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Henry the Young King
Fostered by Thomas à Becket, in June 1170 the fifteen-year-old Henry was crowned king during his father's lifetime, but he never actually ruled and is not counted among the monarchs of England. There is a story that at the banquet following his coronation, he was waited on by his father, who remarked what a rare honor it was to be waited on by a king; the younger Henry replied that it was only fitting for the son of a count to wait on the son of a king.
He is now known as "Henry the Young King" to distinguish him from his nephew Henry III of England. He broke with his father and allied with his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine and brothers in a civil war (1173–74) in which he tried to wrest the power of the crown from his father. When he died at the age of 28 of dysentery, during the middle of a second rebellion, his father is said to have exclaimed: "He cost me much, but I wish he had lived to cost me more."
The historian W. L. Warren said of him, "The Young Henry was the only one of his family who was popular in his own day. It was true that he was also the only one who gave no evidence of political sagacity, military skill, or even ordinary intelligence…", and elaborated in a later book, "He was gracious, benign, affable, courteous, the soul of liberality and generosity. Unfortunately he was also shallow, vain, careless, empty-headed, incompetent, improvident, and irresponsible."
Henry did not seem much interested in the day-to-day business of government, or in the subtleties of military tactics. Instead he spent much of his time at tournaments or meddling in the affairs of his brothers.
Henry the Young King was married to Marguerite Capet, daughter of King Louis VII of France. Their only child was William, born prematurely in June 1177, and died aged 3 days. This difficult delivery seems to have rendered her sterile, as she had no further children by Henry or her second husband. In 1182 Henry accused her of having a love affair with the famed knight William Marshal. Henry repudiated his wife and sent her back to France, and exiled Marshal from his court. Marshal offered to prove his innocence via trial by combat, but this offer was refused.
Henry the Young King died of dysentery in 1183, while in rebellion against his father. On his deathbed he reportedly asked to be reconciled to his father, but King Henry, fearing a trick, refused to see him. His brothers Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland both later became king.
- Henry II, by W.L. Warren, ISBN 0520034945
- The Young King Henry Plantagenet, 1155–1183, in history, literature, and tradition, by O.H. Moore
- William Marshal: the flower of chivalry, by Georges Duby
| Preceded by:|
| Count of Anjou|
| Succeeded by:|
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