Henry II is the 23rd Great Grandfather. He was born 5th March 1133 and died 6th July 1189.
He built and used Dover Castle, one of the greatest fortresses, it was built in the Norman tradition between 1180 and 1185. It was used for the King to hold court, being just a short distance from France across the channel.
|Imagine walking down to the dungeons!|
King Henry II's life is well documented in research and his is a snippet from wikipedia. Once again wars dominated his rule and his life!
Henry was said by chroniclers to be good-looking, red-haired, freckled, with a large head; he had a short, stocky body and was bow-legged from riding. Often he was scruffily dressed.
Not as reserved as his mother Matilda, nor as charming as his father Geoffrey, Henry was famous for his energy and drive.He was also infamous for his piercing stare, bullying, bursts of temper and, on occasion, his sullen refusal to speak at all.
Some of these outbursts, however, may have been theatrical and for effect. Henry was said to understand a wide range of languages, but spoke only Latin and French. In his youth Henry enjoyed warfare, hunting and other adventurous pursuits; as the years went by he put increasing energy into judicial and administrative affairs and became more cautious, but throughout his life he was energetic and frequently impulsive.
Henry had a passionate desire to rebuild his control of the territories that his grandfather, Henry I, had once governed.He may well have been influenced by his mother in this regard, as Matilda also had a strong sense of ancestral rights and privileges.
Henry took back territories, regained estates and re-established influence over the smaller lords that had once provided what historian John Gillingham describes as a "protective ring" around his core territories.
He was probably the first king of England to use a heraldic design: a signet ring with either a leopard or a lion engraved on it. The design would be altered in later generations to form the royal seal of England.
Once again his life was centered around different wars. Henry was in the position of being the grandson of King Henry I of England, and the son of Count of Anjou, making him a very powerful person indeed.
By the late 1140s the active phase of the civil war was over, barring the occasional outbreak of fighting.Many of the barons were making individual peace agreements with each other to secure their war gains and it increasingly appeared as though the English Church was considering promoting a peace treaty.
On Louis VII's return from the Second Crusade in 1149, he became concerned about the growth of Geoffrey's power and the potential threat to his own possessions, especially if Henry could acquire the English crown.
In 1150, Geoffrey made Henry the Duke of Normandy and Louis responded by putting forward King Stephen's son Eustace as the rightful heir to the duchy and launching a military campaign to remove Henry from the province.
Henry's father advised him to come to terms with Louis and peace was made between them in August 1151 after mediation by Bernard of Clairvaux.Under the settlement Henry did homage to Louis for Normandy, accepting Louis as his feudal lord, and gave him the disputed lands of the Norman Vexin; in return, Louis recognised him as duke.
His father, Geoffrey Count of Anjou, died in September 1151, and Henry postponed his plans to return to England, as he first needed to ensure that his succession, particularly in Anjou, was secure.
At around this time Henry was also probably secretly planning his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, then still the wife of Louis. Eleanor was the Duchess of Aquitaine, a duchy in the south of France, and was considered beautiful, lively and controversial, but had not borne Louis any sons.
Louis had the marriage annulled and Henry married Eleanor eight weeks later on 18 May.
The marriage instantly reignited Henry's tensions with Louis: the marriage was considered an insult, it ran counter to feudal practice and it threatened the inheritance of Louis and Eleanor's two daughters, who might otherwise have had claims to Aquitaine on Eleanor's death. With his new lands, Henry now possessed a much larger proportion of France than Louis
Louis organised a coalition against Henry, including Stephen, Eustace, Henry the Count of Champagne, and Robert the Count of Perche. Louis's alliance was joined by Henry's younger brother, Geoffrey, who rose in revolt, claiming that Henry had dispossessed him of his inheritance.
Geoffrey of Anjou's plans for the inheritance of his lands had been ambiguous, making the veracity of his son Geoffrey's claims hard to assess. Contemporaneous accounts suggest he left the main castles in Poitou to Geoffrey, implying that he may have intended Henry to retain Normandy and Anjou and not Poitou.
Fighting immediately broke out again along the Normandy borders, where Henry of Champagne and Robert captured the town of Neufmarché-sur-Epte. Louis's forces moved to attack Aquitaine. Stephen responded by placing Wallingford Castle, a key fortress loyal to Henry along the Thames Valley, under siege, possibly in an attempt to force a successful end to the English conflict while Henry was still fighting for his territories in France.
Henry moved quickly in response, avoiding open battle with Louis in Aquitaine and stabilising the Norman border, pillaging the Vexin and then striking south into Anjou against Geoffrey, capturing one of his main castles. Louis fell ill and withdrew from the campaign, and Geoffrey was forced to come to terms with Henry.
On landing in England on 8 December 1154, Henry quickly took oaths of loyalty from some of the barons and was then crowned alongside Eleanor at Westminster on 19 December.The royal court was gathered in April 1155, where the barons swore fealty to the King and his sons.
Several potential rivals still existed, including Stephen's son William and Henry's brothers Geoffrey and William, but—fortunately for Henry—they all died in the next few years, leaving Henry's position remarkably secure. Nonetheless, Henry inherited a difficult situation in England, as the kingdom had suffered extensively during the civil war.
In many parts of the country the fighting had caused serious devastation, although some other areas remained largely unaffected.Numerous "adulterine", or unauthorised, castles had been built as bases for local lords.
The royal forest law had collapsed in large parts of the country. The king's income had declined seriously and royal control over the mints remained limited.
Henry presented himself as the legitimate heir to Henry I and commenced rebuilding the kingdom in his image.Although Stephen had tried to continue Henry I's method of government during his reign, the younger Henry's new government characterised those 19 years as a chaotic and troubled period, with all these problems resulting from Stephen's usurpation of the throne.
Henry was also careful to show that, unlike his mother the Empress, he would listen to the advice and counsel of others. Various measures were immediately carried out although, since Henry spent six and a half years out of the first eight years of his reign in France, much work had to be done at a distance.
The process of demolishing the unauthorised castles from the war continued. Efforts were made to restore the system of royal justice and the royal finances. Henry also invested heavily in the construction and renovation of prestigious new royal buildings.
The King of Scotland and local Welsh rulers had taken advantage of the long civil war in England to seize disputed lands; Henry set about reversing this trend. In 1157 pressure from Henry resulted in the young King Malcolm of Scotland returning the lands in the north of England he had taken during the war; Henry promptly began to refortify the northern frontier.
Restoring Anglo-Norman supremacy in Wales proved harder, and Henry had to fight two campaigns in north and south Wales in 1157 and 1158 before the Welsh princes Owain Gwynedd and Rhys ap Gruffydd submitted to his rule, agreeing to the pre-civil war borders.
Henry had a problematic relationship with Louis VII of France throughout the 1150s. The two men had already clashed over Henry's succession to Normandy and the remarriage of Eleanor, and the relationship was not repaired. Louis invariably attempted to take the moral high ground in respect to Henry, capitalising on his reputation as a crusader and circulating rumours about his rival's behaviour and character.
Henry had greater resources than Louis, however, particularly after taking England, and Louis was far less dynamic in resisting Angevin power than he had been earlier in his reign. The disputes between the two drew in other powers across the region, including Thierry, the Count of Flanders, who signed a military alliance with Henry, albeit with a clause that prevented the count from being forced to fight against Louis, his feudal lord.
Further south, Theobald V, the Count of Blois, an enemy of Louis, became another early ally of Henry.The resulting military tensions and the frequent face-to-face meetings to attempt to resolve them has led historian Jean Dunbabin to liken the situation to the period of the Cold War in Europe in the 20th century.
On his return to the continent from England, Henry sought to secure his French lands and quash any potential rebellion. As a result, in 1154 Henry and Louis agreed a peace treaty, under which Henry bought back the Vernon and the Neuf-Marché from Louis.
The treaty appeared shaky, however and tensions remained—in particular, Henry had not given homage to Louis for his French possessions. In an attempt to improve relations, Henry met with Louis at Paris and Mont-Saint-Michel in 1158, agreeing to betroth Henry's eldest living son, the Young Henry, to Louis's daughter Margaret.
The marriage deal would have involved Louis granting the disputed territory of the Vexin to Margaret on her marriage to the Young Henry: while this would ultimately give Henry the lands that he claimed, it also cunningly implied that the Vexin was Louis's to give away in the first place, in itself a political concession.
For a short while, a permanent peace between Henry and Louis looked plausible.
Meanwhile, Henry turned his attention to the Duchy of Brittany, which neighboured his lands and was traditionally largely independent from the rest of France, with its own language and culture.The Breton dukes held little power across most of the duchy, which was mostly controlled by local lords.
In 1148, Duke Conan III died and civil war broke out. Henry claimed to be the overlord of Brittany, on the basis that the duchy had owed loyalty to Henry I, and saw controlling the duchy both as a way of securing his other French territories and as a potential inheritance for one of his sons. Initially Henry's strategy was to rule indirectly through proxies, and accordingly Henry supported Conan IV's claims over most of the duchy, partly because Conan had strong English ties and could be easily influenced.
Conan's uncle, Hoël, continued to control the county of Nantes in the east until he was deposed in 1156 by Henry's brother, Geoffrey, possibly with Henry's support.When Geoffrey died in 1158, Conan attempted to reclaim Nantes but was opposed by Henry who annexed it for himself. Louis took no action to intervene as Henry steadily increased his power in Brittany.
Toulouse in southern France. Toulouse, while technically part of the Duchy of Aquitaine, had become increasingly independent and was now ruled by Count Raymond V, who had only a weak claim to the lands. Encouraged by Eleanor, Henry first allied himself with Raymond's enemy Raymond Berenguer of Barcelona and then in 1159 threatened to invade himself to depose Raymond.
Louis, however, married his sister Constance to Raymond in an attempt to secure his southern frontiers; nonetheless, when Henry and Louis discussed the matter of Toulouse, Henry left believing that he had the French king's support for military intervention. Henry invaded Toulouse, only to find Louis visiting Raymond in the city. Henry was not prepared to directly attack Louis, who was still his feudal lord, and withdrew, settling himself with ravaging the surrounding county, seizing castles and taking the province of Quercy.
The episode proved to be a long-running point of dispute between the two kings and the chronicler William of Newburgh called the ensuing conflict with Toulouse a "forty years' war".
In the aftermath of the Toulouse episode, Louis made an attempt to repair relations with Henry through an 1160 peace treaty: this promised Henry the lands and the rights of his grandfather, Henry I; it reaffirmed the betrothal of Young Henry and Margaret and the Vexin deal; and it involved Young Henry giving homage to Louis, a way of reinforcing the young boy's position as heir and Louis's position as king.
Almost immediately after the peace conference, however, Louis shifted his position considerably. Louis's wife Constance died and Louis married Adèle, the sister of the Counts of Blois and Champagne. Louis also betrothed his two daughters Marie and Alix to Theobald of Blois's sons, Theobald and Henry.
This represented an aggressive containment strategy towards Henry rather than the agreed rapprochement, and caused Theobald to abandon his alliance with Henry. Henry reacted angrily; the King had custody of both Young Henry and Margaret, and in November he bullied several papal legates into marrying them—despite the children only being five and three years old respectively—and promptly seized the Vexin.
Now it was Louis's turn to be furious, as the move clearly broke the spirit of the 1160 treaty.
Military tensions between the two leaders immediately increased. Theobald mobilised his forces along the border with Touraine; Henry responded by attacking Chaumont in Blois in a surprise attack; he successfully took Theobald's castle in a notable siege. At the start of 1161 war seemed likely to spread across the region, until a fresh peace was negotiated at Fréteval that autumn, followed by a second peace treaty in 1162, overseen by Pope Alexander III.Despite this temporary halt in hostilities, Henry's seizure of the Vexin proved to be a second long-running dispute between him and the kings of France.
DeathThe relationship between Henry and Richard finally dissolved into violence shortly before Henry's death. Philip held a peace conference in November 1188, making a public offer of a generous long-term peace settlement with Henry, conceding to his various territorial demands, if Henry would finally marry Richard and Alice and announce Richard as his recognised heir.
Henry refused the proposal, whereupon Richard himself spoke up, demanding to be recognised as Henry's successor. Henry remained silent and Richard then publicly changed sides at the conference and gave formal homage to Philip in front of the assembled nobles.
The papacy intervened once again to try to produce a last-minute peace deal, resulting in a fresh conference at La Ferté-Bernard in 1189.By now Henry was suffering from a bleeding ulcer that would ultimately prove fatal.
The discussions achieved little, although Henry is alleged to have offered Philip that John could marry Alice instead of Richard, reflecting the rumours circulating over the summer that Henry was considering openly disinheriting Richard.
The conference broke up with war appearing likely, but Philip and Richard launched a surprise attack immediately afterwards during what was conventionally a period of truce.
Henry was caught by surprise at Le Mans but made a forced march north to Alençon, from where he could escape into the safety of Normandy.Suddenly, however, Henry turned back south towards Anjou, against the advice of his officials.
The weather was extremely hot, the King was increasingly ill and he appears to have wanted to die peacefully in Anjou rather than fight yet another campaign. Henry evaded the enemy forces on his way south and collapsed in his castle at Chinon.
Philip and Richard were making good progress, not least because it was now obvious that Henry was dying and that Richard would be the next king, and the pair offered negotiations.They met at Ballan, where Henry, only just able to remain seated on his horse, agreed to a complete surrender: he would do homage to Philip; he would give up Alice to a guardian and she would marry Richard at the end of the coming crusade; he would recognise Richard as his heir; he would pay Philip compensation, and key castles would be given to Philip as a guarantee.
Henry was carried back to Chinon on a litter, where he was informed that John had publicly sided with Richard in the conflict. This desertion proved the final shock and he finally collapsed into a fever, only coming to for a few moments during which he gave confession.
|Henry and Eleanor|
Henry married Eleanor of Aquataine on 11th May 1152 in Bordeaux France. He had eight legitimate children by Eleanor, five sons—
William, the Young Henry,
John, and three daughters,
Henry also had several illegitimate children; amongst the most prominent of these were Geoffrey (later Archbishop of York) and William (later Earl of Salisbury)*
Henry was expected to provide for the future of his legitimate children, either through granting lands to his sons or marrying his daughters well.Henry's family was divided by rivalries and violent hostilities, more so than many other royal families of the day, in particular the relatively cohesive French Capetians.
Various suggestions have been put forward to explain Henry's family's bitter disputes, from their inherited family genetics to the failure of Henry and Eleanor's parenting. Other theories focus on the personalities of Henry and his children.
Historians such as Matthew Strickland have argued that Henry made sensible attempts to manage the tensions within his family, and that, had the King died younger, the succession might have proven much smoother.
*Our lineage lies with William the Earl of Salisbury