King Henry II "Curtmantle" Plantagenet of England
- Born: 5 Mar 1133, Lemans, Anjou, Maine, France
- Marriage (1): Eleanor Of Aquitaine on 11 May 1152 in Bordeaux, Gironde, Aquitaine, France
- Marriage (2): Ida Plantagenet in 1176 in England
- Marriage (3): Ykenai Concubine in 1151
- Marriage (4): Rosamunde de Clifford about 1160
- Marriage (5): Nesta Bloet Concubine about 1168
- Unmarried (6): Alice de Porhoët Concubine about 1169
- Marriage (7): Annabel de Baliol Concubine in 1167 in England
- Died: 6 Jul 1189, Chinon, Indre-Et-Loire, France at age 56
- Buried: 8 Jul 1189, Fontevraud Abbey, Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, Maine-Et-Loire, France
Another name for Henry was Henry II Curtmantle.
In addition to the 8 children of Henry II, there were 12 illegitimate children by the numerous concubines. From www.britannia.com: Contemporaries of Henry II: Louis VII (King of France, 1137-1180), Thomas Beckett (Archbishop of Canterbury), Pope Adrian IV, Frederick I (Frederick Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor, 1152-1190).
Henry II, first of the Angevin kings, and first in the House of Plantagenet, 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 from 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 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 Canterbury 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 Louis the Seventh of France. Some say King Louis 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."
Also: Henry of Anjou, Henry Plantagenet, Henry Fitzempress, or Henry Curtmantle (Short Mantle)duke of Normandy (from 1150), count of Anjou (from 1151), duke of Aquitaine (from 1152), and king of England (from 1154), who greatly expanded his Anglo-French domains and strengthened the royal administration in England.
His quarrels with Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, and with members of his family (his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and such sons as Richard the Lion-Heart and John Lackland) ultimately brought about his defeat.
After receiving a good literary education, part of it in England, Henry became duke of Normandy in 1150 and count of Anjou on the death of his father, Geoffrey Plantagenet, in 1151. Although the claim of his mother, Matilda, daughter of Henry I, to the English crown had been set aside by her cousin, King Stephen, in 1152, Henry advanced his fortunes by marrying the beautiful and talented Eleanor, recently divorced from King Louis VII of France, who brought with her hand the lordship of Aquitaine.
Henry invaded England in 1153, and King Stephen agreed to accept him as coadjutor and heir. When Stephen died the following year Henry succeeded without opposition, thus becoming lord of territories stretching from Scotland to the Pyrenees. The young king lacked visible majesty. Of stocky build, with freckled face, close-cut tawny hair, and gray eyes, he dressed carelessly and grew to be bulky; but his personality commanded attention and drew men to his service. He could be a good companion, with ready repartee in a jostling crowd, but he displayed at times the ungovernable temper of a furious animal and could be heartless and ruthless when necessary. Restless, impetuous, always on the move, regardless of the convenience of others, hewas at ease with scholars, and his administrative decrees were the work of a cool realist.
In his long reign of 34 years he spent an aggregate of only 14 in England. His career may be considered in three aspects: the defense and enlargement of his dominions, the involvement in two lengthy and disastrous personal quarrels, and his lasting administrative and judicial reforms. His territories are often called the Angevin Empire. This is a misnomer, for Henry's sovereignty rested upon various titles, and there was no institutional or legal bond between different regions. Some, indeed, were under the feudal overlordship of the king of France.
By conquest, through diplomacy, and through the marriages of two of his sons, he gained acknowledged possession of what is now the west of France from the northernmost part of Normandy to the Pyrenees, near Carcassonne. During his reign, the dynastic marriages of three daughters gave him political influence in Germany, Castile, and Sicily. His continental dominions brought him into contact with Louis VII of France, the German emperor Frederick I (Barbarossa), and, for much of the reign, Pope Alexander III.
With Louis the relationship was ambiguous. Henry had taken Louis's former wife and her rich heritage. He subsequently acquired the Vexin in Normandy by the premature marriage of his son Henry to Louis's daughter, and during much of his reign he was attempting to outfight or outwit the French king, who, for his part, gave shelter and comfort to Henry's enemy, Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury. The feud with Louis implied friendly relations with Germany, where Henry was helped by his mother's first marriage to the emperor Henry V but hindered by Frederick's maintenance of an antipope, the outcome of a disputed papal election in 1159.
Louis supported Alexander III, whose case was strong, and Henry became arbiter of European opinion. Though acknowledging Alexander, he continued throughout the Becket controversy to threaten transference of allegiance to Frederick's antipope, thus impeding Alexander's freedom of action. Early in his reign Henry obtained from Malcolm III of Scotland homage and the restoration of Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmorland, and later in the reign (1174) homage was exacted from William the Lion, Malcolm's brother and successor.
In 1157 Henry invaded Wales and received homage, though without conquest. In Ireland, reputedly bestowed upon him by Pope Adrian IV, Henry allowed an expedition of barons from South Wales to establish Anglo-Norman supremacy in Leinster (1169), which the King himself extended in 1171. His remarkable achievements were impaired, however, by the stresses caused by a dispute with Becket and by discords in his own family.
The quarrel with Becket, Henry's trusted and successful chancellor (1154-62), broke out soon after Becket's election to the archbishopric of Canterbury (May 1162). It led to a complete severance of relations and to the Archbishop's voluntary exile. Besides disrupting the public life of the church, this situation embroiled Henry with Louis VII and Alexander III; and, though it seemingly did little to hamper Henry's activities, the time and service spent in negotiations and embassies was considerable, and the tragic denouement in Becket's murder earned for Henry a good deal of damaging opprobrium. More dangerous were the domestic quarrels, which thwarted Henry's plans and even endangered his life and which finally brought him down in sorrow and shame.
Throughout his adult life Henry's sexual morality was lax; but his relations with Eleanor, 11 years his senior, were for long tolerably harmonious, and, between 1153 and 1167, she bore him eight children. Of these, the four sons who survived infancy-Henry, Geoffrey, Richard, and John-repaid his genuine affection with resentment toward their father and discord among themselves.
None was blameless, but the cause of the quarrels was principally Henry's policy of dividing his dominions among his sons while reserving real authority for himself. In 1170 he crowned his eldest son, Henry, as co-regent with himself; but in fact the young king had no powers and resented his nonentity, and in 1173 he opposed his father's proposal to find territories for the favored John (Lackland) at the expense of Geoffrey.
Richard joined the protest of the others and was supported by Eleanor. There was a general revolt of the baronage in England and Normandy, supported by Louis VII in France and William the Lion in Scotland. Henry's prestige was at a low ebb after the murder of Becket and recent taxation, but he reacted energetically, settled matters in Normandy and Brittany, and crossed to England, where fighting had continued for a year.
On July 12, 1174, he did public penance at Canterbury. The next day the King of Scots was taken at Alnwick, and three weeks later Henry had suppressed the rebellion in England. His sons were pardoned, but Eleanor was kept in custody until her husband died. A second rebellion flared up in 1181 with a quarrel between his sons Henry and Richard over the government of Aquitaine, but young Henry died in 1183.
In 1184 Richard quarrelled with John, who had been ordered to take Aquitaine off his hands. Matters were eased by the death of Geoffrey (1186), but the King's attempt to find an inheritance for John led to a coalition against him of Richard and the young Philip II Augustus, who had succeeded his father, Louis VII, as king of France.
Henry was defeated and forced to give way, and news that John also had joined his enemies hastened the King's death near Tours in 1189. In striking contrast to the checkered pattern of Henry's wars and schemes, his governance of England displays a careful and successful adaptation of means to a single end-the control of a realm served by the best administration in Europe.
This success was obscured for contemporaries and later historians by the varied and often dramatic interest of political and personal events, and not until the 19th century-when the study of the public records began and when legal history was illuminated by the British jurist Frederic William Maitland and his followers-did the administrative genius of Henry and his servants appear in its true light.
At the beginning of his reign Henry found England in disorder, with royal authority ruined by civil war and the violence of feudal magnates. His first task was to crush the unruly elements and restore firm government, using the existing institutions of government, with which the Anglo-Norman monarchy was well provided.
Among these was the King's council of barons, with its inner group of ministers who were both judges and accountants and who sat at the Exchequer, into which the taxes and dues of the shires were paid by the King's local representative, the sheriff (shire-reeve). The council contained an unusually able group of men-some of them were great barons, such as Richard de Lucy and Robert de Beaumont, earl of Leicester; others included civil servants, such as Nigel, bishop of Ely, Richard Fitzneale, and his son, Richard of Ilchester. Henry took a personal interest in the technique of the Exchequer, which was described at length for posterity in the celebrated Dialogus de scaccario, whose composition seemed to Maitland "one of the most wonderful things of Henry's wonderful reign."
How far these royal servants were responsible for the innovations of the reign cannot be known, though the development in practice continued steadily, even during the King's long absences abroad. In the early months of the reign the King, using his energetic and versatile chancellor Becket, beat down the recalcitrant barons and their castles and began to restore order to the country and to the various forms of justice. It was thus, a few years later, that he came into conflict with the bishops, then led by Becket, over the alleged right of clerics to be tried for crime by an ecclesiastical court.
A result of this was the celebrated collection of decrees-the Constitutions of Clarendon (1164)-which professed to reassert the ancestral rights of the King over the church in such matters as clerical immunity, appointment of bishops, custody of vacant sees, excommunication, and appeals to Rome. The Archbishop, after an initial compliance, refused to accept these, and they were throughout the controversy, a block to an agreement.
The quarrel touched what was to be the King's chief concern-the country's judicial system. Anglo-Saxon England had two courts of justice-that of the hundred, a division of the shire, for petty offenses, and that of the shire, presided over by the sheriff. The feudal regime introduced by the Normans added courts of the manor and of the honor (a complex of estates). Above all stood the royal right to set up courts for important pleas and to hear, either in person or through his ministers, any appeal. Arrest was a local responsibility, usually hard upon a flagrant crime. A doubt of guilt was settled by ordeal by battle; the accused in the shire underwent tests held to reveal God's judgment.
Two developments had come in since William the Conqueror's day: the occasional mission of royal justices into the shires and the occasional use of a jury of local notables as fact finders in cases of land tenure. Henry's first comprehensive program was the Assize of Clarendon (1166), in which the procedure of criminal justice was established; 12 "lawful" men of every hundred, and four of every village, acting as a "jury of presentment," were bound to declare on oath whether any local man was a robber or murderer. Trial of those accused was reserved to the King's justices, and prisons for those awaiting trial were to be erected at the King's expense. This provided a system of criminal investigation for the whole country, with a reasonable verdict probable because the firm accusation of the jury entailed exile even if the ordeal acquitted the accused.
In feudal courts the trial by battle could be avoided by the establishment of a concord, or fine. This system presupposed regular visits by the King's justices on circuit, and these tours became part of the administration of the country. The justices formed three groups: one on tour, one "on the bench" at Westminster, and one with the King when the court was out of London. Those at Westminster dealt with private pleas and cases sent up from the justices on eyre. Equally effective were the "possessory assizes." In the feudal world, especially in times of turmoil, violent ejections and usurpations were common, with consequent vendettas and violence. Pleas brought to feudal courts could be delayed or altogether frustrated. As a remedy Henry established the possessory writ, an order from the Exchequer, directing the sheriff to convene a sworn local jury at petty assize to establish the fact of dispossession, whereupon the sheriff had to reinstate the defendant pending a subsequent trial at the grand assize to establish the rights of the case.
This was the writ of Novel Disseisin (i.e., recent dispossession). This writ was returnable; if the sheriff failed to achieve reinstatement, he had to summon the defendant to appear before the King's justices and himself be present with the writ. A similar writ of Mort d'Ancestor decided whether the ancestor of a plaintiff had in fact possessed the estate, whereas that of Darrein Presentment (i.e., last presentation) decided who in fact had last presented a parson to a particular benefice. All these writs gave rapid and clear verdicts subject to later revision. The fees enriched the treasury, and recourse to the courts both extended the King's control and discouraged irregular self-help.
Two other practices developed by Henry became permanent. One was scutage, the commutation of military service for a money payment; the other was the obligation, put on all free men with a property qualification by the Assize of Arms (1181), to possess arms suitable to their station. The ministers who engaged upon these reforms took a fully professional interest in the business they handled, as may be seen in Fitzneale's writing on the Exchequer and that of the chief justiciar, Ranulf de Glanville, on the laws of England; and many of the expedients adopted by the King may have been suggested by them.
In any case, the long-term results were very great. By the multiplication of a class of experts in finance and law Henry did much to establish two great professions, and the location of a permanent court at Westminster and the character of its business settled for England (and for much of the English-speaking world) that common law, not Roman law, would rule the courts and that London, and not an academy, would be its principal nursery. Moreover, Henry's decrees ensured that the judge-and-jury combination would become normal and that the jury would gradually supplant ordeal and battle as being responsible for the verdict.
Finally, the increasing use of scutage, and the availability of the royal courts for private suits, were effective agents in molding the feudal monarchy into a monarchical bureaucracy before the appearance of Parliament. Henry II lived in an age of biographers and letter writers of genius. John of Salisbury, Thomas Becket, Giraldus Cambrensis, Walter Map, Peter of Blois, and others knew him well and left their impressions. All agreed on his outstanding ability and striking personality and also recorded his errors and aspects of his character that appear contradictory, whereas modern historians agree upon the difficulty of reconciling its main features.
Without deep religious or moral conviction, Henry nevertheless was respected by three contemporary saints, Aelred of Rievaulx, Gilbert of Sempringham, and Hugh of Lincoln. Normally an approachable and faithful friend and master, he could behave with unreasonable inhumanity. His conduct and aims were always self-centred, but he was neither a tyrant nor an odious egoist. Both as man and ruler he lacked the stamp of greatness that marked Alfred the Great and William the Conqueror. He seemed also to lack wisdom and serenity; and he had no comprehensive view of the country's interest, no ideals of kingship, no sympathetic care for his people. But if his reign is to be judged by its consequences for England, it undoubtedly stands high in importance, and Henry, as its mainspring, appears among the most notable of English kings.
House of Plantagenet: Henry II, the son of Geoffrey Plantagenet and Henry I's daughter Matilda, was the first in a long line of 14 Plantagenet kings, stretching from Henry II's accession through to Richard III's death in 1485. Within that line, however, four distinct Royal Houses can be identified: Angevin, Plantagenet, Lancaster and York.
The first Angevin King, Henry II, began the period as arguably the most powerful monarch in Europe, with lands stretching from the Scottish borders to the Pyrenees. In addition, Ireland was added to his inheritance, a mission entrusted to him by Pope Adrian IV (the only English Pope). A new administrative zeal was evident at the beginning of the period and an efficient system of government was formulated. The justice system developed. However there were quarrels with the Church, which became more powerful following the murder of Thomas ā Becket. As with many of his predecessors, Henry II spent much of his time away from England fighting abroad. This was taken to an extreme by his son Richard, who spent only 10 months of a ten-year reign in the country due to his involvement in the crusades. The last of the Angevin kings was John, whom history has judged harshly. By 1205, six years into his reign, only a fragment of the vast Angevin empire acquired by Henry II remained. John quarrelled with the Pope over the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury, eventually surrendering. He was also forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, which restated the rights of the church, the barons and all in the land. John died in ignominy, having broken the contract, leading the nobles to summon aid from France and creating a precarious position for his heir, Henry III.
Henry married Eleanor Of Aquitaine, daughter of William X d' Aquitaine Duke of Aquitaine and Eléanor de Chatellerault, on 11 May 1152 in Bordeaux, Gironde, Aquitaine, France. (Eleanor Of Aquitaine was born in 1122 in Bordeaux, Gironde, Aquitaine, France, died on 31 Mar 1204 in Poitiers, Poitou, Aquitaine, France and was buried in Abbey de Fontevrault, Fontevrault, France.)
Henry next married Ida Plantagenet, daughter of Hamelin Plantagenet and Isabel de Warenne, in 1176 in England. (Ida Plantagenet was born in 1154 in Norfolk, Norfolk, England.)
Henry next married Ykenai Concubine in 1151. (Ykenai Concubine was born in 1131 in Westminster, London, Middlesex, England.)
Henry next had a relationship with Rosamunde de Clifford, daughter of Walter de Clifford and Margaret de Toni, about 1160. (Rosamunde de Clifford was born about 1136 in Clifford Castle, Clifford, Herefordshire, England, died about 1176 in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England and was buried about 1176 in Godstow Nunnery, Wolvercote, Oxfordshire, England.)
Henry next married Nesta Bloet Concubine about 1168. (Nesta Bloet Concubine was born about 1140.)
Henry next had a relationship with Alice de Porhoët Concubine about 1169. (Alice de Porhoët Concubine was born about 1142.)
Henry next married Annabel de Baliol Concubine in 1167 in England. (Annabel de Baliol Concubine was born in 1153 in England and died on 31 Mar 1204 in England.)