Henry the Young King

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Henry the Young King
Coronation of Henry the Young King - Becket Leaves (c.1220-1240), f. 3r - BL Loan MS 88-2.jpg
Junior King of England
Reign14 June 1170 – 11 June 1183
Coronation 14 June 1170
King Henry II
Born28 February 1155
London
Died11 June 1183 (aged 28)
Castle of Martel, Lot
Spouse Margaret of France
House Plantagenet / Angevin [nb 1]
Father Henry II, King of England
Mother Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine

Henry the Young King (28 February 1155 – 11 June 1183) known commonly as Rex Junior in Latin or Li rei jovent in Old French, was the eldest surviving son of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Beginning in 1170, he was titular King of England, Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou and Maine. Henry the Young King was the only King of England since the Norman Conquest to be crowned during his father's reign, but spent his reign frustrated by his father's refusal to grant him meaningful autonomous power. [1] [2] He died aged 28, six years before his father, leaving his brother Richard to become the next king.

Henry II of England 12th-century King of England, Duke of Aquitaine, and ruler of other European lands

Henry II, also known as Henry Curtmantle, Henry FitzEmpress or Henry Plantagenet, ruled as King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou, Maine, and Nantes, and Lord of Ireland; at various times, he also partially controlled Scotland, Wales and the Duchy of Brittany. Before he was 40 he controlled England, large parts of Wales, the eastern half of Ireland and the western half of France—an area that would later come to be called the Angevin Empire.

Eleanor of Aquitaine 12th-century Duchess of Aquitaine and queen-consort of France and England

Eleanor of Aquitaine was queen consort of France (1137–1152) and England (1154–1189) and duchess of Aquitaine in her own right (1137–1204). As a member of the Ramnulfids rulers in southwestern France, she was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe during the High Middle Ages. She was patron of literary figures such as Wace, Benoît de Sainte-Maure, and Bernart de Ventadorn. She led armies several times in her life and was a leader of the Second Crusade.

Duke of Normandy title given to the rulers of the Duchy of Normandy in northern France

In the Middle Ages, the Duke of Normandy was the ruler of the Duchy of Normandy in north-western France. The duchy arose out of a grant of land to the Viking leader Rollo by the French king Charles III in 911. In 924 and again in 933, Normandy was expanded by royal grant. Rollo's male-line descendants continued to rule it down to 1135. In 1202 the French king Philip II declared Normandy a forfeited fief and by 1204 his army had conquered it. It remained a French royal province thereafter, still called the Duchy of Normandy, but only occasionally granted to a duke of the royal house as an apanage.

Contents

Early life

At his coronation banquet, the Young King is served by his father, King Henry II. Coronation of Henry the Young King - Becket Leaves (c.1220-1240), f. 3r - BL Loan MS 88 3.jpg
At his coronation banquet, the Young King is served by his father, King Henry II.

Little is known of the young Prince Henry before the events associated with his marriage and coronation. His mother's children by her first marriage to Louis VII of France were Marie of France, Countess of Champagne and Alix of France. He had one elder brother, William IX, Count of Poitiers (d. 1156), and his younger siblings included Matilda; Richard; Geoffrey; Eleanor; Joan; and John.

Louis VII of France King of France

Louis VII, called the Younger or the Young, was King of the Franks from 1137 to 1180, the sixth from the House of Capet. He was the son and successor of King Louis VI, hence his nickname, and married Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe. The marriage temporarily extended the Capetian lands to the Pyrenees, but was annulled in 1152 after no male heir was produced.

Marie of France, Countess of Champagne countess of Champagne

Marie of France was a French princess and Countess consort of Champagne. She was regent of the county of Champagne in 1179-1181, and in 1190-1197.

Alix of France was countess consort of Blois by marriage to Theobald V, Count of Blois. She was regent of Blois during the absence of her spouse in 1190-1191, and regent during the minority of Louis I, Count of Blois from 1191 until 1197.

In June 1170, the fifteen-year-old Henry was crowned king during his father's lifetime, something originally practised by the French Capetian dynasty and adopted by the English kings Stephen and Henry II. The physical appearance of Henry at his coronation in 1170 is given in a contemporary court poem written in Latin, where the fifteen-year-old prince is described as being very handsome, "tall but well proportioned, broad-shouldered with a long and elegant neck, pale and freckled skin, bright and wide blue eyes, and a thick mop of the reddish-gold hair". [3]

The Capetian dynasty, also known as the House of France, is a dynasty of Frankish origin, founded by Hugh Capet. It is among the largest and oldest royal houses in Europe and the world, and consists of Hugh Capet's male-line descendants. The senior line ruled in France as the House of Capet from the election of Hugh Capet in 987 until the death of Charles IV in 1328. That line was succeeded by cadet branches, the Houses of Valois and then Bourbon, which ruled until the French Revolution.

He was known in his own lifetime as "Henry the Young King" to distinguish him from his father. Because he was not a reigning king, he is not counted in the numerical succession of kings of England. According to one of Thomas Becket's correspondents, Henry was knighted by his father before the coronation, but the biographer of William Marshal asserts that the king was knighted by William in the course of the rebellion of 1173 (Georges Duby, Guillaume le Maréchal. Le meilleur chevalier du monde. 1984).

Thomas Becket 12th-century Archbishop of Canterbury, Chancellor of England, and saint

Thomas Becket, also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London and later Thomas à Becket, was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He is venerated as a saint and martyr by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He engaged in conflict with Henry II, King of England, over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral. Soon after his death, he was canonised by Pope Alexander III.

William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke Anglo-Norman soldier and statesman

William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, also called William the Marshal, was an Anglo-Norman soldier and statesman. He served five English kings – Henry II, his sons the "Young King" Henry, Richard I, John, and John's son Henry III.

Georges Duby French historian

Georges Duby was a French historian who specialised in the social and economic history of the Middle Ages. He ranks among the most influential medieval historians of the twentieth century and was one of France's most prominent public intellectuals from the 1970s to his death.

Tournament hero and celebrity

Henry did not appear to have been very interested in the day-to-day business of government, which distinguished him from his father and younger brothers. His father, however, is reputed to have failed to delegate authority to his son, retaining power in England. The majority opinion amongst historians is that of W. L. Warren (1973): "The Young Henry was the only one of his family who was popular in his own day....the only one who gave no evidence of political sagacity, military skill, or even ordinary intelligence...", and elaborated in a later book, "He was gracious, benign, affable, courteous, the soul of liberality and generosity. Unfortunately he was also shallow, vain, careless, high-hoped, incompetent, improvident, and irresponsible." [4]

Wilfred Lewis Warren was an historian of medieval England. Educated at Exeter College, Oxford, he worked as a professor of modern (post-classical) history and Dean of theology at the Queen's University, Belfast. His field of interest was Norman and Angevin England, on which he published several major works. In 1956 he received a doctorate in 14th-century English church history. He was fascinated by and well versed in Ulster politics.

The Young King's contemporary reputation, however, was positive. Likely this was due to the enthusiastic tournament culture of his time. In the History of William Marshal, the biography of the knight assigned to him as a tutor in 1170 and his tournament team leader until 1182, he is described as a constant competitor at tournaments across northern and central France between 1175 and 1182. With his cousins, counts Philip I of Flanders and Baldwin V of Hainaut, he was a key patron of the sport. He is said to have spent over £200 a day on the great retinue of knights he brought to the tournament of Lagny-sur-Marne in November 1179.[ citation needed ]

Tournament (medieval) chivalrous competition or mock fight of the Middle Ages and Renaissance

A tournament, or tourney, was a chivalrous competition or mock fight in Europe in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It is one type of hastilude.

Lagny-sur-Marne Commune in Île-de-France, France

Lagny-sur-Marne is a commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located in the Seine-et-Marne department in the Île-de-France 26.1 km (16.2 mi) from the centre of Paris.

Though he lacked political weight, his patronage brought him celebrity status throughout western Europe. The baron and troubadour Bertran de Born knew him, stating:

[He was] the best king who ever took up a shield, the most daring and best of all tourneyers. From the time when Roland was alive, and even before, never was seen a knight so skilled, so warlike, whose fame resounded so around the world – even if Roland did come back, or if the world were searched as far as the River Nile and the setting sun.

There was a perception amongst his contemporaries, and the next generation, that his death in 1183 marked a decline both in the tournament and knightly endeavour. His one-time chaplain, Gervase of Tilbury, said that "his death was the end of everything knightly".

Political career

Drawing of the recumbent statue in Rouen Cathedral destroyed in 1733; from Livre du Millenaire de la Normandie (1911, after a drawing of c. 1700). Henry the Young-Plantagenet.jpg
Drawing of the recumbent statue in Rouen Cathedral destroyed in 1733; from Livre du Millénaire de la Normandie (1911, after a drawing of c. 1700).

The young Henry played an important part in the politics of his father's reign. On 2 November 1160, he was betrothed to Margaret of France, daughter of King Louis VII of France and his second wife, Constance of Castile, when he was 5 years of age and she was at least 2. The marriage was an attempt to finally settle the struggle between the counts of Anjou and the French kings over possession of the frontier district of the Norman Vexin, which Louis VII had acquired from Henry's grandfather, Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, in around 1144. By the terms of the settlement, Margaret would bring the castles of the Norman Vexin to her new husband. However, the marriage was pushed through by Henry II when Young Henry and Margaret were small children so that he could seize the castles. A bitter border war followed between the kings.

They were formally married on 27 August 1172 at Winchester Cathedral, when Henry, aged seventeen, was crowned King of England a second time, this time together with Margaret, by Rotrou, the Archbishop of Rouen. [5]

Young Henry fell out with his father in 1173. Contemporary chroniclers allege that this was owing to the young man's frustration that his father had given him no realm to rule, and his feeling starved of funds. The rebellion seems, however, to have drawn strength from much deeper discontent with his father's rule, and a formidable party of Anglo-Norman, Norman, Angevin, Poitevin and Breton magnates joined him. The revolt of 1173–1174 came close to toppling the king; he was narrowly saved by the loyalty of a party of nobles with holdings on the English side of the Channel, and by the defeat and capture of William I, the King of Scotland. Young Henry sought a reconciliation after the capture of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the failure of the rebellion. His funds were much increased by the terms of the settlement, and he apparently devoted most of the next seven years to the amusement of the tournament.

In November 1179, he represented his father at the coronation of Philip Augustus as associate king of France at Reims. He acted as Steward of France and carried the crown in the coronation procession. Later, he played a leading role in the celebratory tournament held at Lagny-sur-Marne, to which he brought a retinue of over 500 knights at huge expense.

The Young Henry's affairs took a turn for the worse in 1182. He fell out with William Marshal, the leader of his tournament mesnée. [6] The unknown author of L'Histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal suggests that Marshal's disgrace was because he had indulged in a clandestine affair with Queen Margaret. David Crouch, one of the Marshal's principal modern biographers, argues that the charge against William was actually one of lèse majesté , brought on by Marshal's own arrogance and greed. By this account, the charge of adultery was only introduced in the Life of William Marshal as a distraction from the real charges, of which he was most probably guilty. Though the Young King sent his wife early in 1183 to the French court, it was done most likely to keep her safe in the impending war with his brother, Richard, rather than because she was in disgrace.

The only child of Henry and Margaret was William, born prematurely on 19 June 1177, and died three days later. This difficult delivery may have rendered her barren, for she had no further children.

Death and burial

Henry the Young King died, aged 28, in the summer of 1183, during the course of a campaign in Limousin against his father and his brother Richard the Lionheart. He had just completed a pillage of local monasteries to raise money to pay his mercenaries. He contracted dysentery at the beginning of June. Weakening fast, he was taken to Martel, near Limoges. It was clear to his household that he was dying on 7 June, when he was confessed and received the last rites. As a token of his penitence for his war against his father, he prostrated himself naked on the floor before a crucifix. He made a testament and, since he had taken a crusader's vow, he gave his cloak to his friend William Marshal, with the plea that he should take the cloak (presumably with the crusader's cross stitched to it) to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. On his deathbed, he reportedly asked to be reconciled to his father, but King Henry, fearing a trick, refused to see him. He died on 11 June, clasping a ring his father had sent instead as a sign of his forgiveness. After his death, his father is said to have exclaimed: "He cost me much, but I wish he had lived to cost me more."

After Henry's death, there was an attempt by his mother and a faction of his friends to promote his sainthood. Thomas of Earley, Archdeacon of Wells, published a sermon not long afterward detailing miraculous events attending the cortège that took his body north to Normandy. Henry had left orders that his entrails and other body parts should be buried at the abbey of Charroux, but the rest of his body should rest in Rouen Cathedral. However, during the funeral procession, a member of Henry's household was seized by his mercenary captains for debts the late king had owed them. The knights accompanying his corpse were so penniless they had to be fed by charity at the monastery of Vigeois. There were large and emotional gatherings wherever his body rested. At Le Mans, the local bishop halted the procession and ordered the body buried in his cathedral, perhaps to help defuse the civil unrest Henry's death had caused. The dean of Rouen recovered the body from the chapter of Le Mans a month later by a lawsuit, so that the Young Henry could be buried in Normandy as he had desired in his testament.

Tomb and effigy of Henry in Rouen Cathedral Gisant d'Henri le Jeune2.JPG
Tomb and effigy of Henry in Rouen Cathedral

Henry's remains are in Rouen Cathedral, where his tomb is on the opposite side of the altar from the tomb of his younger brother, Richard I of England, [7] with whom he was perpetually quarrelling. The tomb of the Archbishop of Rouen, who had married him to Margaret, lies nearby in the ambulatory. His brothers Richard and John each later became King of England.

Appearance and character

Henry and Richard were "both tall in stature, rather above the middle size, and of commanding aspect. In courage and magnanimity they were nearly equal; but in the character of their virtues there was great disparity... [Henry] was admirable for gentleness and liberality... had a commendable suavity... commended for his easy temper... remarkable for his clemency... the vile and undeserving found their refuge in [Henry]... was the shield of bad men... was bent on martial sports... bestowed his favours on foreigners... [Henry's] ambition magnanimously compassed the world." [8]

Another description says "He was tall in stature and distinguished in appearance; his face expressed merriment and mature judgment in good measure; fair among the children of men, he was courteous and cheerful. 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 outstripped them all in valor, cordiality, and the outstanding graciousness of his manners, his true generosity, and true integrity... [9]

Ancestry

Notes

  1. Historians are divided in their use of the terms "Plantagenet" and "Angevin" in regard to Henry II and his sons. Some class Henry II to be the first Plantagenet King of England; others refer to Henry, Richard and John as the Angevin dynasty, and consider Henry III to be the first Plantagenet ruler.

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References

  1. Laura Ashe, Chivalry and Kingship, p26-27
  2. Matthew Strickland (10 June 2016). Henry the Young King, 1155-1183. Yale University Press. p. 153. ISBN   978-0-300-21551-9.
  3. Crouch, David. Tournament. 4. pp. 21–22. ISBN   9781852855314.
  4. Warren, W.L, Henry II, (London: Eyre Methuen, 1973), pg.800.
  5. W. L. Warren, Henry II (Univ. of California Press, 1973) p. 111, note 3
  6. Mesnée is an Old Norman French word, meaning household.
  7. This tomb contained a lead reliquary, with Richard's heart, that is stored with the treasure of the Cathedral. His body is in the Fontevraud Abbey.
  8. Topographia Hibernica by Gerald of Wales
  9. Otia Imperialia of Gervase of Tilbury (c.1145-c.1225)

Bibliography

Henry the Young King
Born: 28 February 1155 Died: 11 June 1183
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Henry II
as sole ruler
King of England
Duke of Normandy
Count of Anjou and Maine

1170–1183
with Henry II
Succeeded by
Henry II
as sole ruler