Henry II "Curmantle" PLANTAGENET, King of England
Eléonore D' AQUITAINE, Duchesse d' Aquitane, Comtesse de Poitou
(Abt 1122-1204)
Cte Aymar III Taillefer D' ANGOULÊME et de la Marche
(Abt 1160-1202)
Alix DE COURTENAY, Comtesse d' Angoulême
(Abt 1163-1218)
John "Lackland" PLANTAGENET, King of England
Isabella Taillefer D' ANGOULÊME, Queen of England

Henry III PLANTAGENET, King of England


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Eléanor BÉRENGAR, Comtesse de Provence

Henry III PLANTAGENET, King of England

  • Born: 1 Oct 1207, Winchester Castle, Winchester, Hampshire, England
  • Married: 14 Jan 1235/6, Canterbury Cathedral, Kent, England
  • Died: 16 Nov 1272, Westminster Palace, London, Middlesex, England
  • Buried: 20 Nov 1272, Westminster Abbey, London, Middlesex, England

  Research Notes:

Matthew Paris records that "Isabel Anglorum regina" have birth “in die sancti Remigii” 1207 to “Johanni regi filium suum primogenitum...Henricus”. The Continuator of Florence of Worcester records the birth "die S Remigii" [1207] of "filium…Henricus" to "regina Isabel".

He succeeded his father 28 Oct 1216 as HENRY III King of England. The Continuator of Florence of Worcester records the coronation "apud Bristowe…V Kal Nov" [1216] of King Henry. Crowned Gloucester Cathedral 28 Oct 1216, and again Westminster Abbey 17 May 1220. The Chronicle of Ralph of Coggeshall records the coronation in 1220 "die Pentecostem…XVI Kal Jun" of King Henry at Westminster. He formally renounced the duchy of Normandy under the Treaty of Paris Dec 1259. King Henry planned grandiose schemes to increase England's influence in Europe, through installing his younger son as king of Sicily and with his brother as king of Germany, but failed in their successful implementation. His reign was bedevilled by domestic difficulties with the English barons, triggered partly by his inability to control his wife's relations whose establishment in England he encouraged.

The Continuator of Florence of Worcester records the death "die S Eadmundi Cantuar. archiepiscopi" 16 Nov 1272 of King Henry III and his burial at Westminster.

Betrothed (before 19 Oct 1226) to Yolande de Bretagne, daughter of Pierre Duke of Brittany and his first wife Alix de Thouars Duchess of Brittany. A letter of King Henry III dated 19 Oct 1226 confirms his betrothal to "Jolentam filiam Petri ducis Brittanniæ et comitis Richemundiæ". 1


Henry III was born in 1207 and succeeded his father John on the throne of England in 1216. It was a ravaged inheritance, the scene of civil war and anarchy, and much of the east and south eastern England was under the control of the French Dauphin Louis. But Henry had two great protectors---his liege lord the Pope, and the aged William Marshal.

The Marshal, by a combination of military skill and diplomatic ability, saw off the Dauphin by September, 1217, but less than two years later he was dead, and a triumvirate ruled in his place: the papal legal Pandulf; the Poitevin Bishop of Winchester Peter des Roches; and the Justiciar Hubert de Burgh. The legate departed in 1221; two years later Henry became of age and, rejecting Peter, chose Hubert to be his chief counsellor.

Trouble soon came, as Hubert attempted to re-asert royal authority. Barons, who had kept their castles undistrubed and exercised their powers without supervison, were now called to account to the haughty justiciar, and the party of Peter des Roches did not fail to underline the annoyances involved. The years 1223-4 were taken up with quelling rebellions.

Meanwhile the situation abroad was even more disturbing: the French king Philip Augustus was eating up English lands in Gascony, and Henry's mother Isabella made a bad situation worse by her marriage with Count Hugh of Lusignan. It was only in 1230 that a badly prepared English force set out for France and, after much squabbling, all it was able to do was make a demonstration march through Gascony.

Hubert had already had one dismal failure in Wales in 1228, and his arrogant attempts to build up a personal base in the Marches provoked a Welsh raid in 1231 which did more harm to his good name. Hubert was thrust out of power, to be replaced by Peter des Roches' Poitevins. But by 1234 they had upset the baronage of England, who had never taken kindly to foreigners other than the Normans, and Richard Marshal combined with Edmund of Abington, Archbishop of Canterbury, to force the King to replace them.

Henry now began his period of personal rule, and the world was to see what sort of king he would make. He was a simple, direct man, trustful on first impression, but bearing a life-long grudge when people let him down. At times lavish and life-loving, he could show another side of his nature, that wicked Angevin temper and streak of vindictive cruelty. He had a very refined taste, and enjoyed building and restoration work more than anything else. Surrounded by barons who had been proved in the hardest schools of war, the King had the spirit of an interior decorator; the nation could have born the expense of his artistic tastes, could have forgiven the eccentricity of it all, but Henry showed time and again that he was timorous as well as artistic. He feared thunderstorms, and battle was beyond him.

The Crown had some 60 castles in England, and these were in a bad state after the troubles of John's reign and the minority. Henry travelled about tirelessly rebuilding them and making them more comfortable, spending at least ten per cent of his income on building works. He personally instructed his architects in great detail, and could not wait for them to finish---it must be ready for his return 'even if a thousand workmen are required every day' and the job must be 'properly done, beautiful and fine.' In addition he built or restored twenty royal houses, decorating them sumptiously. The painted chamber at Westminster was 80 ft. long, 26 ft. wide, and 31 ft. high. The walls were all wainscotted (at Winchester even the pantry and cellar were wainscotted) and painted with pictures and proverbs. The subjects of the pictures varied according to the royal moods---in May 1250 the Queen borrowed a book about the crusades, and a year later the walls at Clarendon showed Richard the Lionheart duelling with Saladin. Wherever there were no pictures, there was the King's favourite decor---green curtains spangled with gold stars. The floors were tiled, the windows glazed (and barred after 1238 when an attempted assassination scared Henry out of his wits---he even had the vent of the royal privy into the Thames barred over) and fireplaces provided the ultimate in luxury. Special rooms sprouted everywhere, including the room where the royal head was washed.

If his private comfort bulked large in Henry's mind, his public display of piety came a close second: these were neatly combined in the royal bedroom where a window was fitted to look into the chapel. His greatest project was the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey, on which he spent nearly £50,000---the equivalent of £4,000,000 today. He had been so thrilled with St. Louis' Sainte Chapelle that he had wanted to put it on a cart and roll it back to England. That was impossible, so he had to build his own. He finished it in 1269, and proudly put up the inscription 'As the rose is the flower of all flowers, so this is the house of houses.'

For a while Henry had reason for pride: he married Eleanor, daughter of the Count of Savoy, and sister of the Queen of France, the finest match in Europe; his sister Isabella was married to the Emperor Frederick II, and his son Edward to Eleanor of Castille. He persuaded the Germans to elect his brother, Richard of Cornwall, King of the Romans.

On the other hand, his foreign policy was leading him into dangers. In 1242 he foolishly allowed himself to be led into supporting his mother's ambitions in Poitou, and the enmity with France was to continue needlessly until the settlement of 1259. Louis IX had no desire to be his enemy---in 1254 all England was amazed at the French King's generous gift of an elephant, which the historian Matthew Paris went to draw in the Tower of London.

In 1246 Henry's mother died (to almost universal relief) and he generously invited his four Lusignan half-brothers to live out their orphanage under his roof. He gave them large incomes, but they took more, milking the land as hard as they could in the last moments before bankruptcy. The English hated them for their avarice, price, and foreign-ness.

In ecclesiastical affairs Henry's hands were hopelessly tied---the Pope had always been his chief prop, and the King could not afford to lose his aid. There was a strong movement for reform, but the papacy's desparate need for money to prosecute its war against the Hohenstauffen made reform a secondary consideration, and indeed frequently blocked it. But Henry may justly be criticised for his foolishness in accepting the papal offer of the crown of Sicily for his son Edmund in 1250. The payment was to meet the astonomical debts of the Pope, and Richard of Cornwall had already wisely turned down this bad bargain, commenting that he had been offered the moon, if he could reach it.

Henry's need for money dominated most of his domestic policy. During the period of his personal government he obtained what he needed by getting legalists and professional civil servants to manipulate the complex chaos of the feudal government he had inherited. Government became a secret and centralised affair, excluding the barons, great and small. There are many comparisons here with the tyranny of Chales I.

In 1258 came the explosion: Parliament refused a grant unless Henry should exile his grasping half-brothers, and allow a commission of enquiry. A committee was set up to control the appointment of Crown officials, examine and reform local government, and supervise the affairs of the realm in general.

This was a revolt, but it had many obscure roots. One cannot assess how deeply felt were the demands for just and equal government voiced by Simon de Montfort, but certainly there were other elements in the baronial party which were reactionary rather than revolutionary, wanting to return to baronial government for its own sake. On this issue the reformers spilt, Gloucester leading the conservatives, and de Montfort the radicals. Henry saw his chance, and deftly using the ever valuable support of the Pope, shook off the Committee's control.

Now came war, and the stunning defeat of the royal party at Lewes in 1264. From this point onwards Henry was very much a broken man, though prone to bouts of vicious anger. The initiative was passed to his son, the Lord Edward, who defeated de Montfort at Evesham, where Henry was rescued, scratched and shouting 'Do not hurt me.'

Henry longed for revenge, and disinherited the rebels, who fled to hideouts in the fens to continue the war. The papal legate Ottobono persuaded the King to go so far, in the Dictum of Kenilworth of 1266, as to allow the rebels to buy back their estates. Still not satisfied, the disinherited, under Gloucester's leadership, took London, and Richard of Cornwall negotiated an easier peace. In 1267 the Statute of Marlborough embodied much of what de Montfort had fought for, and the long years of trouble were over.

Henry had at least survived, and his last years were happy in that he fininshed building his patron saint's Abbey of Westminster. The wheel of fortune that decorated so many of his palaces' walls had come round, and all the rage and terror were done with. Henry died in 1272. 2


The Will of King Henry III, written 1 Jul 1253.

I, Henry, by the grace of God King of England and Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Earl of Anjou, on the Tuesday next after the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, in the year of grace 1253, at Suthwyk, proposing to go into Gascony, make my will form following. I will that my body be buried at the Church of the Blessed Edward of Westminster, there being no impediment, having formerly appointed my body to be buried in the New Temple of London. I commit the guardianship of Edward my eldest son and heir, and of my other children, and of my Kingdom of England, and of all my other lands of Wales and Ireland, and Gascony, to my illustrious Queen Eleanor, until they arrive at full age. Also, I bequeath the cross which the Countess of Kent gave me, to the small altar of the aforesaid Church of Edward of Westminster, and I appoint my aforesaid Queen; Boniface Archbishop of Canterbury; Aymer, elect of Winchester, and Richard Earl of Cornwall, my brothers; Petri de Lebaudia, John Maunsell, "Præpositi Beverlye," Peter Chiceporm, Archdeacon of Wales, John Prior of Newburgh, my Chaplains John de Gray, my Steward; and Henry de Wengham, my Secretary, my executors. 3

  Marriage Information:

Henry married Eléanor BÉRENGAR Comtesse de Provence, daughter of Ramón IV BÉRENGAR Count of Provence and Beatrix DE SAVOIE Countess of Savoy, on 14 Jan 1235/6 in Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, Kent, England. (Eléanor BÉRENGAR was born in 1217 in Aix-En-Provence, France and died on 24 Jun 1291.)

  Marriage Notes:

Betrothed 22 Jun 1235.


1 Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, Medlands: Henry III.

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

3 Testamenta Vetusta, vol. I, pp. 5-7.

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