Friday, 11 September 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

A Few Telling and Thought-Provoking Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 24 August 2015

August Newsletter

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

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

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

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Sumer Is Icumen In, Why Not Spend It With Sir Lancelot in Siedlęcin?

Henry the Young King must have considered himself lucky to be born into the world that witnessed such a flowering of literature. And although to V.H. Galbraith he was the least educated of Henry II and Eleanor's sons, there is a body of evidence suggesting that he did take pleasure in listening to and reading literary works. One we can be sure of, he lived long enough to become familiar with Chrétien de Troyes's Sir Lancelot du Lac. Whereas Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae was the first work in which he could read about King Arthur, Chrétien's Erec et Enide was the first romance in which he got the appearance of Arhur's most beloved knight, Sir Lancelot. It just so happened that Chrétien himself worked for Henry's elder half-sister Marie, the countess of Champagne, who took him under her wing, not only comissioning his works, but also supplying him with material [or plot] and interpretation. Henry must have heard about Lancelot first in the aforementioned  Erec et Enide completed c. 1170 and later in Le Chevalier de la charrette completed before 1181. 

Obviously, neither Henry, nor Marie, nor even Chrétien himself could have foreseen that Lancelot's fame was to reach as far as the Lower Silesia District [today Poland] where in the first half of the 14th century Henryk I Jaworski [Henry I of Jawor] had the walls of the Great Hall of his ducal tower in Siedlęcin painted with the scenes of the life of King Arthur's greatest knight. The curious thing is that today Siedlęcin is the only place in the world where you can still see the mural paintings depicting the legend of Sir Lancelot of the Lake preserved in situ.

Henry the Young King's loyal scribe does consider herself lucky as well, for two weeks ago she had a chance to pay a visit to Henryk I Jaworski's aforementioned tower and see the paintings for herself. She had no other choice but to come to the following conclusion: the paintings are the materpieces of the pictorial secular art of the period. They are alive with richly coloured figures both engaged in action and motionless. The main cycle of images show Sir Lancelot: the four "upper" scenes depict the court at Camelot, Queen Guinevere with her ladies in waiting, Guinevere kidnapped by Meleagant and Lancelot freeing the queen; the four scenes below represent Lancelot and his cousin Lionel, Lancelot sleeping underneath the apple tree, Lionel sleeping on guard, duel between Lancelot and Tarquyn and finally Lancelot and Sir Kay. 

Some of the drawings were never finished probably due to the death of Duke Henryk in the spring of 1346. These show duel between Lancelot and Sagramour and healing of Urry de Hongre. There are other images as well, but their theme is sacred rather than secular. These are, for example, the Holy City of Jerusalem or St Christopher, epitome of chivalry, patron saint of knights and example of a perfect vassal. Elaborate painted designs around one of the windows drew Henry the Young King's scribe attention and made her think that the author's talent was a marvel to behold. Speaking of which, one of the theories holds that whoever he was, the artist came to Świdnica and Jawor in the 1340s, with the wife of Duke Henryk's nephew, Agnes von Habsburg (1315-1392). Agnes was the daughter of Duke of Austria, Leopold I from the House of Habsburg, and Catherine of Savoy, which meant close ties with Switzerland.

In his works, art historian and leading expert in Siedlęcin Ducal Tower and European court culture, dr Jacek Witkowski, points out that there were close analogies between the Siedlęcin paintings and the ones existing around Zurich and Konstanz at the time. Of course the Swiss connections might have been established earlier which would mean that the murals were painted long before 1338. After all Henryk began his independent rule in the duchy in 1312 and one of the first things he did was the building of the tower in Siedlęcin [the then Rudgersdorf]. This tower is a rare surviving example and one of the best-preserved medieval residences of this type in Central Europe. It stands 22 metres high in a lovely spot of fresh green and the Bóbr River lazily winding its way through the surrounding meadows. 

Initially it was a standard defensive keep with its top crenelated. Thanks to dendrochronological research we were able to determine that the trees used for ceiling construction had been cut in 1313 and 1314, so 700 years ago! The roof that can be seen today is a later addition - dendrochronological research proved that the trees for its ceilings were cut down in 1575. A walk around the tower today, allows the visitors to evoke scenes from the past. Henry the Young King's scribe, for instance, pictured Duke Henryk with his retinue returning home from one of the military campaigns against his greatest opponent, King John the Blind of Bohemia, later known for his heroic death at the Battle at Crecy :-) 

Siedlęcin is really worth a visit. The paintings are breathtakingly beautiful and the tower itself exceptionally well-preserved. Still they need our support - in Poland, if truth be told, the monuments suffer the sad fate, especially in the Lower Silesia District, where there are so many of them. At present, the tower has a chance to win the title of the most interesting monument of the Lower Silesia District, which would mean a world to Sir Lancelot residing in it :-) Let's help and take a vote here. I am sure our liege lord, Henry the Young King, would approve :-)

Saturday, 4 July 2015

"The Young Monarch in Waiting". Thomas Asbridge on Henry the Young King

I am radiantly happy to announce that Henry the Young King is doing well. Not only was he portrayed from a new and refreshing perspective by Thomas Asbridge in his biography of William Marshal*, but also had a radio programme dedicated to him, with Dr Asbridge interviewed. Of course, I am looking forward to Professor Matthew Strickland's biography, which is going to be ""the first full length study for a century of the eldest son and principal heir of Henry II". Fingers crossed for its successful publication.

                                Photo of the book, Thomas Asbridge official website

As for the interview itself, I am not going to discuss it in detail - I leave it to you to listen and draw your own conclusions. Let me just mention a few things of crucial importance. People do tend to look back at Henry as....

Insignificant figure, a playboy on a tournament circuit

...but Thomas Asbridge probes deeper. Firstly, he tries to answer what kind of relationship Henry and William initially developed and how they spent their time. If we take them at face value, Dr Asbridge argues, they were doing nothing more but rushing around the tournament circuits of Northern France. Apparently, however, there was more to this and Henry and William also focused on things important such as political power and military might, something both David Crouch and Matthew Strickland had discussed in their works before. In the light of it, Henry's rebellions were not only the childlish tantrums as many historians tend to see them today, but serious plays for power. We can only speculate what would have happened had Henry survived the military campaign of 1183.

To keep them hungry, to keep them begging...

Of course the crucial issue was raised, namely why Henry, "technically a fully-fleshed king of England, because he underwent formal coronation twice", does not have a number of his own. According to Dr Asbridge, the answer is simple, Henry predeceased his father and always had been a young monarch in waiting. "Henry II was unwilling to give his son any real power or territory - over time the young king became increasingly anxious and impatient about it". And although Henry was called Henry III when he lived, his sudden death changed everything. I like the way Mr Asbridge explained what other hsitorians seem not to understand - they tend to call the Young King the rebellious son, second Absalom, idle and vain, whereas it was - if we are to look at it as Mr Asbridge does - simply a matter of how long king-father lived after having his son crowned. If he died relatively quickly afterwards, as for example Louis VII of France did, it was okay, he was praised for being wise and perspicacious enough to secure the throne for his heir and avoid succession crisis; if he, however, lived on for years as Henry's father did, the things might get complicated and, as we know in case of Henry, they did. Although - thank you Mr. Asbridge for mentiong it - there was a moment in this story when it seemed that Henry II's decision to have his son crowned when he himself was still alive might have turned out to be a work of a genius - two moths after his son's coronation Henry II fell seriously ill. His subjects thought he was going to die. In the light of it, the timing of young Henry's coronation seemed perfect. The daddy, however, recovered and was to live for another 19 years, outliving his eldest son and heir. Henry II's method to keep his ambitious sons at bay was to keep them hungry and begging. This was especially visible when the young king was concerned - the younger sons, Richard and Geoffrey, enjoyed more freedom in ruling their inheritance, Aquitaine and Brittany.

Additionally and most crucially, Mr Asbridge says, there was an internal pressure on figure like Henry the Young King and that came from his own household knights who expected him to support them and provide for them, to get rewards for their loyal service - and at the time rewards meant lands. Lands Henry did not possess. I do agree - some of them must have pressed him hard, urging to sort the things out with his father, the older king, which Henry tried to do repeatedly over years. I would go a step further: Henry's mesnie is one thing, the other is that even greater pressure, although of a different kind, came from his own father, who apparently had been waiting for the perfect moment to hand over the reins of government to his eldest son. I'm afraid that this very moment would never come, not as long as the old king lived. The pressure on royal heirs was always enormous - we are fully aware of that - but in case of Henry it must have been tremendous and often intolerable. Let us not forget that he had not meant to be king - had his elder brother William lived, Henry, the second in line, would have probably become the duke of Aquiatine. But three-year-old William passed away, leaving his parents distraught - after all in their he was the living proof that the House of Anjou had the God Almighty on their side. After William's death it all fell upon Henry, his father's great expectations mixed with fear of losing him as well. Henry II must have had two goals: to protect his heir and to make him a perfect king. Great pressure to bear.

But enough, the rest you will hear from Dr Asbridge himself. I hope he will succeed in convincing you that, here let me quote, "Henry the Young King deserves our recognition far more than he has generally achieved by most of the professional historians and certainly in popular imagination".

* Elizabeth Chadwick, who is an expert in William Marshal and his family, wrote a great blog post in which she discusses in detail different non fiction works on William. Thomas Asbridge's The Greatest Knight, the most recent addition, is one of them. I was happy to read that Ms Chadwick considers the portrayal of the Young King its greatest merit. I guess that despite all the errors Mr Asbridge made when it comes to William himself, I will read the book because of Henry :-)

Friday, 19 June 2015

Magna Carta, Birth at Paris and One Cold-Blooded Murder

Wonderful news to share! Henry the Young King Blog has reached 90,000 page views today. Thank you, dear readers! I promise to do my best to keep the posts coming. Now, a few words about June anniversaries. 

As we all know this year and this week in particular, Henry the Young King's youngest brother John or rather the document he so reluctantly put his seal to in 1215, takes centre stage. 800 years ago, on 15th June, the king was brought to Runnymede, about 20 miles west of London, to ratify Magna Carta, one of the most important documents in the history of the world. Of course, neither John nor his barons could know what their proceedings taken that day would mean to the development of modern democracy. I had occasion to see the place itself during my trip to England - nothing revealed what momentous event occured there in the dim and distant past. As we can read on the official website of The Magna Carta Trust, the Great Charter of Liberty not only "put limits on the power of the crown for the first time, but laid the foundations for modern freedom", becoming the basis for the U.S. Bill of Rights, the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the long run - we must agree - the "bad" King John wasn't that bad. There would be no Magna Carta without him and his flaws :-) Visit the Trust's website here to read fascinating articles published to commemorate the anniversary. 


Magna Carta's 800th anniversary certainly is an occasion to celebrate, but let us not forget about other important events. On 19 June 1177, for instance, 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 history might have taken had baby William survived. Certainly he would have been his father's pride and joy and future heir.

William was born and passed away 21 years after his paternal uncle and namesake, the eldest child of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, William (b. 17 August 1153), who died, aged three, in June 1156. The same month William's aunt, Henry II and Eleanor's eldest daughter, Matilda [future Duchess of Saxony and Bavaria], 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).

c.1 June 1183. Leading a military campaign against his younger brother Richard, Henry the Young King 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.

3 June 1162. Consecration of Henry's tutor, Thomas Becket 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.

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.

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

14 June 1170. Coronation of Henry at Westminster Abbey by Roger of Pont-l'Eveque, the Archbishop of York. Since then the prince was to be called the Young King in order to distinguish him from his father. A day after Henry's coronation, on 15 June, William I of Scotland and his brother, David [Earl of Huntigdon], did homage to the young king.

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.

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. 

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].

Lastly, let us not forget what sad loss Henry the Young King's great-great-nephew, King Edward II (1307-1327), suffered on 19 June 1312. On that day, his beloved Piers Gaveston - "Perrot" as he was called - was taken to the Blacklow Hill, on the earl of Lancaster's lands, and executed or rather murdered there in cold blood, his body and severed head left on the spot. My friend Anerje runs a blog dedicated to Piers here. Highly recommendable.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Much Ado About... Coronation

14 June 1170 saw a new king of England crowned at Westminster Abbey with all the pomp and ceremony of a royal coronation. Later the coronation was to be found illegal by many an important personages, but at the time nothing could spoil the day for fifteen-year-old Prince Henry who from now on would be called Henry the Young King to distinguish him from his father, Henry II of England. I wrote about the event itself and the commotion it caused here. Today, let me just remind that Henry (b. 28 February 1155) was not meant to be king. The crown was to go to his elder brother, William (b.17 August 1153). Unfortunately, William became seriously ill and died, aged three, the only child of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, who failed to survive infancy. Upon his untimely passing, Henry, the second in line, became his father’s heir and from 1170 a co-king of England. Pity that only in name. Had his father been more  eager to share power and responsibilty with him, the history might have taken a different course. 

Speaking of which, I was delighted to come across a fascinating interview with Thomas Asbridge, historian and writer, known for both the BBC documentary (I had a small input in) and latest book on Henry's most loyal companion, William Marshal. The Tudor fans must forgive me, but I skipped the interview on Henry VIII and only listened to the one devoted to Henry the Young King. What I heard made me think that if not good, at least better times are coming for England's forgotten king. Find out what makes me think so here. Mr Asbridge mentions Professor Matthew Strickland's articles on Henry and the biography he is currently working on, so I guess he knows what he is talking about :-)