Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Henry I of England
Henry I (c.1068 – December 1, 1135), called Henry Beauclerk or Henry Beauclerc because of his scholarly interests, was the youngest son of William the Conqueror. He reigned as King of England from 1100 to 1135, succeeding his brother, William II Rufus. He was also known by the nickname "Lion of Justice". His reign is noted for his limitations on the power of the crown, his improvements in the machinery of government, his reuniting of the dominions of his father, and his controversial decision to name his daughter as his heir.
Henry was born between May 1068 and May 1069, probably in Selby, Yorkshire in England. His mother, Queen Matilda of Flanders, named him after her uncle, King Henry I of France. As the youngest son of the family, he was most likely expected to become a bishop and was given extensive schooling for a young nobleman of that time period. William of Malmesbury asserts that Henry once remarked that an illiterate king was a crowned ass. He was probably the first Norman ruler to be fluent in the English language.
- Robert received the Duchy of Normandy
- William received the Kingdom of England
- Henry received 5,000 pounds of silver
Orderic Vitalis reports that King William declared to Henry: "You in your own time will have all the dominions I have acquired and be greater than both your brothers in wealth and power."
The two older brothers made an agreement that if either died without an heir, the two dominions of their father would be reunited under the surviving brother.
Seizing the throne of England
When William II died on August 2, 1100, however, Robert was returning from the First Crusade. His absence, along with his poor reputation among the Norman nobles, allowed Henry to seize the keys of the royal hoard at Winchester. He was accepted as king by the leading barons and was crowned three days later on August 5 at Westminster. He immediately secured his position among the nobles by issuing the Charter of Liberties, which is considered a forerunner of the Magna Carta.
On November 11, 1100 Henry married Edith, daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland. Since Edith was also the niece of Edgar Atheling, the marriage united the Norman line with old English line of kings. The marriage greatly displeased the Norman barons, however, and as a concession to their sensibilities, Edith changed her named to Matilda upon becoming queen.
Conquest of Normandy
The following year in 1101, Robert Curthose attempted to seize back the crown by invading England. In the Treaty of Alton, Robert agreed to recognize Henry as king of England and return peacefully to Normandy, upon receipt of an annual sum of 2000 marks, which Henry proceeded to pay.
In 1105, to eliminate the continuing threat from Robert, Henry led an expeditionary force across the English Channel. In 1106, he decisively defeated his brother's Norman army at Tinchebray. He imprisoned his brother and appropriated the Duchy of Normandy as a possession of England, thus reuniting his father's dominions.
Activities as a King
As King, Henry carried out social and judicial reforms, including:
However, Henry was also known for some brutal acts. He once threw a traitorous burgher named Conan Pilatus from the tower of Rouen; the tower was known from then on as "Conan's Leap". In another instance that took place in 1119, King Henry's son-in-law, Eustace de Pacy, and Ralph Harnec, the constable of Ivry, exchanged their children as hostages. When Eustace blinded Harnec's son, Harnec demanded vengeance. King Henry allowed Harnec to blind and mutiliate Eustace's two daughters, who were also Henry's own grandchildren. Eustace and his wife, Juliane, were outraged and threatened to rebel. Henry arranged to meet his daughter at a parlay at Breteuil, only for Juliane to draw a crossbow and attempt to assassinate her father. She was captured and confined to the castle, but escaped by leaping from a window into the moat below. Some years later Henry was reconciled to his daughter and son-in-law.
He had two children by Matilda before her death in 1118: Maud, born February 1102, and William Adelin, born November 1103. Disaster struck when his only legitimate son William Adelin perished in the wreck of the White Ship, on November 25, 1120, off the coast of Normandy. Also among the dead were two of Henry's bastard children, as well as a niece, Lucia de Blois. It was said that King Henry was never again seen to smile after being told of William Adelin's death.
On January 29, 1121, he married Adeliza, daughter of Godfrey, Count of Louvain , but there were no children from this marriage. Left without male heirs, Henry took the unprecedented step of making his barons swear to accept his daughter Matilda, widow of Henry V, the Holy Roman Emperor, as his heir.
Death and legacy
Although Henry's barons had sworn allegiance to his daughter Matilda as their queen, Matilda's sex and her remarriage to the House of Anjou, an enemy of the Normans, allowed Henry's nephew Stephen of Boulogne to come to England and claim the throne with popular support.
King Henry is famed for holding the record for the largest number of acknowledged illegitimate children born to any English king, with the number being around 20 or 25. He had many mistresses, and identifying which mistress is the mother of which child is difficult. His illegitimate offspring for whom there is documentation are:
- Robert FitzRoy. His mother was probably a member of the Gai family.
- Sibylla FitzRoy, married King Alexander I of Scotland. Probably the daughter of Sibyl Corbet.
- Reginald FitzRoy . His mother was Sibyl Corbet.
- Maud FitzRoy, married Duke Conan III, Duke of Brittany
- Richard FitzRoy, perished in the wreck of the White Ship. His mother was Ansfride.
- Fulk FitzRoy, a monk at Abingdon. His mother may have been Ansfride.
- Juliane FitzRoy, married Eustace de Pacy . She tried to shoot her father with a crossbow after King Henry allowed her two young daughters to be blinded. Her mother may have been Ansfride.
- Matilda FitzRoy, married Count Rotrou II of Perche , perished in the wreck of the White Ship. Her mother was Edith.
- Constance FitzRoy, married Roscelin de Beaumont
- Henry FitzRoy, died 1157. His mother was Princess Nest.
- Mabel FitzRoy, married William III Gouet
- Aline FitzRoy, married Matthieu I of Montmorency
- Isabel FitzRoy, daughter of Isabel de Beaumont, sister of Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester.
- Matilda FitzRoy, abbess of Montvilliers
- Adeliza FitzRoy. Appears in charters with her brother Robert (below), she was probably daughter of Eda FitzForne.
- Robert FitzRoy, died 1172. His mother was Eda FitzForne.
- William de Tracy, died shortly after King Henry.
- Gilbert FitzRoy, died after 1142. His mother may have been a sister of Walter de Gand.
- Cross, Arthur Lyon. A History of England and Greater Britain. (New York: Macmillan, 1917).
- Hollister, Warren C. Henry I (Yale Monarchs Series)
- Thompson, K. Affairs of State: the illegitimate children of Henry I, 2003.
- Complete Peerage .
- Pipe Rolls .
- Giraldus Cambrensis
- Chronicon Monasterii de Abington.
- Gesta Normannorum Ducum .
- Robert of Torigny .
- Simeon of Durham.
- BBC site on Henry I
- Royal British site on Henry I
- Brittania site on Henry I
- Henry I (c.1068-1135), King of England (1100-1135), Duke of Normandy (1106-1135)
- The Sinking of the White Ship (1120)
- A listing of Henry's descendants
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details