Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Ms. Sharon Kay Penman and One Fashionable Lock

Happy Birthday to Ms. Sharon Kay Penman, my favourite author of historical fiction, who was born on August 13. Ms. Penman has brought the Young King vividly to life in her Devil's Brood and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to meet her Hal- as the Young King is called in the novel- and Ms. Penman herself, the experience that made me return to the long-forgotten Angevin domains. I developed an interest in Eleanor, Henry and their tempestuous family in my late teens- then I also met their eldest surviving son- but later somehow left their realm for eleven years! Ms. Penman's novel Time and Chance, which I came across purely by chance, was a driving force behind my return. I felt deeply honoured and extremely excited when she started to reply to my comments on her brilliant blog and this hasn't changed, for every single word, every e-mail written to me makes me feel like a child receiving a long-awaited Christmas gift. There would never be enough "Thank you!" to express my gratitude. Happy Birthday!

Henry the Young King has had a special brithday charter issued  for Ms. Penman on the occasion. Let me quote:

Henry, by the grace of God, king of England, Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou (aka Hal), to my fair Lady Sharon, greeting. Know that  I have conceded and granted, and by my present charter confirmed that on the occasion of your brithday you receive one of my Salisbury mews and one of my gyrfalcons  for mentioning "one lock allowed to curl fashionably" on to my forehead, my "vivid blue eyes" and "the stylish pointed cup with a turned-up brim embroidered in gold thread" (Devil's Brood, Chapter Two, p.19, UK edition).

Happy Birthday! 

                       Ms. Penman's youngest fan, Helenka (aged one)

Note: Here are two wonderful reviews of Devil's Brood by Ms Cristina Beans Picón and by Mr John Hinson. Highly recommendable.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Those Who Did Not Forget

As you can see I cannot live without Henry and even when I take a blog break my thoughts turn to him. But to the point, 22 July 1183 was the day when Henry's body, ‘wrapped in those linen clothes that had been used at his coronation, and upon which the sacred oil had flowed’, was interred peacefully near the high altar of the Rouen Cathedral, according to the Young King's wish. The citizens of the Norman capital must have been satisfied- after all they had fought tooth and nail to have their first royal burial. You can read about it here.

Fortunately for Henry there were a few friendly souls who did not forget about him the very moment he was buried. First of all, William Marshal fulfilled his dying wish and took his crusader's cloak to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. He later founded a house of Augustinian canons at his estate of Cartmel, Lancashire, in memory of the two kings he had served: Henry II and Henry the Young King ‘my lord’. In 1184 Geoffrey Duke of Brittany, together with his wife, Constance founded a chaplaincy at the cathedral of Rouen ‘for the soul of his late brother, the young king Henry, with a rent of 20 l. per annum from his mills at Guingamp’. Troubadour Bertran de Born, who knew the Young King and urged him to support Richard’s unruly barons in the rebellion against their overlord, wrote a moving planh bewailing Henry’s unexpected and premature death. In 1194, eleven years after Young Henry’s passing, his cousin, Countess Eleanor of Beaumont-sur-Oise made a grant to the abbey de Notre-Dame d’Ourscamp for the souls of her late sister, Isabelle, Philip of Flanders’s wife, her present and past husbands, and ‘of the Young King Henry, my cousin’. Also Henry’s half-brother, Geoffrey, already the Archbishop of York, made a grant for his soul. Gervase of Tilbury, the Young Henry’s former chaplain immortalized him in his Otia Imperialia written for Henry’s nephew, Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor. In 2009, Sharon Kay Penman, an American historical novelist, vividly brought Young Henry to life in the last part of her Angevin trilogy, Devil’s Brood, making him, with all his charms and whims, frailties and merits, a complete human being.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Blog Break and Henry the Young King Recommendations

The Henry the Young King Blog is taking a break till around 15 August, but before we say "Goodbye!" there are a few Henry the Young King posts we would like you to read or re-read. Firstly, Charming, Vain, Idle Spendthrift in which I have made a heroic try to take a closer look at Henry's character; secondly, as the 13th July marked the anniversary of William I of Scotland's capture before the walls of Alnwick- the event that brought the Great Revolt of 1173-74 to an end- I would like to recommend my last year's post about it; thirdly, to learn what Henry's contemporaries thought about their young lord, here's my post A Lovely Place of Sin. I still can't believe that I was so lucky to come across the illumination depicting Henry at the coronation of Philippe Auguste. What a find! You can read about it here! Enjoy!

Ms. Marsha Lambert is Henry's guardian angel, but also a writer and reviewer. Here's her brilliant post about the writers of historical fiction we all admire and love, Elizabeth Chadwick and Sharon Kay Penman.

Don't forget about my blog on Polish history. You can find some interesting stuff there. Personally I would read the post about Frederick Barbarossa and the unruly Poles- the latter ones are, next to Henry, my favourite historical figures, the sons of Bolesław Krzywousty [the Wrymouth]- but also my latest post about the Battle of Grunwald.

Friday, 11 July 2014

His Star Is Rising

Today I am deeply honoured to do something for Henry the Young King's great-great-nephew, HM Edward II, one of England's most maligned kings. Edward is really lucky to have someone who, for nine years, has been doing a wonderful job for him, correcting all the misconceptions about him and showing how extraordinary person he really was (something that scarcely anyone is aware of). As it happens Ms Kathryn Warner- for she is Edward's guardian angel- has taken our Henry under her wing somewhere on the way, which we are extremely grateful for (we will never forget all the recommendations and links).

With enormous pleasure I would like to recommend the two-part BBC Two documentary, in which Kathryn appears talking about Edward and Piers Gaveston.

Part one is here.
Part two is here (you can see Kathryn at about 21 minutes).

What I find even more exciting is that Kathryn's biography of Edward will be published on 28 October 2014. I am so looking forward to reading it. It is now available on Amazon. You can see the cover here. It is absolutely beautiful, don't you think? And I love the title. As you are going to learn Edward WAS a very unconventional king. I sincerely do hope that Kathryn's book will be, no more no less, but a star vehicle for His Majesty!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Six deaths, one wedding and a funeral: July Anniversaries

Over the years July proved to be an eventful month for Henry the Young King and his family. Great battles were won, great battles were lost, sieges were laid, a few dear souls passed away... Let me mention some of these occurances here.

The deaths

Henry II, Henry the Young King father, who departed this world on 6 July 1189. I wrote about his death here.

Matilda (b. 1156), Duchess of Saxony and Bavaria, Henry the Young King's sister, who died either on 28 June or 13 July 1189- the sources differ here- and was buried in Brunswick Cathedral. She was thirty-three.

On 14 July 1223, after long and eventful reign (1179-1223), Philippe II Auguste, king of France and Henry the Young King’s brother-in-law, died. It was him, who, after Richard I the Lionheart’s untimely death, brought the Angevin domination on the Continent to an end.

              Philippe Capet's victory at Bouvines (image via Wikipedia)

On 25 July 1173 Matthew of Boulogne, Henry the Young king's relative and one of his chief allies in the Great Revolt, was mortally wounded by a mercenary at the siege of Arques. He was the younger brother and heir of Philip of Flanders. Philip withdrew to Flanders after Matthew’s death.

26 July 1158 was the day when Henry the Young King's paternal uncle, Geoffrey (b. 1134) died unmarried and childless at Nantes. He was only twenty-four, but had already caused much trouble to his elder brother, Henry II. In 1152, for instance, he was one of the daredevils, who was planning to capture freshly divorced Eleanor of Aquitaine [later Henry II's wife and mother of Henry the Young King] on her way back from Paris to Poitiers. Not to mention his complaints and rebellion. Upon Geoffrey le Bel's death his second son and namesake inherited the castles of Chinon, Loudon and Mirebeau- the very same castles that were to become the bone of contention to Henry the Young King and his father in 1173- but claimed that he was to get all the family estates in Anjou. When his elder brother disagreed, Geoffrey attepted to take his inheritance by force. He was no match for Henry, however, and eventually accepted his control of Anjou in return for an annual pension.

On 30 July 1164 William (b. 22 July1136), the youngest son of Geoffrey le Bel and Empress Matilda and Henry's paternal uncle died, eight days after his twenty-eighth birthday. Henry II blamed Thomas Becket for this untimely death.

The wedding

25 July 1137 saw Eleanor, the heiress to the Duchy of Aquitaine [later Henry the Young King's mother) and Louis, heir to the French throne [later Henry the Young King's father-in-law], married in the Cathedral of Saint Andre in Bordeaux by Eleanor’s guardian, Archbishop Geoffrey du Lauroux. Shortly afterwards, upon Louis VI le Gros' death (1 August), they became king and queen of France.

The funeral

On 22 July 1183 Henry the Young King’s body, after forty-day wandering, was buried near the high altar of Rouen Cathedral. But before it could rest in peace it had quite a few adventures on its way north from Martel to Rouen. Actually scarcely ever did a royal body encounter as many posthumous adventures as the body of Henry the Young King did. You can read about them here.

The battles

On 27 July 1214 Henry the Young King’s youngest brother, John and his nephew, Otto, the son of the afore-mentioned Duchess Matilda, were defeated by Phillippe Capet at the Battle of Bouvines. John did not take part in the battle, but was represented by his natural brother, William, Earl of Salisbury, with Otto in charge of the army. Salisbury was captured and Otto had no other choice but to flee. Here's a detailed description of the encounter. Highly recommendable.

On a merrier note, on 16 July 1212, Henry the Young King's brother-in-law, Alfonso VIII of Castile, won one of the greatest battles of the Middle Ages at Las Navas de Tolosa. The Christian triumph was complete and ended once and for all the Almohad threat to Christian Spain. Immediately after the battle, Alfonso, overcome with joy, sent the caliph Miramamolin’s standard and tent, with a detailed account of the crusade to the Pope. He wrote:

On their side 100,000 armed men or more fell in the battle, according to the estimate of the Saracens whom we captured. But of the army of the Lord … incredible though it may be, unless it be a miracle, hardly 25 or 30 Christians of our whole army fell. O what happiness! O what thanksgiving! Though one may lament that so few martyrs from such a great army went to Christ in martyrdom’

Let me mention a few more July events that concerned Henry the Young King and his family.

12 July 1198
Henry the Young King’s nephew, Otto of Brunswick, Henry the Lion and Matilda’s son was crowned king at Aachen by Adolf, Archbishop of Cologne. To learn more about this extraordinary man I highly recommend brilliant post by my friend Gabriele.

13 July 1174
William I of Scotland, Henry the Young King’s chief supporter in the Great Rebellion was captured by Henry II’s forces before the walls of Alnwick. In a far-away Gravelines, Flanders, waiting for a weather to change and for the propitious winds to take him across the Channel, Henry the Young King did not know that with the capture of his chief ally the rebellion against his father in England had been already doomed.

22 July 1170
As a result of the cooperation of the pope and the king of France, Henry II and Thomas Becket finally came to terms, with the former willing to grant all that was demanded of him in order to avoid his continental domains being laid under interdict. The reconciliation took place on 22 July 1170 at Freteval. Thomas Becket was promised a safe passage to England and return to Canterbury. As the time would show the peace settled between them was not to last.

22 July 1174
Together with Philip, Count of Flanders and his father-in-law, king Louis of France Henry the Young King launched the first attack on the city of Rouen in the course of the Great Revolt and laid siege to it. Their attacks on the well-fortified city proved fruitless and they withdrew upon learning of Henry II’s arrival in mid-August.

24 July 1148
Louis VII of France, Henry the Young King’s future father-in-law, at the time still husband to Henry’s mother Eleanor of Aquitaine, lay siege to Damascus during the Second Crusade.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Henry the Young King's Car Park

Dear Readers, I am sorry, but I will disappoint you. The title of this post may suggest that the discovery similar to that of uncovering Richard III's earthly remains beneath the Leicester car park has been made... Nope. Unfortunately. However, my latest Henry the Young King revelation is equally exciting, at least when I'm concerned (how could I possibly live not knowing about THIS???). And I owe it to Philip of Alsace, the count of Flanders, who was not only Henry's relative (his mother, Sibylla of Anjou, was the sister of Henry's paternal grandfather, Geoffrey le Bel), but also fellow tournament patron and chief ally in the Great Revolt of 1173-74*.

But to the point! While preparing my previous post about the June anniversaries I was looking for the images depicting Philip and came across this:

It is the 15th century manuscript illumination depicting the coronation of Philippe Auguste [Philip Augustus] on 1 November 1179. Do you remember who held the crown for him on the occasion? Who represented the absent Henry II? Who bedazzled all the present with his retinue and most precious gifts for the new king? But of course, our Henry! Just look at him! He is gorgeous, isn't he? And I am not forgetting that the image comes from Grandes Chroniques de France, created c.1455, so three centuries after Henry's death. Jean Fouquet, who painted the minature, did not know how Henry looked like, for how could he, but judging by the illumination, he must have read the chronicles' descriptions of Henry, or perhaps, the Young King's good looks were still remebered at the time. Here is my post about Philippe's coronation and the part Henry played in it.

So here it is! Henry's car park- the Wikipedia article including this beautifully painted miniature treasure (Note: the description had it wrong. It was Henry II who earned the nickname "Court-Mantel”, not his eldest son, Henry the Young King. The same mistake has been made on the plaque commemorating Henry's death on Etienne Fabri's Maison at Martel).

* No one understood Henry and his passion for tournaments better than Philip. When the news of Henry the Young King's death reached him, the count was to say:

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.’ (From the History of William Marshal). 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

His Pride and Joy. June Anniversaries

On 19 June 1177 the only child of Henry the Young King and Marguerite of France was born at Paris, at the court of its grandfather, Louis VII (1120-1180). It should have been an occasion for rejoicing, but instead the young parents were stricken with grief, for, according to the English sources, 'the young queen was delivered of a still-born son' (Howden). The French, however, claimed that the child lived long enough to be baptized and named William, and I assume they were right. After all the child was born in their realm. We can only speculate what course the history might have taken had baby William survived. Certainly he would have been his father's pride and joy and I believe that Henry would not have waged war against Richard in 1183. (Note: Little William's arrival and his quiet passing has been poignantly described by Ms Elizabeth Chadwick in her novel on William Marshal, The Greatest Knight).

Here are other Henry the Young King related events that took place in the month of June:

1 June 1134. Geoffrey of Nantes, the young king's paternal uncle, was born. He was the second son of Geoffrey le Bel of Anjou and Empress Matilda. His mother almost died giving birth to him and he was to cause more trouble in his adult life.

c. June 1156. Henry's elder brother, William died, aged three. Henry's sister, Matilda, was born at London. These two events and Queen Eleanor's stay in England were illustrated in the Sheriffs of London's accounts at Michaelmas. The following entry can be found there: £40 for the Queen's corrody; £24 for corrody of Henry, the king's son, his sister and his aunt; and £7 for wine; and £6. 6s. for further corrody of the same persons, supplied by hand of Ralph of Hastings (Eyton).

1 June 1175. Henry together with his father, the king, held Whitsunday court at Reading.

c.1 June 1183. Leading a military campaign against his younger brother Richard, Henry with his routiers pillaged the shrine of St Amadour at Rocamadour, carrying a rich booty and the holy sword of Roland, Durendal. He did this in order to pay off his mercenaries.

1 June 1191. Death of Philip, count of Flanders, at the siege of Acre. Philip was an important person in Henry the Young King's life. Relative and fellow patron of the tournaments, together with his younger brother Matthew [of Boulogne] they were Henry's chief allies in the Great Revolt of 1173-74.

                  Philip of Alsace, the count of Flanders (via Wikipedia)

2 June 1162. Thomas Becket, the then chancellor and tutor of prince Henry, was ordained priest by Walter, bishop of Rochester, at Canterbury.

3 June 1162. Henry witnessed his tutor, Thomas Becket's consecration as the Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry had been placed in Becket's household sometime before or in 1162 only to be removed as a sign of his father's growing displeasure towards his former chancellor in October 1163.

3 June 1173. Richard, Prior of Dover, was elected Archbishop of Canterbury, filling the archbishopric which remained vacant since Thomas Becket's death in 1170. With Henry II Richard enjoyed better relations than Becket, but continued his predecessor's dispute with Roger de Pont l'Eveque over the primacy of England (Roger crowned our Henry king in 1170 in Becket's absence and was excommunicated for this).

5 June 1170. Prince Henry set off for the coast (probably Barfleur) from Caen to cross to England where he was to be crowned in Becket's absence. He was accompanied by Richard, Archdeacon of Poitiers (who had been sent to Caen to bring the prince) and the bishops of Bayeux and Seez. c.8 June one of Becket's partisans, named Amicus, wrote a letter to Becket, who was at Sens, informing him that the coronation was to take place on “Sunday next” and that the Pope's letters forbidding the coronation never reached the persons they were addressed to.

10 June 1128. Whitsunday. Geoffrey of Anjou [later Henry the Young King's paternal grandfather] was knighted by Henry I of England in a magnificent ceremony at Rouen.

11 June 1183. Saturday. The feast day of St Barnabas the Apostle. Death of Henry the Young King, aged twenty-eight, at Martel.

12 June 1152. Death of Henry, Earl of Huntigdon, the only surviving son of David I of Scotland and Maud, Countess of Huntigdon. Henry was the first cousin of William Adelin (d.1120) and Empress Matilda. His younger son William [the Lion] was one of Henry the Young King's chief supporters in the Great Revolt of 1173-74.

14 June 1170. Henry II had his eldest surviving son, Henry, crowned king at Westminster Abbey by Roger of Pont-l'Eveque, the Archbishop of York. Since then the prince was called the Young King in order to distinguish him from his father.

15 June 1170. A day after Henry's coronation, William I of Scotland and his brother, David [Earl of Huntigdon] did homage to the young king.

15 June 1215. Henry the Young King's youngest brother, John, the king of England, put his seal to Magna Carta in the meadow at Runnymede.

17 June 1128. Wedding of Henry the Young King's paternal grandparents, Empress Matilda and Geoffrey of Anjou, later known as le Bel, at Le Mans.

18 June 1178. Sunday. Death of Martin, Prior of Vigeois, at Limoges. On the same day Geoffrey of Breuil* succeeded to the priorate. Geoffrey's Chronicon Lemovicense was to become the main source describing Henry the Young King's death at Martel in June 1183.

24 June 1159. Henry II, at the head of the army- ‘probably the largest he ever mustered’- set off from Poitiers to regain Toulouse, which he considered his wife's rightful inheritance. He was determined to descend on the city with ‘iron, missiles, and machines’ and see it ‘either fall or yield’. His four-year-old son, Henry, was also at Poitiers and bade him “Godspeed”.

24 June 1175. Henry the Young King, his father, the king, and Richard, Archbishop of Canterbury, were at Oxford, “touching the business of the elections” (Eyton). By elections the author meant the elections to the ecclesiastical vacancies. In 1175, with the Great Revolt over, the Young King accompanied his father to England, where he was to stay more than a year. William Marshal was with him. During the meeting at Oxford William was one of the witnesses to the charter in favour of the canons of Malton.

29 June 1173. Philip, count of Flanders attacked Normandy and took the castle and town of Albemarle. Earl William of Albemarle surrendered also his other castles and was taken prisoner (Eyton). The Great Revolt began in earnest.

30 June 1159. Nineteen-year-old Malcolm IV of Scotland was knighted by Henry II in the 'Bishop's Meadow', at Perigueux, during the Toulouse campaign. With all probability Malcolm himself conferred the honour of knighthood on his younger brother, William [ the Lion], the future ally of Henry the Young King in the Great Revolt of 1173-74, the very same day.

30 June 1180. Death of Hugh, earl of Chester (b. 1147), Henry the Young King's one time ally against Henry II in the Great Revolt of 1173-74. Hugh was a grandson of Robert of Gloucester (d.1147), and thus great-grandson of Henry I himself.

c. 30 June 1182. The feast day of St Martial. Henry the Young King was at St Martial, Limoges, where he “was received with a procession, and he gave a pallium of silk woven with gold thread” (Itier). He might have attended mass celebrated by Theobald, abbot of Cluny. It was probably then when he met the discontented Poitevan barons, who asked him for help in waging war against their duke, Henry's younger brother, Richard [later Lionheart].

* Prior Geoffrey appears as a minor character in Devil's Brood by Sharon Kay Penman. He bravely (and in vain) tries to stop our Henry from pillaging the shrine of St Martial :-)


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

The Annals of Roger de Hoveden  trans. by Henry T. Riley. Internet Archive of Northeastern University Libraries.

The Chronicle and Historical Notes of Bernard Itier edited and translated by Andrew W. Lewis. Google Books.