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Henry I

Henry I (1068–1135), king of England (1100–35) and duke of Normandy (1106–35), was the youngest son of William the Conqueror. In 1087, on his death-bed, William had given Henry a large sum of money, which he used to purchase land in Normandy. He played an intermittent role in the struggle between his elder brothers Robert Curthose and William Rufus for control of the Anglo-Norman realm and seized the opportunity provided by the latter's (probably) accidental death in 1100 to take over the English kingdom while Robert was still on his return journey from the First Crusade. Henry moved quickly to consolidate his coup, issuing a coronation charter which promised to renounce the supposed abuses of William II's rule, recalling Archbishop Anselm from exile, and marrying Matilda, the niece of Edgar the Atheling and the daughter of Malcolm Canmore, to create a dynastic link with the Old English ruling house and an alliance with the kingdom of Scots. By 1101 he was sufficiently powerful to resist Robert's invasion of England and to agree terms with him which confirmed Henry's kingship in England. Thus established, Henry then proceeded to disinherit a number of powerful magnates known to be supporters of Robert's cause and to undermine his brother's already precarious authority in Normandy. In 1105–6 he invaded Normandy and completed his conquest of the duchy by defeating Robert in 1106 at the battle of Tinchebrai, thereby recreating William the Conqueror's Anglo-Norman realm. Henry ruled both England and Normandy for the rest of his life, but his control over Normandy was always threatened until the death of Robert's son William Clito in 1128 by alliances between William, the French king Louis VI, territorial princes such as the counts of Flanders and Anjou, and a group of Norman nobles with few landed interests in England. Henry suffered set-backs such as a military defeat at Alençon in 1119, but was successful in defeating invasions of Normandy in 1118–19 and 1123–4. Marriage alliances were used to secure useful allies, such as the one between his nephew, the future King Stephen, and Matilda, the heiress to the county of Boulogne. The death of his only legitimate son in the White Ship disaster increased Henry's problems and his failure to obtain an heir through his second marriage to Adela of Louvain eventually forced him to the apparently desperate measure of marrying his daughter, the Empress Matilda, to Count Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou in 1128, thereby neutralizing one of his most powerful opponents at the cost of the prospect of an Angevin succession to England and Normandy after Henry's death.

The frequent warfare in northern France had an impact on England because Henry was obliged to raise money to finance the wars. His administration, supervised by Bishop Roger of Salisbury, had a reputation for efficiency and has on occasion been regarded by historians as being notably innovative. The developments should, however, be seen as taking place within the existing institutional framework. The most obvious, the Exchequer, involved a centralized audit of royal revenue and expenditure under Bishop Roger's supervision, for which there were precedents in the 11th cent. Other developments, such as the more frequent interventions of royal justices in the localities, can also be regarded as opportunist centralization because they relied fundamentally on the existing structure of shire courts and were not regular visitations after the pattern later established in Henry II's reign. Henry's regime is also notable for the advance of individuals of lower aristocratic status to positions of administrative prominence, but, with the important exception of Bishop Roger, their power came nowhere near rivalling that of the great magnates. The general character of Henry's rule was one of expedient centralization within a socially conservative framework. The basis of his rule in both England and Normandy, like his father's, was a group of powerful cross-channel families into which Henry advanced a small number of his own relatives, most notably his nephew, the future King Stephen, and his illegitimate son, Earl Robert of Gloucester. Despite enduring problems, Henry was without doubt a very successful ruler. England was at peace after the early years of his reign and Normandy was kept secure. He dominated Wales as no predecessor had done and good relations were maintained with his nephew, David I of Scotland. He experienced problems with the church in his early years, most notably when Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury took a stand over the practice of lay investiture of bishops and went into exile in 1103. Henry and the papacy reached a settlement in 1107 and thereafter Henry's relations with the church were generally good. He was a great patron of monasteries, most notably of Reading abbey, in which he was buried. His last years were difficult because of the continuing insecurity of the succession, and because he was reluctant to provide his designated heir Matilda and her husband with lands and castles to assist their succession. At the time of his death at Lyons-la-Forêt on 1 December 1135, he was involved in another quarrel with Matilda, which facilitated the coup carried out by Stephen. Despite his many successes in war, diplomacy, and government, Henry I's legacy was a disputed succession and almost inevitable civil war.

David Richard Bates

Bibliography

Bates, D. , ‘Normandy and England after 1066’, English Historical Review, 104 (1989), 851–80;
Green, J. A. , The Government of England under Henry I (Cambridge, 1986);
Hollister, C. W. , Monarchy, Magnates and Institutions in the Anglo-Norman World (1986);
Southern, R. W. , ‘The Place of Henry I in English History’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 47 (1962), 127–70.

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Henry I

Henry I

Henry I (1068-1135) was king of England from 1100 to 1135. His reign was dominated by his struggle to conquer and defend Normandy and to make his government in England more efficient and more profitable.

The third surviving son of William I and Matilda of Flanders, Henry I received a good education and could read and write Latin, an accomplishment rare among laymen at that time. On his father's death in 1089, Henry's brothers, Robert and William II, inherited Normandy and England respectively; Henry was left £5,000, with which he bought land in western Normandy. Robert could not govern efficiently, and Henry therefore allied with William, who in 1096 took over Normandy as security for a loan to enable Robert to go on a crusade.

On Aug. 2, 1100, when Robert was on his way home, William was shot, possibly with Henry's connivance, when hunting in the New Forest. Henry seized the royal treasure in nearby Winchester and was hastily crowned on August 5 at Westminster. Here he issued a charter promising reforms, most of which were designed to win support from the great landowners and the Church. He imprisoned William's unpopular minister Ranulf Flambard and recalled the exiled Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury. In November 1100 he married Edith, later called Matilda, daughter of Malcolm III, King of Scots and descendant of the Saxon kings; this marriage secured peace with Scotland and the goodwill of the English. These measures helped him to survive an attack by Duke Robert in 1101. In 1104 and 1105 Henry attacked Normandy and in 1106 finally defeated his brother at Tinchebrai and took over the duchy, keeping Robert a prisoner till his death in 1134.

In 1107 Henry reached a statesmanlike compromise with the Pope and the archbishop of Canterbury in the longstanding dispute about elections of bishops and abbots, which had caused Anselm to retire to a second period of exile. Henry gave up the ancient custom of lay investiture (giving prelates the ring and staff which were the symbols of their spiritual office), while the Pope agreed that prelates should be elected in the King's presence and do homage for their estates before consecration. In this way Henry and his successors retained control of Church appointments, giving up only a formal ceremony.

As well as watching constantly to suppress rebellion in Normandy, Henry made diplomatic moves to protect it from attack. In 1109 his daughter Matilda was promised to the emperor Henry V; in 1113 he agreed that his son and heir William should marry the daughter of Fulk, Count of Anjou. He paid a large pension to the Count of Flanders and gave substantial estates in England and Normandy to his nephew Stephen, brother of another potential ally, the Count of Blois. Thus fortified, he was able to repel several attacks led by Louis VI, King of France, in support of the claim to Normandy of Duke Robert's son, William Clito. Though defeated at Brémule in 1119, Louis continued to support William and made him Count of Flanders in 1127. Fortunately for Henry, William Clito died in 1128.

Though he gave much of his time to Normandy, Henry's reign produced notable developments in the government of England. He increased the number of professional administrators, employing men of comparatively humble origins. Many of these were laymen, but their chief was Roger, Bishop of Salisbury. Roger was the King's right-hand man and was probably responsible for the organization of the Exchequer, the royal accounting office, which had its own staff and its own records, the Domesday Book and the Pipe Rolls, of which the first surviving specimen belongs to the year ending Michaelmas (sept. 29), 1130. In judicial matters more cases were claimed for the King's court, and the King's controlling position was emphasized by sending justices to visit the county courts and by the brutal, but methodical, punishment of criminals.

The great problem of Henry's later years was the succession. He had at least 20 illegitimate children but only one legitimate son, William, and one daughter, Matilda. William's death by drowning in 1120 was a political disaster. Henry, in hope of an heir, married Adeliza, daughter of Godfrey, Duke of Lower Lorraine (another potential ally of France's flank), but the union was childless. Matilda, however, became a widow in 1125; Henry summoned her home and in December 1126 made the nobles swear to accept her as domina (lady) of England and Normandy. He then arranged her marriage to Geoffrey, son of the Count of Anjou. But when Henry died on Dec. 1, 1135, his nephew Stephen ascended the English throne.

Further Reading

A basic study of Henry is in Richard William Southern, Medieval Humanism and Other Studies (1970). A contemporary account of Henry I is Eadmer's History of Recent Events in England (trans. 1964). Good accounts of Normandy and England in this period are in Charles Homer Haskins, Norman Institutions (1918), and Frank Barlow, The Feudal Kingdom of England, 1042-1216 (1955; 2d ed. 1961). Edward J. Kealey, Roger of Salisbury (1972), is an important study of the man who was Henry's viceroy for over 30 years.

Additional Sources

Brett, M., The English Church under Henry I, London: Oxford University Press, 1975.

Dymoke, Juliet, Henry of the high roc, London, Dobson, 1971.

Dymoke, Juliet, The lion's legacy, London: Dobson, 1974.

Plaidy, Jean, The lion of justice, London: Hale, 1975.

Plaidy, Jean, The lion of justice, New York: Putnam, 1979, 1975. □

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Henry I (king of England)

Henry I, 1068–1135, king of England (1100–1135), youngest son of William I. He was called Henry Beauclerc because he could write. He quarreled with his elder brothers, William II of England and Robert II, duke of Normandy, and attempted with little success to establish a territorial base for himself on the Continent. When William II was killed, Henry seized the treasury and had himself elected and crowned king while Robert was away on crusade. Henry issued a charter promising to right injustices inflicted by William and to refrain from unjust demands on the church and the barons. He also recalled Anselm from exile. His marriage (1100) to Edith (thereafter known as Matilda), daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland and niece of Edgar Atheling, gained him some popularity with his English (as opposed to Norman) subjects. Robert invaded England in 1101, but the brothers reached an agreement by which Robert renounced his claim to the English throne in return for the promise of a pension and the surrender of Henry's possessions in Normandy. In the succeeding years Henry defeated and banished Robert's leading supporters in England. He then invaded (1105) Normandy, defeated (1106) Robert at Tinchebrai, and became duke of Normandy. In the meantime Henry had become involved in a quarrel with Anselm over the lay investiture of bishops and abbots. In a compromise settlement (1107) the king gave up investiture but retained the right to receive homage from the prelates. Henry's reign continued to be troubled by uprisings in Normandy centering about Robert's son and encouraged by Louis VI of France, who was almost constantly at war with Henry. Henry's only legitimate son, William Atheling, was drowned (1120), and Henry I's second marriage was childless. The latter years of his reign were marked therefore by his attempts to secure the succession for his daughter Matilda. Henry's reign in England was one of order and progress. Royal justice was strengthened and expanded; the Norman legal system gradually fused with the old Anglo-Saxon. The first of the extant pipe rolls and the first appearance of the court of Exchequer date from this reign.

See A. L. Poole, From Domesday Book to Magna Carta (2d ed. 1955); F. Barlow, The Feudal Kingdom of England, 1042–1216 (2d rev. ed. 1962).

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Henry I (king of France)

Henry I, c.1008–1060, king of France (1031–60), son and successor of King Robert II. To defend his throne against his mother, his brothers Robert and Eudes, and subsequently against the count of Blois, he secured, at the cost of territorial concessions, the aid of Robert I, duke of Normandy, and of Geoffrey Martel, count of Anjou. After the submission of his brother Robert, Henry unwisely invested him with the duchy of Burgundy, setting up a powerful rival to the French kingdom. He found the chief enemy of his later reign in Robert of Normandy's son William, later William I of England, who successfully resisted two invasions by Henry. Henry was succeeded by his son Philip I.

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Henry I

Henry I (1068–1135) King of England (1100–35), youngest son of William I (the Conqueror). Henry rescinded unpopular taxes and married a Scottish princess of Anglo-Saxon descent. He thus won the support that helped him to defeat his brother Robert II, Duke of Normandy, and regain Normandy for the English crown (1106). Henry settled the dispute over the investiture involving Archbishop Anselm.

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Henry I (Spanish king of Castile)

Henry I, 1204–17, Spanish king of Castile (1214–17), son and successor of Alfonso VIII. At his death after a short, uneventful reign, his sister Berenguela renounced her rights to the crown in favor of her son, Ferdinand III.

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