The drowning of prince William, the only ligitimate male heir to Henry I in the sinking of the White Ship off the coast of Normandy on November 25th, 1120 left the Norman dynasty without a viable heir other than Henry's daughter Maud or Matilda. Although Henry I had made the Witan, the great council of the magnates of the realm, pay homage to Matilda in 1127 as his rightfull heir, and again in 1133 after the birth of her son Henry by Geoffrey of Anjou, the Norman barons disliked the strong-willed queen and distrusted their enemies the Angevins so when the weak Stephen of Blois entered England shortly after Henry's death in 1135 to usurp the throne he was unoposed if not openly welcomed by many.
The civil war between Stephen and Matilda, later to be known as
"The Anarchy", which followed
destroyed Henry I's legal and administrative reforms, but
threw the country into a long period of turmoil. A year before his death, peace was established
between the two contenders for the crown when Stephen, already suffering from ill health,
agreed that Matilda's son Henry Plantagenet should succeed him on his
death as Henry II.
A number of the revellers on the White Ship the may have sensed trouble and, like Stephen of Blois (already ill with diarrhoea), decided to leave and arrange for a later passage.
It is interesting to ponder how the history of England would have progressed on the death of king Henry I in 1035 had Stephen who later claimed the English throne stayed aboard and drowned on the White Ship in 1120.
Roger, Bishop of Salisbury claimed claimed after Henry I's death that he could not be bound by his oath of allegiance to Matilda becuase it had been sworn conditionally - that Henry would not marry his daughter outside of the kingdom without his consent and that of the magnates.
Born in 1096, Stephen de Blois was the fourth son of Stephen II Henry de Blois, Count of Blois, by Adela, the daughter of William the Conqueror. Hubert, his eldest brother, died very young while his brother, William de Champagne, Count of Chartes was an imbecile and was disinherited in favor of his younger brother, Theobald III, who became Count of Blois in 1125. Henry I's favorite nephew, he was never expected to be a candidate for the throne of England and Duchy of Normandy but, by the time of Henry I's death in 1135, he was the eldest legitimate male grandchild of the Conqueror excepting Theobald.
Stephen married Matilda de Boulogne (b. c.1095, died at Faversham on July 3rd, 1151), daughter of Comte Eustace III de Boulogne and Mary of Scotland, in 1125.
According to contemporary account, while Stephen was easy-going and brave in battle, he was politically naive and easily manipulated. Following Henry's death on December 1st, 1135, he hastened to London where he was accepted as king by the magnates and crowned at Westminster Abbey by Archbishop William of Corbeil on December 25th, 1135.
Although the majority of the magnates rallied to Stephen, a minority remained clandestinely loyal to Matilda, particularly her half-brother, Robert, Earl of Gloucester.
Stephen's actions with regard to the royal forests were typical of the many ill-concieved actions of his reign. In an apprently magnanamous gesture, Stephen repealed all prohibitions against hunting and many of Henry's unjust forest laws. Game had become so depleted in the kingdom within a year that Stephen found himself having to re-invoke the old laws.
In 1137, Stephen crossed the Channel to Normandy to unsuccessfuly press his claim to the duchy and his failure to capture it started his loss of support among the magnates. Two years later, his arrest of arrested Bishop Robert of Salisbury and his nephews, Bishop Alex of London, and Chancellor Roger, and the seizure of their wealth on questionable evidence of plotting against him outraged the Church as well. At about the same time Matilda and her husband, Geoffrey of Anjou, landed at Arundel to press Matilda's claim to the throne and starting the period of unrest later known as "The Anarchy".
Died on October 25th, 1154.
When aged only eight or nine, Matilda was married to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V
and practically raised in Germany.
Widowed by the death of Henry V, she was married to the Angevin Geoffrey Plantagenet (only fourteen years old) and the marriage was not a happy one - Matilda was sent back to her father on at least one occassion.
Matilda was the eldest survivor of Henry I's legitimate children after the death of Prince William in 1020. She was recognized as Henry's heir by the magnates (including her cousin, Stephen of Blois) and the King of Scotland as his heir in 1127.
"The Anarchy" is the name given to the period of turmoil and civil war which prevailed during the reign of
Stephen for some twenty years after the death of Henry I in 1135.
After the death of William, the only legitimate male heir of Henry I in the sinking of the White Ship in 1120, the king forced the barons to swear allegiance to his daughter Matilda as his rightfull heir but she was a woman and married to Geoffrey of Anjou.
Despite having sworn allegiance to Matilda, on Henry's death Stepehn ignored the stronger claim of his elder brother Thobald, Count of Blios, and entered London to declare himself king with the agreement of the magnates and the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Innocent II. The main opposition to Matilda was from her powerful half-brother, Robert of Gloucester.
David I of Scotland invaded Northumberland, nominally on her behalf, but little fighting actually took place and David was defeated by King Stephen at the Battle of the Standard in August 22nd, 1138.Later that year, Robert of Gloucester changed his allegiance to side with Matilda and Geoffrey of Anjou while Stephen's poor decisions alienated many of his supporters and his own brother, Henry, Bishop of Winchester, turned against him. Matilda entered England in 1139 and made a stand at Arundel Castle in Sussex.
While Stephen's forces were gathering in Oxford, Matilda was unwisely allowed to travel to Bristol where she met up with her half-brother, Robert of Gloucester.
The magnates, who claimed to fight for one claimant or the other, actually took advantage of the unrest to increase their own property and wealth and most military actions were raids which served no purpose other than plunder. The barons changed sides many times, usually in response to lavish gifts presented by one side or the other as bribes which only served to increase their wealth and power rather than buy their loyalty.
With Robert's support, Matilda soon amassed sufficient support to march on Lincoln where the only major battle of The Anarchy took place on February 2nd, 1141 resulting in the defeat and capture of Stephen.
While Stepehan was held captive in Bristol, Matilda ruled from London for a short period but her haughty manner earned her many enemies and she was forced to flee for Oxford.
Robert of Gloucester fell into the hands of Stephen's supporters in September 1141 and Matilda decided to trade Robert for the imprisoned Stephen who returned to the throne. By this stage, Stephen and his supporters held most of the country and Matilda was beseiged at Oxford Castle forcing her to make her night-time escape in the snow which became legendary.
Even though Matilda returned to Anjou after Robert of Gloucester's death in 1147, unrest continued throughout the weak Stephen's reign and the order and strong government established by Henry I disintegrated to the extent that that the period has been described as "Christ and all his saints slept" and gave rise to it being popularly known as "The Anarchy".
In 1153, Stephen was already in poor health and was dealt a sudden blow by the unexpected death of his son Eustace. Stephen had hoped to see Eustace crowned as king of England during his own lifetime but the Pope refused his permission and even placed England under an interdict for a time during the dispute.
Although Stephen had another surviving son (William, Count of Bolougne, who died in 1160), Matilda's son Henry arrived in England to wrest the throne from Stephen by force. War was averted by the Treaty of Wallingford made in November 1153 by which Stephen acknowledged Henry as his successor, thus establishing the Plantagenet dynasty. Stephen did not survive the agreement by a year, dying on October 25th, 1154.
Rumours were already in circulation that Stephen was the biological father of Henry before the
Treaty of Wallingford by which he by-passed his acknowledged surviving son William. No evidence supporting this has ever emerged however.
|Henry, Bishop of Winchester|
|Third son of Stephen, Count of Blois and Adela, daughter of the Conqueror, and King Stephen's brother.|
|1096||Birth of Stephen of Blois, nephew of Henry I, crowned King of England in 1135|
|1125||Stephen of Blois marries Matilda de Boulogne (c.1095-1151), daughter of Comte Eustace III de Boulogne and Mary of Scotland|
|1127.Jan||Henry I forces the magnates to accept his daughter Matilda as his heir |
|1135.Dec.01||Death of Henry I (Beauclerc).|
Stephen of Blois accepted as king of England by the magnates depsite their previous oaths to Henry\'s daughter Matilda
|1135.Dec.25||Stephen of Blois crowned king of England at Westminster Abbey by Archbishop William of Corbeil|
[[[ or Dec 22nd ]]]
|BAAAGEFJ BAAAGEFR |
|1136||Stephen ceded Cumberland to King
David of Scotland|
| BAAAGEKC |
|1136||Stephen repeals the forest laws, provides for immediate elections of bishops and abolishes the Danegeld|
|BAAAGDIY BAAAGDGC |
|1136||King David of Scotland invades the North of England|
|1136||Stephen grants Carlisle to David of Scotland|
|1136||Stephen captures Bampton and exiles Robert of Bampton|
|1136.Feb.05||David of Scotland forced to submit by Stephen|
|1136.Mar||Stephen revives the Easter court tradition|
|1136.Mar.22||Crowning of Stephen\'s wife, Matilda of Boulogne|
|1136.Apr||Recognition of Stephen as King of England by Pope Innocent II|
|1136.Apr||Return to England of Robert, Earl of Gloucester (illigitimate half-brother of Matilda)|
|1136.Apr.26||Stephen fall ill (-Apr.29) and the rumours of his death cause the rebellion of someof the magnates|
|1136.Jul||Exeter beseiged by King Stephen and Baldwin de redvers exiled|
|BAAAGBAV BAAAGDZD |
|1136.Sep||Geoffrey of Anjou raids Normandy|
|1136.Nov.21||Death of William of Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury|
|1137||David of Scotland threatens to invade Northumberland|
|1137||Death of 1108-1137 Louis VI the Fat of France (1108-). Louis VII becomes king (-1180)|
|1137||King Stephen does homage to the King of France as Duke of Normandy|
|1137.Mar||King Stephen crosses to Normandy to enforce his claim to the duchy|
His failure to capture the duchy started to lose him support amongst the magnates
|1137.Jun||Truce made between King Stephen and Henry of Anjou|
|1137.Dec||King Stephen lays siege to Miles of Beauchamp at Bedford|
|1138||Geoffrey of Anjou raids Normandy|
|1138.Jan.10||David of Scotland invades Northumberland, under the pretext of supporting Matilda in her claim to the throne against King Stephen|
| BAAAGEKC |
|1138.Feb.02||Stephen and his army reach Northumberland|
|1138.Mar||Geoffrey Talbot seizes Hereford Castle|
|1138.Apr||King Stephen destroys Hereford Castle|
|1138.Apr.08||David of Scotland invades Northumberland and ravages the East Coast|
|1138.May.22||Robert, Earl of Gloucester, formally renounces his allegiance to Stephen in support of his illigitimate half-sister Matilda\'s claim to the throne|
|1138.Jun.15||Hereford burned by Geoffrey Talbot|
|1138.Aug||Stephen captures Dudley Castle, near Shrewsbury|
|1138.Aug.22||Battle of the Standard: David of Scotland defeated by King Stephen|
The Scots defeated by a force raised by Thurstan, Archbishop of York
|BAAAGEFP BAAAGEFQ BAAAGEKC |
|1138.Dec.13||Election of Theobald of Bec as Archbishop of Canterbury|
|1139||Davids son invested as Earl of Northumberland|
|1139||Garrison left at Wallingford|
|1139||Stephen captures South Cerney|
|1139.Jan||Pope Innocent II declares the legitimacy of Stephen\'s rule after hearing charges of his usurpation of the Crown|
|1139.Apr.09||Peace made between David of Scotland and Stephen by a treaty signed at Durtham|
| BAAAGEKC |
|1139.Jun||Stephen\\\'s arrest of Bishop Robert of Salisbury and his nephews, Bishop Alex of London, and Chancellor Roger, on questionable evidence of offense against the majesty of the King allienated the Church|
|1139.Sep.30||Matilda and her husband, Geoffrey of Anjou, land at Arundel in Sussex heralding the start of almost 20 years of the civil war known as The Anarchy
[[[ Matilda landed with Geoffrey of Anjou OR Robert of Gloucester ]]]
|1139.Oct||Malmesbury Castle captured by
|1139.Oct||King Stephen leaves a garrison at Devizes to check Trowbridge|
|BAAAGDAI BAAAGDAD |
|1139.Oct||Garrison at Wallingford defeated by Miles of Gloucester|
|1139.Oct.07||Malmesbury burned by Robert fitz Hubert|
|1139.Nov.07||Worcester sacked by Miles of Gloucester|
|1139.Dec.11||Death of Robert, Bishop of Salisbury|
|by 1139.Dec||Hereford, South Cerney and Winchcomb captured by Miles of Gloucester|
|1140||King Stephen forms an alliance with Louis VII of France|
|1140||Rebellion of Bishop Nigel of Ely|
but the Isle of Ely was captured by Stephen
|1140||Reginald of Dunstanville harasses Stephen\\\'s forces from Cornwall. He is defeated by Stephen |
He is defeated by Stephen
Robert fitz Hubert by John fitz Gilbert who was loyal to Robert of Gloucester|
After a contest of wills, fitz Hubert is hung for not releasing Devizes to Earl Robert and Miles
|1140||King Stephen purchases the submission of Devizes for a \\\'very large sums of money\\\' |
Matilda negotiate for peace|
|1140||Geoffrey de Mandeville created 1st Earl of Essex in reward for his services against the Empress Matilda|
|1140.Feb.06||Death of Thurstan, Archbishop of York|
|1140.Mar.26||Robert fitz Hubert recaptures Malmesbury and begins devastating the surrounding countryside, declaring himself independent of Stephen and Matilda and intent on seizing the country between Winchester and London
|BAAAGCMT BAAAGDIT BAAAGDKN BAAAGEIE |
|1140.Sep||Bishop Henry holds discussions with King Louis VII of France, Count Theobald, and \'many ecclesiastics\'|
|1140.Sep||Robert of Gloucester captures Nottingham|
|1140.Dec||Stephen confers distinctions on Ranulf, Earl of Chester and William of Roumare|
|1140.Dec||Ranulf and William seize Lincoln Castle by trickery |
|1140.Dec||Stephen besieges Lincoln but Ranulf escapes to enlist the aid of Robert and Miles of Gloucester |
|1141.Feb.01||Robert and Ranulf\'s forces arrive at Lincoln|
|1141.Feb.02||Abandoned by his earls, King Stephen defeated and captured by Ranulf and Robert\'s forces at the battle of Lincoln |
Ranulf and Robert\'s forces slaughter the towsfolk of Lincoln
| BAAAGEFP BAAAGEFQ |
|1141.Feb.09||King Stephen brought to Bristol as Matilda\'s prisoner|
|BEEEGEDZ BAAAGEDZ |
|1141.Feb.17||Matilda accepts the submission of Cirencester|
|1141.Mar.03||Matilda recognized as lady and queen by Bishop Henry at Winchester|
|BAAAGDIT BAAAGEIE |
|1141.Apr.08||Council of Winchester: ecclesiastical council convened by Bishop Henry to elect Matilda as Queen of England|
The only known public appearance of William of Malmesbury
|1141.Jun||Londoners appeal to Matilda to repeal the harsh laws of Henry I and moderate her own demands. The furious Quuen devastates the outskirts of London to enforce her will but is forced to flee, first to Oxford and then to Gloucester when the Londoners rebel against her|
|1141.Jun||Bishop henry renews his allegiance to King Stephen having witnessed Matilda\'s rule|
|1141.Jun.24||Matilda arrives in London toprepare for her coronation|
|1141.Jul||Matilda\'s forces march on Winchester but Bishop Henry escapes to rally Stephen\'s forces|
|BAAAGDIT BAAAGEIE |
|1141.Jul||Ranulf attempts to side first with Stephen, then with Matilda but is rebuffed by both|
|1141.Jul||Matilda de Boulogne, Stephen\'s Queen lays siege to the Empress Matilda at Winchester|
|BAAAGDIT BAAAGEIE |
|1141.Sep||Robert of Gloucester, held at Rochester, negotiates his own release in exchange for that of King Stephen|
|1141.Sep.14||Forces of the Empress Matilda and Robert of Gloucester attempt to break out of Winchester
Earl Robert and King David captured by Queen Matilda\'s forces. King David bribes his way to freedom. Matilda flees to Ludgershall, Devizes, and finally to Gloucester
|BAAAGDAI BAAAGDIT BAAAGEIE |
|1141.Nov.01||King Stephen released from his imprisonment at Bristol in exchange for the freedom of Robert of Gloucester|
|1141.Dec.07||Henry, Bishop of Winchester, attempts to justify his changes in allegiance in The Anarchy|
|1141.Dec.25||King Stephen performs the coronation ceremony again at Canterbury to emphasize his sovereignty and is restored to all power and dignity|
|1142||King Stephen travels to Northern England to stop a proposed tournament|
possibly fearing the knightly sport of the tournay might erupt into a small-scale war
|1142.Mar||King Stephen falls ill returning from Northern England and rumours of his death abound|
[[[ Easter ]]]
|1142.Jun||Matilda attempts to bring her husband, Geoffrey of Anjou, to England to aid her|
|1142.Jun||Robert of Gloucester sails from Wareham to Normandy to personally request aid for Matilda\\\'s cause
He stays in Normandy for summer helping Geoffrey of Anjou capture ten Norman castles
|BAAAGCAI BAAAGBKX |
|1142.Jun||King Stephen seizes Wareham|
|1142.Jun||King Stephen destroys castles at Cirencester, Bampton, and Radcot on his way to Oxford |
|1142.Sep.26||King Stephen attacks Matilda\'s headquarters and lays siege to Oxford|
|1142.Oct||Geoffrey of Anjou refuses to aid his wife, Matilda, sending instead their 9-year-old son Henry (later Henry II) with Earl Robert to inspire the magnates|
|1142.Oct||Earl Robert lays siege to Wareham for Matilda|
He captures the town after three weeks
|circa 1142.Nov||Earl Robert seizes the Isle of Portland and Lulworth in Dorset|
|BAAAGCQX BAAAGBYS |
|1142.Dec||Earl Robert summons Matilda\'s forces to assemble at Cirencester|
|1142.Dec||Empress Matilda makes her famous escape from Oxford in the snow wearing white as a camouflage|
|1142.Dec||Oxford surrenders to King Stephen|
|1143||King Stephen devastates the countryside around Wareham, Dorset|
|BAAAGCAI BAAAGBYS BAAAGCAN |
|1143||King Stephen gathers a huge army at Wilton, presumably to attack Bristol|
|BAAAGDEZ BAAAGCEO |
|1143||Earl Robert of Gloucester meets Stephen and Bishop Henry of Winchester at Wilton - Stephen and Henry are forced to retreat|
William Martel, the king\'s steward and castellan of Sherborne prevents Stephen\'s capture, but is captured himself
|BAAAGCEO BAAAGCBG BAAAGEIE |
|1143||Bishop Henry returns to Winchester but William de Pont de l\'Arche holds the Castle for Matilda, and summons her forces to help him challenge the bishop\'s control of the city|
|BAAAGDIT BAAAGEIE |
|1143||Robert son of Hildebrand is dispatched to aid William of Pont de l\'Arche at Winchester. Rather than aid him, Robert seduces his wife, imprisons William allegiance to King Stephen|
|BAAAGDIT BAAAGEIE |
|1143||King Stephen arrests Geoffrey de Mandeville for treason at St Albans
Given the choice of execution or the surrender of the Tower of London and his Essex castles to the king, he chose his life
|1143.Sep.24||Death of Pope Innocent II. The pro-Angevin Celestine II becomes pope|
|1144||Louis VII of France formally grants Henry of Anjou (Henry II of England) the Duchy of Normandy|
|BAAAGBKX BAAAGBKY BAAAGBVF |
|1144||Geoffrey de Mandeville is released and embarks on plunder and devastation unparalleled even during the Anarchy|
|1144||Geoffrey de Mandeville sacks and seizes Ramsey|
|1144||Knights Templar take Geoffrey de Mandeville\'s body to London for burial|
|1144||Ranulf, Earl of Chester ravages the north of England capturing castles held by the King\'s supporters|
|1144||The king captures Winchcomb Castle|
|1144||Hugh Bigod plunders East Anglia|
|1144||Miles of Gloucester lays heavy exactions on Robert, bishop of Hereford, refuses levies and has the bishop\'s lands ravaged causing his own excommunication
|1144.Jan.20||Geoffrey of Anjou captures Rouen in Normandy and assumes title of Duke of Normandy|
|1144.Mar.08||Death of Pope Celestine II. Lucius II becomes pope|
Unlike Celestine II, Lucius II supports King Stephen
|1144.Aug||Geoffrey de Mandeville lays siege to Burwell Castle and is gravely wounded by an arrow|
|1144.Sep.16||Death of the excommunicated Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, (b. before 1091) at Mildenhall, Suffolk|
|1144.Dec.24||Death of Miles of Gloucester in a hunting accident|
|1145||Geoffrey of Anjou conquers Arques and holds all of the duchy of Normandy |
|1145.Feb.15||Death of Pope Lucius II. Pro-Angevin Eugenius III becomes pope|
|1147||Matilda returned to Anjou after the death of her half-brother, Robert of Caen, Earl of Gloucester|
| BAAAGEDZ |
|1151||Death of Geoffrey of Anjou, Duke of Normandy and husband of the Empress Matilda|
|1151.Jul.03||Death of Matilda de Boulogne (c.1095-), wife of King Stephen, at Faversham|
|1153||End of The Anarchy as Stephen, sufering from ill-health, accepts Matilda\'s son, Henry Plantagenet, as his heir by the Treaty of Wallingford|
|1153||John Marshal fortifies Hamstead Marshall Castle near Newbury against King Stephen|
His son, William the Marshal, is held hostage by the king as a result
|1153.Aug||Death of Eustace, son of king Stephen|
|1154.Jan.13||English magnates do homage to Henry|
|1154.Apr.04||Henry of Anjou returns to Normandy after the discovery of a plot by William to kill him|
|1154.Oct.25||Death of King Stephen of chronic flux of haemorroids or an heart attack at Dover.|
Henry II becomes the first Plantagenet king of England (as settled by the Treaty of Wallingford the previous year)
As count of Anjou, Henry II possessed almost half of France as a vassal of the French King
|BAAAGBKX BAAAGBKY BAAAGBVF BAAAGEHJ |
|1160||Death of Willaim, Count of Boulogne (son of King Stephen)|
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