Tuesday, 26 May 2015

26 May 1183: Uzerche and Caen or the Sad End Is Nigh

As we know, in the spring of 1183 Henry the Young King was leading military campaign against his younger brother Richard [later Lionheart] and his father, Henry II, treading the path that was to be his last. On 26 May he was in the town of Uzerche, suffering from - as it may seem - the first bout of illness which was to kill him seventeen days later. He quickly came to himself, though, and joined forces with Hugh of Burgundy and Raymond V of Tolouse, his much-awaited allies. He could not have known that at the same time, far in the north, at Caen, the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops of Bayeux, Evreux, Lisieux, Sees and Rochester, acting on his father’s orders, excommunicated all who “impeded the making of peace between the king and his sons”. All with the exception of the Young King. Although Henry himself avoided the severe punishment, he must have been in a poor mental and physical condition, as we can read in between the lines of Roger of Hoveden's account. 

Abbey church of St Peter and St Andrew at Uzerche (photo by Sjwells53, via Wikipedia)

Currently I am working on a longer post about Henry and his brother Geoffrey of Brittany's actions taken in the course of the afore-mentioned 1183 campaign. I am following the two of them into this terra indomita, Aquitaine, analysing their moves, step by step. I hope the post will be ready for the 7th of June, four days before the anniversary of Henry's untimely death. Using the occasion I would like to recommend a fascinating article by Professor John Gillingham, entitled "Events and Opinions: Norman & English Views on Aquitaine" in The World of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Literature and Society in Southern France between the Eleventh and  Thirteenth Centuries ed. by Marcus Bull and Catherine Leglu (The Boydell Press, 2005).  

There is one more recommendation to be made (although this author's posts need no advertising). At the Mortimer Society Conference Ms Elizabeth Chadwick gave a paper she is now sharing on her blog. The complex relationship between William Marshal and Henry's youngest brother King John is discussed in detail in it. Fascinating read. Henry and John's relationship is mentioned as well, so it is really worth reading.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Battle of Lincoln and Other May Anniversaries

'Lords, your sworn foes have placed themselves behind their walls. That is according to God's plan. This day he gives us great glory. It is a preliminary victory for us that the French, who always have been the first at a tournament, hide from us. Let us do the right, for God wills it'
William Marshal, the 1st Earl of Pembroke, to his men at Lincoln (The History of William Marshal in Sidney Painter, p. 216)

On Saturday 20 May 1217, Henry the Young King's one time military tutor and best friend, William Marshal, the regent of England at the time, won a decisive  and almost bloodless victory for the royalist forces at Lincoln during the First Barons' War. The leader of the French/rebel forces, Count Thomas of Perche ( the great-grandson of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and William's own relative), the English knight Reginald Croc and unknown serjeant were the only men who perished in combat, although later the folk of the countryside slaughtered many of the fleeing infantry. Credit for injuring Louis of France's cause must be given where due - William knew how to make the most of the errors made by both the French prince and the count of Perche, he took the right decisions and justified the well-deserved reputation as a skilled battle commander and greatest knight. Although well in his sixties, he encouraged his knights and soldiers not only by word, but also by example, leading them fearlessly into battle. I wonder whether when engaged in the fight in the narrow streets of Lincoln he spared a thought for his first overlord, Henry the Young King, and the old good tourneying days - the whole affair was more like a grand tourney than a pitched battle, although, as Richard Brooks points out in his Knight Who Saved England, 'The single most decesive battle in English history, after Hastings, had been won at less cost in human life than many tournaments' (p.19)

                                                 A 13th-century depiction of the Battle of Lincoln

Here are a few more May anniversaries:

4 May 1162: Death Bishop of London, Richard II de Belmeis, who, according to Ralph of Diceto, baptised the Young King in March 1155. This, however, needs a separate post, for when Henry's christening is concerned, we have two candidates, the other one being Archbishop of Canterbury, Theobald of Bec.

8/9 May 1175: '
The two kings of England, whom the previous year the kingdom had not been big enough to contain, came together and crossed to England in a single boat on 9 May. They ate together at the normal meal times on the same table, and rested their limbs in the same bedroom...' (Ralph of Diceto in The Plantagenet Chronicles, p. 140). Henry the Young King, his father and Queen Marguerite embarked at Barfleur and landed at Portsmouth, after the father and the son were reconciled on 1 April and the younger king paid homage to the older one at Bur-le-Roi in the aftermath of the Great Revolt of 1173-74.

c. 12 May 1172: shortly after Henry II's return from Ireland, Henry the Young King, who was staying in England with his queen during his father's absence, accompanied the latter one to Portsmouth where they embarked and landed at Barfleur. By 17 May they were at Savigny, where Henry II was meeting the papal legates, Theodine and Albert, who had been sent to negotiate his absolution for Becket's murder. Because they could not come to terms, the king, and probably his son with him, left Savigny. Henry II later agreed to the legates' demands and invited them to Avranches. The Young King must have accompanied him all the time.

12 May 1191: Henry the Young King's younger brother Richard I (b. 1157) married Berengaria of Navarre (b. c.1170) in the chapel of St George at Limassol, Cyprus. Then the bride was crowned queen by John, Bishop of Evreux. Contrary to the prevailing opinion about their marriage, when Berengaria arrived in Sicily earlier in the year (at the end of March), the feeling in the crusaders' camp was that Richard loved her. If we are to believe a Norman minstrel Ambroise, who next to Roger of Hoveden was the chronicler of the Third Crusade, 'The King did love her and revere/ Since he was Count of Poitiers/ His wish had wished for her alway' (
Estoire de la Guerre Sainte in J. Gillingham Richard the Lionheart). Of course it was a very useful diplomatic marriage in the first place, for thanks to it Richard had the southern frontier of his domains secured when he was away. Plus it left his seneschals in Aquitaine with Berengaria's father as an ally, upon whom they could turn to for support should there be a rebellion during their lord's absence. 

14 May 1219: William Marshal (born c. 1147), Henry the Young King's former  head of household best friend, and loyal servant of Henry's family, died at his manor house at Caversham. More about his last days here.

18 May 1152: 
Eleanor of Aquitaine (b.1124) and Henry fitz Empress (b.1133), the future parents of  Henry the Young King, were married in the cathedral of St Pierre, Poitiers, with the match that was to result in forging the greatest empire of the 12th century-Europe. 

18 May 1175: The Council/Synod of Westminster was convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury with Henry II and Henry the Young King presiding, after the two kings returned to England "in a single boat" first time since the collapse of the Great Revolt of 1173-74.

19 May 1218: Henry the Young King's nephew, the son of Henry's sister Matilda by Henry the Lion of Saxony and Bavaria, Holy Roman Emperor Otto, died aged 43. Otto was not only one of the nephews Henry had the occasion to meet, but, he and his uncle shared the same men as chaplain - after Henry's untimely death in 1183, Gervase of Tilbury, for he was the men, joined the household of Otto, for whom he wrote his famous 
Otia Imperialia, in which we can find the lines about Henry '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'. 

21 May 1172: Council of Avranches (known as the Compromise of Avranches). Henry II was absolved from the murder of Thomas Becket and restored to the bosom of the Church after he released the bishops from their oath of the Constitutions of Clarendon and swore he "would abolish all the unlawful customs established during his reign". Henry the Young King swore after his father.

23 May 1183: during Henry and Geoffrey of Brittany's war against Richard (and their father) together with his knights and mercenaries, the young king seized control of his brother Richard’s castle at Aixe, hollow victory since the Duke and his soldiers had already abandoned the keep. Three days later, on

26 May 1183: during the afore-mentioned war, at Caen, the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops of Bayeux, Evreux, Lisieux, Sees and Rochester, acting on Henry II’s orders, excommunicated all who “impeded the making of peace between the king and his sons”. All with the exception of the Young King. Henry could not have known that. He was in the town of Uzerche, suffering from- as it may seem- the first bout of illness which was to kill him seventeen days later. He quickly came to himself, though, and joined forces with Hugh of Burgundy and Raymond V of Tolouse, his much-awaited allies.

27 May 1199: Henry the Young King's youngest brother John ascended the throne and was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey by Hubert Walter.

28 May 1159: one Geoffrey entered the monastery of St Martial at Limoges. He later became the prior and went down in history as Geoffrey of Vigeois, the author of the chronicle in which he described in detail the last days of Henry the Young King

28 May 1175: After they were reconciled Henry and his father prayed together at Canterbury, where '
the egregious martyr Thomas entertained them both equally on their pilgrimage (...) He entertained them in the same way, except that the elder king stayed up on all-night vigils, with prayer, fasting and scourhing lasting into the third day' (Ralph of Diceto in The Plantagenet Chronicles, p.140). Here I would like to recommend an interesting article by T.K. Keefe entitled 'Shrine Time: King Henry II's Visits to Thomas Becket's tomb' (in Haskins society Journal 11 (1998)), where the afore-mentioned piligrimage is described in detail.

31 May 1170: Henry the Young King's brother Richard was invested Duke of Aquitaine by Bertram, Archbishop of Bordeaux and John, Bishop of Poitiers, in the Church of St Hilary at Poitiers.


Ralph of Diceto. Images of History. In The Plantagenet Chronicles, ed. Dr.Elizabeth Hallam, Greenwich Editions, 2002.

Court, Household and Itinerary of King Henry II by Robert William Eyton, 1878. Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/courthouseholdit00eyto

Strong, Roy. Coronation. From the 8th to the 21st Century. Harper Perennial, 2005.

Gillingham, John. Richard the Lionheart. Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 1989.

“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, 2007.

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

Brooks, Richard. The Knight Who Saved England. William Marshal and the French Invasion, 1217. Osprey Publishing, 2014.

Painter, Sidney. William Marshal. Knight-Errant, Baron, and Regent of England. University of Toronto Press, 1982.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Musings on the 796th Anniversary of William Marshal's Death

By God’s sword, if all abandoned the king, do you know what I would do? I would carry him on my shoulders step by step, from island to island, from country to country, and I would not fail him not even if it meant begging my bread. (The History of William Marshal in the Platagenet Chronicles, p.323) 

Exactly 796 years ago, on 14 May 1219, William Marshal lay dying at his manor house of Caversham. He lived his life to the full, becoming the epitome of chivalry and loyalty. Never in his long and active career had he abandoned or failed the king he served, and he happened to serve five English monarchs - I am not counting King Stephen, to whom he had been handed over as a hostage at the siege of Newbury (1152) and with whom he apparently made friends. He had been with his first overlord, Henry the Young King, till the very end, promising to take his crusader cloak to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the promise he fulfilled; he had been at Chinon with King Henry II, when the latter humiliated and abandoned by all breathed his last breath; he had faithfully served King Richard I, who, among other honours, appointed him a member of a council of regency upon his departure for the Holy Land and who, already on his death-bed, designated him the custodian of the royal treasure; and William, as one of few, did not abandon the “bad” King John and the latter’s minor son in their greatest need - during the First Barons’ War and in the first years of Henry III's reign, serving as regent for the young king.

13th-century depiction by Matthew Paris of the Earl of Pembroke's coat of arms (source: Wikipedia)

I am not going to write about William's epic life with all its twists and turns, this I leave to the experts. Ms Elizabeth Chadwick not only made William proud in her two novels, The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion, but also wrote about him many times on her blogHere is one of her posts. And here is the latest one about his last days. May them be the tribute to this remarkable man. 

As far as I am concerned, I just want to share my favourite excerpt of the History of William Marshal, the poem on an epic scale commissioned by William's eldest son and namesake to celebrate his late father’s epic life. We meet the Marshal in his late sixties in it, still vigorous and full of energy, fighting at the Battle of Lincoln (1217) as if he had been a young knight again.
Just a note: even on his death bed, William first and foremost thought about his household knights. On 13 May, the day before he died, when asked what to do with the rich robes which lay in his wardrobe, the Earl, ignoring his clerk Philip’s suggestion, would have them distributed to them rather than handed over to the Church. “Pentecost is at hand, and my knights ought to have their new robes. This will be the last time that I will supply them, yet you seek to prevent me from doing it” (from The History, in Painter, p.287-88).

Here are the lines that always bring a smile to my face-

Ride on!” the Marshal then said
to all his men“for you will see them
beaten in a short while.
Shame be upon the head of him who waits longer!”
The bishop said to him: “My dear lord,
listen a while to what I wish to say to you.
Wait in there for your men,
for it will be a finer and more proper thing,
and far safer, I think,
if we all rode there as a body.
That is what is fitting, I believe,
and, at the same time, our enemies will have greater fear of us
when they see us all together;
our arrival will cost them dearly.”
The truth is that the Marshal
had no inclination to accept these words of advice.
Instead, more swiftly than a merlin could fly,
he spurred on his horse,
and all those in his company
were emboldened by what they saw him do.
A young lad then said to him:
In God’s name, my dear lord, wait for us;
you haven’t got your helmet on.”

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Because of the Impeding Sins of the Son: Henry the Young King Through the Eyes of a Foreigner

From his wife, he [Henry II of England] had four sons and two daughters, namely King Henry, a most virtuous, generous and handsome youth, who retained for himself any number of virtuous knights from everywhere as household knights. While still living, his father caused him to be crowned as king, which afterwards was turned to his own disadvantage.

Interesting to look at Henry the Young King and his short career as a co-ruler of England through the eyes of a foreigner, isn't it? The foreigner I am going to "employ" is Gilbert of Mons (b. 1140-1150), a cleric, who served at the court of Count Baldwin V of Hainaut, first as a chaplain (1175), then second and first notary (118-1184), only to come into office of chancellor of both Hainaut (1178/80-1195) and Namur (1192-1195). His greatest accomplishment, however, was the chronicle he was the sole author of and which went down in history as Chronicon Hanoniense, the Chronicle of Hainaut. He wrote it shortly after the death of his patron, Count Baldwin V in 1195, which also marked the end of his court career, probably because Baldwin's son and successor, Baldwin VI, preferred his own ministers. Judging from the events and historical figures Gilbert mentioned, he must have completed it between 1195 and 1196, for there are no references to the events after 1196. The death of Emperor Henry VI in 1197, for instance, is not mentioned, nor is John ever styled King of England. Still the chronicle is invaluable source of information not only about the houses of Hainaut and Flanders, but also about the counts of Champagne, Vermandois, dukes of Louvain, etc., not to mention the royal families of France and England. Just to give you a foretaste of what you may expect if you decide to take a closer look at Gilbert's work:

Therefore, having reasonable advice, he [Baldwin V] even proposed to ask the count of Flanders, as he had always served him in all matters with many men and great expenses. Taking with him outstanding and virtuous men, Eustace the Elder of Roeulx and his son Eustace, Nicholas of Barbencon, Otto of Trayegnies, Wlater of Wargnies, Amand of Prouvz, Regnier of Trith, Hugh of Croix, Baldwin castellan of Mons, Goswin of Thulin, John Cornutus, Baldwin of Walincourt, William of Haussy and many others, he came to the count at Arras. He found him there with many Flemish and Vermandois knights on the Sunday before the feast of St Peter on the third day. The Count of Flanders presented an extremely troubled face, with everyone sitting silently because their count was disturbed. The count of Hainaut called upon the count of Flanders as his ally and sworn man [the two were brothers-in-law] to help him against the duker of Louvain because of his honour and to retain his inheritance. the count of Flanders looked for excuses... (p. 91-92)

Gilbert's accounts are always like the one presented above, especially when he describes "domestic" affairs, meaning Hainaut and Flanders. Having been an eyewitness to the events he mentions, he always provides details in great abundance, just like in the snippet above. The names of Baldwin's knights, Philip of Flanders's troubled face, his men sitting in silence, etc., all these stand as testimony to Gilbert's reliability. When it comes to foreign affairs, however, he sometimes gets the dates mixed. Let us not forget that the Hainaut's connections to the ruling house of England, its court and politics, went mainly through Philip, the count of Flanders, whose mother Sybille was the sister of Geoffrey le Bel of Anjou and thus aunt of Henry II of England. As for Eleanor of Aquitaine, there was a connection as well, Philip's younger sister Marguerite was the wife of Eleanor's nephew, the young Count Raoul II the Leper of Vermandois (d. 1167), before she married Baldwin V.

But to the point, in his Chronicle Gilbert mentiones the Young King a few times. The lines I have opened this post with are the first in which Henry's name appears. Curiously enough, when reading about Henry and his younger brother Richard [the future Richard I Lionheart] as they stand together in the introduction of Henry II and Eleanor's family, we are offered a rare glimpse of the differences in their personalities. Thus we get 'King Henry, a most virtuous, generous and handsome youth, who retained for himself any number of virtuous knights from everywhere as household knights ...' vs. 'Richard, a most fierce knight, to whom his father (while still living) gave the duchy of Aquitaine for his possession. Accordingly Richard was called the count of Poitiers'.

We know that Gilbert wrote twelve years after Henry's untimely death, so with the benefit of hindsight, still it is interesting to take a glimpse of how Henry II - Henry the Young King relations were percieved by those representing the outer world. The first passages about Henry are fair enough, Gilbert succeeds in staying impartial. He neither condemns the son nor favours the father, stating simply that the coronation of the prince was Henry II's mistake. He does not dwell on the young king's transgressions as the other chroniclers tend to do. Next time he mentions Henry, however, and it is on the occassion of Baldiwn V's homage to the young king's father paid in 1172, he spins the well known and often retold moral tale, which - if we take pains to investigate the real state of affairs - turns out to be far from true.

In those days, this same King Henry of England (...) embraced his sons with great esteem and raised them to their own properties with all honour and placed them in charge by themselves. For he put aside the royal crown and caused his son Henry to be crowned, a most virtuous knight, most generous in faultless gifts, who attrected to his company whatever virtuous kinghts he could form any lands, and had as wife the daughter of King Louis of France. Of the entire land, King Henry II retained for himself the fruits and profits belonging to that kingdom, and kept for himself the administration of his son the new king. Afterwards his son was not averse to rising up against his father, with the help of King Louis of France, wishing to drive his father from the kingdom. He had no success against his father, by his own efforts or those of his helpers, not because of the pressing merits of the father, but because of the impeding sins of the son... (pp.63-64)

We know that Henry II neither "put aside" the crown nor raised all his sons to their own properties - Roger of Hoveden makes it clear how many times the Young King asked his father for a piece of land or a castle where he could settle and live with his wife, each time to no avail. When describing the circumstances of Henry's death., Gilbert makes amends - not intentionally but he does - stating openly that Henry waged war on Richard because "he possessed nothing by inheritance from his father or mother, and his brother Richard possessed the entire land of their mother...", thus Henry wanted Aquitaine for himself.

As for the Great Revolt of 1173-74, Henry's role is summarised in one sentence- 'In the year of 1173 following the Lord's incarnation, Henry the aforesaid young king of England made war and serious hostility against his father with the help of King Louis of France' (p.65)Gilbert's prime focus is on Philip of Flanders and the role he played, but when it comes to Baldwin V of Hainaut and why he did not hasten to Henry II's aid "from whom he had ten marks annually in fief", he offers something that can be taken as an excuse, noting that because the count "was not in any way obligated in homage or affection to the king of France", he wanted to cross in secret through the lands of Philip of Flanders, his brother-in-law, to join Henry's forces. According to Gilbert, Baldwin actually set off at the head of his troops, leaving the reins of government to his Countess, but was surprised and "challenged by an ambush" by some Flemings, one Hellin of Wavrin and others.

As for the war of 1181, between Philippe Auguste of France and Philip of Flanders, we are offered detailed account, mainly and not surprisingly from the Hainaut/Flanders perspective. We learn that 'by the Devil's incitement, huge disagreement arose between Count Philip of Flanders and Vermandois, and his lord King Philip of France' and that, as Gilbert put it, "each was confident in his fierceness and very great power, and hurried to engage in war". Henry II of England sent his three oldest sons at the head of their troops to support the young king of France. This military campaign is described in detail not only by Gilbert but also by Ralph of Diceto in his Images of History. Here's my post about Ralph's version of events, in which he mentions Henry the Young King a few times. In Gilbert' s Chronicle Henry's role and involovement in the struggle is reduced to one sentence - 'The lord king Philip of France, who had Henry the young king of England with 600 knights with him, rushed to battle against the count of Flanders' (p.78). I wish that in Gilbert's words we could find a confirmation of Ralph's version, namely that "The count [Philip of Flanders] feared to meet King Henry, son of the king of England, face to face and shut himself up in the castle of Crepy". Even if Gilbert says nothing about it, I still find it highly probable. From Philip's perspective it must have been extremely difficult to meet Henry face to face and not only because they were kin, but also because they were friends and companions from the tournaments circuits. I would risk a statement that there were no other two men in their world, who would understand each as they did.

Lastly, a few words about Henry's death, an interesting bit about Richard included - not every chronicler states openly that the future Lionheart was not a favourite in his lifetime (certainly not in 1183) - to the contrary, the disgruntled barons of Aquitaine had much to say about it, and, judging by the snippet I am to give, not only them. It seems that Richard earned a bad reputation also "abroad".

Although the young king had taken many castles and good towns from his brother, and had attracted many powerful men to his side (because Richard was loved by few), yet that young king was surprised by an illness, and deprted from the world in the borough which is called Martel. (p. 84)

To sum up, Gilbert of Mons certainly offers many interesting bits of information about his contemporaries, the royal House of Anjou included. I daresay that his foreignness is to our - I mean Henry the Young King and his family fans - great advantage. I hope I have succeeded in making this post and its content as fascinating to Henry the Young King readers as I myself have found it.


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

Ralph of Diceto. Images of History. In The Plantagenet Chronicles, ed. Dr.Elizabeth Hallam, Greenwich Editions, 2002.

Monday, 20 April 2015

19 April 1164: Consecration of Reading Abbey

19 April 1164: as Professor Matthew Strickland points out in his "On the Instruction of  a Prince", in all probability the nine-year-old Henry [the future Young King] was present at the consecration of Reading Abbey, which housed the "glorious mausoleum” of its founder, Henry's paternal great-grandfather, Henry I (Herbert of Bosham). Most importantly for the prince it was where his elder brother William (1153-1156) was buried at the feet of Henry I. The consecration ceremony was performed by the Archbishop Thomas Becket in the presence of Henry's father and the bishops and nobles of the realm. Nineteen years later, c. 17 April 1183,  Henry, desperately in need of money to pay off his mercenaries in the war he was waging against his brother Richard, was to plunder the shrine of Saint Martial, Limoges. Thanks to Bernard Itier (1163-1225), the librerian of the monastery and author of a chronicle and invaluable historical notes, we know that the Young King and his men " took from our treasury 52 marks of gold, 103 of silver, the altar frontal of gold from the altar of the sepulchre, the altar frontal of gold from the altar of the Holy Saviour, a golden chalice, a vase of silver, the cross from the altar of St Peter with half of the coffer in which it was kept, the reliquary of St Austriclianian, the cross of Bernard the hosteler."  

Bernard added that "The king, however, solemnly promsied that he would return it all and gave a charter, validated by his seal  Moreover, the value of the goldsmith's artistry and of the gold that was used in the gilding of the silver was not computed. " After paying for his men Henry went to assist Aimar Taillafer of Angouleme, one of his allies. We know that On 23 May, together with his knights and mercenaries, he seized control of Richard’s castle at Aixe, hollow victory since the Duke and his soldiers had already abandoned the keep. Three days later, on 26 May in Caen, the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops of Bayeux, Evreux, Lisieux, Sees and Rochester, acting on Henry II’s orders, excommunicated all who “impeded the making of peace between the king and his sons”. All with the exception of the Young King. Henry could not have known that. He was in the town of Uzerche, suffering from- as it may seem- the first bout of illness which was to kill him seventeen days later. Over to Bernard Itier again: "on the feast of St Barnabas the Apostle, the king died at Martel on Saturday of the great week of Pentecost.  In fact, it was the tenth hour when his departure, that is his death, approached.   From his heart, he implored the mercy of God. He prayed for the aid of the Virgin Mary and of all the saints. He humbly begged St Martial of the Apostle, above others--because of the affront to whom he was being mortally afflicted--to come to his aid, and thus he sent forth his soul."

A few words about Bernard Itier and his chronicle here.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

11 April 1182: Family Reunion Between Senlis and Crépy

On 11 April 1182 a meeting was arranged at La Grange St Arnoult between Senlis and Crépy to discuss and confirm Vermandois inheritance after its rightful heiress, Henry the Young King's cousin Elisabeth of Vermandois died childless on 26 March. The present were: Elisabeth's husband Count Philip of Flanders, Elisabeth's younger sister Eleanor of Beaumont-sur-Oise, Henry II of England, Henry the Young King, Philippe II Auguste, Countess Marie of Troyes [Champagne], Count Baudoin V of Hainaut, Duke Hugh III of Burgundy, Thibaut of Blois, archbishop Guillaume of Reims, Count Etienne of Sancerre, Count Raoul of Clermont, Count Raoul of Coucy, Henry of Albano, the papal legate and many others (nobles and bishops).  It was a rare occasion when we can be one hundred per cent certain where the Young King spent his time. Plus it was a real family reunion. Henry met his half-sister Marie, his cousin Eleanor, his brothers-in-law, Philippe Auguste and Thibaut of Blois. Henry II met his cousin Philip of Flanders. Marie of Champagne met his two half-brothers, Henry the Young King and Philippe Auguste, and her three brothers-in-law, Thibaut of Blois, Etienne of Sancerre and Guillaume of Reims. Philippe Auguste met his uncles, Count Thibaut, Count Etienne and Archbishop Guillaume, plus his father-in-law, Count Baudoin

I am sure that Henry the Young King did not realize that the day prior to the above-mentioned conference, being the 10th of April, marked the 27th anniversary of another assembly. On 10 April 1155 took place, what can be called, the first official meeting between Henry [the future Young King] and the barons and nobles of the realm.  On that day, Henry's father, freshly crowned king Henry II had both his sons, William (b.17 August 1153) and Henry (28 February 1155) taken to Wallingford, where he called  together the nobles so that they could swear allegiance to William and, in case of his death, to his younger brother Henry. As we all know William died the following year, a few months shy of his third birthday. As for the place itself, Wallingford had a symbolic meaning for the young Angevin dynasty, during the civil war [Anarchy] being a critical castle for them. Not only had it been held by Brian FitzCount, one of the staunchest supporters of Empress Matilda, but, what's most important, it was there where in November 1153, King Stephen (c1096-1154) downhearted after the deaths of his wife, Matilda of Boulogne (d.1152) and his eldest son, Eustace (d.1153) had renounced his lineage's claim to the English crown, agreed to retain the throne until his death and recognized Henry Fitz Empress as his heir.

Three charters were issued at Wallingfiord. These were: charter to Glastonbury abbey attested by Henry II's uncle, Reginald, Earl of Cornwall; charter to Norton Priory (Cheshire), attested by Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard bishop of London; Jocelin bishop of Salisbury and Reginald Earl of Cornwall; and charter to the abbey of St Edmundsbury, attested by Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard bishop of London; Jocelin bishop of Salisbury, Thomas the Chancellor [Thomas Becket], Reginald, Earl of Cornwall, constable Richard de Humetis, chamberlain Warin fitz Gerold, Manasser Biset, Dapifer and William fitz Hamo. After the council, Henry II proceeded to supress the rebellion of Hugh the Mortimer.

Also on the 10th of April, in 1179, Henry's father held a great council at Windsor, where "the establishment of the circuit for the justices in eyre was done by the magnates' common counsel 'and in the presence of the king, his son'.


Robert William Eyton, Court, Household and Itinerary of King Henry II , 1878. Internet Archive.

Matthew Strickland, “On the Instruction of a Prince: the Upbringing of Henry, the Young King”, Henry II: New Interpretations. Ed. Christopher Harper-Bill and Nicholas Vincent. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2007

 John W. Baldwin,  The Government of Philip Augustus, University of California Press, 1991

Elisabeth van Houts, "The Warenne View of the Past", Anglo-Norman Studies XXVI ed. by John Gillingham, Google Books

Friday, 27 March 2015

Henry the Young King and Easter Celebrations

Happy Easter to all Henry the Young King readers! Our blog is taking a break till around 10 April. I hope we will be back by then with a brand new post. Before we say "Goodbye!", let me mention a few of Henry's Easters:

24 March 1174: Great Revolt of 1173-74. Henry was probably at the court of his father-in-law, Louis VII of France (1120-1180). In January, Henry with Philip of Flanders (1143-1191) and Theobald of Blois (1130-1191) broke the winter truce and attacked Sees, but without success. Both sides agreed to truce until after Easter

13 April 1175. Henry the Young King and Henry II kept Easter at Cherbourg. Possibly to this period belongs a royal charter in favour of Notre Dame de Voeu, at Cherbourg, attested by Maurice de Creon, Hugh de Lacy and Osbert de Hosa.

4 April 1176. Henry the Young King, his father and two younger brothers, Richard and Geoffrey, kept Easter at Winchester. Henry the Young King and his wife, Marguerite, were waiting at Porchester for a fair weather to cross the Narrow Sea, when Henry was sent for c.31 March to join his father. It is possible that the Young Queen also joined the court at Winchester. Richard and Geoffrey landed at Southampton on 2 April and arrived in Winchester on 3 April (Eyton).

1 April 1179. Henry the Young King and Henry II kept Easter together at Winchester. The Young King had returned to England after three years' absence. He had embarked at Wissant on 26 February (Ralph of Diceto). Roger of Howden gives the Midlent (c.11 March) as the arrival date. If we are to trust Diceto, Henry reached the English shore just in time to celebrate his twenty-fourth birthday in the comapny of his father. After spending Easter and Pentecost in England with his father, Henry the Young King crossed to Wissant on 22 April 1179. 

As for today's anniversaries, Eyton in his Court, Household and Itinerary of King Henry II gives 27 March as the day when Henry's mother was ambushed by the Lusignan brothers and it was only due to Willaim Marshal's uncle intervention she managed to avoid being captured. Further details here, in my last year's post.