King Henry II - Part 3

Henry the Young KingAs time went on, one of the most important things in Henry's mind was to secure succession in his kingdom. He confirmed his eldest son Henry as the nominated heir and he was crowned King designate in 1170 although a second coronation had to take place after there was some doubt cast over the legality of the first. The young Henry inherited Anjou and Normandy, the second son Richard was given Aquitaine and the third son Geoffrey, Brittany. In 1177, the youngest of Henry's four sons: John was given the Lordship of Ireland. Right: Henry the Young King


Although Henry's relationship with his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine had always been a passionate one, Eleanor eventually became increasingly resentful of Henry's promiscuity particularly with the royal mistress Rosamond Clifford as well as with Henry's reluctance to relinquish any authority in his kingdom and she retired to her court at Poitiers both to plot the downfall of her husband and also to plan the advancement of her favourite son Richard. In 1173, the pompous Henry the Young King along with his brothers Richard and Geoffrey all joined with their mother Queen Eleanor in rebelling against Henry. They were joined by the King of France, William of Scotland and even some of Henry's barons who had been outraged by the murder of Thomas Becket but in spite of this alliance against him, Henry managed to crush the rebellion, force the submission of the Scottish King and place Eleanor under house arrest. The only son who appeared to stay loyal to him was John.


Tombs of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine in Fontevraud AbbeyIt would not be long before fate would take a hand in the succession however and in June 1183, Henry the young king died of a fever followed two years later by Geoffrey who was accidentally killed while taking part in a tournament and Henry's empire would now be divided between Richard and John. This was obviously not good enough for Richard however and in 1189 he joined forces with the new French king Philip II in challenging the ageing English monarch and Henry was forced to negotiate a humiliating peace and pay homage to Philip for all of England's territories in France as well as passing England and his Plantagenet holdings to Richard. Right: Tombs of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine in Fontevraud Abbey - Click to enlarge


It was said by many people that all of this betrayal – and eventually even finding out that his previously loyal son John had also fought alongside his enemies, broke Henry's heart and perhaps even hastened his death just two days later from a massive haemorrhage. None of Henry's heirs for whom he had tirelessly defended and expanded his empire were with him at the end. His final words were “shame shame on a vanquished king”. Henry II was buried at Fontevraud Abbey in France where Eleanor and indeed his son Richard were eventually to join him. - King Henry II Part 2 - King Henry II Part 1