The Twelfth Century

Aug 1100:  King William II (Rufus) killed in the New Forest.  His brother Henry hurried to Winchester where his is crowned King Henry I.

Charter of Liberties.  Henry I binds all future kings to the law.

1101: King Henry’s brother Robert, Duke of Normandy, invades with 200 ships.  He arrives in Portsmouth but goes away when he’s promised a pension.

1102:  The future Empress Matilda is born.

1106: The Battle of Tinchebrai.  Henry captures his older brother, Robert Curthose – keeping him prisoner for the rest of his life- the next twenty years or so.

1107:  King Edgar of Scotland is succeeded by Alexander I of Scotland.

1113:  The Archbishop of York sends Augustinian canons to Hexham to rebuild the abbey.  The new priory is endowed with land.  Two years later Hexham has its own saint whose bones can work miracles.

1114: Matilda is married to Henry V of Germany – the Holy Roman Emperor.  Henry invades Wales.

1118:  King Henry I is at war with the french.  The order of the Knights Templar founded in Jerusalem.

1119: Henry defends Normandy from a French invasion.

1120: Prince William, King Henry’s only legitimate male heir, dies in the wreck of The White Ship.  King Henry forced his nobility to recognise his daughter Matilda as his heir.

1124:  Alexander I of Scotland dies and Scotland is unified under King David I.

Jan 1127: King Henry I makes his nobles swear allegiance to Matilda.

1128: Matilda is forced, by her father, to marry Geoffrey of Anjou.  They have three sons – Henry, Geoffrey and William.  It is nor a happy marriage and the alliance does not help Matilda’s claim to the throne.

1130: Richard De Clare – also known as Strongbow born.

5 Mar 1133: Matilda’s son Henry is born. He is known as Henry Fitzempress a.k.a. King Henry II.

1 Dec 1135: King Henry I dies but before Matilda could come to England, Henry’s nephew Stephen  seized the throne.

22 Dec 1135: Matilda’s cousin Stephen of Blois seizes the throne.

1136: Civil war between Matilda and Stephen.  This civil war is known as ‘The Anarchy’ and the ‘Nineteen long winters’.  Chroniclers said of the period that “Christ and all his saints slept.” (The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle)

22 August 1138:  The Battle of the Standard at Northallerton.  The Archbishop of York battles with King David I of Scotland.  10,000 Scots are killed.  After two hours fighting the Scots began to flee.  Their attempt to surprise a smaller army in the early morning mist was a disaster.  It was one of only two major battles fought during The Anarchy.

1139: Matilda arrives in England supported by her illegitimate half-brother, Robert, Earl of Gloucester.  Civil War spreads through the country. The next nineteen years are referred to as The Anarchy.

Feb 1141: King Stephen captured during the Battle of Lincoln.

Jun 1141: Matilda enters London for her coronation but no support is forthcoming.  She is forced to flee the city.

14 Sep 1141: The Rout of Winchester.  Stephen’s imprisonment comes to an abrupt end when he is exchanged for the Earl of Gloucester.

1142: Henry Fitzempress visits England for the first time.

1146:   William Marshall born.

1147: Henry Fitzempress finds his way across the channel with fourteen mercenaries.  He runs out of money.  He receives no help from his mother or his uncle (the Earl of Gloucester) but King Stephen pays off the mercenaries.

The Earl of Gloucester dies.  Matilda gives up the fight and concedes the throne to Stephen.

The Second Crusade begins.

1148: Empress Matilda leaves England.

1149:  Henry Fitzempress comes to England where he is knighted by King David of Scotland in Carlisle.  On his return to Normandy is barely avoids capture.

1150: Henry Fitzempress is made Lord of Normandy.

Sept 1151: Henry Fitzempress becomes Count of Anjou on the death of his father.

1152:  William Marshall given as hostage by his father John to King Stephen who was besieging the castle at Newbury.

May 1152: Henry Fitzempress marries Eleanor of Aquitaine.

1153:  Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine have a son called William.

King Stephen’s son Eustace dies.

1153: The Treaty of Winchester. Stephen is forced to agree that Henry Fitzempress will inherit the throne rather than his own son Eustace.  Fortunately for the peace process Eustace dies soon after.

Oct 1154: King Stephen dies.  Historians see this as the end of the Norman Period and the beginning of Plantagenet Rule.

Dec 1154: Henry Fitzempress becomes King Henry II.

1155: Prince William of England dies at Wallingford Castle.  He is buried with King Henry I.

1155:  Thomas Becket becomes chancellor.

28 Feb 1155: Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine have a son called Henry.

8 Sept 1157: Henry and Eleanor’s son Prince Richard is born.

1158: Prince Henry of England betrothed to Princess Marguerite of France.

June 1162: Thomas Becket is consecrated.

Oct 1163: Henry II and Thomas Becket start to argue about ‘criminous clerks’.  Clergy were tried by the Church Courts.  There was no death penalty and anyone able to recite their ‘neck verse’ could have their case moved from the secular courts to the church courts.

Jan 1164: The Council of Clarendon and the resulting Constitutions of Clarendon gave the king rights over the church.

1167:  William Marshall is knighted.

10 Sep 1167: Empress Matilda dies in Rouen.

24 Dec 1167:   Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine’s last son born – Prince John.

1169: Prince Richard does homage to King Louis VII of France for Aquitaine.  He is also betrothed to Louis’ daughter Alice.

1170:  Prince Henry declared of age and given a large household and crowned King of England during his father’s lifetime.

29 Dec 1170: Thomas Becket murdered in Canterbury Cathedral.

1173:  The Great Rebellion. King Henry the Younger and his brothers rebel against their father King Henry II because of his refusal to give them any real power.

1175:  Early English Gothic style of architecture begins (ish) to replace the Norman (Romanesque) style.  Pointed arches.

1176:  Fair Rosamund, Henry II’s mistress, dies at Godstowe Abbey where she was also educated.

1180: Philip II of France succeeds his father to the throne.  Philip Augustus (also known as the God-given) is much more hostile to the Angevins than his father, King Louis VII.

1183: Henry, The Young King rebels against his father once more.

11 Jun 1183: Henry, The Young king dies.

1185:      Prince John sent to Ireland.

1186: The king’s son Geoffrey dies.

1188: Prince Richard and King Philip II of  France come to terms.

4 Jul 1188: King Henry is forced to accept the peace terms that his sons present him.

1189:    Prince John betrayed his father, Henry II by joining the rebellion against him.

6 Jul 1189: King Henry II dies at Chinon.

3 Sept 1189: King Richard I is crowned.  He’d taken the cross in 1187 but family feuding had prevented him from going to the Holy Land.  Now he was determined to fulfil his vow.

1190: King Richard sets out on crusade.  He overwinters in Sicily.

12 May 1191: King Richard I marries Princess Berengaria of Navarre in Limossol, Cyprus.

Oct 1191:  Prince John conspiring with King Philip of France against his brother King Richard.


Feb 1194:  King Richard released from imprisonment in Austria.  John asks for pardon.


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