Sunday, August 25, 2013

Henry the Young King

Henry the Young King was the second son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He had an older brother named William. To quote:
For Eleanor, William’s birth was a special triumph of her own. At thirty, with two daughters born in the fifteen years of marriage to Louis Capet, despite accusations that she was unable to produce a son, she was delivered of a healthy boy, future heir to her duchy. She had reason than most to rejoice. And she did. It must have been the very moment when she definitively said goodbye to her gloomy past with Louis and welcomed her bright and promising future with Henry. When William was ten months old, she became pregnant again and on 28 February 1155 gave birth to her second son, Henry. With succession secured, William and Henry’s royal parents could focus on reestablishing order which had been lost during Stephen’s reign. In the opening months of 1155, exactly on 10 April, shortly after Henry’s arrival into this world, both William and Henry were taken to Wallingford, where their father, the king ‘had called together the barons and bishops of the realm to swear allegiance to his eldest son and, in case of William’s death, to Henry as his second heir’, a ceremony which neither of the boys could remember. Not a year passed since the occasion, when little William fell ill and died.
In his chronicle Robert of Torigni, abbot of Mont-Saint-Michel gives 2 December 1156 as the date of William’s most untimely passing. Robert was the royal familiaris, well acquainted with both Henry II and Eleanor and thus a trustworthy source, but this time he got his dates wrong. William died in the spring of 1156. The princeling was buried in Reading Abbey, at the feet of his great-grandfather Henry I. The abbot of this grand Henry I’s foundation grabbed at the opportunity to gain future royal patronage and wrote in 1160 to Queen Eleanor hoping to convince her of the ‘spiritual benefits that the commemoration of his house could offer her’.(Read more.)

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