Stephen of Blois, King of England 1 2
- Born: Abt 1096, Blois, (Loire-et-Cher), France
- Marriage: Matilda of Boulogne about 1119
- Died: 25 Oct 1154, Dover Priory, Dover, Kent, England about age 58
- Buried: Faversham Abbey, Kent, England
Another name for Stephen was Stephen of England.
From Wikipedia - Stephen of England :
Stephen often known as Stephen of Blois (c. 1096 - 25 October 1154) was a grandson of William the Conqueror . He was the last Norman King of England , from 1135 to his death, and also the Count of Boulogne jure uxoris . His reign was marked by civil war with his rival the Empress Matilda and general chaos, known as The Anarchy . He was succeeded by Matilda's son, Henry II , the first of the Angevin or Plantagenet kings.
Stephen was born at Blois in France, son of Stephen , Count of Blois , and Adela of England, (daughter of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders ). One of ten children, his surviving brothers were Count Theobald II of Champagne , Henry of Blois , Bishop of Winchester , and William of Sully . He also had four sisters, including Eléonore of Blois .
Stephen was sent to be raised at the English court of his uncle, King Henry I , in 1106. He became Count of Mortain in about 1115, and married Matilda , daughter of the Count of Boulogne , in about 1125, who became Countess of Boulogne. Their marriage was a happy one and his wife was an important supporter during the struggle for the English crown. Stephen became joint ruler of Boulogne in 1128.
King of England
There were several principal contenders for the succession to Henry I . The least popular was the Empress Matilda , Henry I's only legitimate surviving child, not simply because she was a woman, but because her husband Geoffrey, Count of Anjou was an enemy of the Normans . The other contenders were Robert, Earl of Gloucester , illegitimate son of Henry I, Stephen, and Stephen's older brother, Theobald, Count of Blois . However, Theobald did not want the kingdom, at least not enough to fight for it. Before his death in 1135, Henry I named his daughter Matilda his heir and made the barons of England swear allegiance to her. Stephen was the first baron to do so. However, upon King Henry's death, Stephen claimed the throne, saying Henry had changed his mind on his deathbed and named Stephen as his heir. Once crowned, Stephen gained the support of the majority of the barons as well as Pope Innocent II and the first few years of his reign were peaceful, notwithstanding insurgences by the Welsh, King David I of Scotland , and Baldwin de Redvers.
The Anarchy: War with Matilda
By 1139, Stephen had lost much support and the country sank into a civil war , commonly called The Anarchy . Stephen faced the forces of Empress Matilda at several locations including the Battle of Beverston Castle and the Battle of Lincoln . Bad omens haunted him before the Battle of Lincoln where Stephen faced Matilda's illegitimate brother Robert and Ranulph, Earl of Chester . According to chroniclers, Stephen fought bravely but was captured by a knight named William de Cahaignes (a relative of Ranulph, ancestor of the Keynes family ). Stephen was defeated and brought before his cousin Matilda. He was imprisoned at Bristol .
Stephen's wife rallied support amongst the people from London and the barons. Matilda was, in turn, forced out of London. With the capture of her most able lieutenant, her half-brother the Earl of Gloucester, she was obliged to trade Stephen for him, and Stephen was restored to the throne in November the same year.
In December 1142, the Empress was besieged at Oxford , but managed to escape, dressed in white, across the snow to Wallingford Castle , held by her supporter Brien FitzCount .
In 1147, Empress Matilda's teenage son, the future King Henry II of England , decided to assist in the war effort by raising a small army of mercenaries and invading England. Rumours of this army's size terrified Stephen's retainers, although in truth the force was very small. Having been defeated twice in battle, and with no money to pay his mercenaries, young Henry appealed to his uncle Robert for aid but was turned away. Desperately, and in secret, the boy asked Stephen for help. According to the Gesta Stephani , "On receiving the message, the king...hearkened to the young man..." and bestowed upon him money and other support.
Reconciliation and death
Stephen maintained his precarious hold on the throne for the remainder of his lifetime. However, after a military standoff at Wallingford with Henry, and following the death of his son and heir, Eustace , in 1153, he was persuaded to reach a compromise with Matilda (known as the Treaty of Wallingford or Winchester), whereby Stephen's son William of Blois would be passed over for the English throne, and instead Matilda's son Henry would succeed Stephen.
Stephen died in Dover , at Dover Priory , and was buried in Faversham Abbey , which he had founded with Countess Matilda in 1148.
Besides Eustace, Stephen and Queen Matilda had two other sons, Baldwin (d. before 1135), and William of Blois (Count of Mortain and Boulogne, and Earl of Surrey or Warenne). They also had two daughters, Matilda and Marie of Boulogne . In addition to these children, Stephen fathered at least three illegitimate children , one of whom, Gervase, became Abbot of Westminster .
English royal descendants
Philippa of Hainault , the wife of Edward III , was a descendant of Stephen, and he was thus ancestor of all subsequent kings of England.
Noted events in his life were:
• Count of Mortain, 1115-1154.
• King of England, 1135-1154.
Stephen married Matilda of Boulogne, daughter of Eustace III Count of Boulogne and Lens and Mary of Scotland, about 1119. (Matilda of Boulogne was born about 1105 in Boulogne-sur-Mer [Boulogne], (Pas-de-Calais, France), died on 3 Jul 1151 in Hedingham Castle, Essex, England and was buried in Faversham Abbey, Kent, England.)