Henry II of England
Overview
 
Henry II ruled as King of England (1154–1189), Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy
Duke of Normandy
The Duke of Normandy is the title of the reigning monarch of the British Crown Dependancies of the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey. The title traces its roots to the Duchy of Normandy . Whether the reigning sovereign is a male or female, they are always titled as the "Duke of...

, Duke of Aquitaine
Duke of Aquitaine
The Duke of Aquitaine ruled the historical region of Aquitaine under the supremacy of Frankish, English and later French kings....

, Duke of Gascony
Duke of Gascony
The Duchy of Vasconia , later known as Gascony, was a Merovingian creation: a frontier duchy on the Garonne, in the border with the rebel Basque tribes...

, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. Henry, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was the first of the House of Plantagenet
House of Plantagenet
The House of Plantagenet , a branch of the Angevins, was a royal house founded by Geoffrey V of Anjou, father of Henry II of England. Plantagenet kings first ruled the Kingdom of England in the 12th century. Their paternal ancestors originated in the French province of Gâtinais and gained the...

 to rule England. Henry was the first to use the title "King of England" (as opposed to "King of the English").

He is known as Henry Curtmantle or Curtmantel and Henry Fitz-Empress.
Henry II was born in Le Mans
Le Mans
Le Mans is a city in France, located on the Sarthe River. Traditionally the capital of the province of Maine, it is now the capital of the Sarthe department and the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Le Mans. Le Mans is a part of the Pays de la Loire region.Its inhabitants are called Manceaux...

, France, on 5 March 1133.
Timeline

1152    Henry II of England marries Eleanor of Aquitaine.

1154    Henry II of England is crowned at Westminster Abbey.

1170    Thomas Becket: Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, is assassinated inside Canterbury Cathedral by followers of King Henry II; he subsequently becomes a saint and martyr in the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

1174    William I of Scotland, a key rebel in the Revolt of 1173–1174, is captured at Alnwick by forces loyal to Henry II of England.

Encyclopedia
Henry II ruled as King of England (1154–1189), Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy
Duke of Normandy
The Duke of Normandy is the title of the reigning monarch of the British Crown Dependancies of the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey. The title traces its roots to the Duchy of Normandy . Whether the reigning sovereign is a male or female, they are always titled as the "Duke of...

, Duke of Aquitaine
Duke of Aquitaine
The Duke of Aquitaine ruled the historical region of Aquitaine under the supremacy of Frankish, English and later French kings....

, Duke of Gascony
Duke of Gascony
The Duchy of Vasconia , later known as Gascony, was a Merovingian creation: a frontier duchy on the Garonne, in the border with the rebel Basque tribes...

, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. Henry, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was the first of the House of Plantagenet
House of Plantagenet
The House of Plantagenet , a branch of the Angevins, was a royal house founded by Geoffrey V of Anjou, father of Henry II of England. Plantagenet kings first ruled the Kingdom of England in the 12th century. Their paternal ancestors originated in the French province of Gâtinais and gained the...

 to rule England. Henry was the first to use the title "King of England" (as opposed to "King of the English").

He is known as Henry Curtmantle or Curtmantel and Henry Fitz-Empress.

Early life and descent

Henry II was born in Le Mans
Le Mans
Le Mans is a city in France, located on the Sarthe River. Traditionally the capital of the province of Maine, it is now the capital of the Sarthe department and the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Le Mans. Le Mans is a part of the Pays de la Loire region.Its inhabitants are called Manceaux...

, France, on 5 March 1133. His father, Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, son of Fulk of Jerusalem
Fulk of Jerusalem
Fulk , also known as Fulk the Younger, was Count of Anjou from 1109 to 1129, and King of Jerusalem from 1131 to his death...

, was also Count of Maine. His mother, Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda , also known as Matilda of England or Maude, was the daughter and heir of King Henry I of England. Matilda and her younger brother, William Adelin, were the only legitimate children of King Henry to survive to adulthood...

, was a claimant to the English throne as the daughter of King Henry I
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

 (reigned 1100–1135). His own claim to the throne was strengthened by his descent from both the English Saxon kings
House of Wessex
The House of Wessex, also known as the House of Cerdic, refers to the family that ruled a kingdom in southwest England known as Wessex. This House was in power from the 6th century under Cerdic of Wessex to the unification of the Kingdoms of England....

 and the kings of Scotland
House of Dunkeld
The so-called House of Dunkeld, in Scottish Gaelic Dùn Chailleann , is a historiographical and genealogical construct to illustrate the clear succession of Scottish kings from 1034 to 1040 and from 1058 to 1290.It is dynastically sort of a continuation to Cenél nGabráin of Dál Riata, "race of...

 through his maternal grandmother Matilda of Scotland, whose father was Malcolm III of Scotland
Malcolm III of Scotland
Máel Coluim mac Donnchada , was King of Scots...

 and whose mother was Margaret of Wessex (St. Margaret of Scotland), granddaughter of Edmund Ironside
Edmund Ironside
Edmund Ironside or Edmund II was king of England from 23 April to 30 November 1016. His cognomen "Ironside" is not recorded until 1057, but may have been contemporary. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, it was given to him "because of his valour" in resisting the Danish invasion led by Cnut...

.

He spent his childhood in his father's land of Anjou
Anjou
Anjou is a former county , duchy and province centred on the city of Angers in the lower Loire Valley of western France. It corresponds largely to the present-day département of Maine-et-Loire...

. At the age of nine, Robert of Gloucester
Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester
Robert Fitzroy, 1st Earl of Gloucester was an illegitimate son of King Henry I of England. He was called "Rufus" and occasionally "de Caen", he is also known as Robert "the Consul"...

 took him to England, where he received education from Master Matthew at Bristol, with the assistance of Adelard of Bath
Adelard of Bath
Adelard of Bath was a 12th century English scholar. He is known both for his original works and for translating many important Greek and Arabic scientific works of astrology, astronomy, philosophy and mathematics into Latin from Arabic versions, which were then introduced to Western Europe...

 and possibly Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey of Monmouth was a cleric and one of the major figures in the development of British historiography and the popularity of tales of King Arthur...

. In 1144, he was returned to Normandy where his education was continued by William of Conches
William of Conches
William of Conches was a French scholastic philosopher who sought to expand the bounds of Christian humanism by studying secular works of the classics and fostering empirical science. He was a prominent member of the School of Chartres...

. Later, in 1147 at the age of 14, without either of his parents' knowledge, he hired a band of mercenaries and sailed to England. He failed to take two minor castles and then took refuge with his mother. His mother bade him return to Normandy, but Henry did not have enough money to pay for a boat back or to pay off his mercenaries and his mother did not have the funds. He decided to ask King Stephen for money. Surprisingly, Stephen gave him the money and sent him on his way.

Marriage and legitimate children

On 18 May 1152, at Poitiers
Poitiers
Poitiers is a city on the Clain river in west central France. It is a commune and the capital of the Vienne department and of the Poitou-Charentes region. The centre is picturesque and its streets are interesting for predominant remains of historical architecture, especially from the Romanesque...

, at the age of 19, Henry married Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages. As well as being Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, she was queen consort of France and of England...

. The wedding was "without the pomp or ceremony that befitted their rank," partly because Eleanor's prior marriage to Louis VII of France
Louis VII of France
Louis VII was King of France, the son and successor of Louis VI . He ruled from 1137 until his death. He was a member of the House of Capet. His reign was dominated by feudal struggles , and saw the beginning of the long rivalry between France and England...

 had been annulled only two months previously. Their relationship, always stormy, eventually disintegrated: after Eleanor encouraged her children to rebel against their father in 1173, Henry had her placed under house arrest
House arrest
In justice and law, house arrest is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to his or her residence. Travel is usually restricted, if allowed at all...

, where she remained for fifteen years.

Henry and Eleanor had eight children: William, Henry
Henry the Young King
Henry, known as the Young King was the second of five sons of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine but the first to survive infancy. He was officially King of England; Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou and Maine.-Early life:Little is known of the young prince Henry before the events...

, Richard
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

, Geoffrey
Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany
Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond was Duke of Brittany between 1181 and 1186, through his marriage with the heiress Constance. Geoffrey was the fourth son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine.-Family:He was a younger maternal half-brother of Marie de...

, John
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

, Matilda
Matilda of England, Duchess of Saxony
Matilda of England was the eldest daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Through her marriage with Henry the Lion, she was Duchess of Saxony and later of Bavaria.-Early life:...

, Eleanor, and Joan
Joan of England, Queen of Sicily
Joan of England was the seventh child of Henry II of England and his queen consort, Eleanor of Aquitaine.Joan was a younger maternal half-sister of Marie de Champagne and Alix of France...

. William died in infancy. In the custom of the Capetian
House of Capet
The House of Capet, or The Direct Capetian Dynasty, , also called The House of France , or simply the Capets, which ruled the Kingdom of France from 987 to 1328, was the most senior line of the Capetian dynasty – itself a derivative dynasty from the Robertians. As rulers of France, the dynasty...

 Kings of France, whose heirs apparent
Heir apparent
An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting, except by a change in the rules of succession....

 were crowned during their own lifetime in order to avoid succession disputes, Henry was crowned as joint king when he came of age. However, because he was never king in his own right, he is known to history as "Henry the Young King", rather than Henry III. As the king's sons matured, it was expected that Henry would inherit the throne from his father, Richard his mother's possessions, Geoffrey would have Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

 through marriage, and John would be Lord of Ireland. However, fate would ultimately decide much differently.

It has been suggested by John Speed
John Speed
John Speed was an English historian and cartographer.-Life:He was born at Farndon, Cheshire, and went into his father's tailoring business where he worked until he was about 50...

's 1611 book, History of Great Britain, that another son, Philip, was born to the couple. Speed's sources no longer exist, but Philip would presumably have died in early infancy.

Appearance

Several sources record Henry's appearance. They all agree that he was very strong, energetic and surpassed his peers athletically.

Character

Like his grandfather, Henry I of England
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

, Henry II had an outstanding knowledge of the law. A talented linguist and excellent Latin speaker, he would sit on councils in person whenever possible. He dressed casually except when tradition dictated otherwise and ate a sparing diet.

According to contemporary chronicler of court gossip Walter Map
Walter Map
Walter Map was a medieval writer of works written in Latin. Only one work is attributed to Map with any certainty: De Nugis Curialium.-Life:...

, Henry was modest and mixed with all classes easily. "He does not take upon himself to think high thoughts, his tongue never swells with elated language; he does not magnify himself as more than man". His generosity was well-known and he employed a Templar
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

 to distribute one tenth of all the food brought to the royal court amongst his poorest subjects.

Henry also had a good sense of humour and was never upset at being the butt of the joke. Once while he sat sulking and occupying himself with needlework, a courtier suggested that such behaviour was to be expected from a descendant of the bastard son of a tanner's daughter (referring to his great-grandfather William the Conqueror
William I of England
William I , also known as William the Conqueror , was the first Norman King of England from Christmas 1066 until his death. He was also Duke of Normandy from 3 July 1035 until his death, under the name William II...

 being the son of Herleva
Herleva
Herleva also known as Herleve, Arlette, Arletta and Arlotte, was the mother of William I of England. She had two other sons, Odo of Bayeux and Robert, Count of Mortain, who became prominent in William's realm....

, daughter of Fulbert
Fulbert of Falaise
Fulbert of Falaise was the father of Herleva, mother of the illegitimate William the Conqueror, the 11th-century Duke of Normandy and King of England. The Walter of Falaise named by Orderic Vitalis is likely a son....

 a tanner from the Norman town of Falaise). The king rocked with laughter and even explained the joke to those who did not immediately grasp it.

"His memory was exceptional: he never failed to recognise a man he had once seen, nor to remember anything which might be of use. More deeply learned than any king of his time in the western world".

In contrast, the king's temper has been written about. His actions against Thomas Becket
Thomas Becket
Thomas Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He is venerated as a saint and martyr by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion...

 are evidence of his blinding temper, along with his conflict with William I of Scotland
William I of Scotland
William the Lion , sometimes styled William I, also known by the nickname Garbh, "the Rough", reigned as King of the Scots from 1165 to 1214...

.

Henry's claims by blood and marriage

Henry's father, Geoffrey Plantagenet, held rich lands as a vassal from Louis VII of France
Louis VII of France
Louis VII was King of France, the son and successor of Louis VI . He ruled from 1137 until his death. He was a member of the House of Capet. His reign was dominated by feudal struggles , and saw the beginning of the long rivalry between France and England...

. Maine
Maine (province)
Le Maine is one of the traditional provinces of France . It corresponds to the old county of Maine, with its center, the city of Le Mans.-Location:...

 and Anjou
Anjou
Anjou is a former county , duchy and province centred on the city of Angers in the lower Loire Valley of western France. It corresponds largely to the present-day département of Maine-et-Loire...

 were therefore Henry's by birthright, amongst other lands in Western France. By maternal claim, Normandy was also to be his. From a contemporary perspective, however, the most notable inheritance Henry received from his mother was a claim to the English throne. Granddaughter of William the Conqueror, Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda , also known as Matilda of England or Maude, was the daughter and heir of King Henry I of England. Matilda and her younger brother, William Adelin, were the only legitimate children of King Henry to survive to adulthood...

 was to be queen regnant of England, but her throne was usurped by her cousin, Stephen of England
Stephen of England
Stephen , often referred to as Stephen of Blois , was a grandson of William the Conqueror. He was King of England from 1135 to his death, and also the Count of Boulogne by right of his wife. Stephen's reign was marked by the Anarchy, a civil war with his cousin and rival, the Empress Matilda...

. Henry's efforts to restore the royal line to his own family would create a dynasty spanning three centuries and thirteen kings.

Henry's marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine placed him firmly in the ascendancy. His plentiful lands were added to his new wife's possessions, giving him control of Aquitaine
Aquitaine
Aquitaine , archaic Guyenne/Guienne , is one of the 27 regions of France, in the south-western part of metropolitan France, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the border with Spain. It comprises the 5 departments of Dordogne, :Lot et Garonne, :Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes...

 and Gascony
Gascony
Gascony is an area of southwest France that was part of the "Province of Guyenne and Gascony" prior to the French Revolution. The region is vaguely defined and the distinction between Guyenne and Gascony is unclear; sometimes they are considered to overlap, and sometimes Gascony is considered a...

. The riches of the markets and vineyards in these regions, combined with Henry's already plentiful holdings, made Henry the most powerful vassal in France.

Taking the English throne

Realising Henry's royal ambition was far from easily fulfilled; his mother had been pushing her claim for the crown for several years to no avail, finally retiring in 1147. It was 1147 when Henry had accompanied Matilda on an invasion of England. It soon failed due to lack of preparation, but it made him determined that England was his mother's right, and so his own. He returned to England again between 1149 and 1150. On 22 May 1149 he was knighted by King David I of Scotland
David I of Scotland
David I or Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim was a 12th-century ruler who was Prince of the Cumbrians and later King of the Scots...

, his great uncle, at Carlisle.

On 7 September 1151, Henry's father died and he inherited all his lands including Anjou, Maine and Normandy. Early in January 1153, just months after his wedding, he crossed the Channel
The channel
The channel may refer to:*the means of distribution of components involved in producing consumer electronics.*the English Channel...

 one more time. His fleet was 36 ships strong, transporting a force of 3,000 footmen and 140 horses. Sources dispute whether he landed at Dorset
Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

 or Hampshire
Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

, but it is known he entered a small village church. It was 6 January and the locals were observing the Festival of the Three Kings. The correlation between the festivities and Henry's arrival was not lost on them. "Ecce advenit dominator Dominus, et regnum in manu ejus", they exclaimed as the introit for their feast, "Behold the Lord the ruler cometh, and the Kingdom in his hand."

Henry moved quickly and within the year he had secured his right to succession via the Treaty of Wallingford
Treaty of Wallingford
The Treaty of Wallingford of 1153, aka Treaty of Winchester or as the Treaty of Westminster, was an agreement that effectively ended the civil war known as the Anarchy, caused by a dispute between Empress Matilda and her cousin King Stephen of England over the English crown...

 with Stephen of England
Stephen of England
Stephen , often referred to as Stephen of Blois , was a grandson of William the Conqueror. He was King of England from 1135 to his death, and also the Count of Boulogne by right of his wife. Stephen's reign was marked by the Anarchy, a civil war with his cousin and rival, the Empress Matilda...

. He was now, for all intents and purposes, in control of England. When Stephen died in October 1154, it was only a matter of time until Henry's treaty would bear fruit, and the quest that began with his mother would be ended. On 19 December 1154 he was crowned in Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

, "By The Grace Of God, Henry II, King Of England". He was thus the first to be crowned "King of England", as opposed to "King of the English." Henry, a vassal of Louis VII, was now more powerful than the French king himself. Henry used the title Rex Angliae, Dux Normaniae et Aquitaniae et Comes Andigaviae (King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou).

Lordship over Ireland

Shortly after his coronation, Henry sent an embassy to the newly elected Pope Adrian IV
Pope Adrian IV
Pope Adrian IV , born Nicholas Breakspear or Breakspeare, was Pope from 1154 to 1159.Adrian IV is the only Englishman who has occupied the papal chair...

 (who was himself from England). Led by Bishop Arnold of Lisieux, the group of clerics requested authorisation for Henry to invade Ireland. Some historians suggest that this resulted in the papal bull Laudabiliter
Laudabiliter
Laudabiliter was a papal bull issued in 1155 by Adrian IV, the only Englishman to serve as Pope, giving the Angevin King Henry II of England the right to assume control over Ireland and apply the Gregorian Reforms in the Irish church...

. Whether this donation is genuine or not, Edmund Curtis says, is one of "the great questions of history." It is possible Henry acted under the influence of a "Canterbury plot," in which English ecclesiastics strove to dominate the Irish church. However, Henry may have simply intended to secure Ireland as a lordship for his younger brother William.

William died soon after the plan was hatched and Ireland was ignored. It was not until 1166 that it came to the surface again. In that year, Diarmait Mac Murchada, King of Leinster, was driven from his lands by Rory O'Conor
Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair
Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair , often anglicised Rory O'Connor, reigned as King of Connacht from 1156 to 1186, and from 1166 to 1198 was the last High King before the Norman invasion of Ireland .Ruaidrí was one of over twenty sons of King...

, the High King of Ireland
High King of Ireland
The High Kings of Ireland were sometimes historical and sometimes legendary figures who had, or who are claimed to have had, lordship over the whole of Ireland. Medieval and early modern Irish literature portrays an almost unbroken sequence of High Kings, ruling from Tara over a hierarchy of...

. Diarmait followed Henry to Aquitaine
Aquitaine
Aquitaine , archaic Guyenne/Guienne , is one of the 27 regions of France, in the south-western part of metropolitan France, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the border with Spain. It comprises the 5 departments of Dordogne, :Lot et Garonne, :Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes...

, seeking an audience. Henry promised to help him reassert control and made footmen, knights and nobles available for the cause. Their leader was a Welsh Norman, Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke , Lord of Leinster, Justiciar of Ireland . Like his father, he was also commonly known as Strongbow...

, nicknamed "Strongbow". In exchange for his loyalty, Diarmait offered Earl Richard his daughter Aoife (Eva) in marriage and made him heir to his kingdom.

The Normans quickly restored Diarmait to his kingdom, but it soon became apparent that Henry had not helped purely out of kindness, and was now worried that Strongbow and his Cambro-Norman
Cambro-Norman
Cambro-Norman is a term used for Norman knights who settled in southern Wales after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Some historians suggest that the term is to be preferred to Anglo-Norman for the Normans who invaded Ireland after 1170 — many of whom originated in Wales. However, the term...

 supporters would become independent of him. In 1171 Henry arrived from France with an army and declared himself "Lord of Ireland"
Lordship of Ireland
The Lordship of Ireland refers to that part of Ireland that was under the rule of the king of England, styled Lord of Ireland, between 1177 and 1541. It was created in the wake of the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169–71 and was succeeded by the Kingdom of Ireland...

. All of the Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

, along with many Irish princes, took oaths of homage to Henry by November, and he left after six months. He never returned, but in 1177 he named his youngest son, Prince John
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

, as Lord of Ireland.

This process started 800 years of English overlordship on the island. At the Synod of Cashel
Synod of Cashel
The Synod of Cashel of 1172, also known as the Second Synod of Cashel,The first being the Synod held at Cashel in 1101 was assembled at Cashel at the request of Henry II of England shortly after his arrival in Ireland in October 1171...

 in 1172 Church reforms were introduced. The 1175 Treaty of Windsor was agreed with King Rory O'Conor, but soon broke down.

Consolidation in Scotland

In 1174, a rebellion spearheaded by his own sons was not Henry's biggest problem. An invasion force from Scotland, led by their king, William the Lion
William I of Scotland
William the Lion , sometimes styled William I, also known by the nickname Garbh, "the Rough", reigned as King of the Scots from 1165 to 1214...

, was advancing from the North. To make matters worse, a Flemish armada was sailing for England, just days from landing. It seemed likely that the king's rapid growth was to be checked.

Henry saw his predicament as a sign from God, that his treatment of Becket would be rewarded with defeat. He immediately did penance at Canterbury for the Archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

's fate and events took a turn for the better.

The hostile armada dispersed in the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 and headed back for the continent. Henry had avoided a Flemish invasion, but Scottish invaders were still raiding in the North. Henry sent his troops to meet the Scots at Alnwick
Battle of Alnwick (1174)
The Battle of Alnwick is one of two battles fought near the town of Alnwick, in Northumberland, England. In the battle, which occurred on 12 July 1174, William I of Scotland, also known as William the Lion, was captured by a small English force led by Ranulf de Glanvill.-Background:William had...

, where the English scored a devastating victory. William was captured in the chaos, and within months all the problem fortresses had been torn down. Southern Scotland was now completely dominated by Henry, another fief in his Angevin Empire
Angevin Empire
The term Angevin Empire is a modern term describing the collection of states once ruled by the Angevin Plantagenet dynasty.The Plantagenets ruled over an area stretching from the Pyrenees to Ireland during the 12th and early 13th centuries, located north of Moorish Iberia. This "empire" extended...

, that now stretched from the Solway Firth
Solway Firth
The Solway Firth is a firth that forms part of the border between England and Scotland, between Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway. It stretches from St Bees Head, just south of Whitehaven in Cumbria, to the Mull of Galloway, on the western end of Dumfries and Galloway. The Isle of Man is also very...

 almost to the Mediterranean and from the Somme
Somme River
The Somme is a river in Picardy, northern France. The name Somme comes from a Celtic word meaning tranquility. The department Somme was named after this river....

 to the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

. By the end of this crisis, and his sons' revolt, the king was "left stronger than ever before".

Dominating nobles

During Stephen's reign, the baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

s in England had undermined Royal authority. Rebel castles were one problem, nobles avoiding military service was another. The new king immediately moved against the illegal fortresses that had sprung up during Stephen's reign, having them torn down.

To counter the problem of avoiding military service, scutage
Scutage
The form of taxation known as scutage, in the law of England under the feudal system, allowed a knight to "buy out" of the military service due to the Crown as a holder of a knight's fee held under the feudal land tenure of knight-service. Its name derived from shield...

 became common. This tax, which Henry's barons paid in lieu of military service, allowed the king to hire mercenaries. These hired troops were used to great effect by both Henry and his son Richard, and by 1159 the tax was central to the king's army and his authority over vassals.

Legal reform

Henry II's reign saw the establishment of Royal Magistrate
Magistrate
A magistrate is an officer of the state; in modern usage the term usually refers to a judge or prosecutor. This was not always the case; in ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest government officers and possessed both judicial and executive powers. Today, in common law systems, a...

 courts. This allowed court officials under authority of the Crown to adjudicate local disputes, reducing the workload on Royal court
Royal court
Royal court, as distinguished from a court of law, may refer to:* The Royal Court , Timbaland's production company*Court , the household and entourage of a monarch or other ruler, the princely court...

s proper and delivering justice with greater efficiency.

Henry also worked to make the legal system fairer. Trial by ordeal
Trial by ordeal
Trial by ordeal is a judicial practice by which the guilt or innocence of the accused is determined by subjecting them to an unpleasant, usually dangerous experience...

 and trial by combat
Trial by combat
Trial by combat was a method of Germanic law to settle accusations in the absence of witnesses or a confession, in which two parties in dispute fought in single combat; the winner of the fight was proclaimed to be right. In essence, it is a judicially sanctioned duel...

 were still common in the 12th century. By the Assize of Clarendon
Assize of Clarendon
The Assize of Clarendon was an 1166 act of Henry II of England that began the transformation of English law from such systems for deciding the prevailing party in a case as trial by ordeal or trial by battle to an evidentiary model, in which evidence and inspection was made by laymen...

 in 1166, supplemented a decade later by the Assize of Northampton
Assize of Northampton
The Assize of Northampton, largely based on the Assize of Clarendon of 1166, is among a series of measures taken by King Henry II of England that solidified the rights of the knightly tenants and made all possession of land subject to and guaranteed by royal law.The assize is believed to have been...

, a precursor to trial by jury
Jury trial
A jury trial is a legal proceeding in which a jury either makes a decision or makes findings of fact which are then applied by a judge...

 was implemented. However, this group of "twelve lawful men," as the Assize commonly refers to it, provided a service more similar to a grand jury
Grand jury
A grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will issue. Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing...

, alerting court officials to matters suitable for prosecution. Despite these reforms, trial by ordeal continued until the Fourth Council of the Lateran
Fourth Council of the Lateran
The Fourth Council of the Lateran was convoked by Pope Innocent III with the papal bull of April 19, 1213, and the Council gathered at Rome's Lateran Palace beginning November 11, 1215. Due to the great length of time between the Council's convocation and meeting, many bishops had the opportunity...

 forbade the participation of the clergy in 1215 and trial by combat was still legal in England until 1819, albeit only rarely resorted to after the twelfth century. Nevertheless, Henry's support of juries was a great contribution to the country's social history
Social history
Social history, often called the new social history, is a branch of History that includes history of ordinary people and their strategies of coping with life. In its "golden age" it was a major growth field in the 1960s and 1970s among scholars, and still is well represented in history departments...

 and allowed for a smoother transition from ordeal to jury than was managed in other European nations where trial by inquisition and even torture became commonplace.

Religious policy


Strengthening royal control over the church

In the tradition of Norman
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 kings, Henry II was keen to have secular law predominate over the law of the church. The clergy had a free hand, and were not required to obey laws of the land that conflicted with the governance of the church. Henry wanted the laws of the land to be obeyed by all, clergy and laity
Laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

 alike. At Clarendon Palace
Clarendon Palace
Clarendon Palace is a medieval ruin near Salisbury in Wiltshire, England.The palace was a royal residence during the Middle Ages, and was the location of the Assize of Clarendon which developed the Constitutions of Clarendon.-Roman Times:...

 on 30 January 1164, the king set out sixteen constitutions
Constitutions of Clarendon
The Constitutions of Clarendon were a set of legislative procedures passed by Henry II of England in 1164. The Constitutions were composed of 16 articles and represent an attempt to restrict ecclesiastical privileges and curb the power of the Church courts and the extent of Papal authority in England...

, aimed at decreasing ecclesiastical interference from Rome. Secular courts would also have jurisdiction over clerical trials and disputes. Henry's authority guaranteed him majority support, but Thomas Becket
Thomas Becket
Thomas Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He is venerated as a saint and martyr by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion...

, the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

, refused to ratify the proposals.

Henry was characteristically stubborn, and on 8 October 1164, he called archbishop Thomas Becket before the Royal Council. Becket, however, had fled to France and was under the protection of Henry's rival, Louis VII of France
Louis VII of France
Louis VII was King of France, the son and successor of Louis VI . He ruled from 1137 until his death. He was a member of the House of Capet. His reign was dominated by feudal struggles , and saw the beginning of the long rivalry between France and England...

.

The king continued doggedly in his pursuit of control over his clerics. By 1170, the pope was considering excommunicating
Excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 all of Britain. Only Henry's agreement that Becket could return to England without penalty prevented this fate.

Murder of Thomas Becket

"What miserable drones and traitors have I nurtured and promoted in my household who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric!" were the words which sparked the darkest event in Henry's religious wranglings. This speech has translated into legend in the form of "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?"—a provocative statement which would perhaps have been just as riling to the knights and barons of his household at whom it was aimed as his actual words. Bitter at his old friend Becket, constantly thwarting his clerical constitutions, the king shouted in anger but possibly not with intent. However, four of Henry's knights, Reginald Fitzurse
Reginald Fitzurse
Sir Reginald FitzUrse was one of the four knights who murdered Thomas Becket in 1170.His name is derived from Fitz which is a contracted form of the Norman-French fils de, meaning "son of" and Urse from the Latin ursus, meaning a bear, probable nom de guerre of his ancestor...

, Hugh de Morville
Hugh de Morville, Lord of Westmorland
Sir Hugh de Morville was an Anglo-Norman knight who served King Henry II of England in the late 12th century. He is chiefly famous as one of the assassins of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1170...

 (the Lord of Westmorland), William de Tracy
William de Tracy
Sir William de Tracy, Knt., was Lord of the Manor of Toddington, Gloucestershire, feudal Baron of Bradninch, near Exeter, and Lord of Moretonhampstead, Devon...

, and Richard le Breton
Richard le Breton
Sir Richard le Breton was one of the four knights who murdered Saint Thomas Becket.He was the son of Simon le Bret or Simon Brito of Sampford Brett in Somerset and a near neighbour of the FitzUrses of Williton...

 overheard their king's cries and decided to act on his words.

On 29 December 1170, they entered Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England and forms part of a World Heritage Site....

, finding Becket near the stairs to the crypt. They beat down the Archbishop, killing him with several blows. Becket's brains were scattered upon the ground with the words; "Let us go, this fellow will not be getting up again". Whatever the rights and wrongs, it certainly tainted Henry's later reign. For the remaining 20 years of his rule, he would personally regret the death of a man who "in happier times...had been a friend".

Just three years later, Becket was canonised and revered as a martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

 against secular interference in God's church; Pope Alexander III
Pope Alexander III
Pope Alexander III , born Rolando of Siena, was Pope from 1159 to 1181. He is noted in history for laying the foundation stone for the Notre Dame de Paris.-Church career:...

 had declared Becket a saint. Plantagenet historian John Harvey believes "The martyrdom of Thomas Becket was a martyrdom which he had repeatedly gone out of his way to seek...one cannot but feel sympathy towards Henry". Wherever the true intent and blame lie, it was yet another sacrifice to the ongoing war between church and state.

Civil war and rebellion

Henry's attempts to divide his lands amongst his numerous ambitious children, combined with his reluctance to cede his own power and entrust them with any real responsibility, fractured his family. In 1173, Young Henry
Henry the Young King
Henry, known as the Young King was the second of five sons of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine but the first to survive infancy. He was officially King of England; Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou and Maine.-Early life:Little is known of the young prince Henry before the events...

 and Richard revolted against their father, hoping to secure the power and lands they had been promised. While both Young Henry and Richard were relatively strong in France, they still lacked the manpower and experience to trouble their father unduly. The king crushed this first rebellion and exacted punishment. Richard, for example, lost half of the revenue allowed to him as Count of Poitou
Poitou
Poitou was a province of west-central France whose capital city was Poitiers.The region of Poitou was called Thifalia in the sixth century....

.

In 1182, the Plantagenet children's aggression turned inward. Young Henry, Richard and Geoffrey all began fighting each other for their father's possessions on the continent. The situation was exacerbated by French rebels and the king of France, Philip Augustus. This was the most serious threat to come from within the family yet, and the king faced the dynastic tragedy of civil war. However, on 11 June 1183, Henry the Young King
Henry the Young King
Henry, known as the Young King was the second of five sons of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine but the first to survive infancy. He was officially King of England; Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou and Maine.-Early life:Little is known of the young prince Henry before the events...

 died. The uprising, which had been built around the prince, promptly collapsed and the remaining brothers returned to their individual lands. Henry quickly occupied the rebel region of Angoulême
Angoulême
-Main sights:In place of its ancient fortifications, Angoulême is encircled by boulevards above the old city walls, known as the Remparts, from which fine views may be obtained in all directions. Within the town the streets are often narrow. Apart from the cathedral and the hôtel de ville, the...

 to keep the peace.

The final battle between Henry's sons came in 1184. Geoffrey of Brittany and John of Ireland, the youngest brothers, had been promised Aquitaine
Aquitaine
Aquitaine , archaic Guyenne/Guienne , is one of the 27 regions of France, in the south-western part of metropolitan France, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the border with Spain. It comprises the 5 departments of Dordogne, :Lot et Garonne, :Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes...

, which belonged to now eldest brother Richard. Geoffrey and John invaded but Richard, who was an accomplished military commander with over 10 years of experience by this time, expelled his brothers. The brothers would never again face each other in combat; Geoffrey died two years later, leaving only Richard and John.

Death and succession

The final thorn in Henry's side would be an alliance between his eldest surviving son, Richard, and his greatest rival, Philip Augustus. John had become Henry's favourite son and Richard had begun to fear he was being written out of the king's inheritance. In summer 1189, Richard and Philip invaded Henry's heartland of power, Anjou
Anjou
Anjou is a former county , duchy and province centred on the city of Angers in the lower Loire Valley of western France. It corresponds largely to the present-day département of Maine-et-Loire...

. The unlikely allies took northwest Touraine, attacked Le Mans and overran Maine and Tours. Defeated, Henry II met his opponents and agreed to all their demands, including paying homage to Philip for all his French possessions.

Weak, ill, and deserted by all but an illegitimate son, Geoffrey
Geoffrey, Archbishop of York
Geoffrey was an illegitimate son of Henry II, King of England, who became Bishop-elect of Lincoln and Archbishop of York. The identity of his mother is uncertain, but she may have been named Ykenai...

, Henry died at Chinon
Chinon
Chinon is a commune in the Indre-et-Loire department in central France well known for Château de Chinon.In the Middle Ages, Chinon developed especially during the reign of Henry II . The castle was rebuilt and extended, becoming one of his favorite residences...

 on 6 July 1189. Chroniclers record him saying "My other sons are the real bastards. This is the one who's proved himself legitimate." The victorious Prince Richard later paid his respects to Henry's corpse as it travelled to Fontevraud Abbey
Fontevraud Abbey
Fontevraud Abbey or Fontevrault Abbey is a religious building hosting a cultural centre since 1975, the Centre Culturel de l'Ouest, in the village of Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, near Chinon, in Anjou, France. It was founded by the itinerant reforming preacher Robert of Arbrissel, who had just created a...

, upon which, according to Roger of Wendover
Roger of Wendover
Roger of Wendover , probably a native of Wendover in Buckinghamshire, was an English chronicler of the 13th century.At an uncertain date he became a monk at St Albans Abbey; afterwards he was appointed prior of the cell of Belvoir, but he forfeited this dignity in the early years of Henry III,...

, 'blood flowed from the nostrils of the deceased, as if...indignant at the presence of the one who was believed to have caused his death'. The Prince, Henry's eldest surviving son and conqueror, was crowned "by the grace of God, King Richard I of England" at Westminster on 1 September 1189.

Ancestry



Descendants

For a list of Henry's male-line descendants, see List of members of the House of Plantagenet.

Henry had a number of mistresses, including Rosamund Clifford
Rosamund Clifford
Rosamund Clifford , often called "The Fair Rosamund" or the "Rose of the World", was famed for her beauty and was a mistress of King Henry II of England, famous in English folklore....

. One of the daughters of Eleanor's ex-husband Louis VII
Louis VII of France
Louis VII was King of France, the son and successor of Louis VI . He ruled from 1137 until his death. He was a member of the House of Capet. His reign was dominated by feudal struggles , and saw the beginning of the long rivalry between France and England...

, Alys
Alys, Countess of the Vexin
Alys, Countess of the Vexin was the daughter of King Louis VII of France and his second wife Constance of Castile.- Life :...

, originally sent to Henry's court to marry Richard, was also said to be Henry's mistress.

Henry also had illegitimate children. While they were not valid claimants, their royal blood made them potential problems for Henry's legitimate successors. William Longespée was one such child. He was the son of Henry's mistress Ida de Tosny
Ida de Tosny
Ida de Toesny, Countess of Norfolk was very likely a daughter of Ralph V de Tosny and his wife Margaret , a daughter of Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester...

. He remained largely loyal and contented with the lands and wealth afforded to him as a royal bastard. Geoffrey, Bishop of Lincoln, Archbishop of York
Geoffrey, Archbishop of York
Geoffrey was an illegitimate son of Henry II, King of England, who became Bishop-elect of Lincoln and Archbishop of York. The identity of his mother is uncertain, but she may have been named Ykenai...

, on the other hand, was seen as a possible thorn in the side of Richard I of England. Geoffrey had been the only son to attend Henry II on his deathbed, after even the king's favourite son, John Lackland, deserted him. Richard forced him into the clergy at York, thus ending his secular ambitions. Another son, Morgan
Morgan (bishop)
Morgan was a medieval Bishop of Durham elect.Morgan was an illegitimate son of King Henry II of England and Nesta, daughter of Iorwerth ab Owain, Lord of Caerleon. Nesta was married to Sir Ralph Bloet, who raised Morgan as his son...

 was elected to the Bishopric of Durham, although he was never consecrated due to opposition from Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III was Pope from 8 January 1198 until his death. His birth name was Lotario dei Conti di Segni, sometimes anglicised to Lothar of Segni....

.

Fictional portrayals

Henry is a central character in the plays Becket
Becket
Becket or The Honor of God is a play written in French by Jean Anouilh. It is a depiction of the conflict between Thomas Becket and King Henry II of England leading to Becket's murder in 1170. It contains many historical inaccuracies, which the author acknowledged.-Background:Anouilh's...

by Jean Anouilh
Jean Anouilh
Jean Marie Lucien Pierre Anouilh was a French dramatist whose career spanned five decades. Though his work ranged from high drama to absurdist farce, Anouilh is best known for his 1943 play Antigone, an adaptation of Sophocles' Classical drama, that was seen as an attack on Marshal Pétain's...

 and The Lion in Winter
The Lion in Winter
-Synopsis:Set during Christmas 1183 at Henry II of England's château in Chinon, Anjou, Angevin Empire, the play opens with the arrival of Henry's wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, whom he has had imprisoned since 1173...

by James Goldman
James Goldman
James Goldman was an American screenwriter and playwright, and the brother of screenwriter and novelist William Goldman.He was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up primarily in Highland Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb...

. Peter O'Toole
Peter O'Toole
Peter Seamus Lorcan O'Toole is an Irish actor of stage and screen. O'Toole achieved stardom in 1962 playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, and then went on to become a highly-honoured film and stage actor. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, and holds the record for most...

 portrayed him in the film adaptations of both of these plays – Becket (1964) and The Lion in Winter
The Lion in Winter (1968 film)
The Lion in Winter is a 1968 historical drama made by Avco Embassy Pictures, based on the Broadway play by James Goldman. It was directed by Anthony Harvey and produced by Joseph E...

(1968) – for both of which he received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

. He was also nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best British Actor for Becket and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
The Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture - Drama was first awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association as a separate category in 1951...

 for both films. Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart
Sir Patrick Hewes Stewart, OBE is an English film, television and stage actor, who has had a distinguished career in theatre and television for around half a century...

 portrayed Henry in the 2003 television film adaptation of The Lion in Winter
The Lion in Winter (2003 film)
The Lion in Winter is a 2003 made-for-television remake of the 1968 film of the same name.A television production of The Lion in Winter was first shown on December 26, 2003 in the U.K.. It starred Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close, and was directed by Andrei Konchalovsky...

, for which he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. Curtmantle, a 1961 play by Christopher Fry
Christopher Fry
Christopher Fry was an English playwright. He is best known for his verse dramas, notably The Lady's Not for Burning, which made him a major force in theatre in the 1940s and 1950s.-Early life:...

, also tells the story of Henry II's life, as remembered by William Marshall
William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke
Sir William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke , also called William the Marshal , was an Anglo-Norman soldier and statesman. He was described as the "greatest knight that ever lived" by Stephen Langton...

.

Brian Cox portrayed him in the 1978 BBC TV series The Devil's Crown
The Devil's Crown
The Devil's Crown was a BBC television series which dramatised the reigns of three medieval Kings of England: Henry II and his sons Richard I and John....

, which dramatised his reign and those of his sons. He has also been portrayed on screen by William Shea in the 1910 silent short Becket, A. V. Bramble in the 1923 silent film Becket, based on a play by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Alexander Gauge
Alexander Gauge
Alexander Gauge was a British actor best known for playing Friar Tuck in The Adventures of Robin Hood from 1955 to 1960....

 in the 1952 film adaptation of the T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot OM was a playwright, literary critic, and arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born an American he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39.The poem that made his...

 play Murder in the Cathedral
Murder in the Cathedral
Murder in the Cathedral is a verse drama by T. S. Eliot that portrays the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, first performed in 1935...

, and Dominic Roche
Dominic Roche
-Selected filmography:* My Wife's Lodger * What Every Woman Wants * The Quare Fellow * Paddy...

 in the 1962 British children's TV series Richard the Lionheart.

Henry is a significant character in the historical fiction/medieval murder mysteries Mistress of the Art of Death, The Serpent's Tale and Grave Goods by Diana Norman
Diana Norman
Diana Norman was a British author and journalist writing historical fiction and non-fiction. She was born in Devon...

, writing under the pseudonym Ariana Franklin. He also plays a part in Ken Follett
Ken Follett
Ken Follett is a Welsh author of thrillers and historical novels. He has sold more than 100 million copies of his works. Four of his books have reached the number 1 ranking on the New York Times best-seller list: The Key to Rebecca, Lie Down with Lions, Triple, and World Without End.-Early...

's most popular novel, The Pillars of the Earth
The Pillars of the Earth
The Pillars of the Earth is a historical novel by Ken Follett published in 1989 about the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England. It is set in the middle of the 12th century, primarily during the Anarchy, between the time of the sinking of the White Ship and the...

,
which in its final chapter fictionalises the king's penance at Canterbury Cathedral for his unknowing role in the murder of Thomas Becket. He is a major character in three of the novels of Sharon Kay Penman
Sharon Kay Penman
Sharon Kay Penman is an American historical novelist, published in the UK as Sharon Penman. She is best known for the Welsh Princes trilogy and the Plantagenet series. In addition, she has written four medieval mysteries, the first of which, The Queen's Man, was a finalist in 1996 for the Best...

 known as the Plantagenet Trilogy: When Christ and His Saints Slept, Time and Chance, and The Devil's Brood. The novels tell his life story from before his birth to his death.

Henry is played by David Warner
David Warner (actor)
David Warner is an English actor who is known for playing both romantic leads and sinister or villainous characters, both in film and animation...

 in Mike Walker's
Mike Walker (radio dramatist)
Mike Walker is a radio dramatist and feature and documentary writer. His radio work includes both original plays and adaptations of novels, classical and modern...

 BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 series Plantagenet
Plantagenet (radio plays)
Plantagenet is a two-series sequence of BBC Radio 4 radio plays by the British dramatist Mike Walker, broadcast in the Classic Serial strand, based on the account of the Plantagenet dynasty in Holinshed's Chronicles...

(2010).

External links



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