing so. Such a need arose in 1181 when the young and vulnerable Capetian king, Philippe, was facing a threat imposed on him by his one time mentor, Philip of Alsace, the count of Flanders:

Philip count of Flanders, when he heard how Philip king of France and Henry king of England were so closely associated, raised up as many of the Flemings as he could to fight against his liege lord... having no regard for the tender age of his lord the king and quite unmindful of the assurances he had given to King Louis that he would watch over, protect and guide his son according to what is right, attacked Noyon aith as large force as he could muster. They devastated the area around Senlis, demolishing houses and uprooting vineyards. 
Young King Henry, son of the elder king, Richard duke of Aquitaine and Geoffrey duke of Brittany- three sons bearing witness to the fruitfulness of their mother- were eager to make up for the absence of the king their father by giving proof of their own valour. Planning to oppose with all their might the designs of those wicked men who desired to oppress the innocent young king of France, they gathered a great force from all the land nad came as a united band to his aid. (Ralph of Diceto in Images of History)

Monday, 24 August 2015

August Newsletter

I beg your forgiveness, dear Henry the Young King Readers! I have neglected our Lesser Land lately because of a full-time job I have taken at the court of a certain duke named... not surprisingly "Henry" :-) You can read about him on Kathryn Warner's wonderful blog, where we - the duke and I - were entertained by the lovely Kathryn and HM Edward II. As for our little realm, I promise to return as soon as summer is over. In the meantime, a few texts to recommend:

In the closing days of August 1186, Henry the Young King's younger brother, Geoffrey of Brittany (b. 23 September 1158) met his untimely end while participating in the tournament at Paris. I wrote about it here and here. He went to the French court to plot against his father with Philippe Auguste. As for the latter, we celebrated his birthday on 21 August. Philippe was Henry the Young King's brother-in-law, the younger half-brother of Henry's queen, Marguerite. I wrote about Philippe's coronation and the role Henry the Young King played in it here. On 14 August 1174 the last phase of the Great Revolt of 1173-74 came to an end at Rouen, when Henry II and Louis VII of France came to terms. You can read about the siege of Rouen here. In three days, on 27 August, we will be celebrating the 843rd aqnniversary of Henry's second coronation - here's my last year's Winchester post. And finally, what a treat! The day that we know Henry's exact whereabouts when he was blowing horn at Domfront. Sounds a little bit enigmatic, doesn't it? :-) Let me explain, on 23 August 1169, Henry was at Domfront, hunting with his father, when the papal legates, Gratian and Vivian, arrived in the town. They had come to reconcile Henry II with the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. As William fitz Stephen reported in his biography of Becket, the elder king returned late from hunting and paid a visit to the curial officials at their lodgings. While they were exchanging compliments, the king's son (our Henry) took centre stage arriving with his party, all blowing their horns and bringing the stag they had killed as a present to the envoys. John Guy in his biography of Becket calls it "a carefully staged act of deliberate provocation". The puppeteer who masterminded the scene must have been Henry II, of course, for I doubt that his fourteen-year-old son could come up with the idea like that. The time would show that Henry's father would not hesitate to employ various methods of beguiling the legates into finding in his favour. The stag scene was just the beginning of a cat and mouse game he would play.

Lastly, two texts which made my blood boil, but just for a while :-). The first because it's so full of misconceptions at some points, the second because in fact Henry does not fit in the company he was put in. I left a few comments to the first one.