David Richard Bates
Chibnall, M. , The Empress Matilda (Oxford, 1991);
Crouch, D. B. , The Beaumont Twins (Cambridge, 1986);
Davis, R. H. C. , King Stephen (3rd edn. 1990);
Stringer, K. J. , The Reign of Stephen: Kingship, Warfare and Government in Twelfth-Century England (1993).
Stephen (c. 1096-1154) was king of England from 1135 to 1154. His claim to the throne was contested by his cousin Matilda, and his reign was disturbed by civil war. He eventually accepted Matilda's son Henry as his heir.
Stephen was the third son of Stephen, Count of Blois and Chartres, and Adela, daughter of William I of England. His uncle, King Henry I of England, gave him lands in England and Normandy and in 1125 arranged his marriage to Matilda, heiress of the Count of Boulogne. She brought him not only her rich and strategically important county but also large estates in England; Stephen became one of the most powerful men in England.
In December 1126 King Henry, having no legitimate male heir, made the nobility do homage to his daughter, Matilda, widow of Emperor Henry V, as Lady (Domina) of England and Normandy. Stephen was the first to swear, but on King Henry's death (Dec. 1, 1135) he hurried to England, gained the support of the citizens of London, and at Winchester, where his brother was bishop, won over the heads of the administration, the justiciar and the treasurer. On December 22 Stephen was crowned by the archbishop of Canterbury. Stephen bought, or rewarded, support by issuing a charter of liberties, promising reforms, and confirming to the bishops "justice and power" over the clergy.
At first Stephen appeared secure. His rival, Matilda, seems to have been unpopular, and she was now married to Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, a hereditary enemy of the Normans. Stephen marched against Geoffrey in 1137, but his army was demoralized by the defection of the powerful Earl of Gloucester, illegitimate son of King Henry, who soon declared openly for Matilda, his half sister. Stephen left Normandy, and it was conquered piecemeal by Geoffrey.
In 1138 King David I of Scotland, Matilda's uncle, launched an attack on England; though defeated at the Battle of the Standard in August, he remained a rallying point for the opposition. In 1139 Stephen arrested (by trickery) the heads of the royal administration: Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, his son, and his two nephews. The Church was upset by the incident because three of the four were bishops; the nobility, because it made the King seem untrustworthy.
On Sept. 30, 1139, Matilda landed at Arundel, and Stephen quixotically gave her safe conduct to the Earl of Gloucester's castle at Bristol. She had little success until, in February 1141, Stephen was captured by the earl in battle at Lincoln. Matilda was recognized by the Church as Lady of England, but she was driven from Westminster before her intended coronation, and in September the earl was captured. The earl and the King were then exchanged, and from that time a stalemate was established. The southwest was controlled by the earl for Matilda; most of the rest of England was ruled by Stephen. But everywhere new castles were built from which landowners could defend their property and defy authority, and there were pockets of resistance throughout the country which Stephen could not eliminate; Wallingford was held for Matilda during the whole of his reign, and Framlingham from 1141 onward. Though the royal chancery functioned and the Exchequer may have met, orders could not always be enforced or money collected. Traitors could not be punished or violence controlled.
In these circumstances, the decisive factor was the conquest of Normandy by the Count of Anjou, who made over the duchy to his son Henry in 1150. The nobles of England were mostly Normans; they were anxious for a negotiated peace so that they could preserve their Norman properties. At the same time the bishops refused to consecrate Stephen's elder son Eustace as coruler and heir to the throne unless they had permission from the Pope, and the Pope was hostile. After the death of Eustace (Aug. 17, 1153) Stephen met Henry at Winchester and on November 6 recognized his hereditary right to the throne of England, retaining the kingdom for himself for life. He adopted Henry as his "son and heir," thus excluding his younger son from the succession. Stephen died on Oct. 25, 1154, and Henry took peaceful possession of England (as Henry II).
R. H. C. Davis, King Stephen, 1135-1154 (1967), is a short and lucid biography. H. A. Cronne, The Reign of Stephen (1970), is more detailed; for the general reader there is a good account by John Tate Appleby, The Troubled Reign of King Stephen (1970). For general historical background see Austin Lane Poole, From Domesday Book to Magna Carta, 1087-1216 (1951; 2d ed. 1955).
Davis, R. H. C. (Ralph Henry Carless), King Stephen, 1135-1154, London; New York: Longman, 1990.
Stringer, K. J. (Keith John), The reign of Stephen: kingship, warfare, and government in twelfth-century England, London; New York: Routledge, 1993. □
Stephen, 1097?–1154, king of England (1135–54). The son of Stephen, count of Blois and Chartres, and Adela, daughter of William I of England, he was brought up by his uncle, Henry I of England, who presented him with estates in England and France and arranged his marriage to Matilda, daughter and heiress of Eustace III, count of Boulogne. Stephen was among the English nobles who in 1127, and again in 1131 and 1133, swore fealty to Henry's daughter, Matilda, as Henry's successor to the throne. On Henry's death (1135), however, Stephen hastened to London, secured support, and was proclaimed king. He secured papal ratification, but his attempt to build up support by unprecedented concessions to the church and barons seriously weakened his authority, and his reign was one long struggle to retain his throne. In 1138, Matilda's half-brother Robert, earl of Gloucester, renounced his allegiance to Stephen, and David I of Scotland invaded England. Stephen defeated the Scots in the Battle of the Standard (although the ensuing treaty was entirely favorable to Scotland) and managed to wage an effective campaign against the insurrection in S and W England. However, in 1139 he made a fatal blunder in arresting his justiciar, Roger, bishop of Salisbury, and the latter's nephews, the bishops of Lincoln and Ely. This step not only threw the royal administration into confusion but alienated the church. Within a month Matilda had landed in England, and a long era of internal strife began. While besieging Lincoln Castle in 1141, Stephen was captured, and Matilda reigned for a short time. Her arrogance, however, soon cost her many supporters, and after Robert's capture later in the year she was forced to exchange Stephen for him. Stephen regained his throne and drove Matilda back into the western counties (1142). Virtual anarchy followed for five years; W and central England were devastated, while in France Matilda's husband, Geoffrey IV of Anjou, conquered Normandy. In 1147, however, Robert died, and Matilda soon (1148) left England. In 1149, Henry of Anjou (later Henry II), Matilda's son, crossed to England and attempted unsuccessfully to further his mother's (and his own) cause. Stephen had again offended the clergy by quarreling with Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, and the clerics refused to confirm his son, Eustace IV, count of Boulogne, as successor to the throne. When Eustace died (1153), Stephen bowed to the inevitable and concluded a treaty by which Henry was named as his heir. Stephen was a courageous soldier and a generous man, but he had neither the ability nor the strength of character necessary to deal with the turmoil of his reign.
See biographies by R. H. C. Davies (1967) and J. T. Appleby (1969).
St Stephen (died c.35), one of the original seven deacons in Jerusalem appointed by the Apostles. He was charged with blasphemy and stoned, thus becoming the first Christian martyr. Saul of Tarsus (see St Paul1) was present at his execution. He is patron of deacons, bricklayers, and those suffering from headaches, and his emblem is a stone, as a sign of his martyrdom. His feast day is (in the Western Church) 26 December; (in the Eastern Church) 27 December.
St Stephen's was an occasional former name for Parliament, from the chapel of St Stephen in which the Commons used to sit.
St Stephen of Hungary (c.977–1038), king and patron saint of Hungary, reigned 1000–38. The first king of Hungary, he united Pannonia and Dacia as one kingdom and took steps to Christianize the country. His feast day is 2 September or (in Hungary) 20 August.