King Henry I (Henri Beauclerc)

King Henry I ruled the England from 2nd August 1100 to 1st December 1135. He was also the Duke of Normandy from 1106 till his death. He was the fourth son of William I of England and Matilda of Flanders. He belonged to the House of Norman Dynasty. This medieval King was educated in Latin and liberal arts and it is believed that he got his education from the Church possibly at Salisbury Cathedral.

King Henry I Timeline

King Henry I was born in the year 1068 at Selby Yorkshire. This medieval king ruled the England from 2nd August 1100 to 1st December 1135. His coronation took place on 5th August 1100. He was married to Matilda of Scotland in 1100 whereas the Adeliza of Louvain in 1121. Henry signed the Treaty of Alton in 1101. Conquest of Normandy took place between 1103 & 1106. In France and Anjou Rebellions broke in 1111 and 1113. King Henry I died on 1st December 1135

What Type of Ruler was Henry I

Henry I was considered a harsh ruler by his contemporaries. He also had a firm and effective control over the barons of England and Normandy. He had an effective network of informers and spies who informed him of all the latest developments and he was also known for punishing those barons who stood against him.

Medieval King Henry I

The English Medieval King Henry I pictured in his crown and ceremonial dress

What was Henry I Famous For?

King Henry I was famous for his handwriting and his scholarly interests. This is the reason why he was called Henry Beauclerc. He was also the most able and competent of William the conqueror’s sons. He was an efficient ruler and a clever fighter on the battlefield. He was famous among his contemporaries for his exploits on the battlefield.

King Henry I – Taking the throne 1100

King Henry I took the throne in 1100, after his brother’s death. His brother, William Rufus, was shot on the afternoon of 2nd August while he was in the New Forest hunting. After William’s death, Henry went to Winchester to defend his right to rule. William of Breteuil supported Robert in his absence, as he was on his way back from the crusade. Henry was supported by Robert of Meulan and Henry de Beaumont, and with their support he was able to persuade the barons in his favour. Henry I took control of the Winchester Castle and the Royal treasury. King Henry I was crowned without further delay on the 5th of August in Westminster Abbey, by the Bishop of London, Maurice.

King Henry I wife Matilda of Scots

The medieval King Henry I was married to the beautiful and Famous Matilda of Scotland

King Henry I Marriage to Matilda 1100

King Henry I married Matilda of Scotland on 11th November 1100. She was the daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland. At the time of marriage this medieval king was 31 years old. Matilda was educated in different convents and it was believed that she might have taken a vow to become a nun. It created a hurdle in the further progress of the marriage. Matilda made an appeal to Anselm to allow her to marry Henry. A council was created by the Archbishop to address the issue. Although, there were some opposing voices, but council ruled in favour of Matilda and allowed her to marry Henry. The judgement was affirmed by Anselm and the marriage took place.

King Henry I & TheTreaty of Alton – 1101-02

The Treaty of Alton was signed between King Henry I and his elder brother Robert. Both mustered up armies in order to fight and met at Alton. There they decided to negotiate and reached a settlement known as the Treaty of Alton. It was supported by Flambard. According to this treaty, Robert recognized Henry as the King and released him from his oath of homage. In return Henry agreed to pay two hundred pounds a year for life to Robert. He also denounced his claim on Western Normandy.

King Henry I Medieval king

Early medieval drawing of King Henry I medieval King of England

King Henry I & The Conquest of Normandy – 1103-06

During the year 1103 King Henry I mustered up a lot of support in Normandy and his supporters there became stronger. He also did political marriages of his illegitimate daughters in order to gain more support. The medieval king also attempted to gain support of Norman lords by giving them lucrative offers. Duke Robert’s position had weakened due to his continuous fighting with the Robert of Belleme. King Henry was finding excuses to attack Normandy. He went to Normandy a couple of times, but returned after failed negotiations. The decisive battle, Battle of Tinchebray, was fought in 1306. King Henry I won the war and Duke Robert was taken as a prisoner. After taking control on Normandy, Henry reaffirmed the laws and customs there.

King Henry I – Rebellion, 1115-20

In 1115, King Henry I went to Normandy to ensure the Norman barons support, but couldn’t finalise a settlement with King Louis. War broke out between King Henry I and King Louis in 1116. Many barons rose against Henry and he went onto the defensive. Henry couldn’t even attend his wife Matilda’s funeral when she died in 1118. Henry faced many defeats during the second half of 1118 and early part of 1119 but he started to gain positive momentum in May 1119 when Fulk shifted sides. Henry gained positive results from the Battle of Bremule which crippled the barons’ rebellion and in June 1120 Henry and Louis formally made peace.

King Henry I Succession crisis 1120-23

On 25th November 1120 the White Ship sank, killing as many as 300 people, including King Henry I’s only legitimate son and heir William Adelin. The situation created the succession crisis and Henry married Adeliza of Louvain with the intention of having a new royal son. After his son’s death, Henry’s relations with Fulk deteriorated and Amaury de Montfort along with Fulk’s support revolted against the medieval king, Henry I. Henry routed out the rebellion in 1123 by besieging the rebel castles and giving severe punishments to the rebels.

Early image of medieval king Henry I

This is an early medieval image of medieval king Henry I in prayer

King Henry I Death and legacy.

In November of 1935 Henry I went to Lyons-la-Forêt on a hunting trip but fell seriously ill. At the time of departure, he was healthy and it was believed that his physician had advised him to avoid eating lampreys but he ate a lot of them and fell ill. By the end of week his condition further deteriorated and he summoned the Archbishop to give his statement. He died on 1st December 1135 and was buried in Reading Abbey. The succession was disputed and Theobald’s younger brother, Stephen of Blois seized power in England and was crowned as Stephen, the King of England.

King Henry I Summary

King Henry I was considered to be a harsh king, but was effective at the same time. Henry was a clever fighter and handled the rebellions intelligently. He lost his only legitimate son and heir when the White Ship Sank. The succession process was disputed and finally Stephen was crowned as the King of England.

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