Great-Uncle of Richard the Lionheart
Born: Blois, France, c1097.
Parents:Count Stephen of Blois and Adela (daughter of William the Conqueror).
Dynasty: House of Normandy.
Married: Matilda of Boulogne in 1125.
Children: Five. Notably Eustace, Count of Boulogne.
Succeeded: to the throne of England, December 22,1135.
Crowned: at Westminster Abbey December 26, 1135..
Authority: King of England, Count of Boulogne with claims on Normandy until 1145.
Rule: 19 years.
Died: St Martin’s Priory, Dover, Kent on October 25, 1154..
Buried: Faversham Abbey, Kent, England.
Biography of King Stephen of Blois, 1135 – 1154
Stephen of Blois, also known as Stephen of England, was a prominent figure in medieval English history. He was born around 1096, the son of Stephen Henry, Count of Blois, and Adela, daughter of William the Conqueror. Stephen was the grandson of King William the Conqueror and the younger brother of King Henry I of England.
Stephen was born into a noble family and received a good education, studying at the Abbey of Saint-Denis in Paris. In 1115, he married Matilda, the daughter of Eustace III, Count of Boulogne, and they had four children together. Matilda was a strong-willed and ambitious woman who played a key role in her husband’s career.
In 1125, Stephen’s brother King Henry I named him as his heir, and Stephen became the Count of Boulogne. However, after Henry’s death in 1135, Stephen faced competition for the English throne from his cousin Matilda, Henry’s daughter. Matilda was supported by many powerful nobles, including her half-brother Robert, Earl of Gloucester, and her uncle King David I of Scotland.
Stephen, however, was able to secure the support of the Church and many other nobles, and he was crowned King of England in December 1135. Stephen’s reign was marked by political and military turmoil, as he struggled to maintain control of the kingdom against Matilda’s forces.
One of Stephen’s first challenges came from his own brother, Theobald, who rebelled against him in 1136. Theobald was supported by Louis VI of France, but Stephen was able to defeat him and maintain his grip on power.
Stephen’s most significant military challenge came from Matilda and her supporters, who invaded England in 1139. The war between Stephen and Matilda, known as the Anarchy, lasted for several years and caused widespread devastation across the country.
During this period, Stephen faced numerous challenges from rebel barons who seized control of their own territories and refused to recognize his authority. One of the most famous of these rebel barons was Robert, Earl of Leicester, who captured Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 and imprisoned him in Bristol Castle.
However, Stephen’s wife Matilda played a key role in securing his release, negotiating a prisoner exchange with Robert that saw Stephen released in exchange for Robert’s captive wife and stepson.
Despite these setbacks, Stephen continued to fight for the English crown, and he was eventually able to secure a peace agreement with Matilda in 1153. The Treaty of Wallingford recognized Stephen as king and allowed him to keep the crown for the remainder of his life, while Matilda’s son Henry was named as his successor.
Stephen died on October 25, 1154, at the age of 58, and was buried at Faversham Abbey in Kent. He is remembered as a controversial figure in English history, who was able to maintain his grip on power during a tumultuous period of English history. While he faced significant challenges from his rivals, he was able to secure his position through his political skill and the support of the Church and many other nobles.