Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Merry Christmas To All Henry the Young King Readers!

To all Henry the Young King's readers. Greeting! Our blog is taking a break until 6 January, so let me wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (hopefully full of Henry the Young King)! Here you can find my text about where and how Christmas was celebrated at the courts of Henry and his family, and here the one about Henry the Young King December anniversaries over the years. I would like to recommend a brilliant post about how Christmas was celebrated in medieval England by Professor Sarah Peverly here.

Stay warm and safe. Hopefully we won't have to suffer what Henry and his consort, Marguerite were through on the Christmas night of 1172, when "a thunder was heard in Ireland and England and in all of France generally, Sudden and dire, portending something great, new and unusual." It must have been heard by both Henry and Marguerite, who held their Christmas court in Normandy, and by Henry's parents, Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine at Chinon.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Henry the Young King Recommendations

Dear Henry the Young King Readers, His Majesty's loyal servant and scribe has slipped on the icy pavement and had her hands badly bruised, hence the minor delays in writing and posting. Don't worry - she keeps the new posts coming even if only in her head :-). Now she has a request to make: there are a few of her Henry the Young King posts to be read or re-read. Firstly, Charming, Vain, Idle Spendthrift in which she made a heroic try to take a closer look at Henry's character; secondly, as the 7 and 8 December marked the anniversary of Henry's parents' crossing to England to be crowned king and queen on 19 December 1154, her last year's post about the ceremony here and the opening chapter of Ms Elizabeth Chadwick's novel, The Winter Crown, in which Henry the Young King plays a very important role here :-); thirdly, to learn what Henry's contemporaries thought about their young lord, here's her post entitled A Lovely Place of Sin.

Ms. Marsha Lambert is Henry's guardian angel, but also a writer and reviewer. Here's her brilliant post about the authors of historical fiction we all admire and love, Ms Elizabeth Chadwick and Ms Sharon Kay Penman. Our friend and fellow blogger Ms Anerje has written a few fascinating posts about her beloved Piers Gaveston herehere and here - highly recommendable. I would also like to share with you Ms Kathryn Warner's latest post here and Ms Gabriele Campbell's text here. Henry the Young King Blog celebrated its second bloggiversary by hosting our dear friend and gifted writer Ms Joan Battistuzzi. Read a fascinating account of her September trip to England here.

And don't forget about my new blog devoted entirely to Henrys - you can find some interesting stuff here. The emperors, kings, princes, dukes and counts sharing this very special name would be grateful for your kind support :-)

                                               Henri I of France and Anne of Kiev (image: Wikipedia)

Monday, 1 December 2014

November 1181: Three Sons Bearing Witness to the Fruitfulness of Their Mother

On 1 December 1135, Henry the Young King's great-grandfather King Henry I died. You can read about his death here, in one of my previous posts. Now let me share with you a special snippet of Ralph of Diceto's Images of History. Why do I find it so very special, you may wonder. There are a few things that have caught my attention and are well worth discussing here. Over to Ralph...
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.
Firstly and most importantly, the text has a symbolic meaning to bear: it shows 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. Again, as it often happens, when discussing the Angevin-French-Flemish relations, all was a family matter. From Henry the Young King's perspective, in 1181 he was supporting his brother-in-law while opposing his cousin. Philippe was a younger half-brother of Henry the Young King's queen, Marguerite, whereas Philip of Alsace was a son of Sybilla of Anjou, the aunt of Henry II. To make things even more complicated, Marie, the countess of Champagne and sister to both kings, young Henry and Philippe, allied herself with the count of Flanders against her young half-brother.

                                                  Count Philip of Flanders at the siege of Gezer (1177)

When Henry II was sending his three sons to represent him at young Philippe's coronation in 1179, he couln't have forseen that two years later he would be sending them to fight a war for his young French overlord. In 1179, during the coronation ceremony, Henry the Young King carried Philippe’s crown in the procession and supported his head during the coronation. In his Images of History Ralph of Diceto told the story of how the Young Henry, standing close behind his brother-in-law, had bent forward to hold the crown upon the boy’s head, and thus relieved him of its weight. ‘This implied’, Diceto observed, ‘that if ever the French needed help they could safely ask for it from one who had helped at their king’s coronation’. Kate Norgate interpreted this act of kindness as the symbol and harbinger of the later political attitude of Henry’s father towards the boy-king of France - and indeed at the outset Henry II was the chief protector of the young Capetian king, which, considering all his past conflicts with Philippe's father, king Louis VII, I find highly ironic. On the occassion of the coronation, Count Philip of Flanders "claimed the right of bearing the royal sword" in the opening procession as Gilbert of Mons, the chancellor of Baldwin V of Hainaut, observed. Gilbert was well informed because his lord was also present at St Denis on All Saints' Day 1179. Later, at the banquet that followed, Philip of Flanders fulfilled the honoured duties of steward. The role he played during the coronation itself and afterwards harbingered his later highly influencial position at Philippe's court. Let's face it - in the opening phase of the latter's reign, the count of Flanders was the real power behind the French throne. Genrally he was one of the most powerful man in France, his county being, next to Normandy, the kingdom's richest and best-governed principality. The count himself exercised political authority unusual for his day. He could boast, for instance, the earliest chancery among the lay princes of the then France. What's more, in 1164, thanks to the marriage with Henry the Young King's first cousin Elisabeth, he was able, in the name of his wife, to take possession of her county Vermandois with its dependencies, Amiens and Valois, thus advancing dangerously close to Paris and posing a potential threat to its security. Shrewd and often ruthless politician, he easily entangled the young and inexperienced Capetian king in the web of his own intrigues and ambitious schemes, achiving his most striking success in the spring of 1180, when he arranged a marriage between Philippe and his niece, Isabelle of Hainaut. She was the daughter of Philip's sister Marguerite and the afore-mentioned Baldwin of Hainaut. Needless to say, the match provided the count with an influential relative at the French court. The young Capet's close ties with the Flemish faction naturally alienated his mother's family, the house of Champagne and Blois. The situation became so serious that Henry II had to intervene on the Queen Mother's behalf. Foiled by Henry II from manipulating Philippe, the count of Flanders turned to open defiance. As we already know, in the military conflict that ensued in the closing days of November 1181 Philippe was supported by the three eldest sons of Henry II. 

As the events in the narrative show, quite cotradictorily to what mainstream historians say about the Young King, he turned out to be a good military commander. If we are to believe the chronicler's words, he and the young Philippe leading the joint forces "inflicted severe losses on the Duke of Burgundy, the countess of Champagne, sister to both kings, and their accomplices, whose forces they again outnumbered". They forced the count to retreat. At this point we get a precious little nugget of information from the author: "The count feared to meet King Henry, son of the king of England, face to face and shut himself up in the castle of Crepy". What's so special about this one, you may ask. On the outside, nothing. Philip just feared his opponent because the latter outnumbered him, isn't it clear? It was not exactly so: the count feared to meet the young king not only because they were kin, but also because they were close friends and companions on the tournament circuits. I would even risk a statement that there were no other two men in their world, who would understand each other better. They shared passion for tournaments and were both avid patrons and participants, after all. From Philip's perspective it must have been extremely difficult to meet his young relative and friend face to face. Perhaps due to Henry's personal charm and charisma, more formidable weapon than military skills and political acumen sometimes. In my view, it was probably the first time that the old fox came close to blushing.

Lastly, I would like to direct your attention to the title of this post, being a quote from Diceto. I hope - although it was rather not possible- that Queen Eleanor read the words and that they filled her heart with pride. "Three Sons Bearing Witness to the Fruitfulness of Their Mother" - would have meant a lot to her even if Ralph of Diceto had a habit of using similar rather conventional phrase to describe other contemporary queens, who were lucky enough to provide their kingdoms with male heirs. Why would the words mean a lot to her? The answer is simple: when she was the queen of France and wife to Louis VII she was said to be unable to produce a son. During fifteen years of their marriage she gave Louis only two daughters. Giving birth to five sons by her second husband Henry must have been a special triumph of her own. I wonder whether she knew of their joint 1181 campaign - perhaps she received the news later. Let's not forget that at the time she was still her husband's prisoner.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Henry the Young King's N&N: Nephews and Namesakes

On 16 November 1272, after a long and eventful, albeit not very successful reign, Henry the Young King's nephew and namesake, Henry III, the king of England, died aged 65. Just a reminder here: it is Henry the Young King, who should be counted as Henry III. His contemporaries, mainly chroniclers, when writing about him actually used this numeric name. This however did not last. Was it Henry's somehow anomalous position as a co-ruler, who, despite having been crowned twice had no opportunity to rule independently and what's worse, predeceased his father, or just lack of basic mathematical skills shown by later historians? I am afraid we will never know. Anyway, it was Henry's nephew, who was to go down in history as Henry III and the anniversary of his death pushed me into writing this somehow belated post :-)

                     A 13th-century depiction of Henry III's coronation (source: Wikipedia)

All together Henry the Young King had four nephews named "Henry". Each of them, quite obviously, used a different variation of the name dependable on the country he came from*. Henry the Young King met only the first two of his nephews: Henri II, Count of Champagne and Heinrich, Count-Palatine of the Rhine.

The oldest "Henry" was Henri II, Count of Champagne, King of Jerusalem, born in 1166, as the eldest son of Henry's half-sister Marie and her husband Henri I 'the Liberal' Count of Champagne. His father died in 1181 when Henri was fifteen, leaving Henri's mother to excercise the comital office as regent for their son for six years (1181-1187). Henri was bethrothed to Isabelle of Hainaut in 1171, but her father did not keep the word and married her off to Philippe II of France in 1180, which resulted in the family tensions-- Philippe's mother, Adele, was Marie's sister-in-law and opposed the Hainaut marriage. Marie supported her in-laws against the young Philippe, who was under the influence of Philip of Flanders at the time. Henri must have met his uncle, Henry the Young King on various social occasions, such as tournaments or banquets. When he reached maturity and assumed the countship in 1187, his mother decided to retire to Fontaines-les-Nannes, a Fontevrist priory near Meaux, taking with her her second son, eight-year-old Thibaut. The fall of the Holy City, however, made Henri, as many young men at the time, take “the Jerusalem road”. In 1190, before he set off at the head of a large contignent of barons and knights on the Third Crusade, he summoned his barons and knights to Sezanne to swear oaths of fidelity to his twelve-year-old brother Thibaut in the event that he himself did not return from the Holy Land. Upon his departure Marie resumed the office of a regent. She could not have known she would never see her son again, for “... although all the kings and princes returned from there to their own lands, he remained there as if alone, and received through a certain marriage the kingdom of that land, the wealth of which seemed greater than his own regions’(Chronicle of Hainaut, pp.139-40). ‘A certain marriage’ meant Henry’s marriage to Isabella, daughter of King Amaury I of Jerusalem and widow of Conrad of Montferat, whom Henry took as his wife on 5 May 1192, eight days after Conrad's murder. Henry refused the title of king, styling himself ‘lord of the kingdom of Jerusalem’ and to the very end ‘count of Champagne'. He died tragically on 10 September 1197 in a bizarre accident, falling from a window of his palace at Acre. Was it a window or balcony railing that gave way under his weight? The accounts differ when it comes to details. One thing is certain, though: at the time of his death Henry was thirty-one, too young and promising man to die. From his marriage to Isabella he had three daughters: Marguerite, Alice and Philippa. After his death his mother Marie continued as regent for his younger brother Thibaut until she died in March 1198.

Heinrich (1173-1227), Count-palatine of the Rhine, was the eldest son of Henry the Young King's sister Matilda and her husband Heinrich der Lőwe of the Welf dynasty, duke of Saxony and Bavaria. In 1182, a year after his father lost his imperial fiefs as a result of his clash with Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, a nine-year-old Heinrich, together with his elder sister Richenza/Matilda and younger brother Otto [later Otto IV Holy Roman Emperor] accompanied his parents when they went into exile into the lands of Matilda's father, King Henry II of England. Heinrich must have been an eyewitness to the fierce family quarrel that ensued during the Chrismas court of 1182 at Caen and the clash of wills between his uncles, Henry the Young King and Richard, Duke of Aquitaine [later Richard I the Lionheart], the events that led to the war of 1183 and to the Young King's death. Heinrich and his family spent three years in his granfather's domains. In 1185 he was the only child of the ducal couple to return to Saxony with his father - Matilda, Otto and little William (b. in Winchester, England, in 1184) remained behind at the Angevin court. Little wonder that 1190 saw him the key figure alongside his father in Saxony. In February he was sent as his father's representative to his uncle Richard I at La Reole (Gascony) to discuss the Saxon affairs and to ask for the latter's assistance. Similarly when elder Heinrich negotiated agreement with Barbarossa's son and successor Emperor Heinrich VI, he offered his son Heinrich (alongside with his other son Lothar) as hostage.  In 1194 Heinrich married Agnes, the daughter and heiress of the Staufen count-palatine Conrad of the Rhine. A year later both his father and his father-in-law died and Heinrich inherited not only the most important rights and properties in Saxony, including the principal residence of Brunswick, but also became count-palatine of the Rhine. During the subsequent years, however, he focused mainly on securing his Saxon inheritance. In 1198 he might have been elected king and emperor instead of his younger brother Otto, the only emperor of the Welfen dynasty, if he had not been crusading in the Holy Land at the time- he left early in 1197 only to return in the autumn of 1198. After his return he found himself entangled in the civil war that yet again engulfed the German kingdom. Initially he supported his brother Otto and was "always in all matters the better part of the king's council", as was reported in a letter to Pope Innocent III in 1201. In 1202 he agreed to create a lordship for Otto out of his Saxon lands, even acknowledging his younger brother's control over the Welf's chief town of Brunswick (the so-callled Contract of Paderborn). Otto spent most of his youth in the Angevin domains inheriting a small portion of his patrimony, that is why he badly needed the stable territorial foundation for his kingship. Heinrich was ready to provide him with it. 1204, however, saw him switching sides and pledging loyalty to his brother's opponent, the Staufen king, Philip of Swabia, the youngest son of Frederick Barbarossa. As the author of Chronica regia Colonienisis relates, "the unfaithful count-palatine, who was at his brother's side, abandoned him and went over to Philip, corrupted by his money and the promise of the duchy of Saxony". The reason for this defection must have been Heinrich's weakened position in Saxony after the afore-mentioned partition. Arnold of Lübeck, however, gives a little bit different account of what happened. According to him Heinrich was warned by Philip of Swabia that he was to loose the title of the palatine of the Rhine unless he joined the Staufen camp. Heinrich sought compensation if that were to happen and asked Otto to give him back the castles of Brunswick and Lichtenberg. Otto was to refuse flatly, thus pushing the elder brother into defection. Although Heinrich never actively plotted against Otto, he did something shocking by the standards of the day, for few noblemen of the Staufen period sided with another lord against his own brother. Pope Innocent III, at the time Otto's active supporter, wrote to Heinrich, hinting that the latter was even risking excommunication, but Heinrich - as it seemed - did not care. The brothers were reconciled in 1208, after Philip of Swabia's assassination. They were to maintain close ties with one another until Otto's death in 1218. Heinrich died nine years later, having set up his nephew Otto "the Child", the son of his brother William of Winchester, as heir of the entire Welfen domains.

The Brunswick Lion (c. 1166), symbol of the Welf family, the oldest, preserved large sculpture from the Middle Ages north of the Alps and the first large hollow casting of a figure since antiquity. Courtesy of Ms Gabriele Campbell.

Enrique I (1204-1217) the son of Henry the Young King's sister Eleanor/Leonor by her husband Alfonso VIII of Castile, born on 14 April 1204, exactly thirteen days after his maternal grandmother Eleanor of Aquitaine's death. Enrique's parents both died in 1214 when he was eleven yars old, thus still a minor. Leonor outlived her husband by only a few weeks. Before she died she "had comitted both the kingdom and her son and all the legal rights to the kingdom, just as the lord king of blessed memory had comitted them to the same Queen Leonor", to her eldest daughter Berenguela (1180-1246), the former queen of León. Following the Castilian custom Berenguela, herself her father's heiress-presumptive, became Enrique's regent. She held the custody, the 'tutela', of her brother with Archbishop  of Toledo, Rodrigo Jimenez de Rada and Tello, bishop of Palencia, sharing with them the reigns of governement. Immediately upon his accession young Enrique received the homage of the nobles of the realm. Unfortunately, Berenguela's tutelage and regency did not last long. Already in 1215 she was forced to turn the regency of both Enrique and the kingdom to Count Álvaro Núnez de Lara and thus lost all influence at her young brother's court. The loss of power was accompanied by a civil war. As events unfolded, Enrique, a true puppet, was to remain in Count Alvaro's hands until his tragic death. Before it happened, his sister made unsuccessful efforts to inflirtate his court. The count tried to exercise even more control over the boy by arranging his marriage to Portuguese princess Mafalda. The marriage, however, never consummated was soon dissolved by Pope Innocent III on grounds of the couple's consanguinity. Young Enrique died in the late May 1217 in the city of Palencia from a wound to the head. He was fourteen. According to the sources, he and other young boys from his household were playing unsupervised on the roof, when someone threw (or kicked) a loose roof tile and accidentally wounded the king that way. The efforts to keep the boy alive by trepanning proved unsuccessful. He died a few days later. Count Alvaro unsuccessfully tried to supress the word of his death by hiding the body in the tower of Tariego, near Burgos. Berenguela, however, quickly received the news and managed to retrieve the body, which she later took to Las Huelgas to bury it near their parents at the abbey that their father Alfonso founded at the behest of their mother. "She caused to be out there a very nobly adorned coffin, and she buried him there, near her brother Infante Fernando, performing the offices of the holy church thoroughly and very honorably in his burial, with great lament and sorrow and many offerings, all royally and acomplshed with much nobility" (from Primera crónica general). Upon Enrique's death Berenguela's son Fernando (1199-1252) was recognized as king.

The afore-mentioned Henry III (1207-1272), king of England, was the youngest of Henry the Young King's nephews and namesakes. The son of Henry the Young King's brother John (b. 1166) by his second wife Isabelle d'Angoulême, he inherited the throne as a nine-year-old upon his father's death in 1216. England was in a state of civil war at the time. Council of regents was appointed, headed by William Marshal to rule in the name of the child king. In 1216 time seemed to come full circle: it was William Marshal after all who took care of the Young Henry when he became king in 1170, guiding him into manhood. In 1216 he was taking care of his former lord's young nephew, who needed care and guidance as badly as his uncle forty-six years before him. Henry III began to rule in his own right in 1234 and as we all know his reign turned out to be a period of weak government and rebellion. Little wonder, his autocratic apporach, favouring his Provencal wife's relatives over native barons and lack of political and military skill led to the inevitable crisis, and the bloody clash between Henry and his brother-in-law Simon de Montfort. On the other hand Henry was a sensitive and cultured man who left a splendid legacy- Westminster Abbey in the shape we can admire it today.

* I wonder what form of his name Henry the Young King himself used in his lifetime. He was Anglo-Norman-Angevin, after all.


Chronicle of Hainaut by Gilbert of Mons. Translated into English by Laura Napran. The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2005

Historical Dictionary of the British Monarchy by Kenneth J. Panton, Google Books

Berenguela of Castile (1180-1246) and the Political Women in the High Middle Ages by Miriam Shadis, Google Books

The Aristocracy in the County of Champagne 1100-1300 by Theodore Evergates, Google Books

Princely Brothers and Sisters: the Sibling Bond in German Politics 1100-1250  by Jonathan R. Lyon

The Social Politics of Medieval Diplomacy: Anglo-German Relations 1066-1307 by Jospeh Patrick Huffman, Google Books

The Lost Fort Blog (Ms Gabriele Campbell)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Henry the Young King Says Thank You!

7 November marked the second anniversary of our blog. We have survived in the blogosphere. Hooray! Of course this would not be possible without all the wonderful people we have met. I would like to thank my dear husband Piotrek for his love and and unwavering support; Ms Marsha Lambert for being our Guardian Angel; Ms Anerje, Ms Joan BattistuzziMs Gabriele C. and Ms Donna Schleifer for their lovely and thought-provoking comments; Ms Kathryn Warner for her encouragement, kind support and fresh approach to writing about history; Ms Sharon Kay Penman and Ms Elizabeth Chadwick for my renewed interest in Henry and his tempestuous family; Mr Richard Willis for inviting me and Henry to his blog (and my first offiicial post on Henry), his friendly words of advice and our chats about the Angevins; Ms Emilie Laforge, who has become Henry's godmother; Ms Stephanie Ling and Mr Ken John for all the links and recommendations; also Mr David Parr, Ms Maria Grace, Mr David PillingMr Darren Baker, Ms Sonja Koch (our Dear Kleine Dame aus Berlin), Ms Elisabeth Millard, Ms Paula Lofting, Ms Gocho from Strategie Portal, Mr Koby Itzhak, Ms Sarah Butterfield, Ms Teka Lynn, Mr Valentino KrizanićMs Cristina Beans Picón, Ms Kasia II, the champion of Henryk IV Probus and Louis IX of France, Mr Clever Boy and Ms Ellen of Historical RagbagMr Malcolm Craig for being My Friend in the Twelfth-Century History. I hope I have mentioned all the lovely people who have supported us in our efforts to bring the Young King to life. Thank you!

PS Our Liege would be grateful if you could read this article once again plus Ms Sharon Kay Penman's Devil's Brood. Happy reading :-)

Friday, 7 November 2014

Bloggiversary or How Henry the Young King Blog Turned Two...

Today marks the second anniversary of Henry the Young King blog! Long Live the King! Even if he is not counted among England's monarchs. I started to run our household exactly two years ago, on 7 November 2012, posting about Henry at the coronation of his brother-in-law, Philippe Capet [later Auguste]. And here we are- jauntily conquering blogosphere. To celebrate the joyous occasion I have invited our friend, Ms Joan Battistuzzi, who is going to tell us about her stay in England and places related to Henry the Young King and his family. She paid a visit to York, for instance, where the Treaty of Falaise was confirmed on 10 August 1175 in a grand ceremony, with William I of Scotland paying homage to both Henry the Young King and Henry II, and to Westminster Abbey, where the first coronation of Henry the Young King took place on 14 June 1170, officiated by Roger of Pont-l'Eveque, Archbishop of York. 


The Young King subsequently established his household in Winchester, employing William Marshal as tutor-in-arms. Over to you, Joan...

Thank you, Kasia, for inviting me to join you and Henry the Young King at his household, which, I understand, is celebrating a second anniversary!  Congratulations and best wishes for many more years of success. It's a pleasure to be here to share some of my experiences in a recent trip to England with my sisters, Linda and Pat, focussing mainly on young Henry and his family's association with the city of Winchester.

On 27 August 1172, the second coronation of Henry the Young King took place at Winchester Cathedral, along with Marguerite's first crowning. This cathedral would also see the formal crown-wearing ceremony of Richard Lionheart, younger brother of Henry in April 1194. 


The beautiful city of Winchester is where I mostly felt the pull of history associated with Henry the Young King, his family and ancestors. Capital of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Wessex under Alfred the Great, and a major royal City under medieval kings, the layers of past ages are everywhere. 

The Great Hall is the only surviving part of the Royal Castle that Henry, Eleanor, and their children would have known intimately, and even it was rebuilt.....by Henry III (the young King's nephew).  Yet standing in this remarkable place, it was easy enough to conjure up family scenarios on their regular visits to the royal residence.  What those castle walls would have been privy to with that feisty family, dynamic personalities all vying for dominance!  Think of the tête-a-têtes, verbal sparring, with enough of the sarcastic Angevin wit to spice things up!  How many plans were laid & plots hatched right here!  But there would also have been laughter, certainly lots of young Henry's playful humour.  And banquets with dance, song, & poetry.  Sadly, those walls, at Henry senior's command, would also keep Eleanor prisoner for some years.


It wasn't difficult either, to envision family members entering the city onto High Street through Westgate, one of two surviving medieval gateways in the city......Kingsgate the other.  Roman and Saxon in origin, rebuilt in the 12th century, and later modified, this silent, stone witness gives the impression that it still stands guard.


You aren't in Winchester long before other past dramatic events come to mind. I often thought of young Henry's paternal grandmother, Empress Matilda battling the forces of Stephen of Blois for her right to the crown, the Rout of Winchester in the summer of 1141, and Bishop Henry of Blois whose seemingly sole godly act was creating the Winchester Bible. Unfortunately it was closed to public viewing while we were there, disappointing as it would have been the only illuminated manuscript we'd see in England.  Another dramatic event that would change the course of history happened in the nearby New Forest in the year 1100.  The deadly arrow that may have had King William Rufus' name on it before it was released, sent the dead King's younger brother Henry galloping off to Winchester Castle to secure the Kingship & royal treasure.  William Rufus was young Henry's great-grandfather.

Back to Bishop Henry for a minute, there's a possibility he was instrumental, along with some of his considerable wealth, in founding The Hospital of St. Cross, a medieval almshouse not far from the "water meadows", that still shelters elderly gentlemen.  My sisters & I took part in the 900 year old tradition of requesting the Wayfarer's Dole from the porter.......a morsel of bread & small cup of ale is offered for a small donation (we felt generous that day & also enjoyed a great chat with the friendly porter on the coming Scottish election). 

Touring glorious Winchester Cathedral was truly awesome, with the Norman Romanesque architecture of the north and south transepts juxtaposed against the soaring Perpendicular Gothic of the nave, and stained glass windows working their magic everywhere.  Here, Henry the Young King progressed up the nave (albeit somewhat altered) with Marguerite in August 1172, and brother Richard Lionheart celebrated his formal crown-wearing ceremony in April 1194.


With all this splendour going on around and above, I unexpectedly got hooked on the intricate floor tiles, some areas still intact from the 12th century.  Naturally, I had to pause & wonder who all would have trod here.  My sister seemed to be caught up in the same reverie & spotted this rather mystical image.  


I thought I would add a few special photos:

Installation of ceramic poppies for centenary of WWI, one poppy planted for each life lost

My sisters & I met & chatted with my Brit heart throb after great performance by entire cast

......love this shot, looking at the Victoria Tower from the cloisters of Westminster Abbey (now I see symbolism....total fluke)

                                         Jane Austen home in Chawton Village

                            Desk where she wrote some of the novels we cherish today

                         "So England" - Rupert Brooke's English unofficial rose, perchance?

                             2 sisters strolling in Chawton (could be Jane & Cassandra)

Thank you so much, Joan, for accepting our invitation on this very special day and sharing your English memories with Henry's readers. We are both happy and honoured to entertain you here, in Henry the Young King's realm. I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate the joyous occasion.

Ms Joan Battistuzzi is the author of the two brilliant reviews of Ms Sharon Kay Penman's novels, Lionheart (together with Ms Stephanie Ling) and A King's Ransom. Happy reading!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Edward II's Twelfth-Century Ancestry: A Guest Post by Ms Kathryn Warner

I am delighted to welcome Ms Kathryn Warner, who is currently doing a blog tour to promote her book on Edward II and has kindly agreed to be our guest today. Ms Warner's book, Edward II: the Unconventional King has been published by Amberley Publishing. In this post Ms Warner discusses the twelfth-century ancestry of Edward II, his great-great-uncle Henry the Young King included.


Edward II's Twelfth-Century Ancestry

King Edward II was born in Caernarfon, North Wales on 25 April 1284, as the youngest child of Edward I and his first, Spanish wife Eleanor of Castile.  He was at least their fourteenth child, perhaps fifteenth or sixteenth, and the only one of their four sons to reach adulthood; his elder brothers were John (1266-1271), Henry (1268-1274) and Alfonso (1273-1284), the latter named after their uncle Alfonso X of Castile.  Of Edward's numerous older sisters, only five, Eleanor, Joan, Margaret, Mary and Elizabeth, survived childhood.  Edward succeeded his father as king of England when Edward I died, at the age of sixty-eight, on 7 July 1307.

Eleanor of Castile died in November 1290 in her late forties, and only six of her fourteen or more children outlived her.  Edward I remained a widower for nine years, and married Philip IV of France's half-sister Marguerite in September 1299, when he was sixty and she twenty.  Marguerite was the mother of Edward's three youngest children, Edward II's half-siblings, of whom two lived into adulthood: Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk, born in 1300, and Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent, born in 1301, who was the grandfather of Richard II.  Edward II married Isabella of France, Philip IV's daughter, in 1308, and they were the parents of Edward III, born in 1312, and of three younger children, John, Eleanor and Joan.

Edward II was the great-grandson of King John, Henry the Young King's youngest brother, making him Henry's great-great-nephew.  John's first legitimate son and heir, Henry III, was born in October 1207 when John was forty, seven years after he married his queen, Isabel of Angouleme. Henry III in turn married Eleanor of Provence in 1236 and was the father of Edward I, born in 1239.  The future Edward I married Alfonso X of Castile's half-sister Leonor in Burgos, northern Spain, in November 1254, when he was fifteen and she thirteen or almost; they had been married just under thirty years by the time their youngest child Edward II was born.

Edward II was not only the great-grandson of Henry the Young King's brother King John; he was also the great-great-grandson of Henry's sister Eleanor, queen of Castile.  Eleanor was the second daughter of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and married Alfonso VIII, king of Castile.  Eleanor and Alfonso's eldest child was Berenguela or Berengaria, born in 1180 in the lifetime of her uncle Henry the Young King, who married Alfonso IX of Leon and who was briefly queen of Castile in her own right in 1217 before abdicating in favour of her son Fernando III. Fernando was canonised by the Catholic Church in 1671 and is now patron saint of the city of Seville, which he conquered in 1248 after more than 500 years of Muslim rule, and where he died in 1252.  His daughter Leonor or Eleanor, the twelfth of his fifteen children, was Edward II's mother.  Eleanor of Castile was presumably named in honour of her great-grandmother Eleanor of England, and one of her and Edward I's daughters who died young (1276-1278) was named Berengaria after her grandmother.

Another of Edward II's great-great-grandmothers was Alais or Alix of France, daughter of Louis VII and his second wife Constanza of Castile, who was betrothed for many years to Henry the Young King's brother Richard Lionheart and whose sister Marguerite was Henry's wife.  Alais, countess of the Vexin, finally married in August 1195, when she was almost thirty-five; her husband was William or Guillaume IV Talvas, count of Ponthieu, who was many years her junior, only a teenager at the time of their wedding.  Alais and William's only surviving child, Marie, probably born in 1199, inherited Ponthieu from her father. She married Simon de Dammartin, count of Aumale, and had four daughters with him.  The eldest was Joan or Jeanne, born in about 1216 or 1220, who inherited Ponthieu and Aumale from her parents. Joan was betrothed in 1235 to Henry III of England, but this was broken off because of the threats of military action by Blanche of Castile, queen mother and regent of France and Henry the Young King's niece, who was afraid that the English could use Ponthieu as a useful base from which to attack and retake neighbouring Normandy.  Henry III married Eleanor of Provence instead, and in 1237 Joan of Ponthieu married Queen Blanche's nephew Fernando III of Castile. Seventeen years later, Joan's daughter married Henry's son.  Of Joan's five children, only her daughter Eleanor of Castile, queen of England, outlived her, and thus inherited the county of Ponthieu, which passed in turn to Eleanor's only surviving son, Edward II.

Edward II, king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Aquitaine, prince of Wales, earl of Chester and count of Ponthieu, was both the great-great-grandson and the great-great-great-grandson of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, descended from them via both his parents.  One hopes that he knew about these fascinating people and was proud to have them as his ancestors, and also that he had heard of his great-great-uncle Henry the Young King.

You can purchase Ms Warner's biography of Edward II here and here you can visit His Majesty King Edward II at Ms Warner's blog.