We can all probably name some of England’s monarchs but I bet there is 1 you can’t. I like to introduce him to you.
Henry the Young King
Henry was born on the 28th February 1155 at the Palace of Bermondsey. He was the second son of King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. After the death of his elder brother in 1156 aged 3 Henry became heir to the throne of England. He married Margaret of France, the daughter of King Louis VII of France (Eleanor of Aquitaine’s first husband) and Constance of Castile, in 1172 in Winchester Cathedral. The couple were betrothed when he was 5 and she was 2. The couple had 1 son William who was born prematurely in 1177 in Paris, France. William died when he was just a few days old.
Young Henry was described as being a tall strong man with red hair and blue eyes and being handsome. He was well skilled at fighting and took part in many tournaments throughout Europe making his a sort of celebrity.
Henry was crowned King of England, Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou at Westminster Abbey in 1170 when he was 15 years old. What’s unusual about this, well his father was still alive and was still actively King. This made Henry a joint king with his father King Henry II. So technically the county had 2 monarchs, King Henry II and King Henry III, (although Young Henry was never was given a regnal number as it was assumed he would take the title King Henry III after the death of his father). So if Young Henry was actually Henry III, this makes Henry III the IV and so on so King Henry VIII was actually King Henry IX.
So how did this work, well at the time England ruled great portions of France through Henry’s parents and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine’s family. This meant that the king could not be present in his entire realm. The plan was for young Henry to take some of the responsibility, but in truth this never happened. It seems King Henry II only really crowned young Henry to make sure his heir was in place. This was because of the troubles in the accession after the death of his grandfather King Henry I. King Henry I only surviving child was a girl, Matilda, so many felt the crown should go to his nephew Stephen. Matilda didn’t like this to say the least and it led to what was known as the Anarchy (the struggle and war between Stephen and Matilda lasting from 1135 – 1154). The main struggles ended when Stephen named Matilda’s son Henry (King Henry II) as his heir. So by crowning the young Henry it solidified his sons claim to throne after he died.
But there was a problem young Henry wanted some power to go with his titles. This lead to young Henry rebelling against his father in 1173. He was joined by many of the leaders of the regions of France. In truth young Henry had been at odds with his father since 1170 when Henry’s great friend and father figure Thomas Beckett was murdered, perhaps on the orders of his father. It is also felt that Young Henry’s mother Eleanor of Aquitaine was involved in the struggle siding with her son and encouraging his brothers Geoffrey, Richard and John to side with him. This lead to Eleanor being imprisoned for the next 16 years, which turned the family against itself due to the close bond between mother and sons.
The battles with his father came to a head in 1183 when Young Henry’s troops along with those of his brother Geoffrey and the King of France attempted to ambush King Henry II at Limoges, France. This ambush failed and young Henry had to flee into Aquitaine. It was during the period of exile that Young Henry died at Martel in Quercy, France from dysentry. He was initially buried at the cathedral of Le Mans and later moved to Rouen Cathedral, France.
What happened to the family after this? Well King Henry II ruled until his death in 1189. Geoffrey died in 1186 in Paris leaving behind a widow and 3 children, his son Arthur was named heir to the new King (he never became king). Richard became King on the death of his father and spent much time on crusade or imprisoned in France, during which time the country was run by his mother Eleanor. Richard died in 1199 in his mother’s arms from an infected arrow wound. And John became King after Richard died and had an eventful rule. Eleanor died in 1204 at the abbey of Fontevraud, France where she was a nun. Her tomb is in the main church of the abbey where she lays alongside her husband King Henry II, her son King Richard I and her daughter in law Isabella of Angouleme (King John’s second wife).
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!