Sunday, October 25, 2009

King Stephen of England

Stephen of Blois was the grandson of William the Conqueror, and King of England from 1135 - 1154, when he died (October 25th). Stephen is mentioned briefly in Scott's Woodstock, more as story setting than an important part of plot:

"She could tell too, exactly, where King Stephen sat when he darned his own princely hose..."

Stephen was the last of the Norman line of Kings, though his line of descent came through his mother Adela, who was the Conqueror's daughter, rather than through William's son Henry. Henry (I) preceded Stephen to the throne, and named his daughter Matilda to succeed him. Stephen initially supported Matilda, but later claimed that on Henry's deathbed, he had named Stephen as heir to the throne. Matilda was unpopular, and the nobles supported Stephen, who won the crown. His reign was marked however, by civil war with Matilda. This time of troubles was known as The Anarchy. It was settled by the Treaty of Wallingford, which named Matilda's son Henry Curtmantle as heir to the throne after Stephen. Henry II became king in 1154, following Stephen's death.

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