Saturday, 23 May 2015


Fun Facts About King Henry I Of England

1. Henry-Yes-There-Actually-Was-A-First was the fourth and youngest son of William the Conqueror.

Or, as William the Conqueror used to be known, William the Bastard (see this post for details).

However, it would seem William the Conqueror wasn't the only bastard in the family. Henry wasn't exactly a shining light of niceness. In fact, he was a right git.

2. Henry was born around the 1068/1069 mark. 

No one is quite sure of the exact date. He was born as Henry Beauclerc. He had three older brothers, Robert Curthose, William Rufus, and the other one who died, so he doesn't count.

3. When Henry's father, William the Bastard Conqueror, died, Henry inherited diddly-squat.

However, his remaining two older brothers did.

Sheesh, sucks to be the youngest.

Robert inherited Normandy, and England went to William, who became William-The-Second-My-Back-Is-Turned-You'll-Shoot-Me-Won't-You?

4. Henry had to purchase land from his big brother.

Henry, who was completely landless, and totally depressed at not being Daddy's favourite, because, you know, isn't the youngest meant to be the favourite? went and bought the County of Cotentin in western Normandy from his brother, Robert.

Yippee, not landless no more.

However, William-The-Second-Should've-Been-Nice-To-His-Younger-Brother and Robert-No-Number, invaded Henry's little corner of Normandy in 1091 and deposed him.

Sheesh, and I thought my older sister was a git for taking my pacifier (dummy if you're in the UK).
5. Henry gets his own back on his big brother, William-The-Second-Arrow-Wasn't-An-Accident-Was-It?

The two brothers arranged for a little hunting trip on August 2nd 1100.

See, doesn't matter what went before, family is family, and brothers can make up and be friends again.

Well, as it turns out, hunting trips can be dangerous. And lethal. Henry "accidentally" shot his brother, William, in the head with an arrow.


William died. Henry was no doubt distraught with grief.

Nope, not in the slightest.

Henry rode to Winchester Castle, occupied it, and seized the Royal treasury.

6. Three days later, on the 5th August 1100, Henry was crowned King of England.

Henry was crowned King at Westminster Abbey by Maurice, the Bishop of London. The ceremony would have been conducted by Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury, but he'd been exiled.

The next highest church figure, Thomas, Archbishop of York, was in Ripon. It's up north, and a heck-of-a commute.

Henry didn't have time to wait for the Archbishop of York to book his train tickets online, which was the way to purchase train tickets in 1100, and so got the Bishop of London to do the deed.

7. Henry married Matilda, daughter of Malcolm-The-Third-Not-Middle of Scotland.

It was an attempt to secure his northern boarders from invasion.

Henry's marriage didn't stop him from dillydallying with a truck load of mistresses, though.

Well, probably a dozen truck loads and a large container ship. This accounts for the (at least) two dozen illegitimate children Henry fathered. At least 9 sons and 13 daughters.

8. Henry did have two legitimate children with Matilda.

They had a son called William, who died whilst on a drunken cruise across the English Channel, and a daughter, Matilda, who would go on to cause a complete breakdown in England and a succession crisis and civil war known as The Anarchy.

But, well, girls will be girls.
9. Henry's kingdom of England was invaded by his other brother.

In 1101, a year after being crowned King Henry-First-But-Not-The-Last, his last remaining older brother, Robert, currently Duke of Normandy, with aspirations to be King of England, invaded.

It didn't go that well for Robert, so he decided to negotiate a settlement which confirmed Henry as king.

Henry rejoiced and accepted the settlement and forgave his big brother. All was well and friendly and then ... wham!

10. Henry, out for more revenge, invaded the Duchy of Normandy in 1105.

The following year, Henry defeated Robert at the Battle of Tinchebray.

Henry took Robert prisoner and held him for the rest of his life, thirty odd years, in a dungeon at Devizes Castle, and then Cardiff.

Probably thought no one would accept two hunting accidents in the same family.

11. Henry finally popped-his-clogs in 1135 after suffering from a serious case of Ate-Too-Many-Eels.

Yep, he was killed by a Lamprey, a type of eel, through food poisoning.

Dates for your diary

1068 (Unknown exact date) Henry I of England was born as Henry Beauclerc.

24th May, 1886: Henry was knighted by his father, William the Conqueror.

2nd August, 1100: King William II of England shot and killed by an arrow (perhaps arranged by Henry). Henry becomes unofficial King.

5th August, 1100: Henry is crowned king of England at Westminster Abbey becoming King Henry I of England.

11th November, 1100: Henry married Matilda, daughter of King Malcom III of Scotland.

20th July, 1101: Robert, Henry's big brother and Duke of Normandy, landed at Portsmouth for an invasion of England to claim the throne from Henry.

17th August, 1101:: Treaty of Alton is signed between the warring brothers, which recognised Henry as King of England in exchange for a yearly stipend.

7th February 1102: Birth of Henry's daughter Matilda, later to be known as the Empress Matilda.

5th August, 1103: Birth of Henry's son, William Adelin, later to be known as "if you hadn't died young, and without kids, then there wouldn't have been a succession crisis in England called THE ANARCHY." (Or Willy for short).

12th July, 1106:: Henry invaded Normandy (for the second time).

28th September, 1106: The Battle of Tinchebray. Henry defeats his big brother, Duke Robert, and has him captured and imprisoned.

1st December 1135: King Henry I of England died after a week of illness.

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