Henri I 'Beauclerc', King of England
- Born: Abt Sep 1068, Selby, West Riding, Yorkshire, England
- Christened: 5 Aug 1100, Selby, West Riding, Yorkshire, England
- Married (1): No Marriage
- Married (2): 1130, Tunbridge Kent, England
- Married (3): 29 Jan 1120-1121, Windsor Castle, Berkshire, England
- Married (5): Between 1110 and 1115
- Married (7): 11 Nov 1100, Westminster Abbey, London, Middlesex, England
- Married (8): Abt 1098, No Marriage
- Died: 1 Dec 1135, Lyons-la-Foret, Eure, Normandy, France
- Buried: 4 Jan 1136, Reading Abbey, Berkshire, England
Orderic Vitalis names “Rotbertum...et Ricardum, Willermum et Henricum” as the sons of “Willermus Normanniæ dux” and his wife “Mathildem Balduini ducis Flandrensium filiam, neptem...ex sorore Henrici regis Francorum”. Guillaume of Jumièges records that Duke Guillaume and his wife “Balduinum Flandriæ comitem...filiam regali ex genere descendente...Mathilde” had “filios quatuor Robertum...Willelmum...Richardum...et Henricum”, adding that Henry succeeded his brothers “tam Regi, quam Duci”. Orderic Vitalis records that “Mathildem conjugem suam” gave birth to “filium...Henricum” within one year of her coronation in May 1068.
Comte de Coutances: Orderic Vitalis records that “Henricus Clito Constantiniensis comes” visited England to request “terram matris suæ” from his brother King William II, dated to . Guillaume of Jumièges records that ”Henricus” reconquered “comitatum Constantiniensem”, which had been taken from him, with the help of “Richardi de Revers et Rogerii de Magna-villa...Hugo comes Cestrensis”. Orderic Vitalis records that “Henricus clito” governed “Abrincas et Cæsarisburgum et Constantiam atque Guabreium” [Avranches, Cherbourg, Coutances, Gavray].
Seigneur de Domfront 1092: Orderic Vitalis records that “Henricus Guillelmi regis filius” captured “Danfrontem oppidum” in 1092.
He succeeded his brother 3 Aug 1100 as HENRY I “Beauclerc” King of England, taking prompt action to ensure his succession by taking control of the royal treasure at Winchester. Florence of Worcester records that "iunior frater suus Heinricus" succeeded King William II and was crowned "Non Aug" in Westminster Abbey. Orderic Vitalis records that he was crowned at Westminster Abbey 5 Aug 1100. He married the niece of the last Saxon claimant to the throne of England to appease the English. After consolidating his position in England, he crossed the Channel to subdue Normandy in 1105. He defeated his brother Robert at Tinchebrai and declared himself Duke of Normandy 28 Sep 1106. Henry turned his attention to strengthening the position of the crown in the newly united country, creating the Exchequer to improve control over finances, and ensuring that his own supporters filled the potentially powerful positions of county sheriffs. However, tensions increased with the barons, setting the scene for the civil war which followed Henry's death, his male heir having drowned in the White Ship disaster in 1120.
The Chronicæ Sancti Albini records the death "1135 III Non Dec" of "Henricus rex Angliæ". The Continuator of Florence of Worcester records the death "IV Non Dec" in  and his burial at Reading. The necrology of the abbey of Saint-Denis records the death "IV Non Dec" of "Henricus rex Anglorum". William of Newburgh records the burial of King Henry I "apud Radingam in monasterio". 1
Henry I was born in the year 1068---a factor he himself regarded as highly significant, for he was the only son of the Conqueror born after the conquest of England, and to Henry this meant he was heir to the throne. He was not an attractive proposition: he was dissolute to a degree, producing at least a score of bastards; but far worse he was prone to sadistic cruelty---on one occasion, for example, personally punishing a rebellious burgher by throwing him from the walls of his town.
At the death of William the Conqueror, Henry was left no lands, merely 5,000 pounds of silver. With these he bought lands from his elder brother Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, only to see them taken back again a few years later by Robert, in unholy alliance with his brother William Rufus.
Henry could do little to avenge such treatment, but in England he found numerous barons who were tired of the exactions and ambitions of their king. He formed alliances with some of these, notably with the important de Clare family. He and some of the de Clares were with William Rufus on his last hunting expedition, and it is thought that the king's death was the result of Henry's plotting.
Certainly he moved fast to take advantage of it; leaving Rufus's body unattended in the woods, he swooped down on Winchester to take control of the treasury. Two days later he was in Westminster, being crowned by the Bishop of London. His speed is understandable when one realises that his elder brother, Robert [Curthose], was returning from the crusade, and claimed, with good reason, to be the true heir.
Henry showed great good sense in his first actions as King. He arrested Ranulph Flambard, William's tax-gatherer, and recalled Anselm, the exiled Archbishop. Furthermore, he issued a Charter of Liberties which promised speedy redress of grievances, and a return to the good government of the Conqueror. Putting aside for the moment his many mistresses, he married the sister of the King of Scots, who was descended from the royal line of Wessex; and lest the Norman barons should think him too pro-English in this action, he changed her name from Edith to Matilda. No one could claim that he did not aim to please.
In 1101 Robert Curthose invaded, but Henry met him at Alton, and persuaded him to go away again by promising him an annuity of £2,000. He had no intention of keeping up the payments, but the problem was temporarily solved.
He now felt strong enough to move against dissident barons who might give trouble in the future. Chief amongst these was the vicious Robert of Bellême, Earl of Shrewsbury, whom Henry had known for many years as a dangerous troublemaker. He set up a number of charges against him in the king's court, making it plain that if he appeared for trial he would be convicted and imprisoned. Thus Robert and his colleagues were forced into rebellion at a time not of their own choosing, were easily defeated and sent scuttling back to Normandy.
In Normandy Robert Curthose began to wreak his wrath on all connected with his brother, thus giving Henry an excellent chance to retaliate with charges of misgovernment and invade. He made two expeditions in 1104-5, before the great expedition of 1106 on which Robert was defeated at the hour-long battle of Tinchebrai, on the anniversary of Hastings. No one had expected such an easy victory, but Henry took advantage of the state of shock resulting from the battle to annex Normandy. Robert was imprisoned (in some comfort, it be said); he lived on for 28 more years, ending up in Cardiff castle whiling away the long hours learning Welsh. His son William Clito remained a free agent, to plague Henry for most of the rest of his reign.
In England the struggle with Anselm over the homage of bishops ran its course until the settlement of 1107. In matters of secular government life was more simple: Henry had found a brilliant administrator, Roger of Salisbury, to act as Justiciar for him. Roger had an inventive mind, a keen grasp of affairs, and the ability to single out young men of promise. He quickly built up a highly efficient team of administrators, and established new routines and forms of organisation within which they could work. To him we owe the Exchequer and its recording system of the Pipe Rolls, the circuits of royal justiciars spreading the king's peace, and the attempts at codification of law. Henry's good relationships with his barons, and with the burgeoning new towns owed much to skilful administration. Certainly he was able to gain a larger and more reliable revenue this way than by the crude extortion his brother had used.
In 1120 came the tragedy of the White Ship. The court was returning to England, and the finest ship in the land was filled with its young men, including Henry's son and heir William. Riotously drunk, they tried to go faster and faster, when suddenly the ship foundered. All hands except a butcher of Rouen were lost, and England was without an heir.
Henry's only legitimate child was Matilda, but she was married to the Emperor Henry V of Germany, and so could not succeed. But in 1125 her husband died, and Henry brought her home and forced the barons to swear fealty to her---though they did not like the prospect of a woman ruler. Henry then married her to Geoffrey of Anjou, the Normans' traditional enemy, and the barons were less happy---especially when the newly-weds had a terrible row, and Geoffrey ordered her out of his lands. In 1131 Henry, absolutely determined, forced the barons to swear fealty once more, and the fact that they did so is testimoney of his controlling power. Matilda and Geoffrey were reunited, and in 1133 she produced a son whom she named for his grandfather. If only Henry could live on until his grandson was old enough to rule, all would be well.
But in 1135, against doctor's orders, he ate a hearty meal of lampreys, got acute indigestion, which turned into fever, and died. He was buried at his abbey in Reading---some said in a silver coffin, for which there was an unsuccessful search at the Dissolution. 2
Henri also married Isabel (Elizabeth) DE MEULAN, daughter of Robert I DE BEAUMONT-LE-ROGER, 1st Earl of Leicester, and Isabel (Elizabeth) DE VERMANDOIS, in 1130 in Tunbridge Kent, England. (Isabel/Elizabeth DE MEULAN was born about 1094 in Leicester, Leicestershire, England and died on 6 Jan 1147/8 in Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire, Wales.)
Henri also married Adelisa DE LOUVAIN, daughter of Godefroi V "le Barbu" DE LOUVAIN Count of Louvain, Duke of Brabant and Clemence DE BOURGOGNE, on 29 Jan 1120/1 in Windsor Castle, Berkshire, England. (Adelisa DE LOUVAIN was born between 1103 and 1106 in Brabant, Netherlands and died on 27 Sep 1141 in Afflighem Abbey.)
Henri also married Sibyl LE CORBET, daughter of Robert LE CORBET and Unknown, between 1110 and 1115. (Sibyl LE CORBET was born about 1093 in Alcester, Warwickshire, England and died after 1157.)
Henri also married Matilda (Edith) "Ætheling" MAC CRINAN called "Canmore", daughter of Máel Coluim III MAC DONNCHADA Ard-rí Alban and St. Margaret ÆÞELING "The Exile", Queen of the Scots, on 11 Nov 1100 in Westminster Abbey, London, Middlesex, England. (Matilda (Edith) "Ætheling" MAC CRINAN called "Canmore" was born in Oct 1079 in Dunfermline, Fifeshire, Scotland, died on 1 May 1118 in Westminster Palace, London, England and was buried in Jun 1118 in Church Of St Peter, Westminster, Middlesex, England.
Henry Beauclerk married Edith of England, of the line of Alfred the Great, whose name became Maud in deference to the Norman French difficulty with pronounciation of Saxon names
Henri also married Nest FERCH RHYS, daughter of Rhys "Mawr" AP TEWDWR King of Deheubarth and Gwladus FERCH RHIWALLON of Powys, about 1098 in No Marriage. (Nest FERCH RHYS was born about 1073 in Dynevor, Llandyfeisant, Carmarthenshire, Wales and died about 1163.)
Henri also married Edith, Mater Comitisse de Pertico. (Edith, Mater Comitisse de Pertico was born about 1070 in England.)