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Henry II Plantagenet, King of England, Duke of Normandy

Henry II Plantagenet, King of England, Duke of Normandy

Male 1133 - 1189  (56 years)

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  • Name Henry II Plantagenet 
    Suffix King of England, Duke of Normandy 
    Born 5 Mar 1133  Le Mans, Sarthe, Pays de la Loire, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 6 Jul 1189  Anjou, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Chinon Castle
    Buried Anjou, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Fontevrault Abbey
    Notes 
    • King of England (1154-1189)
      Duke of Normandy (1151-1189)

      Henry II, first of the Angevin kings, was one of the most effective of all England's monarchs. He came to the throne amid the anarchy of Stephen's reign and promptly collared his errant barons. He refined Norman government and created a capable, self-standing bureaucracy. His energy was equaled only by his ambition and intelligence. Henry survived wars, rebellion, and controversy to successfully rule one of the Middle Ages' most powerful kingdoms.

      Henry was raised in the French province of Anjou and first visited England in 1142 to defend his mother's claim to the disputed throne of Stephen. His continental possessions were already vast before his coronation: He acquired Normandy and Anjou upon the death of his father in September 1151, and his French holdings more than doubled with his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitane (ex-wife of King Louis VII of France). In accordance with the Treaty of Wallingford, a succession agreement signed by Stephen and Matilda in 1153, Henry was crowned in October 1154. The continental empire ruled by Henry and his sons included the French counties of Brittany, Maine, Poitou, Touraine, Gascony, Anjou, Aquitane, and Normandy. Henry was technically a feudal vassal of the king of France but, in reality, owned more territory and was more powerful than his French lord. Although King John (Henry's son) lost most of the English holdings in France, English kings laid claim to the French throne until the fifteenth century. Henry also extended his territory in the British Isles in two significant ways. First, he retrieved Cumbria and Northumbria form Malcom IV of Scotland and settled the Anglo-Scot border in the North. Secondly, although his success with Welsh campaigns was limited, Henry invaded Ireland and secured an English presence on the island.

      English and Norman barons in Stephen's reign manipulated feudal law to undermine royal authority; Henry instituted many reforms to weaken traditional feudal ties and strengthen his position. Unauthorized castles built during the previous reign w were razed. Monetary payments replaced military service as the primary duty of vassals. The Exchequer was revitalized to enforce accurate record keeping and tax collection. Incompetent sheriffs were replaced and the authority of royal courts was expanded. Henry empowered a new social class of government clerks that stabilized procedure - the government could operate effectively in the king's absence and would subsequently prove sufficiently tenacious to survive the reign of incompetent kings. Henry's reforms allowed the emergence of a body of common law to replace the disparate customs of feudal and county courts. Jury trials were initiated to end the old Germanic trials by ordeal or battle. Henry's systematic approach to law provided a common basis for development of royal institutions throughout the entire realm.

      The process of strengthening the royal courts, however, yielded an unexpected controversy. The church courts instituted by William the Conqueror became a safe haven for criminals of varying degree and ability, for one in fifty of the English population qualified as clerics. Henry wished to transfer sentencing in such cases to the royal courts, as church courts merely demoted clerics to laymen. Thomas Beckett, Henry's close friend and chancellor since 1155, was named Archbishop of Canteterbury in June 1162 but distanced himself from Henry and vehemently opposed the weakening of church courts. Beckett fled England in 1164, but through the intervention of Pope Adrian IV (the lone English pope), returned in 1170.He greatly angered Henry by opposing to the coronation of Prince Henry. Exasperated, Henry hastily and publicly conveyed his desire to be rid of the contentious Archbishop - four ambitious knights took the king at his word and murdered Beckett in his own cathedral on December 29, 1170. Henry endured a rather limited storm of protest over the incident and the controversy passed.

      Henry's plans of dividing his myriad lands and titles evoked treachery from his sons. At the encouragement - and sometimes because of the treatment - of their mother, they rebelled against their father several times, often with Louis VII of France as their accomplice. The deaths of Henry the Young King in 1183 and Geoffrey in 1186 gave no respite from his children's rebellious nature; Richard, with the assistance of Philip II Augustus of France, attacked and defeated Henry on July 4, 1189 and forced him to accept a humiliating peace. Henry II died two days later, on July 6, 1189.

      A few quotes from historic manuscripts shed a unique light on Henry, Eleanor, and their sons.

      From Sir Winston Churchill Kt, 1675: "Henry II Plantagenet, the very first of that name and race, and the very greatest King that England ever knew, but withal the most unfortunate . . . his death being imputed to those only to whom himself had given life, his ungracious sons. . ."

      From Sir Richard Baker, A Chronicle of the Kings of England: Concerning endowments of mind, he was of a spirit in the highest degree generous . . . His custom was to be always in action; for which cause, if he had no real wars, he would have feigned . . . To his children he was both indulgent and hard; for out of indulgence he caused his son henry to be crowned King in his own time; and out of hardness he caused his younger sons to rebel against him . . . He married Eleanor, daughter of William Duke of Guienne, late wife of Lewis the Seventh of France. Some say King Lewis carried her into the Holy Land, where she carried herself not very holily, but led a licentious life; and, which is the worst kind of licentiousness, in carnal familiarity with a Turk."
      -- Encyclopedia Britannica
    Person ID I2694  Roy~Royes
    Last Modified 8 Sep 2007 

    Father Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and Maine, Duke of Normandy
              b. 24 Aug 1113
              d. 7 Sep 1151  (Age 38 years) 
    Mother Matilda or Maud
              b. 7 Feb 1102/3, Winchester, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
              d. 10 Sep 1167, Rouen, Normandy, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 64 years) 
    Married 3 Apr 1127 
    Family ID F991  Family Group  |  Family Chart

    Family Eleanor d' Aquitaine
              b. 1122, France Find all individuals with events at this location
              d. 1 Apr 1204, Fontevraud Abbey, Anjou, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 82 years) 
    Married 18 May 1152  Bordeaux, Gironde, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Bordeaux Cathedral
    Children 
     1. Henry the Younger
              b. 25 Feb 1155, England Find all individuals with events at this location
              d. 11 Jun 1183, Castle of Martel, Lot, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 28 years)
     2. Richard the Lionheart Plantagenet, King of England, Duke of Normandy
              b. 8 Sep 1157, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
              d. 6 Apr 1199, Chalus, Aquitaine, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 41 years)
     3. Geoffrey Plantagenet, Duke of Brittany
              b. 1158
              d. 1186  (Age 28 years)
    +4. John, Duke of Normandy & King of England (1199-1216)
              b. 24 Dec 1167, Beaumont, Oxfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
              d. 19 Oct 1216, Newark Castle, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 48 years)
     5. Matilda, Duchess of Saxony
              b. 1156, Windsor Castle, Berkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
              d. 28 Jun 1189, Brunswick, Lower Saxony Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 33 years)
    Last Modified 28 Mar 2014 02:30:18 
    Family ID F990  Family Group  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 5 Mar 1133 - Le Mans, Sarthe, Pays de la Loire, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 18 May 1152 - Bordeaux, Gironde, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 6 Jul 1189 - Anjou, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Anjou, France Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
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