Welcome back to a regular installment of our Sunday British history lesson!  Last week, we learned a bit about how Stephen usurped Henry I’s throne from Henry’s daughter and rightful heir, Matilda. When we left off, Stephen was really botching up the job, too…

But I mentioned last time how Matilda was merely biding her time…so in 1139, she invades England with the support of her husband Geoffrey of Anjou and half-brother Robert, Earl of Gloucester, engaging the nation in civil war. They gain a foothold in western England and join a subsequent 1141 rebellion, and Stephen is captured that year in Lincoln. Matilda thus wins back her recognition as Queen…

…and then blows it. She’s evidently an arrogant little lady, which alienates her citizens and supporters, so she’s never crowned. Meanwhile, Stephen’s troops rally and capture Robert, who is traded for Stephen’s release. Robert dies in 1147, and civil war in England only ensues further until 1148 when Matilda, now bereft of her biggest supporter and losing the battle for her son Henry to attain the crown instead, removes herself to Normandy for rest of her years.

Stephen, you see, wants his son Eustace as heir, and the succession dispute continues until Eustace’s death in 1153. Stephen ultimately agrees to declare Matilda’s son as his heir (as King Henry II), but only after allowing Stephen to peacefully reign until his death. As it turns out, Henry II doesn’t have very long to wait…

Until next week, Weekend Warriors!

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