Foulques V "Le Jeune" D' ANJOU, King of Jerusalem
Eremgarde DU MAINE, Countess of Anjou
(Abt 1097-1126)
Henri I 'Beauclerc', King of England
(Abt 1068-1135)
Matilda (Edith) "Ætheling" MAC CRINAN called "Canmore"
Geoffrey V "Le Bel" PLANTAGENET, Count of Anjou
Princess Matilda (Maud) of England

Henry II "Curmantle" PLANTAGENET, King of England


Family Links

1. Eléonore D' AQUITAINE, Duchesse d' Aquitane, Comtesse de Poitou

0. Rosamond DE CLIFFORD, Mistress
0. Alys CAPET, Mistress
0. Alix DE PORHOËT, Mistress
0. Annabel DE BALIOL, Mistress
0. Ida, Mistress

Henry II "Curmantle" PLANTAGENET, King of England

  • Born: 25 Mar 1133, Le Mans, Anjou, France
  • Married: 18 May 1153, Bordeaux Cathedral, Bordeaux, France
  • Died: 6 Jul 1189, Chinon near Tours, Indre-et-Loire, France
  • Buried: 8 Jul 1189, Fontevrault Abbey, Fontevrault, Maine-Et-Loire, France

   Also known as Henri II "Courtmanteau", roi d' Angleterre, and Henri D' ANJOU.

  Research Notes:

William of Tyre names him and records his parentage. The Chronicæ Sancti Albini records the birth "1133 III Non Mar" of "Henricus".

Comte de Touraine et de Maine 1151. He succeeded his father in 1151 as HENRI Comte d’Anjou, Duke of Normandy. He became Duke of Aquitaine by right of his wife 18 May 1152. He landed in England in Jan 1153 and obliged King Stephen to recognise him as his heir, from which time Henry governed England as Justiciar. He was recognised as HENRY II King of England after the death of King Stephen 25 Oct 1154, crowned in Westminster Abbey 19 Dec 1154 and at Worcester end [1158].

Ralph de Diceto´s Abbreviationes Chronicorum record in 1189 that “Henricus rex Anglorum” died “aput Chinun” and was buried “aput Fontem Ebraldi”. The Continuator of Florence of Worcester records the death "II Non Jul" in [1189] of "Heinricus rex filius imperatoris" and his burial "ad Fontem-Ebraldi". The Chronicle of Alberic de Trois-Fontaines records the death "apud castrum Kinonis versus Cenomannum Non Iul 1189" of "rex Henricus" and his burial "in abbatia Fontis Ebraldi". 1



Henry II was born at Le Mans in 1133. He was the eldest son of the Empress Matilda, daughter of Henry I, by her second marriage to Geoffrey the Fair of Anjou. His parents' marriage was tempestous, and both parties were glad when politics brought a separation, with Matilda going to England to fight King Stephen, and Geoffrey of Normandy to win a heritage for young Henry.

He first came to England at the age of nine when his mother made her dramatic escape from Oxford where she was besieged by Stephen, across the ice and snow, dressed all in white, to welcome him at Wallingford. His next visit, when he was fourteen, showed his character: he recruited a small army of mercenaries to cross over and fight Stephen in England, but failed so miserably in the execution of his plans that he ended up borrowing money from Stephen to get back home. A third expedition, two years later, was almost as great a failure. Henry was not a soldier, his were skills of administration and diplomacy; warfare bored and sometimes frightened him. For the meanwhile he now concentrated on Normandy, of which his father had made him joint ruler. In 1151, the year of his father's death, he went to Paris to do homage to Louis VII for his duchy. There he met Queen Eleanor, and she fell in love with him.

Henry was by no means averse. To steal a king's wife does a great deal for the ego of a young duke; he was as lusty as she, and late in their lives he was still ardently wenching with 'the fair Rosamund' Clifford, and less salubrious girls with names like 'Bellebelle'; finally, she would bring with her the rich Duchy of Aquitaine, which she held in her own right. With this territory added to those he hoped to inherit and win, his boundaries would be Scotland in the north, and the Pyrenees in the south.

Henry was, apart from his prospects, a 'catch' for any woman. He was intelligent, had learned Latin and could read and possibly write; immensely strong and vigorous, a sportsman and hard rider who loved travel; emotional and passionate, prone to tears and incredible rages; carelessly but richly dressed, worried enough in later life to conceal his baldness by careful arrangement of his hair, and very concerned not to grow fat.

But now he was in the prime of youth, and in 1153, when he landed with a large force in Bristol, the world was ready to be won. He quickly gained control of the West Country and moved up to Wallingford for a crucial battle with Stephen. This was avoided, however, because in thepreparations for the battle Henry fell from his horse three times, a bad omen. Henry himself was not superstitious -- he was the reverse, a cheerful blasphemer -- but he disliked battles and when his anxious advisers urged him to heed the omen, he willingly agreed to parley privately with Stephen. The conference was a strange occasion: there were only two of them there, at the narowest point of the Thames, with Henry on one bank and Stephen on the other. None the less, they seem to have come to an agreement to take negotiations further.

That summer Stephen's son died mysteriously, and Eleanor bore Henry an heir (about the same time as an English whore Hikenai produced his faithful bastard Geoffrey). The omens clearly showed what was soon confirmed between the two -- that when Stephen died, Henry should rule in his place. A year later Stephen did die, and in December 1154, Henry and Eleanor were crowned in London.

Henry was only 21, but he soon showed his worth, destroying unlicensed castles, and dispersing the foreign mercenaries. He gave even-handed justice, showing himself firm, but not unduly harsh. A country racked by civil war sighed with relief. Only two major difficulties appeared: first Henry's failure in his two Welsh campaigns in 1157 and 1165, when guerilla tactics utterly defeated and on the first occasion nearly killed him; second was the reversal of his friendship for Becket when he changed from being Chancellor to Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162.

The quarrel with Becket was linked with the King's determination to continue his grandfather's reform of the administration of justice in the country. He was anxious for a uniform pattern, operated by royal justices, to control the corrupt, ill-administered and unequal local systems operated by barons and churchmen. At Clarendon in 1166 and Northampton in 1176, he got his council's agreeemnt to a series of measures which established circuits of royal justices dealing with the widest range of criminal activities. The method of operation was novel, too, relying on a sworn jury of inquest of twelve men. Though not like a modern jury, in that they were witnesses rather than assessors, the assize juries were the ancestors of the modern English legal system.

Henry travelled constantly, and much of the time in his Contninental territories, for there were constant rebellions to deal with, usually inspired or encouraged by Louis of France. Henry was determined to keep the integrity of his empire, and to pass it on as a unity. To do this was no small task, but in 1169 Henry held a conference with the King of France which he hoped would achieve his objectives: he himself again did homage for Normandy, his eldest son Henry did homage for Anjou, Maine and Brittany, and Richard for Aquitaine. The next year he had young Henry crowned in his own lifetime. If anything could preserve the succession, surely this would, yet, in fact, it brought all the troubles in the world onto Henry's head, for he had given his sons paper domains, and had no intention that they should rule his empire. Yet a man with a title does not rest until he has that title's power.

Late in 1171 Henry had a pleasant interlude in Ireland -- escaping from the world's condemnation for the murder of Becket. He spent Christmas at Dublin in a palace built for him out of wattles by the Irish.

Meanwhile, Eleanor had been intriguing with her sons, urging them to revolt and demand their rights. Early in 1173 they trooped off to the French court, and with Louis joined in an attack on Normandy. Henry clamped Eleanor into prison and went off to meet the new threat. Whilst he was busy meeting this, England was invaded from Flanders and Scotland, and more barons who fancied a return of the warlord days of Stephen broke into revolt.

Plainly it was St. Thomas's revenge, and there was no hope of dealing with the situation without expiation. In July 1174 Henry returned to England, and went in pilgrim's dress to Canterbury. Through the town he walked barefoot, leaving a trail of blood on the flinty stones, and went to keep his vigil of a day and a night by the tomb, not even coming out to relive himself. As he knelt, the assembled bishops and all the monks of Christchurch came to scourge him -- each giving him three strokes, but some with bitterness in their hearts laying on with five.

It was worth it though, for the very morning his vigil ended Henry was brought the news that the King of Scotland had been captured. He moved quickly northwards, receving rebels' submission all the time. He met up with Geoffrey who had fought valiantly for him, and commented, 'My other sons have proved themselves bastards, this one alone is my true and legitimate son.'

Returning to France, he quickly came to an agreement with Louis and his three rebel sons, giving each a substantial income, though still no share of power.

Richard set to work reducing the Duchy of Aquitaine to order, and quickly proved himself an able general who performed tremendous feats, such as capturing a fully manned and provisioned castle with three walls and moats to defend it. But the people were less easy to subdue -- they loved war for its own sake as their poet-leader, Bertrand de Born, shows well in his works: '. . . I love to see amidst the meadows tents and pavilions spread; and it gives me great joy to see drawn up on the field knights and horses in battle array; and it delights me when the scouts scatter people and herds in their path; and my heart is filled with gladness when I see strong castles besieged, and the stockades broken and overwhelmed, and the warriors on the bank, girt about by fosses, with a line of strong stakes, interlaced . . . Maces, swords, helms of different hues, shields that will be riven and shattered as soon as the fight begins; and many vassals struck down together; and the horses of the dead and wounded roving at random. And when battle is joined, let all men of good lineage think of nought but the breaking of heads and arms: I tell you I find no such savour in food or in wine or in sleep as in hearing the shout "On! On!" from both sides, and the neighing of steeds that have lost their riders, and the cries of "Help! Help!"; and in seeing men great and small go down on the grass beyond the fosses; in seeing at last the dead, with the pennoned stumps of lances still in their sides.'

These robust knights were actively encouraged by the young King Henry. He was handsome, charming and beloved of all, but also feckless and thoughtless -- far keener on tournaments and frivolity than the serious business of government. Then in the midle of his new rebellion he caught disentery and shortly died. His devoted followers were thunderstruck -- one young lad actually pined to death -- and the rebellion fizzled out.

The young king was dead, but Henry, wary of previous errors, was not going to rush into making a new one. He called his favourite youngest son, John, to his side and ordered Richard to give his duchy into his brother's hands. Richard -- his mother's favourite -- had made Aquitaine his home and worked hard to establish his control there; he refused to give his mother's land to anyone, unless it were back to Eleanor herself.

Henry packed John off to Ireland (which he speedily turned against himself) whilst he arranged to get Eleanor out of her prison and bring her to Aquitaine to receive back the duchy. Meanwhile the new King of France, Philip, was planning to renew the attack on English territories, all the while the three, Henry, Richard, and Philip, were supposed to be planning a joint crusade.

In 1188 Henry, already ill with the absessed anal fistula that was to cause him such an agonising death, refused pointblank to recognise Richard as his heir. The crazy project for substituting John was at the root of it all, though Henry may have deluded himself into thinking he was playing his usual canny hand.

But diplomacy was giving way to the Greekest of tragedies. In June 1189, Philip and Richard advanced on Henry at his birthplace in Le Mans, and he was forced to withdraw with a small company of knights, showering curses on God. Instead of going to the safety of Normandy, he rode hard, his usual long distance, deep into Anjou. This worsened his physical condition and, in high fever, he made no effort to call up forces to his aid. Forced to meet Philip and Richard, he was so ill he had to be held on his horse whilst he deliriously mumbled his abject agreement to their every condition for peace.

Back in bed after his last conference he was brought the news that John, for whom he had suffered all this, had joined the rebels' side. Two sons -- both rebels -- were dead, two sons -- both rebels -- lived, and it was his bastard Geoffrey who now tended him in his last sickness. There was not even a bishop in his suite to give him the last rites. Over and again he cried out in agony "Shame! shame on a vanquished king!"

After his death the servants plundered him, leaving him in a shirt and drawers. When the marshall came to arrange the burial he had to scratch around for garments in which to dress the body. A bit of threadbare gold edging from a cloak was put around Henry's head to represent his sovereignty.

And yet Henry had forseen it all. According to Gerald of Wales, he had long before ordered a fresco for one of his rooms at Winchester: the picture showed an eagle being pecked by three eaglets, and a fourth perched on his head, ready to peck out his eyes when the time should come.


The Will of King Henry II.

Henry, by the grace of God, King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou, to King Henry, to Richard, Geoffrey, and John, my sons, to Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Archdeacons, Deans, Earls, Barons, Justices, Sheriffs, &c. and all other my faithful subjects, as well clerks as laymen of my territories, within and beyond the seas, greeting. Know ye, that at Waltham, in the presence of R. Bishop of Winchester; J. Bishop of Norwich; G. Chancellor, my son; Master Walter de Constantiis, Archdeacon of Oxford; Godfrey de Lucy, Archdeacon of Derby; Ralph de Glanville; Hugh de Morewic; Ralph FitzStephen, Chamberlain; and William Rufo; I have made division of some part of my money in this manner: To -----------, &c. To the religious houses of England MMMMM marks of silver, to be distributed by the hands of R. Archbishop of Canterbury, R. Bishop of Winchester; R. Bishop of Worcester; G. Bishop of Ely; and J. Bishop of Norwich; and Ralph de Glanville, Justiciar of England. To the religious houses of the land of the Earl of Anjou, my father, M marks of silver; towards the marriage of poor and free women of England wanting aid ccc marks of gold, to be distributed by the hands of R. Bishop of Winchester, B. Worcester, G. Ely, and J. Norwich, and Ralph de Glanville. Towards the marriage of poor and free women of Normandy wanting aid c marks of gold, to be distributed by the Archbishop of Rouen, and the Bishops of Bayeux, Avaranches, Sagiensis. Toward the marriage of poor and free women of the land of my father, the earl of Anjou, c marks of gold, to be distributed by the Bishops of Maine and Anjou. This distribution I have made at the place before written, in the year of the Incarnation 1182. And I charge you, my sons, by the fealty you owe me, and the oath ye have sworn to me, that ye cause it to be firmly and inviolably kept; and whoever shall oppose or contravene it, may he incur the indignation and anger of Almighty God, and mine and God's malediction. And I command you, the Archbishops and Bishops, by the oath ye have sworn to me, and the fealty ye owe to me and to God, that ye solemnly, in your Synods, with lighted candles, excommunicate, and cause to be excommunicated, all such as may presume to infringe my distribution. And know ye that our Lord the Pope has confirmed this my distribution, under his hand and seal, on pain of anathema. 3

  Marriage Information:

Henry also married Eléonore D' AQUITAINE, Duchesse d' Aquitane, Comtesse de Poitou, daughter of Guillaume X D' AQUITAINE Comte de Poitou and Eléanor DE CHÂTELLERAULT, on 18 May 1153 in Bordeaux Cathedral, Bordeaux, France. The marriage ended in divorce. (Eléonore D' AQUITAINE was born about 1122 in Château De Belin, Bordeaux, Aquitaine, died on 31 Mar 1204 in Poitier, Poitou, France and was buried on 1 Apr 1204 in Abbaye De Fontevrault, Fontevrault, France.)


1 Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, Medlands: Henri d'Anjou.

2 Who's Who in the Middle Ages, John Fines, Barnes & Noble Books, New York, 1995.

3 Testamenta Vetusta, vol. I, pp. 1-4.

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