Norman Struggle for throne: King Stephen

1135 Stephen the grandson of William the Conqueror claimed the English throne on the death of Henry and was crowned King of England on the 26th December.  However, Henry’s choice of successor had been his daughter; Matilda.

1136 The Earl of Norfolk, a keen supporter of Matilda led a rebellion against Stephen.

1138 Robert the Earl of Gloucester, an illegitimate son by birth of Henry I, once a supporter of Stephen, switched his allegiance to Matilda.

David I of Scotland, invades the English lands, showing support for Matilda, and her right to the English throne, but is defeated in battle at Northallerton.

1139 Matilda and her forces land in England.

1141 Matilda captures Stephen at the “Battle of Lincoln” and she proclaims herself Queen of England.”

Robert the Earl of Gloucester is captured by Stephen’s forces, and Matilda is forced to exchange Stephen for his freedom.

1145 Stephen defeats Matilda at the “Battle of Farringdon.”

1147 Matilda’s son Henry Plantagenet is called to England, that his presence would put an end to his mother’s right to the English throne.

1148 Matilda is forced to abandon her cause to become Queen of England, and leaves English soil.

1151 Geoffrey of Anjou, husband of Matilda dies, and so their son Henry Plantagenet, becomes the Count of Anjou.

1153 Henry the Count of Anjou, lands his forces in England and gathers support, for war against Stephen.

This Civil War between Stephen and Matilda is resolved under the “Treaty of Westminster.”  Stephen remains King for life, and upon his death, Henry Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou would become King Henry II of England.

1154 King Stephen of England dies, and was buried at Faversham in Kent.

1167 The rightful heir to the English throne according to the wishes of King Henry I, was that his daughter Matilda should have reigned… sadly that never happened, and after years of war between each other Matilda died on the 10th September at Rouen, and buried in the Rouen Cathedral in France.

Norman King: Henry I

1068 Henry, son of William the Conqueror and Matilda was born at Selby in Yorkshire.

1087 William the Conqueror died, at the Siege of Montes in France, and was buried in St.Stephens Abbey in Caen, Normandy.  He left Normandy to son; Robert Curthose, his sword and the English crown to William and Henry received nothing.

1092 Sybilla Corbet, mistress of Henry gave him an illegitimate daughter, named after her mother; Sybilla.

1100 William was killed in a hunting accident on the 2nd August by a mysterious arrow, whilst out hunting in the New Forest, and buried in Winchester Cathedral. 

Henry moved swiftly, and was crowned King of England in a few days.  On the 11th November Henry married Edith, daughter of Malcolm Canmore, the King of Scotland at Westminster Abbey, and on the 14th November she was crowned Matilda Queen Consort.

1101 Robert Curthose landed on English shores to claim the English throne.  Conflict was averted – Henry kept England and in return promised to pay Robert 2,000 marks per year and pass over his territories in Normandy.

1102 Henry expelled Robert de Belleme, a loyal supporter of Robert Curthose with strongholds in the Welsh Marshes.

1106 Henry invaded Normandy, and overthrew Robert at the Battle of Tinchebrai, capturing Robert and imprisoning him for life.  Robert’s son, one William Cito claimed he should be the new Duke of Normandy, and carried the backing of Louis VI of France and Count Fulk V of Anjou.

1107 Henry successfully defended his claim to be the Duke of Normandy.  To protect his lands, Henry married off eight of his illegitimate daughters to neighbouring princes.  King Alexander of Scotland married Sybilla another of Henry’s illegitimate daughters.

1110 Henry created a financial counting system which involved the use of a chequered cloth, by which the Royal Treasury Officials met around it to discuss financial matters.  Henry appointed Roger Bishop of Salisbury as the “Justicar.”

1114 Henry’s daughter Adelaide married Henry V, the Emperor of Germany at Mainz in Germany.  She was crowned Matilda Empress of Germany.

1118 Queen Matilda died on the 1st May at the Palace of Westminster and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

1120 On the 25th November William Aetheling Henry’s heir to the English throne along with 300 noblemen, Richard his illegitimate brother lost their lives that day, when the White Ship sunk with no survivors.

1121 For Henry, the death of his son William, was a personal blow, he had no male heir to succeed him.

1125 With the death of Emperor Henry V of Germany, husband to his only legitimate daughter Matilda, she was recalled by her father back to England.  The barons who respected Henry, swore an allegiance to Matilda as the rightful Queen of England in the event of his death, as no male heir existed at this time.

1127 Henry put forward a marriage proposal and alliance between Matilda and Geoffrey Plantagenet to Count Fulk of Anjou.

1128 In the June, Matilda, a somewhat reluctant Matilda married the fourteen year old Geoffrey Plantagenet.

1133 On the 5th March a son was born to Matilda and Geoffrey Plantagenet at Le Mans, Anjou.

1134 Henry had planned that his daughter and son-in-law (Matilda and Geoffrey Plantagenet) would succeed him to the English throne.

1135 Henry died, aged 67 in Rouen, France and was buried at Reading Abbey.

English barons did not want to be ruled by a woman and an Angevin, which led to conflict over succession.  Stephen, nephew of Henry, seized the English throne.

Norman King: William II

1087 Upon the death of William the Conqueror, his son William Rufus inherited the English throne; King William II – William Rufus.

William faced a rebellion, which had been partly inspired by his own uncle; Odo of Bayeux, who favoured Robert for the English throne… the revolt soon collapsed.

Lanfranc Archbishop of Canterbury since 1070, advised the new King, which saw the distribution from the royal treasure, to the monasteries, churches and poor to gain favour with the people, and benefit his father’s soul.

1089 William waged war against his brother Robert, and laid claim to the lands of Normandy; defeating him in battle.

Lanfranc, head of the Abbey of Caen in France and later Archbishop of Canterbury died.  His post remained unfilled, and Rufus pocketed Canterbury’s income.

1091 William faced hostile opposition from Scotland, and he forced Malcolm III, King of Scotland to acknowledge him as King of England, and its lands of Scotland.

1093 Malcolm III and his Scots, revolted against William in November; Malcolm died in battle near Alnwick.  From that day forth, Scotland’s King’s had to provide military troops in return for protection of their lands.

William’s relations with the church were difficult… he was more interested in the revenue they raised.

Anselm started out as a novice at the Benedictine Abbey of Bec in 1063, rising to Prior, then Abbot by 1078.  In 1093 he was appointed as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, a post he would hold till 1109, and so the battle over finance and faith began.

The King ridiculed the church, and created a council of barons to decide whether the King or Pope should rule… of course they favoured their King.

1095 Rebellion broke out against William and his rule, led by Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, which was put down, by William and his chief of justice; Ranulf Flambard and his armies.

William II was not a devout son of the church and held the church in no reverence.  He drew strong disapproval through his flaunting of homo-sexuality, within the English court, and the plundering of vacant bishoprics.

1096 Robert mortgaged Normandy to William for 10,000 francs to finance his crusade.  The money came from taxes imposed on his English subjects.

1097 When Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury went to Rome to seek guidance from the Pope; William stepped in and seized his estates.

1099 Ranulf Flambard became the Bishop of Durham.

On the 15th July, the walls of Jerusalem were scaled, and the Holy City is seized in the First Crusade.

1100 On the 2nd August, William was killed in a hunting accident when an arrow penetrated his lung.  Walter Tirel one of his own nobleman was said to have fired the arrow, which took William’s life.

Tirel fired upon a stag, missing it and hitting the King instead.  Whether the shot was accidental or not, Tirel fled to France in fear of his life.

It is possible, Tirel was acting under orders of William’s younger brother Henry, who seized the throne and was crowned within a day.

Norman King: William I

1066 William the illegitimate son of Duke Robert the Devil of Normandy invades England and defeats King Harold II, the last Saxon King at the “Battle of Hastings” claiming the English throne which had been bequeathed to him by Edward the Confessor.

On the 25th December William the Conqueror, King William I was crowned King of England.

1067 William suppresses a Saxon revolt in the south.  He drives out Anglo-Saxon lords, and gives their lands to his Norman Earls.  It was the beginning of a systematic transfer of lands, from Saxon to Norman.

1068 William faced with a revolt in the north of the country, led by Edwin and Morcar, creates an area of mass starvation.  Norman soldiers burn every house, barn, crops and kills all livestock.

1069 Swen Estrithson and his armies land in the Humber and joins up with Northern English Earls, taking the Norman Garrison at York.  William replies by taking York back.

1070 Howard the Wake leads a Saxon revolt against Norman invaders. 

William plundered monasteries, which held Saxon’s wealth.  To him England was no more than a resource to be exploited.

1071 William put an end to Saxon England in the East, by defeating Hereward the Wake.

1072 William’s Norman army heads North crossing the border into Scotland and insists Malcolm III should pay homage to him.

1073 William puts down a rebellion in Maine, France.

1078 The Tower of London construction begins, and the building has many stories to tell in its lifetime.

1079 William’s eldest son, Robert heads a rebellion in Normandy against his father, but is defeated at the “Battle of Gerbero.”  William spares his life … for Robert would inherit Normandy in 1087.

Winchester Cathedral is built.

1086 The Domesday Book, listing England’s manors or shires and the value of the country.

William informs the Pope, that England owes no allegiance to the Church of Rome.

1087 William dies in battle at the French city of Mantes; his horse stumbles amongst the ruins, and he is unhorsed.  He was buried at the Abbey Church of St.Etienne, Caen.

William leaves Normandy to his son Robert, and England to William II – Rufus.

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