King Stephen (b.1097 r.1135-1154)
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King Stephen (b.1097 r.1135-1154)

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Stephen was no hero. Although he was an excellent warrior and showed enterprise and speed in the beginning of campaigns and sieges, he too often failed to complete them; and though he seemed cheerful and gay, beneath the surface he was mistrustful and sly.
R.H.C. Davis, King Stephen.

Additional Information on
King Stephen (b.1097 r.1135-1154)

Stephen was the nephew of Henry I. In December 1135, Stephen was crowned king following much quarrelling after his uncle Henry I's death - Henry I's daughter Matilda had the maternal right to the throne. Although charming, dashing and brave which made him universally popular; historically Stephen is viewed as a weak king who was unsuccessful, unwise and unreliable. In 1138 civil war broke out as the Earl of Gloucester (Henry I's eldest illegitimate son) led a rebellion aimed at making Matilda queen. Stephen's reign was constantly thwarted by Matilda's attempts at seizing the throne. In 1141 Stephen was imprisoned and Matilda, or 'The Empress' as she was nicknamed, was chosen as queen - but was never actually crowned. Stephen's queen (also confusingly called Matilda) succeeded in a counterstroke which brought about his release, and so the civil war raged for eight more years. When the Earl of Gloucester died in 1147 Matilda fled. Stephen remained a weak king. In 1153 Stephen's son died and Stephen made peace with Henry Plantagenet (Matilda's son) by declaring him heir to the throne in the Treaty of Winchester. For many concerned, when Stephen's son Eustace died before his father it was rather a relief.


He was a man of great renown in the practice of arms, but for the rest almost an incompetent, except that he was rather inclined to evil.
- Walter Map, De Nugis Curialium, translated from the Latin by F. Tupper and M.B. Ogle.

In this king's time there was nothing but disturbance and wickedness and robbery forwith the powerful men who were traitors rose against him ... The land was all ruined by such doings, and they said openly that Christ and his saints were weeping.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 1154.

When he was a count he had by his own good nature and the way he jested, sat and ate in the company even of the humblest, earned an affection that can hardly be imagined.
- William of Malmesbury, Historica Novella, 1142. Advanced Category Search

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