Father of Richard the Lionheart
Born in Le Mans, Maine, France. March 5, 1133.
Parents: Count Geoffrey the Fifth of Anjou and Empress Matilda.
Grand-Parents: Henry the First, King of England, Count Fulk the Fifth of Anjou, King of Jerusalem. Princess Matilda of Scotland, and Countess Ermengarde of Maine.
Married : Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, annulled Queen of France on May 18, 1152. at Bordeaux Cathedral.
Invested: Count of Anjou & Maine
Succeeded to the throne of England: October 25,1154.
Crowned: at Westminster Abbey December 19, 1154.
Authority: King of England, overlord of Wales, Scotland, eastern Ireland and western France.
Rule: 35 years.
Died: Chinon Castle, Touraine, France. July 6, 1189.
Buried: Fontevraud Abbey, Pays de la Loire, France.
In The Name of the Father
Ailing from the death of his only son William Adelin in the White Ship disaster the death of the last Norman King of England, Henry Beauclerc, in 1135 propelled the kingdom into a cycle of war of succession between his daughter Matilda and his nephew Stephen of Blois. Thus began The Anarchy.
Even though both were grandchildren of William the Conqueror - by the statutes of Salic Law - Stephen had legal precedence over Matilda by being male. Stephen’s older brother had first claim but preferred the calm civility of Blois over prospects of subduing unruly Saxons. Stephen bent himself to task but soon realized he would have to fight to earn his crown. The king was jostled into concessions he could barely keep and it was to the Barons advantage to keep him off balance. These were nineteen long years when the angels slept and civil war devastated the English countryside.
The widowed Matilda was the wife of the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry the Fifth, who passed away in 1125 without issue. It was but a few years after she was betrothed to Count Geoffrey le Bel of Anjou, who, because of his habit of wearing a sprig of broomflower (Planta Genista) in his bonnet, would lend the nickname to generations of kings of England forever to be known as The Plantagenets.
Matilda’s marriage to the handsome Count Geoffrey was beneath her dignity - both as princess and empress - but in spite of this she did bear three children by him. Although Matilda was not officially crowned Queen of England she did enjoy the title for a few months ultimately being rejected by the powers that be in London. She may not reign but she could be the power behind the throne through her son, Henry fitzEmpress. To that end she devoted all her energy. She would sit in triumph over London.
Henry the Second would whip England into shape. Dragging it kicking and screaming into the Twelfth Century. It was said by the end of his grandfather’s reign a man could walk the width and breadth of England with a full purse without being accosted. By the time Henry the Second was through with the justice system, a maiden could do likewise with her arms full of gold.
At the age of sixteen Henry’s bid for the throne began with a foray across the English channel to claim his inheritance. A noble attempt which was easily rebuffed by King Stephen’s men.
But this was just the beginning of the indomitable Henry fitzEmpress.