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William “The Conqueror” of Normandy
King of the English
1066 – 1073

Born: Normandy, 1027; Crowned: Westminster; Died: Winchester Castle, 1073; Buried: Westminster

Married: (1) 1053, Church of Our Lady of Rouen: Matilda of Flanders, daughter of Baldwin, Count of Flanders: 8 children; (2) 1067, Westminster Abbey: Margaret, sister of Edgar the Atheling: 4 children. He also had an illegitimate child, whom he acknowledged.

Titles: King of England, 1066; Duke of the Normans, 1035; & Count of Maine, 1035​


With his throne secured and England now under his domain, Duke William of Normandy was crowned King of the English on Christmas Day, 1066. Following his accession the king divided England amongst himself and his Norman commanders. The estates were carved into various groups: the crown domains, the personal possessions of the king; baronial fiefs, domains outside of the royal estates ; manorial estates (commonly referred to as parcels ), which were small estates granted within the crown domains (although baronial fief-holders could hold manorial estates); and the many bishoprics, archbishoprics and monasteries. The majority of southern and central England was to remain in Norman hands; the north in the hands of Anglo-Saxon lords. Amongst their nobility were the Leofricsons, whose two senior members were earls of Northumbria (Northumberland) and Mercia (Lancaster).

With the estates in control of the Normans (and the few remaining Saxon) nobles, the king turned his attention to his new royal government. He introduced the feudal system into England, bringing with him a royal council to advise him and a royal court to administrate his realm. He had also established royal offices. These offices were not only positions of powers, but of great opportunities and privileges for noble families. Many of the ancient, noble families – names including Bruce, Mortimer and Beaumont – would gain prestige, wealth, and power through the offices at court.

The death of Matilda of Flanders caused great pain to the court and the king. No one knew how the queen died, but rumors at court that one of her handmaidens had slowly poisoned her. She passed away silently on the April 13, 1067. King William withdrew himself from court life for the distant, quiet Windsor Castle.

Despite the queen’s death, the Lord High Chancellor, the baron Ranulf Flambard, traveled to Windsor to prepare for the king’s next bride. Of all the princesses, duchesses and ladies of Europe, the only one that was not expected was Margaret the Atheling. Margaret was the sister of the king’s former nemesis Edgar the Atheling, a claimant to the English throne. At first the king rejected the proposed marriage. However, Lord Flambard convinced the king that the marriage would not only link him to the old Anglo-Saxon royal bloodline – a line reaching far back into the early centuries of Christianity – but would raise his popularity amongst the Saxon peoples. The marriage was approved; the wedding took place June 28, 1067 at Westminster Abbey and later crowned Queen of the English on Christmas day of that year. With his new bride at his side, King William remained at Windsor Castle, while the royal court remained at Winchester. Despite the introduction of laws & royal decrees, he left the administration in the hands of his royal councilors and state officers. They were responsible for raising the money and implementing new policies for the royal government.

Following the election of the bishop of Obetello as Pope, he and his wife paid homage to the new Pontiff in 1072, returning to England in time Lady Cecilia’s marriage to Hugues of Burgundy, the future duke of Burgundy. One of his most famous acts through his council was the passing of laws that placed canon laws higher than city laws, a declaration which would later have repercussions during the Reformation. He died on the 16th of August, 1073. The king passed away quietly, with all of his children – both legitimate and illegitimate – beside him.
 
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Robert of Normandy
King of the English
1073 – 1090

Born: Normandy, 1054; Crowned: Westminster; Died: Windsor Castle, 1090; Buried: Rome, Italy

Married: 1070, at Westminster Abbey: Emma of Hereford, daughter of William FitzOsbern de Breteuil, Earl of Hereford: 3 children. Robert also had an illegitimate child, who was later declared legitimate: Osmond, Baron of Windsor

Titles: King of England, 1073; Duke of the Normans, 1066; & Count of Maine, 1066; Defender of the Faith, 1083​

The duke of Normandy, now King Robert, was never fit to be king. Unlike his father, he had no taste for the battlefield or diplomacy. He was a first and foremost a priest, spending his younger years in a French monastery. The religious – not royal – lifestyle was his desire. Even after his marriage to Emma of Hereford he chose to spend many days amongst the monks. (It was alleged by several contemporaries that his daughters were illegitimate, especially after Queen Emma was caught in an affair with prince of Glamorgan. It was later disproved.)

Whether it was by coincidence or instrumental by King Robert, his coronation ceremony had taken place on the Day of Saint Elaeth the King, November 10, 1073. A most significant piece of this ceremony, the anointing of the king, still survives today. Despite his coronation, few at the king’s court knew who really ruled England: the queen Emma and the king’s brother Lord Richard – the future king of England – who was later created duke of Normandy. Whilst Normandy governed the royal administration, Emma was instrumental in forming a royal household. It was she who convinced Robert to appoint her father, the baron of Hereford, as the first Lord Great Chamberlain. Through his service, Lord Hereford would later become the first earl in England: Earl of Hereford & Gloucester.

Besides the rare occasions the king and queen spent time together, Emma remained in the Welsh principality of Glamorgan. The ruling prince was a young man by the name of Cadwagn Meriadoc. During his early years he was an attendant at the baronial court of Hereford. It was rumored that the two were lovers, and were planning to be wed. Their plans changed when Richard chose Emma as his wife. Lord Hereford was adamant in having his daughter wed Richard, then duke, who was to inherit the realm. Despite this political arrangement, the love between Cadwagn and Emma did not cease. Thus, the queen continued to travel with her ladies-in-waiting to the principality. The affair was kept secret, that is, until one night when one of her ladies caught her and Cadwagn in bed. Although the lady was forced to keep her mistress’ affair a secret, the lady, Garsende of Maine, had an even higher oath of fealty: to the king. On their return, she confessed to Lord Flambard and the Duke Richard.

It must be noted that at this time the medieval laws of England, better known as the Anglo-Norman laws, were not introduced yet. Thus, when the three presented the evidence the king wished to pardon her. However, his brother insisted that he uphold “the most ancient laws of the land, that is, treason against the king’s body and person.” The queen was arrested and brought before a royal committee, consisting of the earls of Mercia and Northumbria, the royal officers and, of course, the duke of Normandy. She was found guilty of treason and was executed on the first day of April, 1077 at the Tower of London. She was not given a royal burial at Westminster. Her remains were sent back to Hereford, with a tombstone that stated (in French), “here lies the lady-queen Emma, who married a king but loved a prince.” King Robert and his daughters were not in attendance for her burial; the king traveled north to stay at the bishopric court of Durham, while the princesses were sent abroad to live with their aunt the Duchess Cecilia of Burgundy. Months after the execution, King Robert summoned his royal council at Windsor where he decreed that he should not wed again and adopted a vow of “pure and simple chastity and veneration to the Holy Mother Church”.

King Robert is best known for his campaigns in Italy, which took the later half of his reign. At the time Rome was at war with several of the Muslim emirates in the region, including the Muslim king of the Fatimids. On November 2, 1081, the king received a papal emissary at Windsor court. The king was hesitant in dispatching troops, being that he knew nothing of warfare. However, it is said that he received a vision from the Virgin Mary. Telling him that protecting Rome would secure his kingdom, the king quickly took up the sword and led his army into war. By the time the crusading army departed in March of 1082, the king rallied 3 thousand men throughout the realm. With a massive army, and many victories on the battlefield, Robert was successful in defending the seat of the Catholicism. The Pope was escorted by a detachment of the king’s army in late April of 1083, where he later died peacefully in Rome the following month. After the election of the Lord Bishop Congrade of Nice to the pontificate, the king was granted the title Defender of the Faith. In an elaborate ceremony in Rome, with guests coming from as far as the Greek Byzantine Empire, the king was bestowed with this title.

Despite the victory, King Robert did not finish there in Rome. He rallied more men from the towns and cities around Rome, estimated at around 500, and continued a military campaign that took nearly three years. By the end of the campaign, the central and southern provinces of the Italian peninsula were under his rule. King Robert returned home victoriously, bedecked in the finest jewels and showered with the wealth plundered from the provinces. He remained for the rest of his reign at Windsor Castle, where he enjoyed hunting parties in the New Forest and banquets almost weekly. He died on the Day of the Feast of Saint Maximus of Constantinople, May 11, 1090, at the age of 36.

Although recognized throughout the Christian world for his victories in Italy, at home he was an inefficient king. He relied heavily on the advices of his officers and barons. Because he was not officially at court, many of the taxes collected were siphoned off by courtiers. Another problem was that he refused to remarry. By the end of his reign, he had no legitimate sons, three daughters, and a bastard. Although Rome did legitimize his bastard son, Osmond of Windsor – another “gift” from his victory in defending Rome – King Robert initially refused to declare the extravagant, greedy Osmond from inheriting the throne. Relations between the two grew even sourer when Osmond himself adopted the title duke of Normandy. Deemed treasonous, the king banished him to Reggio, in southern Italy.

It wasn’t until Osmond’s last years, dying from an arrow wound, that Robert began to support his son’s claim to the throne. He even created him a baron, of Windsor, with all the titles & rights appropriate to a noble. Unfortunately, Osmond never inherited the throne. Because his daughters too had female heirs, the throne passed to the next eldest male heir: the legitimate duke of Normandy, the king’s brother Richard.
 
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unmerged(47288)

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Nice start.
 

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Richard the Blessed of Normandy
King of the English & Duke of Normans
1090 - 1111

Born: 1057, Rouen, Normandy; Crowned: Westminster; Died: 1111, Windsor Castle; Buried: Westminster

Married: (1) 1074, Westminster Abbey: Adelaide of Swabia, daughter of Rudolph von Rhinefelden, Duke of Swabia: 2 children; (2) 1080, Westminster Abbey: Adelaide (Octreda) of Berwick, daughter of Gospatrick of Atholl, Earl of Berwick: 4 children; (3) 1099, Westminster Abbey: Matilda (Gerfyn) of Gwynedd, daughter of Cadwagn Cynfyn, King of Gwynedd: 1 child; (4) 1109, Westminster Abbey: Margaret of Norfolk, daughter of Eaulf de Gael, Earl of Norfolk: 2 children

Titles: King of the English, 1090; Duke of the Normans, 1074; & Count of Maine, 1074​


Should his nephew, Baron Osmond of Windsor, had lived a bit longer, Richard would have never succeeded. However, Osmond had an appetite for many things: women, food, and hunting. While on a hunt, Osmond was struck by an arrow. He died hours later. Later, 15th century historians would confirm that Osmond’s death was actually at the hands of the then duke of Normandy; a conspiracy to rid his nephew and inherit all of England. Ironically, he became the first English king to become beatified by the Church.

Richard was a more capable monarch. Unlike his brother, he was trained at an early age in the studies of politics and finances. As duke of Normandy, he heard nearly all legal cases brought before the Norman courts; implemented financial policies that made him the wealthiest nobleman in England realm; and always kept the Norman aristocracy, the political elite, close at his court seat in Rouen. He would later apply his skills to all of England. As king, Richard Investing much time in his government, and sought out ways to increase his kingdom’s wealth and resources. At the fortified castles, except Windsor and the Tower of London, he erected marketplaces. This not only guaranteed the safety of merchants from the increasing threat of bandits, but also gave them a new opportunity to sell their goods; the only profitable location at the time being Winchester and London. Now, merchants could sell their supplies to local villagers and noble families, and, in some cases, the Crown. Richard also ensured that the nobles were content with their lifestyles. At Windsor Castle, the king hosted hunting parties, banquets, and the first jousting tournament. In time, the royal court slowly evolved into a myriad of the center of royal government and the royal household.
For 14 years, the king ruled a peaceful kingdom. Through its developing wool trade, England had become a strong economic state. To ensure that his wealth continued, Richard issued edicts after edicts to relieve the merchant and peasant classes of their tax burdens. Merchants were now free to travel outside English borders without paying hefty tolls. However, they began experiencing hostility from the Welsh locals. Some of the Welsh nobility, more specifically in Glamorgan, had even promoted the pillaging of English caravans, hiring mercenaries at certain crossroads to take whatever they could get.

These acts of piracy had alarmed Richard, who was also losing the profit-sharing. On March 23, 1104, he officially declared war on the Welsh kingdom of Glamorgan. Although contemporaries are often quoted as stating this was the legitimate cause of the king’s conquest in Wales, later 17th and 18th century historians agreed that the real reason was that the king wanted to expand his realm western, a gateway to Ireland. The campaign was very brief, only four months, and was concluded on the 20th of November by the Treaty of Dyfed. Glamorgan was dissolved and its lands given to the Crown. King Richard confiscated all of the Welsh noble lands, and in turn sold them as lordships to England’s growing aristocracy. He had even established several merchant cities in Wales, including the city of Pembroke.

With his access to Ireland, the king initiated the first of many Irish campaigns. However, this campaign was not against the Irish Catholic kings & princes, but a Muslim Sheikh; The Sheikdom of Ulaid, in northern Ireland. The king was offered this campaign by the Pope in order to secure Catholicism “remained the way of the Irish peoples”. King Richard dispatched nearly two thousand troops to the sheikdom. Lasting nearly three months, the sheik was caught and later beheaded. The king returned to his court later that year, victorious in his campaigns.

It would be another three before he set sail for Mallorca. Discovered by the king of France, who offered its location as a gift to England, it was deep in Muslim territory. Despite its location, the king knew that it would benefit England because of its location in the Mediterranean . He sailed from London on the 29th of June, 1106. It is unknown how many exact men had accompanied him, but a soldier in the king’s army, known only to later historians as William, wrote that Richard led more than two thousand men. By late December of the following year, 1107, the court received news that Mallorca was conquered. The king returned with spices, gold, and other exotic goods plundered from the island.

In 1108, Richard had summoned his council at Windsor . There, he decreed that Mallorca would be established as a bishopric, with a foremost duty to “convert the heathens and show them the true path to Our Most Christian Lord”. The council also implemented the feudal-shire system amongst the Italo-Norman nobility in Italy. This was perhaps one of his last acts of government.

The king spent the remainder of his reign in the gilded halls of Windsor. Beloved by his people, the king passed away at midnight, June 4, at the old age of 54. He was a remarkable man: a devout Catholic, a capable knight and commander on the battlefield, a diplomat of many skills, and a man who spent and accumulated his wealth wisely. A year following his death, the Roman Pontiff beatified him, earning him the sobriquet the Blessed. Today, the monarchs of Britain claim direct lineage to King Richard the Blessed, “the most venerable of kings”.
 
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Anarhco Liberal said:
Nice start.

Thanks :D! I've actually been working on this for some time, just thought I should post them. I have a lot more (in the game I'm in the mid-13th century), but I did not write it all chronologically. So, as soon as I get the done, I'll of course post them! :D
 

unmerged(17581)

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Ah, very nice! An honest-to-goodness history-book AAR! Too bad it got wacky really quick. Well, that's CK for you. :(
 

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anonymous4401 said:
Ah, very nice! An honest-to-goodness history-book AAR! Too bad it got wacky really quick. Well, that's CK for you. :(

Oh no! There's nothing wrong with the game at all! Since I started, I've actually been writing down the events throughout the various reigns and placed them in a binder. So, as I go one in the game, i can save the more important events and write about them later. The game isn't wacky; I was lazy :p
 

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Hm...looking good so far.
 

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Interesting and a nice start, good look with your AAR


I like the format by the way :)
 

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Stephen of Normandy
King of the English & Duke of Normans
1111 - 1137

Born: 1081, Windsor Castle; Crowned: Westminster; Died: 1137, Winchester Castle; Buried: Westminster

Married: (1) 1098, Westminster Abbey: Melisande of Nevers, daughter of Henry of Burgundy, Count of Nevers: 3 children; (2) 1112, Westminster Abbey: Matilda (Judyta) of Poland, daughter of Wincenty Piast, King of Poland: 5 children

Titles: King of the English, 1111; Duke of the Normans, 1090; & Count of Maine, 1081



Stephen of Normandy, son of King Richard the Blessed, succeeded in 1111. Contemporaries and later historians often quote Stephen’s distinguished features. As one chronicler wrote, “He had the blood of a Norman, but the soul of a Lowlander.” Through his mother, Adelaide (Octreda) of Berwick, he was the grandson of the Scottish earl of Berwick. It was thus common for later painters to draw an image of a Scotsman: more notably, his distinguished jaw and chin.

It wasn’t too long after King Richard’s death that noble families conspired against the new king. Amongst these conspirators was the earl of Northumbria, the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxons. By the early 12th century the earldoms of Mercia and Northumbria had merged into one, powerful fiefdom; a consolidation of central and northern England. The earl was a close advisor (by some, lover) to the dowager Queen, Margaret of Norfolk, pregnant with Richard’s child, Henry. Believing he could manipulate her child, he pressed that Queen Margaret’s son was the rightful heir to the throne, being that she was the last living wife of the previous monarch and thus had precedence over Stephen’s claim, who was born before his father inherited the throne. Northumbria even proclaimed that King Stephen was “an illegitimate child; a creation of incest.” – Spreading rumors that the king’s deceased mother had slept with her brothers, producing “the bastard & illegitimate king, who now sits on the anointed throne”. Without hesitation the earl raised men against the king and marched south to Winchester. Upon hearing the news of the rebel army, the king led an army of 5,000 men north. At the famous battle of Middleham, in York, on the 18th of November 1111, the king defeated the earl’s forces. Humiliated, Northumbria was stripped of his ancient title and lands. Few accounts that have survived go further in detail, stating that the king dragged Northumbria from Middleham all the way back to London. There, he was beaten by the gathering mob as he was dragged through the streets, eventually dying by the time he reached the Tower of London. However, most historians agree that he was imprisoned at the Tower of London and murdered there by the loyalists to the Crown.

The dowager Queen and her son were escorted to Winchester, awaiting trial before a royal committee. By surprise, King Stephen defended them; no official evidence could be brought against them. However, the king felt threatened by his half-brother’s legitimate claim, with a mother who had learned much of political intrigue at court. To ensure that they would never rally men against him, Margaret and Henry were banished from court and imprisoned at Rougemont Castle. History would never shine on the two again: Margaret died at Rougemont in 1136; Henry, never marrying, died alone in 1177.

Stephen wanted to show his people that he was a generous and wise ruler, capable of defending his people and all of Christendom. Thus, his coronation was held on the Day of the Feast of St. Edmund the Martyr, November 2, 1112; St. Edmund being the patron saint of kings. New crowns and jewels were commissioned for himself and his wife Melisande of Nevers. The princesses Eremberga and Amburga were “fitted with the finest scarlet robes, trimmed with mink”, and the young prince Alexander (died 1127) “given a ring encrusted with rubies; a ring too large for the infant-prince”. Such an expense would later leave the king in a heavy debt, which he eventually paid by selling taxation rights on goods and enterprises to noble families.

One of the most well known events that had taken place during the coronation was the scuffle between the archbishops of York and Canterbury. The archbishop of Canterbury had long claimed the right to crown the king; being that his predecessors crowned all three kings since the Conquest. However, the Lord Archbishop York, Robert of Chester, believed he had a better claim: being the king’s first cousin, the son of Stephen’s uncle William, earl of Chester. For the most part, the ceremony had gone quite well. But, when it came to the crowning, the two men shoved one another, which escalated into a fight! Guards were called to detain the two; neither would crown the king. The official crowning was performed by the archbishop of Rouen. Outranking all the other prelates, as well as another first cousin to the king – his mother was the king’s aunt, Duchess Cecilia of Burgundy – the Lord Archbishop crowned the king and queen. To prevent any protestations from Canterbury and York, a papal bull was later issued, granting Rouen his right to perform the ceremony.

Stephen is known as the first English king to successfully get a divorce. In 1113, Stephen signed an alliance with King Wincenty of Poland, a realm that few in England knew of. The Polish emissary was Wincenty’s daughter, Judyta. Claimed to be a woman of great beauty and intelligence, the king instantly fell in love. Judyta remained at court for only a couple of weeks, when the king suggested the two married. Although he loved his wife, he knew that the arrangement, for obvious reasons, would strengthen the bond between the two kingdoms. In addition to a substantial dowry – her personal wealth, estimated in the thousands – Stephen was quick to getting a divorce. The archbishop of Canterbury presided over the case. By October 3 of that year, his marriage was dissolved. As part of the agreement, Melisande was allowed to remain in England, and was given Hertford Castle as a residence. He and the Polish princess were wed six days following the divorce at Winchester Castle, in a very small ceremony officiated by the archbishop of Canterbury. Adopting the name Matilda, she was crowned on the Day of the Feast of St. Clotilda, patron saint of queens, June 3, 1114.

For most of his reign, King Stephen fought both at home and abroad: dealing with rebel mercenaries in England and, kingdom of the Fatimid. Between 1114 and 1115 alone, the king had put down the noble armies of Devonshire, Evreux, and the bishop of Mallorca. At the same time, the king was preparing for his invasion into the Fatimid kingdom. The Pope had called the First Crusades to Alexandria. Stephen believed that this was a great opportunity to increase his wealth, land, and, most of all, his prestige. By the time he launched from London in September of 1118, the king had rallied a crusading army of 8 thousand men. Although it was a rather small army, when compared to the large regiments raised by previous kings, it was an expensive expedition and thus needed to maintain smaller numbers. After all, the crusader army also had an entourage, called the “moving court”. A mass of noblewomen, merchants and priests also dispatched from London, in the hundreds if not thousands. Queen Matilda and her children also attended this court: the princesses Yolanda, Agnes and Busilla born during the crusade.

It was only by coincidence that the crusading army landed on the island of Sicily. Arriving in northern Siracusa in February, 1119, the army had barely set up camp before they realized they were on infidel territory. Without hesitation the king rode ahead of his army, marching all the way to the seat of the sheik of Siracusa. Unprepared, the sheik’s army were massacred at night; the sheik later caught and executed in the morning of February 8. Believing his victory to be divine, Stephen ordered a church to be built in the town center of Syracuse.

Recordings and documents that detailed the events from the army’s departure from Sicily to their arrival in Egypt were never recovered. However, what we do know is that the king had successfully taken over city of Alexandria on the 14th of November, 1120; parading through the streets with his entourage. The queen had gone into labor days later, giving birth to their first daughter, Yolanda. Had the king not faced baronial revolts in England, he would’ve successfully defended Alexandria. However, when he received news that the barons of Suffolk and Capua – his half-brother, Lord Robert, baron of Clifton – were campaigning against him, Stephen was forced to withdraw and return home. Although he had left a small garrison of troops behind, they were no match to the advanced Fatimid; Alexandria fell back into their hands in November of the following year.

The army returned in late 1121 and wasted no time in quelling the uprisings. Lord Clifton had again pledged loyalty to the king, showing his loyalty by aiding the baron of Norfolk in defeating Suffolk. Clifton was pardoned; Suffolk was tried for treason and later executed. Although Norfolk was not held in high regard at the time, being the brother of the imprisoned dowager Queen, he proved that he was capable of leading men and defeating anyone who rallied against the Crown. On the Day of the Feast of Saint Andrew, November 30, of that year, Norfolk was elevated to the rank of an earl. From then on, except during the War of the New Monarchy (1174 – 1177), the first actual English civil war, the earls and, later, dukes, of Norfolk were the closest companions to the Crown.

His coffers empty, and only few hundred men to spare, the king agreed to a peace treaty with the Fatimid kingdom, concluded on the 12th of March, 1122. To ensure a steady surplus, the king was forced to reinstate taxes that his father had suspended. He also introduced the scutage tax (scutagium) – a fee applied only to the nobles and knights who held land directly from the Crown. This extra taxation distressed the nobility, especially the Greater Barons, who owned more land as compared to the Lesser Barons. In 1123, the barons of Shrewsbury and Sussex raised men against the king. Stephen entrusted Lord Norfolk to defend his regal authority. Leading a small army, the earl had miraculously defeated Shrewsbury at the battle of Windsor and Sussex outside Winchester; both battles taken place between May-July of 1123. Back at Winchester, Stephen, now gravely ill and depressed, seemed to recover as reports from the battlefield told of Norfolk’s heroic victories. After the execution of the barons in late September, the king had created Norfolk the first duke in England.

Following the baronial revolts of 1123, the kingdom remained peaceful for the remainder of the decade. As the royal court continued to grow, Stephen officially moved court from Winchester to Windsor. There the king enjoyed weekly banquets, bought extravagant gifts for his wife and children, and commissioned sculptures of himself to remind his successors of his glory. However, the king was still in debt! Disturbed by his lavish appetite, his royal council advised him to establish the Exchequer. Responsible for collecting and managing the royal revenue, the Exchequer was to be led by the king’s treasurer – The Lord High Treasurer – who would bi-annually report to the king on the income and expenditures from his crown domains & royal enterprises. Sir Herman de Burgh, a member of the royal council, was to become the first Lord Treasurer.

The peaceful years finally came to an end on the 16th of February, 1130, when the king sailed from Pembroke to Dublin to begin his Irish campaigns. With soldiers and mercenaries estimated at almost seven thousand, the army landed in the kingdom of Leinster in late July. At the battle of Wicklow, the English defeated Leinster’s army, led by their king Diarmait, and pushed further into his realm. By the 8th of August, 1131, Stephen’s army arrived outside of Dublin. Fearing for the lives of his children, Diarmait agreed to abdicate and give his kingdom over to Stephen; the sole condition being that they were given safe travel to Germany. King Stephen agreed to the concession; Diarmait formally abdicated on the 20th of that month. Interestingly enough, a century and a half later, his descendants would again revive their clan, ruling over a small German fiefdom.

The king remained in Dublin for the remainder of the year. Although he never accepted the title of king, he maintained authority over his new Irish vassals. He had even bequeathed baronial fiefdoms to some of the nobles and knights who served him. However, he upheld the right for the Irish lords – the title of baron was foreign to the Irish clans – of the Isle of Man and Dublin to keep their hereditary estates. This was not for their sake, but for his. By keeping Irish nobles under his control, he could keep the Irish peasantry at bay. Like his father, he was a brilliant political strategist. Every decision he made was analyzed before they were initiated.

Stephen returned to England in June of 1133. But the king wasted no time in planning for another campaign: the final conquest of Wales. The kingdom of Gwynedd was the last anti-English stronghold in the region, allied with another English adversary, Scotland. The king planned for nearly two years. But first, he wanted to show that the invasion was a legitimate – divine – cause. He rebuilt and established churches and monasteries throughout England and Ireland, the most well known of them being Salisbury Cathedral and St. John’s Abbey in northern Hampshire. Upon the completion of the churches, the king raised troops in March of 1135 and marched on to Gwynedd. The king had easily won several victories on the battlefield. At the battle of Caernarvon, Stephen not only destroyed the Welsh army but also killed their king, Gruffydd ap Cynan, on the battlefield. Gwynedd’s new king, Owain, had by then fled his country. Thus, a search began to find the “king without a kingdom”. He was eventually seized at the borders of Leinster in late October of that year. Returning to Caernarvon in early November, Owain was forced into abdicating. The Treaty of Caernarvon, (supposed) signed on the 7th of November, 1135, transferred the Welsh kingdom to England. All of Wales was now English territory.

King Stephen returned to Windsor in later November that same year. Upon his return he had called his royal council. In his council, he enacted the Wales Act of 1135. Under the act, the Welsh kingdoms were consolidated into a single entity – the kingdom of Wales. Although it would be another 42 years before a king would officially use the title ‘King of Wales’, the act established Wales as a semi-independent state, ruled solely by the Crown. However, Stephen wanted an “English prince for a Welsh kingdom”. On Christmas Day, the king invested his heir, the duke of Warwick, as the first Prince of Wales. The ceremony, officiated by the king’s brother the bishop of Sussex, was an extravagant ceremony; costing the king more than five thousand marks. Fortunately, the policies initiated at the Exchequer ensured that the royal coffers were filled.

The king would live for another two years, dying at the age of 56. His 26-years reign is best remembered by the Benedictine monk Francis de Saint Michel’s Anglo-Norman Chronicles, written in the late 13th century. The chronicle highlights the many achievements of the king, from his devotion to the Church, to his alms to the poor, and even his pardoning of his half-brother Lord Clifton, after raising an army against him. Although later historians would create a different picture – a ruthless warlord, who didn’t care for his people – he would always be remembered as one of the strongest kings in England.
 
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William “The Conqueror” of Normandy, King of the English
b. 1027 Rouen, Normandy
cr. 1066 Westminster
d. 1073 Winchester Castle
br. 1073 Westminster​

William of Normandy, King of the English, was born in the year 1027 in Rouen, Normandy, the illegitimate son of Robert, Duke of Normandy and Herleva, the daughter of a tanner, who was Robert’s mistress (often referred to as Herleva of Falaise) . He succeeded his father as duke of Normandy in 1035, at the age of 8. He married Matilda of Flanders, daughter of Baldwin, Count of Flanders, in the year 1053, aged 26, at The Church of Our Lady of Rouen. He was crowned King William, King of the English in the year 1066, aged 39, at Westminster Abbey; his wife crowned Queen Matilda, Queen of the English and had issue:

• Robert, King of the English (1054 - 1090). Married Emma of Hereford, daughter of Lord William FitzOsbern de Breteuil, Baron of Hereford, in 1070 and had issue.​

• Gundred, Countess of Artois (1055 - 1124). Married Baldwin of Flanders, Count of Artois, in 1072 and had issue.​

• Cecilia, Duchess of Burgundy (1056 - 1121). Married Hugues, Duke of Burgundy, in 1073 and had issue.​

• Richard the Blessed, King of the English & Duke of the Normans (1057 - 1111). (1) Adelaide, daughter of Rudolph von Rhinefelden, Duke of Swabia, in 1074 and had issue. (2) Adelaide (Octreda) of Berwick, daughter of Gospatrick of Atholl, Earl of Berwick, in 1080 and had issue. (3) Matilda (Gwerfyl) of Gwynedd, daughter of Cadwagn Cynfyn, King of Gwynedd, in 1099 and had issue. (4) Margaret of Norfolk, daughter of Eaulf de Gael, Baron of Norfolk, in 1109 and had issue.​

• William, Earl of Chester (1060 - 1127). Married Emma of Shrewsbury, daughter of Roger of Montgomery, Baron of Shrewsbury, in 1076 and had issue.​

• Constance (1061 - 1132). Married Lord Geoffrey of Boulogne in 1077 and had issue.​

• Adele, Countess of Limousin (1062 - 1110). Married Adhémar of Toulouse, Count of Limousin, in 1078 and had issue.​

• Agathe, Countess of Nevers (1064 - 1125). Married Henry of Burgundy, Count of Nevers, in 1081 and had issue.​

First marriage ceased upon the death of Queen Matilda in 1067. King William next married Margaret Atheling, sister of Edgar Atheling, in 1067, aged 40, at Westminster Abbey. She was crowned Queen Margaret, Queen of the English in December, 1067 and had issue:

• Alberanda, Countess of Asora (1068 - 1118). Married Grigorii Draskovic, Count of Asora, in 1084 and had issue.​

• Roger (1070 - 1074)​

• Aubrey, Earl of Hertfordshire (1071 - 1131). Married Elgiva of Northumbria, daughter of Morcar Leofricson, Earl of Northumbria, in 1087 and had issue.​

• Flandina, Countess of Thouars (1072 - 1133). Married Bernat, Count of Thouars, in 1089 and had issue.​

King William also had one bastard child:

• Osmond of Bari, Count of Bari (1070 - 1115). It is unclear who is mother was, although most historians agree it was an Italo-Norman noblewoman. Married Aldheid von Luxembourg in 1086 and had issue.​

William died in the year 1073, aged 46, of old age at Winchester Castle. He was buried at Westminster Abbey.



Robert of Normandy, by the grace of God, King of the English, Defender of the Faith
b. 1054 Rouen, Normandy
cr. 1073 Westminster
d. 1090 Windsor Castle
br. 1090 Rome, Italy​

Robert of Normandy, King of the English, was born in the year 1054 in Normandy, the eldest son of William, King of the English (at the time of his birth, Duke William of Normandy) and Matilda of Flanders. He was granted the Dukedom of Normandy in 1066, aged 12, following his father’s succession to the throne of England. He married Emma of Hereford, daughter of Lord William FizOsbern de Breteuil, Earl of Hereford & Gloucester, in the year 1070, aged 16, at Westminster Abbey and had issue:

• Heria (1072 - 1121). Married Bohemund de Montfort, brother of Mauger, Baron of Suffolk, in 1088.​

• Isabella, Countess of Reggio (1073 - 1132). Married Sir Richard Berkeley in 1089 and had issue.​

• Adelaide, Countess of Luton (1075 - 1116). Married Alan Bruce, Earl of Luton, in 1092 and had issue.​

King Robert also had one bastard child:

• Osmond of Windsor, Baron of Windsor (1070 - 1089). His mother was Margaret d’Arthorn, the daughter of a minor Anglo-Norman baron. He married Clemenza of Kent, daughter of Odo de Conteville, Baron of Kent, in 1086 and had issue. He was later declared legitimate, but was exiled and, later, murdered before inheriting the throne.​

Robert was given the accession following the death of his father King William I in 1073. He was crowned King Robert, by the grace of God, King of the English in the year 1073, aged 19, at Westminster Abbey; his wife crowned Queen Emma, Queen of the English. Emma of Hereford was executed in 1077 after being found guilty of treason against the king’s body & person; an affair with the Welsh prince of Glamorgan. King Robert never remarried.

Following his victory in the Italian Conquest, the Pope bestowed unto him the title Defender of the Faith. He died in 1090, aged 36, of old age at Windsor Castle. His body was sent to Rome, where it was buried on special orders of the Catholic Church.



Richard “the Blessed” of Normandy, by the grace of God, King of the English & Duke of the Normans
b. 1057 Rouen, Normandy
cr. 1090 Church of Our Lady of Rouen
d. 1111, Windsor Castle
br. Westminster Abbey​

Richard of Normandy, King of the English & Duke of the Normans, was born in the year 1057 in Normandy, the second son of William, King of the English (at the time of his birth, Duke William of Normandy) and Matilda of Flanders. He married Adelaide of Swabia, daughter of Rudolph von Rhinefelden, Duke of Swabia, in the year 1074, aged 17, at Westminster Abbey and had issue:

• Grateria (1074 - 1115). Married Bartoumiéu de Lusignan in 1091 and had issue.​

• Amburga (1076 - 1120). Married Idik of Liberec in 1093 and had issue.​

Richard and his wife Adelaide were created Duke and Duchess of Normandy by his brother King Robert I on their wedding day in 1074. First marriage ceased upon the death of Duchess Adelaide. Duke Richard next married Octreda of Berwick, daughter of Gospatrick of Atholl, Earl of Berwick, in 1080, aged 23, at Westminster Abbey. On the day of their wedding, Octreda adopted the consort-name Adelaide. Had issue:

• Stephen I, King of the English & Duke of the Normans (1081 - 1137). (1) Melisande of Nevers, daughter of Henry of Burgundy, Count of Nevers, in 1098 and had issue. (2) Matilda (Judyta) of Poland, daughter of Wincenty Piast, King of Poland, in 1112 and had issue.​

• Péronelle, dowager Countess of Tir Eoghain (1084 - 1120). (1) Louis de Pontchateau, Count of Tir Eoghain, in 1100 and had issue. (2) Eudes Capet, brother of Louis Capet, King of France, in 1109 and had issue.​

• Robert, Count of Capua & Baron of Clifton (1086 - 1153). (1) Marguerite of France, daughter of Louis Capet, King of France, in 1103 and had issue. (2) Syblla of Eu, daughter of Silvester Hastings, Count of Eu, in 1130 and had issue.​

• Flandina, dowager Countess of Evreux & dowager Lady de Vassy(1089 - 1137). (1) Asclettin de Vassy, Count of Evreux & Baron de Vassy, in 1106 and had issue. (2) Wilem von Holland in 1120 and had issue.​

Richard was given the accession following the death of his brother King Robert I in 1090. He was crowned King Richard, by the grace of God, King of the English & Duke of the Normans in the year 1090, aged 33; his wife crowned Queen Adelaide, Queen of the English. Second marriage ceased upon the death of Queen Adelaide in 1098. King Richard next married Gwerfyn of Gwynedd, daughter of Cadwagn Cynfyn, King of Gwynedd, in 1099, aged 42, at Westminster Abbey. On the day of their wedding, she adopted the consort-name Matilda. She was never crowned Queen. Had issue:

• William, Bishop of Sussex (1099 – 1166). Married Beatrix of Saxony, daughter of Hermann Billung, Duke of Saxony, in 1118 and had issue.​

Third marriage ceased upon the death of Matilda in 1101. King Richard next married Margaret of Norfolk, daughter of Eaulf de Gael, Baron of Norfolk, in 1109, aged 52, at Westminster Abbey. She was crowned Queen Margaret, Queen of the English on Christmas Day, 1109, at the Tower of London. Had issue:

• Alphonse (1110 – 1111)​

• Henry (1111 – 1177)​

He died in 1111, aged 54, of old age at Windsor Castle. He was buried at Westminster Abbey. The Roman Catholic Church later beatified him, giving him the sobriquet The Blessed.



Stephen of Normandy, by the grace of God, King of the English & Duke of the Normans
b. 1081 Windsor Castle
cr. 1111 Westminster Abbey
d. 1137 Winchester Castle
br. Westminster Abbey​

Stephen of Normandy, King of the English & Duke of the Normans was born at Windsor Castle in the year 1081, the eldest son of Richard the Blessed, King of the English (at the time of his birth, Duke Richard of Normandy) and Adelaide (Octreda) of Berwick. He was created Count of Maine at the time of his birth. Following his father’s accession to the throne of England, he was created Duke of Normandy in 1090, aged 9. He first married Melisande of Nevers, daughter of Henry of Burgundy, Count of Nevers, in 1098, aged 17, at Westminster Abbey and had issue:

• Eremberga (1108-1162). Married Findlay Dunkeld in 1125 and had issue.​

• Amburga (1110 – 1143). Married Orson of Anjou in 1127 and had issue.​

• Alexander (1112 – 1127)​

He was given the accession following the death of his father King Richard in 1111. He was crowned King Stephen, by the grace of God, King of the English & Duke of the Normans in 1112, aged 31, at Westminster Abbey; his wife crowned Queen Melisande, Queen of the English. First marriage ceased by an annulment in 1113. King Stephen next married Judyta of Poland, daughter of Wincenty Piast, King of Poland, in 1113, aged 32, at Winchester Castle. On her wedding day, she adopted the consort-name Matilda. She was crowned Queen Matilda, Queen of the English on the Day of the Feast of St. Clotilda, 1114. Had issue:

• Abelard, King of the English (1116 – 1172). (1) Ide of France, daughter of Louis Capet, King of France, in 1132 and had issue. (2) Marguerite of Burgundy in 1154 and had issue.​

• Aubrey, Earl of Kent (1117 – 1154). Married Eadburh, daughter of Maldred, Baron of Lincoln, in 1133 and had issue.​

• Yolanda (1120 – 1161). Married Hugues of Flanders, Constable of England, in 1137 and had issue.​

• Agnes, Duchess of Luxemburg (1122 – 1155). Married Almerich von Luxemburg, Duke of Luxembourg, in 1139 and had issue.​

• Busilla, Countess of Surrey (1126 – 1157). Married Humphrey de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, in 1147 and had issue.​

He died in 1137, aged 56, of old age at Winchester Castle. He was buried at Westminster Abbey.
 
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Veldmaarschalk

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Wow, fast updates.

Maybe a slightly bigger fontsize ?
 

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AbelardIProfile.jpg

Abelard of Normandy
King of the English & Duke of Normans,
Protector of Rome
1137 - 1172

Born: 1116, Winchester Castle; Crowned: Westminster; Died: (murdered) 1172, Dijon, Burgundy; Buried: Church of Our Lady of Rouen

Married: (1) 1132, Westminster Abbey: Ide of France, daughter of Louis Capet, King of France: 3 children; (2) 1154, Westminster Abbey: Marguerite of Burgundy, later Countess of Oxford: 3 children.

Titles: King of the English, 1137; Duke of the Normans, 1137; Prince of Wales, 1135; Duke of Warwick, 1133; Count of Maine, 1137​



Abelard is best recognized as the father of the English ‘Vexin’ Empire. However, he is also the least popular amongst the medieval kings of England. The reason could be due to his own unpopularity during most of his reign: his taxation policies were a burden to the lower classes; his military campaigns were very costly, using every available resource in England; and his animosity toward the nobility alienated him from the very people he needed to administer his government. But, who would dare go against the Crown, the anointed of God? In the end, the people had won: English ships refused to take his body back to England following his murder in Burgundy; Abelard interred at the Church of Our Lady of Rouen.

However, in the beginning of his reign he was a very popular king. When he acceded in 1137, the 21-year old Abelard was welcomed with much delight. He was a well-liked prince, involved in helping the needy throughout the realm. A tall, athletic figure, it is recorded that he took part in several jousting tournaments as the sport became popular throughout the courts of Europe. His wife, Ide of France, daughter of King Louis Capet, was hailed by contemporaries for her beauty and intellect. In fact, it was Sir John Withers, the queen’s chamberlain, whom often styled her ‘my lady-queen Ide, by the grace of God, the fairest beauty of Christendom’.

Their coronation took place the following year, 22 April. The coronation was said to have been both ‘a ceremony for the highest of noblemen, and the lowest of peasants’. Wine spewed from every tavern in England. A two-day procession from Windsor to the Tower of London, and then from the Tower to Westminster Abbey was said to be something of a wonder in its day. To herald in a new reign, the king wanted his procession to consist of popular legends: as the king sailed down the Thames, his barge consisted of himself and twelve knights, a representation of the popular legends of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. The coronation was, perhaps, the only time in his reign in which the people were happy he was king. Three years later public opinion would change.

King Abelard would launch another war against the kingdom of the Fatimid, this time in France. Over the course of 20 years the king of France was at war against the Muslim kingdom. In the earlier stages, the king – Abelard’s father-in-law – believed he would win over the infidels. That all changed at the battle of Poitiers (1136), where the French forces were decimated by the more technologically advanced Fatimids. King Louis pleaded to Abelard on many occasions: reminding him of his loyalty, as a vassal of France through his holdings in Normandy, to protect the French Crown; later pressing his daughter Ide to speak on his behalf. Abelard refused every request. Eventually, Abelard would change his mind. History states that his change of thought was due to the fear of the Fatimid army landing on English soil. Legend states otherwise. Henry Ross, the king’s chaplain (d. 1187), wrote of a vision the king received one night:

My lord and king confessed to me that he received the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin, in a dream, assisted by the holy saints Denis, on her left, and Martin, on her Right, both the saints of France. The three heavenly bodies instructed him to free the French-men from the infidels, and to pray before and after every battlefield. Such prayer would give him strength, protection, and victory.

Nevertheless, Abelard craved for more land, and, more than likely refused to assist France until the moment was right. However, it coincidental that Abelard received this vision on the Day of the Feast of St. Denis, 9 October. Abelard quickly dispatched messengers to the fiefs, requesting men to prepare for the crusade; England (and Ireland) gathering soldiers over the course of three years. With an entourage of fifty knights, the king rode throughout the lands, creating locations where men trained in the art of war. In the meantime, he also founded several churches throughout his realm. Three churches – all dedicated to the figures from his ‘vision’ – were built at the royal castles of Hertford (St. Denis), Salisbury (St. Martin), and Windsor (The Virgin Mary). By June of 1140, the king’s army, a total of six thousand, set sail for France.

The army landed in Normandy and, for one reason or another, remained there until the fall of that year. In late October, the king rode to Tours, where he faced a large regiment of the Fatimid army, led by the crown prince. It was this battle that medieval historians glorified the second Christian victory (first battle won in 732 AD); an illustrated manuscript would later be commissioned by Abelard’s great-great grandson, the king-emperor Henry II. After capturing the crown prince, the king marched on toward Angouleme, winning another battle in December of that year. As for the crown prince, his fate was already secured; the king ordered his execution after a day in English hands. Such was the same fate Abelard would encounter in 1172.

Back at home, Queen Ide remained as regent, with the court to aid her. The government was gradually losing funds due to the campaign in France. Thus, it came time again for the Crown to sell taxation rights, lands and services. It was during this time that a peculiar transaction had taken place: For the first time, a town was able to acquire land and taxation rights. The city of Shrewsbury had evolved from a small, rural community into a bustling trade centre, thanks in particular to the economic policies of King Richard. The city had become the largest centre of the wool trade. Thus, the lowest of the free peasantry were richer than any other merchant family in the countryside. In 1141, the city bought not only taxation rights to all goods passed in their city, but purchased 300 parcels (6,000 acres) to increase its already productive agriculture business. This angered many of the nobles in the rural communities of the county, Shropshire, since they believed the right to land was exclusively for the nobility. By the end of the century, not only would the city grow to become the largest landowner in the county, but also elect Sir John de Coleham to the royal council, the first commoner to sit on the highest council in England.

King Abelard remained in the newly-liberated province of Perigord for much of 1141. It was in Périgueux where the king received a papal legate. The legate told him that a Polish nobleman declared the pope an enemy of Christianity and marched toward Rome, which he later ransacked. The description of priests, women and children brutally killed enraged him. He immediately dispatched an emissary to the Fatimid king to sign peace, offering 500 marks, and immediately led his men to Rome. The army arrived at Rome in June, 1142. There, the king met on the battlefield Hardeknut of Denmark, known by his men as ‘Prince of Rome’. Although, Abelard was told Hardeknut was ‘a man of immense height and strength’, in actuality he was just a young boy, no older than 13. A cousin of the king of Denmark, Hardeknut was influenced by his regents to launch a campaign against Rome.

Assisted only by his archers and knights, the king charged toward Hardeknut’s army. The battle lasted only a day; Hardeknut fleeing to Napoli, another of his newly-conquered estates. He died there, at the battle of Naples (October-November, 1142) after an arrow struck the young boy in the eye. Captive Danes were executed on site. On the 19th of November, a treaty was signed by Hardeknut’s wife, the 16-year old Byzantine princess Sophia, in which Rome and Napoli were handed over to England. When the Pope returned to Rome, he agreed that Abelard should protect the estates from future invasions. Although he was hesitant in accepting these lands – the home to the Holy Mother Church – he nevertheless accepted it. Thus, England now had its first protectorate, with the king proclaimed its protector. Already at 27, Abelard was famous for his victories not only in France and Italy, but throughout the Christian AND the Muslim world. While Christendom praised him as Defender of the Faith – a title he refused to accept – Muslim feared him. Stories told of the ‘King with the three heads’, who became intoxicated from drinking the blood of pregnant women and children; parents demonizing him, telling their children he would come at night at take them to the farthest part of the world if they were did not behave. When the king himself heard of these legends, he used them as a scare tactic when fighting in Eastern Europe. Such propaganda benefited his camp.
 

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CONTINUE: Reign of King Abelard


With Muslims far from Gaul, the king turned his attention to the region of Hungary. Like many of the few Catholic strongholds in Eastern Europe, the former kingdom was engulfed by Muslims. Although the Holy Roman Emperor, King Otto of Germany was granted this campaign from the Pope, he never took up arms; Otto himself dealing with revolts from his own nobility. Thus, the campaign passed to Abelard, who was willing to expand his territories. It took him nearly four years to prepare for the campaign. On this ‘English Crusade’, the king decided to take his wife and his daughters Emma and Joan (their son Robert died of an illness in November, 1141). With 11,000 men, the king set sail from England in June of 1146.

The king traveled through Germany, gathering men as he passed villages and towns. When he arrived in the (former) Hungarian province of Pressburg, he was met with a mass army led by their emir. Although the king was successful on the battlefield, he was embittered by the slaughtering of his fellow Christian brethren. Many in the emir’s army came from the local Hungarian population, whom were still allowed to practice Catholicism freely. The king ordered a shrine on the site of the battle, dedicated to Saint Peter. It was an attempt to pay for his soul. The king continued onward to liberate the Hungarians from the infidels. The king could’ve succeeded in his campaign, but was forced to cut it short when, in December of 1148, an epidemic ravaged the small towns and villages in the region. Decimating his army, Abelard believed it to be a divine sign that his warring was over. He marched back home, leaving an English stronghold, the lordship of Pressburg. Unfortunately, the Crown would lose it during King John’s War.

For ten years, England was finally at peace. And, for once, the warmongering king that many had been accustomed to for almost 11 years was now a kind, generous monarch. At every castle, the king decreed that the poor should be given free food and wine on holidays. He made good use of St. Pierre Castle, in Angouleme, where he resided at between 1150 and 1152. Abelard grew replaced his armor and attaché of knights and pages for fur-trimmed robes and his loving family. However, a pressing issue still at hand was the royal succession. It was well known at court that the queen was barren. The prince Robert had died nearly a decade ago, still a child. And, in October of 1151, his eldest daughter Emma had married Count Bertrand of Anjou. Although his State Officers attempted to convince the king that divorcing his wife and remarrying would be a suitable thing, he decreed that ‘the queen has stayed by my side, and I shall stay with hers’. He decreed Lady Emma, now countess of Anjou, as the heiress-apparent. None of the nobles wanted the count of Anjou, known for his conniving in France, to influence the Crown of England. It was only a few weeks after his proclamation that Ide of France died of an illness, possibly from poison.

Although 14th and 15th century historians presumed the queen’s death at the hands of her enemies, more specifically her brother-in-law the earl of Kent, it must be noted that the king had already found another interest. True, he loved his wife. However, as she grew with age the king’s attraction to her dwindled. It was at this time that the king met Marguerite of Burgundy, a member of the famous, and wealthy, ducal family of the same name. Although she was a junior member of the Burgundian family, she was a very wealthy heiress. It was by coincidence that the two met. Marguerite was staying at a nearby manor house of her cousin, Sir Osmond de St. John, who was the new Lord High Constable & (the first) Lord Marshal. Sir Osmond presented her to the king during a hunting party; a year-to-date before the death of Queen Ide. An attractive woman, she was very intelligent and indulged the king in conversation, especially on theology, diplomacy and foreign courts.

Shortly after Ide’s death, the king already picked his new wife. They were wed that same year, All Souls Day, 2 November, at St. Pierre. Although she was rightfully queen of England, the Lord Chancellor, Roger, Lord Essex, advised the king that she should not be crowned. Later in his life, Essex wrote of his reason. ‘The memories of our mistress-queen Ide were still fresh in the minds of the people. Crowning a woman whom the people did not know – whom many expected poisoned the queen – was unsuitable for the realm’ Thus, a coronation never took place; later created countess of Oxford. In turn, she gave him three healthy children: 2 girls, the ladies Maud and Blanche, both of whom had married into the low nobility in far off lands; and a boy, the prince John, who would later be crowned and, eventually, come to be known as ‘The New Monarch’.

With his new bride by his side the king organized a campaign to defeat the Seljuk Turks in Italy. An entourage of knights, ladies and bishops traveled to Rome, where de St. John had already rallied men to the cause. In June of 1158 Abelard led men onto the battlefield. The skirmishes in Capua and Benevento are the first battles in Western history of a woman leading men in battle. History tells us of how the king’s daughter Joan led an all-woman regiment in battle. Well trained with the sword and bow, the women rode onto the battlefield, wearing chains of mail and long gowns. The king fell ill during the campaign, and, while leading his troops into battle, fell from his horse. It was from here on that Joan led the men into battle. She ordered her father to be returned to Rome. Putting his golden circlet on her head, Joan commanded England’s knights and men – and women – at arms. The Seljuk Turks laughed as the then 15-year old princess led her men onto the battlefield. However, they would later fear her after she defeated them. It is no wonder that later in her own reign she would be called by many Turks as ‘The Warrior-Queen’. She forced her way through the Turkish provinces, commanding the army at the last Turkish stronghold in Benevento (September, 1159)

The army rode back to Rome, where the king and the pope congratulated them. It wasn’t too long after their return that factions developed over the control of the peninsula. Some wanted the establishment of minor states, similar to the Holy Roman Empire; others, especially the English nobility, wanted a consolidation of power held by the English Crown. The tension between the groups culminated at the Allegiance of the Italian Lords. On Christmas Day, 1159 Abelard met with the Italo-Norman nobility and clergy in Rome, including some of the minor lords from Sicily. There, the king nominated his daughter Joan to be crowned. The ‘Pro-States’ faction opposed the rule of a woman. But, Joan’s supporters, those who had seen her command troops on the battlefield, believed she could rule. It was finally agreed on May 17th 1160 that Joan would become the first queen of Naples. And, she would exemplary. Unfortunately, her son, Henry, was very incapable of ruling the kingdom; he was off siring 15 illegitimate children and enjoying the company of whores in Germany. Fifty years later, Naples would again be held by Seljuk Turks. Under King Henry (I) – at the time Prince of Wales – would return Naples to the English empire.

In 1161, the Pope called a crusade to Jerusalem (Second Crusade). When he received the papal legate in late February King Abelard wasted no time in rallying men. He gathered the largest army amassed at the time, 23,000, and in early April departed from England to Egypt – land of the Fatimid and controller of Jerusalem. They landed in the province of Pelusia in December of that year. The king fought vigorously; the provincial capitol falling in January of 1162. The king would then march to Manupura, later conquering it in May that same year. The campaign did not last long, and, ultimately, the king returned home in late 1165. There are no factual reasons why the campaign was cut short. But, it is believed that the men – many who had fought in previous campaigns – were growing tired of the king’s constant fighting. However, it wasn’t too long afterward that, when he returned home, the king launched another campaign, this time to the Irish kingdom of Meath. This time, the king commanded Martin, Lord Talbot, to lead the men. Upon his victories, Talbot was created High Constable of Ireland. Following the conquest of Meath, the king spent years at the court of France, where he was an honorable guest of his former brother-in-law Jacques. In 1172, after the duke of Burgundy declared war against France, the king returned to England to rally men. With an army of over two thousand, the king invaded Burgundian territory. Unfortunately, Abelard was captured by his brother-in-law the duke Odo. He was escorted to a fort in Dijon in late March; by the first week of April, it was announced that the king was killed while trying to escape. Although Duke Burgundy returned the body to the English army, they refused to bring it back to London; the traditional burial site for the kings at Westminster. While traveling through Rouen, the army interred his body at the Church of Our Lady of Rouen.

By this time, Abelard was very unpopular at home. His campaigns in the Second Crusade and in France depleted all the resources. And, with him barely at home, court officials began siphoning off taxes, leaving the Crown poor and dependent on the noble families; laws & edicts were decreed that placed more power in the hands of the aristocracy; and, nobles began to reject their fealty to the Crown. In the end, Abelard left the kingdom in a state of civil disobedience. However, it would be his son John who would reform the aristocracy’s power over the Crown, as well as the future absolute authority of English kings. It is because of his son’s later rule that Abelard quickly faded into the background of England’s history.
 
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JohnIProfile.jpg


John “the Great” of Warwick (Normandy)
King of England, Ireland & Wales
Protector of Rome
1172 - 1206

Born: Warwick Castle, 1157; Crowned: Westminster; Died: York Palace, 1206; Buried: Westminster

Married: (1) 1175, at Westminster Abbey: Judith of Thuringia, daughter of Eberhard von Franken, King of Germany & Holy Roman Emperor: 4 children; (2) 1189, at Windsor Castle: Constance of France, sister of Guy Capet, King of France: 7 children. John had many illegitimate children, four of which he acknowledged.

Titles: King of England, 1177; King of Ireland, 1177; King of Wales, 1177; Prince of Wales, 1157; Duke of Normandy, 115 (extinct, 1177); Duke of Warwick, 1177; Duke of Burgundy, 1177; Count of Maine, 1157​


King John is perhaps the famous of all the Norman kings. Although some still believe his grandson Henry (I) was the last line of the direct Norman kings, nevertheless through his line a new dynasty was established: the House of Warwick. However, he is of course recognized as the first post-Conquest king to engage in a large scale civil war. He’s also called ‘The People’s King’ for a good reason; he was the first king to favor the rights of the English citizenry over the Anglo-Norman nobility. Because of such favor, historians mark his reign as ‘The New Monarchy’, which, eventually, leads up to ‘The Vexin Empire’.

The Civil War

When historians look back to the start of King John’s War – the first English Civil War – they often confuse its causes. 15th century historians put blame on King John, while later historians blame the duke of Norfolk. Neither was the cause. In actuality, it was the foreign count of Anjou & King Abelard. During Abelard’s reign, his military campaigns abroad left England in a total state of despair. Families lost their husbands, fathers, and sons; on an economic scale, the treasury at Winchester was empty, with barely the sustainable goods left for English households; and, with the king abroad, the power at court shifted from the Crown to the nobility, who used the opportunity to rule their own lands as sovereign lords. Such shift of power gave Bertrand, count of Anjou, and the king’s son-in-law, the opportunity to seize the throne. His cause was quite simple: to put his son Aimery on the throne of England. One must remember that Abelard legally declared Lady Emma has the heiress-presumptive; should she provide a male heir, as she did, then the line would pass to the Angevins. However, Abelard remarried and his son, John, 15, was king.

However, there is another possible cause, though minor, which reflects on the polarity of the English people. At the time, popular culture – the culture of the common folk – and elite culture were turning in opposite directions. The average aristocrat was of French or Norman origin, often speaking only French, and had studied or lived abroad at the royal court of France. Many would eventually marry into a French aristocratic family or, in few cases, the French royal family. In extremely rare cases, French aristocrats came to inherit English fiefs; the Barony of Cornwall for example, which passed to the d’Empuries family. To many of the lower classes, the English nobility and its king were foreigners.

The lower classes – peasants, serfs, merchants, and dwellers of the pre-Norman cities – were developing their own culture. Their customs and language – an ancient form of modern English – was in fact a mixture of Norman and Saxon. Although few of these Englishmen – ‘Anglo-Saxons’, as they were called – would gain access to the royal court, the Englishman believed that the ‘French court of England’ oppressed them of their land, rights and privileges. In addition to their family losses during Abelard’s campaigns, such animosity grew into general hatred toward the elite and, ultimately, the Crown. Of all at court, the only one who appeared to notice this enmity was the queen consort, the countess of Oxford, Marguerite , a Frenchwoman herself. Noticing these differences between the lives of the noble and peasant, she made sure that her children understood the English language and customs, as well as a firm understanding of the towns and hamlets throughout the realm. This upbringing would benefit King John during his reign.

The early stages of the civil war began not in England but in Burgundy. At the time, King Abelard aided the king of France in his war against the duke of Burgundy. It appeared that he would be victorious; Abelard was captured during a skirmish at Dijon. Although a ransom was put forth, Duke Odo of Burgundy had him executed. The charge was treason – ‘against the king of France, his realm, and the Duke’ – Burgundy reaffirming to his people that he was somehow protecting the interests of France. Immediately, John was king. But, troops were still ordered to continue the fight. They pressed on and eventually conquered Burgundy; The Treaty of Dijon making John duke of Burgundy. Because he had lost his position in England and was less respected in France, the count of Anjou was outraged. The count pressed for his son, Aimery, to inherit the throne, being the grandson of Abelard. He initially had no supporters at court. However, Anjou found one supporter in the person of the duke of Norfolk. The Angevins began to plan the first civil revolt against the Crown.

In May, 1173 the dowager queen Marguerite summoned a council of all the nobles at Windsor, where they pledged fealty to John. When Norfolk presented himself before the king, he attempted to attack him! Fortunately, the Lord Constable and several guards were in attendance before the blade could pierce him. Norfolk was arrested and detained at Windsor, but was later pardoned by John himself. He returned to his manor house and was forbidden to ever return to court, his rights to special taxes on goods and land, including the forestry in Salisbury, revoked. When the king departed from court to Ireland, Norfolk used the opportunity to speak against the king; proclaiming Aimery of Anjou as the true king and urging him ‘to take the throne from the illegitimate prince’. Eventually, the French-Normans elite, many who did not really support John, backed the Angevin claim. The king was left defenseless.

While John was fighting against the king of Munster, the dowager queen ruled as regent. It was she who received word that Norfolk had raised men against the Crown, and that many of the nobility turned against John. She rallied troops from the crown domains, including her own regiment of noblewomen, and led them herself onto the battlefield. One must remember that she was a strong-willed woman, who fought beside her husband and stepdaughter – now queen of Naples – and was capable of commanding troops on the battlefield. Marguerite won several victories, including the most famous one near Windsor Castle. Bedecked in her finest jewels, with a golden circlet on her head, the dowager queen successfully defended Windsor by outflanking the vast armies of Thomas, Lord Dunley and Norfolk himself. However, she was not successful in defending London; the city fell to Norfolk’s forces in November, 1173.

In January, 1174 John landed in Wales. He knew of the civil outbreak, but believed his mother was capable of handling the affair. What he did not know was that the other earls and barons had sided with Norfolk. Upon his arrival his troops were greatly outnumbered by the baron of Glamorgan, Norfolk’s chief ally. John was captured and escorted to Cardigan Castle, the home of a minor Norman baron, where he was forced to sign the Great Charter or Magna Carta. It was not the pressure of the barons, but the lack of food, water and shelter that forced the king to sign the agreement. The king agreed to concede some of his powers to fifteen Lords of Ordinance (Lords Ordainer) and ‘a common council of the Earls, Greater & Lesser Barons, and of the great clergymen of the land’ – the future Parliament. After his release, he fled to Rougemont Castle. He proclaimed that he was under duress when forced to sign the Magna Carta. After revoking the charter, John called for regiments throughout Exeter and Windsor to take back London. By February 1176, London returned to the king’s hands. Fortunately for John, Norfolk had secluded himself at the Tower of London, proclaiming himself “King of all England”. Norfolk was quickly ‘dethroned’ and executed. It seemed to John that Norfolk’s revolt was the end; it was only the beginning.

The Angevins still craved for the throne of England. With the English nobility still supporting Aimery, the king had no other powerful allies. Thus, he turned to the very fabric of the kingdom: the peasantry and gentry of England. On May 17, 1177 King John decreed The Peace of Windsor. The declaration was the foundation of The New Monarchy. It declared all the king’s enemies traitors of the state, and pardoned anyone who killed them. Secondly, it promised anyone who entered his services rewards: a serf could gain his freedom; a farmer could gain more land; a knight could gain a title of nobility and so forth. By the end of the decade, the king had successfully taken over all of England; the Crown now the sole landowner.

Historians decree his coronation day as the start of The New Monarchy. The New Monarchy symbolized the end of Anglo-Norman rule, and the rise of the English monarchs (although the monarchs were still of Norman ancestry). Everything that was deemed Norman was removed from the domain’s culture. On all official documents, he was not known as John of Normandy but John of England. He even refused to use in formality the title Duke of Normandy, adopting the more ‘English’ title Duke of Warwick. Because the Dukedom of Warwick was now deemed the senior-ranking title in England, historians often place John and his family as part of a new dynasty: the Royal House of Warwick. Shortly after being crowned he confiscated all the baronial estates held by Norman and French families. The Anglo-Normans & French-Norman aristocracy was no more; now raised the true English nobility. The majority of the new nobles were English, despite having an ancestor or two from Normandy. But there were significant differences between the “New Monarchists” and “Old Monarchists”: the New Monarchists were of no noble blood, most of them coming from the English gentry and freemen classes; the Old Monarchists came from ancient noble lines. While the Old Monarchists favored rights of the nobility, the New Monarchists favored the creation of free cities and more land to commoners. The only commonality between the two groups was that they both favored serfdom.

The Magna Carta of 1180 is the most well-known document. Although it did not in practice limit the king’s power, the delegation of some of his royal prerogative would eventually be limited through the development of Parliament. Two new councils were established: the common council & the Privy Council. The common council was a general assembly of the magnates and ecclesiasts from throughout the realm. They were only to agree in consent to the king’s declarations and bills, though in reality they had no choice. The Privy Council was a close advisory committee. In practice, they assisted the king in decision-making. However, in the end it was the king who would make decisions. Through his councils, the king established a modern administration: he re-divided the land into counties; reintroduced the shire system; and agreed to the right for the common council to consent to taxes. The Magna Carta also introduced the peerage titles of viscount and marquess. Ironically, both were used much in France. Although it was deemed necessary for the re-division of the lands, the titles were mainly given as courtesy titles for minor members of the Royal Family, awards for war veterans and such. Most of these titles were created through letters patent, meaning that titles were not granted with land property. This, in effect, protected the crown domains from being divided amongst the court magnates.

The mid-years of King John’s reign were peaceful. For thirteen years, England was in a golden age: decorative palaces were built throughout the realm; trade prospered in the merchant centers of London, Winchester & Rouen; music for the first time was performed at chapels and churches; and the king of England had grown to become the most respected of his predecessors. Patronage in the arts had become the pastime for the English nobility, with occasional banquets and tournaments. John would become known by some of his contemporaries as ‘The Generous’: he granted larger estates to his vassals, making them richer than ever before. When it came to his family, he had many children both legitimate and illegitimate. Mothers of his bastard children were granted estates and titles: including the baronesses of Dyfed & Glamorgan and the countess of Charolais, who was briefly created duchess of Burgundy.

From 1193 onwards England was in constant battles with foreign states, Christian and non-Christian alike. In the fall of 1193, the king invaded the Dukedom of Argyll, then an independent fiefdom of Scotland. However, he had dispatched troops south to France, where he helped the French King in his war against the duke of Picardy. Fortunately, the king’s army was perhaps the strongest in all of Christendom. It is even said that the king had raised 16 thousand men for his campaign in Scotland and 20 thousand in France, though most later historians believe it was far less and impossible. His successful campaign in Scotland brought Argyll and Orkney to England by July, 1194; Picardy given to the king by the Treaty of Amiens, signed on August 4, 1194. The king continued on crusades to liberate Christian lands from the infidels. His troops met forces in the southern borders of the Holy Roman Empire, taking over Mantua and Istria. In the Iberian Peninsula, where the former kingdoms of Leon, Castile & Navarre were once established, his forces conquered the northwestern part of the peninsula. And in Reims, which was the home to the pope after several of his losses against infidels, he liberated the province and declared the land a part of the Crown. Through his various battles against the Muslims who held lands in France, as well as the later war against the duke of Champagne, John had grown an empire which included nearly ¼ of the land in France.

King John died on the first of June, 1206, at the age of 49. He had inherited a realm on the verge of civil war, but left an empire of great wealth and power. Despite his attempt to make his realm an ‘English’ one, he developed an empire of many cultures. In Spain, his subjects were either Catholic Castilians or Muslim Arabs; in France, the French aristocracy continued to rule their ancient lands; and, in Italy, Germano-Italian citizenry contributed to the empire. Throughout his later reign he rarely appointed Englishmen to royal offices. Nevertheless he was the most benevolent king of his time. He was buried at Westminster Abbey. On the day of his funeral, it was said that the streets were filled with subjects from throughout the realm, all paying homage to John ‘the Great’.
 
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Abelard of Normandy, by the grace of God, King of the English & Duke of the Normans, Protector of Rome
b. 1116 Winchester Castle
cr. 1137 Westminster Abbey
d. 1172 Dijon, Burgundy
br. Church of Our Lady of Rouen​

Abelard of Normandy, King of the English & Duke of the Normans was born at Winchester Castle in 1116. He was the eldest living son (second born son) of Stephen I, King of the English, and Matilda (Judyta) of Poland. He married Ide of France, daughter of Louis Capet, King of France, in 1132 at Westminster Abbey and had issue:

• Robert (1139 – 1141)

• Emma, Countess of Anjou (1134 – 1154). Married Bertrand, Count of Anjou, in 1151 and had issue.

• Joan, Queen of Naples (1143 – 1197). Married Henry, Baron Fitzgerald, in 1160 and had issue.​
He and his wife were created Duke and Duchess of Warwick in 1133, later created Prince and Princess of Wales in 1135. He was given the accession following the death of his father King Stephen I in 1137. He was crowned King Abelard, by the grace of God, King of the English & Duke of the Normans; his wife crowned Queen Ide, Queen of the English on Candlemas Day, 1138. Later in his reign, The Roman Pontiff bestowed unto him the title ‘Protector of Rome’; this title used by his successors.

First marriage ceased upon the death of Queen Ide in 1154. King Abelard next married Marguerite of Burgundy on November 2, 1154 at St. Pierre’s Castle, Angouleme. She was never crowned queen, but was created Countess of Oxford. Had issue:

• John of Warwick, King of England, Ireland & Wales (1157 – 1206). (1) Married Judith of Germany, daughter of Eberhard von Franken, King of Germany, in 1175 and had issue. (2) Married Constance of France, daughter of Guy Capet, King of France, in 1189 and had issue.

• Maud, Countess of Orvieto (1159 – 1221). Married Mathieu de Blois in 1179 and had issue.

• Blanche, Countess of Angouleme (1165 – 1213). Married Sigurd of Orkney in 1184 and had issue.​
King Abelard was murdered in 1172, aged 56, after being caught during his campaign with France against Burgundy. He was buried at the Church of Our Lady of Rouen.


John of Warwick, King of England, Ireland & Wales, Protector of Rome
b. 1157 Warwick Castle
cr. 1177 Westminster Abbey
d. 1206 York Palace
br. Westminster Abbey​

John of Warwick, King of England, Ireland & Wales was born in the year 1157 at Warwick Castle (as John of Normandy). He was the eldest living son (second born son) of Abelard of Normandy, King of the English, and Marguerite of Burgundy, Countess of Oxford. He was created Prince of Wales, Duke of Normandy & Count of Maine in the year 1157. He was given the accession following the death of his father King Abelard in 1172. He married Judith of Germany, daughter of Eberhard von Franken, King of Germany & Holy Roman Emperor, in 1175 and had issue:

• Hugh, Prince of Wales & Duke of Cornwall (1177 – 1180)

• Philippa (1178 – 1182)

• Adela (1179 – 1179)

• Isabel (1186 – 1188)

• Roger of Warwick, King of England, Ireland & Wales (1187 – 1224). Married Isabella de Waer in 1204 and had issue.​
He was crowned King John, by the grace of God, King of the England, Ireland & Wales in the year 1177; his wife crowned Queen Judith, Queen of England, Ireland & Wales. His first marriage ceased upon the death of Queen Judith in 1188. King John next married Constance of France, daughter of Guy Capet, King of France, in 1189. She was crowned Queen Constance, Queen of England. Had issue:

• Edward of Pembroke, Earl of Pembroke (1190 – 1224). Married Cecilie of Denmark, daughter of Ubbe Knytling, King of Denmark, in 1210 and had issue.

• Jordan of Lancaster, Duke of Lancaster (1192 – 1248). (1) Married Heria of Osraige, daughter of Stephen, Baron of Osraige, in 1210 and had issue. (2) Married Yolanda of Osraige, daughter of Stephen, Baron of Osraige, in 1224 and had issue. (3) Married Marie of Dijon in 1227 and had issue.

• Arthur of Glastonbury, Duke of York (1195 – 1196)

• Lionel of York, Duke of York (1196 – 1241). Married Beatrice of Evreux, daughter of John de Leyburne, Count of Evreux, in 1213 and had issue.

• Raymond, Baron of Dublin (1198 – 1201)

• Martin (1200 – 1201)

• Blanche (1203 – 1208)​
King John had also sired many illegitimate children, four of whom were acknowledged:

• Geoffrey of Rougemont, Baron of Rougemont & Keeper of Rougemont Castle, later Earl of Evora (1185 – 1214). His mother was the infamous Anne of Charolais, the king’s mistress, who he created Duchess of Burgundy. Geoffrey married Judith of Derby, daughter of Philippe of Leyburne, Earl of Derby, in 1201 and had issue.

• Wiilliam de St. Pierre, Baron de St. Pierre, later Lord Bishop of Auxerre (1193 – 1226). His mother was the infamous Anne of Charolais, Duchess of Burgundy, and was thus the younger brother of Baron Geoffrey of Rougemont.

• Richard of Hertford, Baron of Hertfordshire, later Duke of Gallowy (1197 – 1262). His mother was the Lady Juliana Berkeley, the daughter of a minor English baron, who later killed herself at York Palace over her jealousy. He married Elisabeth of Denmark, daughter of Ubbe Knytling, King of Denmark, in 1115 with no issue.

• George of Arques (1204 – 1208). It is unsure who is mother was.​
He died in 1206, aged 49, at York Palace. He was buried at Westminster Abbey
 

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Great updates, it reads like a real historybook.

Which sometimes confuses me and I have to tell myself that Abelard and John didn't really existed. :)