Great-grandfather of Richard the Lionheart
Born: Selby, Yorkshire, 1068.
Parents: William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders.
Dynasty: House of Normandy.
Married: (1) Matilda of Scotland, November 11, 1100 (2) Adela of Louvain, January 29, 1121.
Children: Three legitimate. Notably William Adelin and Matilda (by Matilda) and twenty illegitimate children.
Succeeded: to the throne of England, August 2,1100.
Crowned: at Westminster Abbey August 5, 1100..
Authority: King of England and from 1106, Duke of Normandy.
Died: Lyons-la-Foret, near Rouen, France. December 1, 1135.
Buried: Reading Abbey, Berkshire, England.
King Henry I
Biography of King Henry I 1100 – 1135
Henry I, also known as Henry Beauclerc, was born in 1068 in Selby, Yorkshire, England. He was the fourth son of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders. His birth name was Henry, but he earned the nickname Beauclerc, meaning “good scholar” or “good clerk,” due to his love of learning and education.
Growing up, Henry was not expected to inherit the throne. His older brothers, Robert Curthose and William Rufus, were both considered more likely candidates. However, when William Rufus was killed in a hunting accident in 1100, Henry seized the opportunity and claimed the throne for himself.
Henry was crowned King of England on August 5, 1100, at Westminster Abbey. He quickly set about consolidating his power and securing his position on the throne. One of his first acts as king was to marry Edith, the daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland and Margaret of Wessex. Edith changed her name to Matilda upon marriage, and the union strengthened Henry’s ties to Scotland.
Henry was a skilled politician and diplomat, and he worked hard to maintain peace and stability in his kingdom. He reformed the justice system, introducing new laws and establishing a network of royal justices to enforce them. He also strengthened the royal administration, creating new oﬃces and appointing trusted advisors to key positions.
One of Henry’s greatest achievements was his successful military campaign in Normandy. In 1106, he invaded Normandy and defeated his older brother Robert Curthose at the Battle of Tinchebray. Henry captured Robert and imprisoned him for the rest of his life, securing his hold on the duchy of Normandy.
Henry was also a patron of the arts and sciences. He sponsored many scholars and writers at his court. He was particularly interested in law and government, and he encouraged the development of legal and administrative texts.
Despite his many successes, Henry’s reign was not without its challenges. He faced several rebellions, including one led by his own nephew, Robert of Belesme, in 1102. Henry also had to contend with the ongoing conflict between the English and Welsh, which he tried to resolve through diplomacy and military force.
Henry’s personal life was also tumultuous. His marriage to Matilda was not a happy one, and they had no children. In 1120, Henry’s only legitimate son, William, was killed in the White Ship disaster. Henry was devastated by his son’s death, and it is said that he never fully recovered from the loss.
In his later years, Henry became increasingly concerned with securing the succession to the throne. He had no legitimate heirs, and he feared that his nephew, Stephen of Blois, would try to claim the throne after his death. To prevent this, Henry made the barons and bishops of England swear an oath of loyalty to his daughter, Matilda, and he arranged for her to marry Geoﬀrey Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou.
Henry died on December 1, 1135, at the age of 67. He was buried at Reading Abbey, which he had founded in 1121. His death sparked a power struggle between Matilda and Stephen, which eventually led to the period of civil war known as the Anarchy.
Henry I, Beauclerc, was a remarkable king who left a lasting legacy on England. He was a skilled politician and diplomat who worked tirelessly to maintain peace and stability in his kingdom. He was also a patron of the arts and sciences, and he played a key role in the development of legal and administrative texts. Despite the challenges he faced, Henry’s reign was marked by many successes, including his military campaigns in Normandy.