Stephen of Blois, with the approval of the Norman barons, claimed the English throne in 1135 after the death of Henry I, king of England. Henry had chosen his own daughter Matilda as heir to the English throne and had initially gained the agreement of the Norman barons but after his death the barons chose Stephen instead. The barons wanted a Norman to rule England and not an English woman like Matilda. When Stephen became king, Matilda and Geoffrey of Anjou, her husband, fled the country for their own safety.
Stephen was not a particularly strong king and the barons used this time to build more castles from which they could harshly rule their lands both in Normandy and in England.
Not all the barons supported King Stephen. In Scotland King David, Matilda's uncle, gave his full support to her cause and in the summer of 1138 invaded the north of England travelling as far south as Lincolnshire. The Scottish army was met by the Normans at Northallerton on the 22nd of August in Yorkshire. The battle is known as the Battle of the Standard because at the centre of the English army was a cart displaying important religious banners. The Scots were defeated and King David returned to Scotland.
Matilda also had support from her half-brother Robert, Earl of Gloucester. Robert was an illegitimate son of Henry I and had a weak claim to the English throne. Initially Robert had supported Stephen but in 1138 changed sides and began to fight for Matilda.
Matilda arrived in England in 1139 to lead her supporters. With the help of Robert of Gloucester her supporters had great success and at the Battle of Lincoln in February of 1141 King Stephen was captured. Matilda rode into London to become Queen of England but she did not receive the support she had hoped for and left the city for Oxford without being crowned. In September of 1141 Robert was captured at the Rout of Winchester and Matilda agreed to a swap, King Stephen for Robert. Stephen, now back in power, surrounded Matilda at Oxford and lay siege to the city over the winter.
The winter was harsh and the siege lasted long enough for the citizens of Oxford to run out of supplies to eat and burn. The situation was hopeless and Matilda planned her escape. Dressed in white robes to travel unnoticed across the snow, Matilda and a small number of knights escaped from the city. The river had completely frozen and they were able to cross over the ice. In October of 1147 Robert of Gloucester died and in February of the next year Matilda left England for Anjou. Without the support of Robert her personal fight for the English throne was over.
Henry was the eldest son of Matilda and Geoffrey of Anjou. Henry made several attempts to overthrow Stephen and in 1153 a treaty was signed at Wallingford on the banks of the River Thames. Stephen's son Eustace had recently died and Stephen was happy for the fighting that had damaged the country so much to come to an end. It was agreed that when Stephen died Henry should become king as Henry II. Stephen died in October 1154 and in December Henry II was crowned at Westminster Abbey.
Matilda was the daughter of Henry I, King of England. Henry died in 1035 leaving only Matilda as heir to the English throne. William Audlin, Henry's son, had been killed in 1120 when his ship ran aground. Henry had realised there would be a problem if he died without leaving a male heir and had sought assurances from the barons that they would accept Matilda as Queen of England when he died. Although the barons agreed at the time, after Henry's death Stephen of Blois, his nephew, claimed the throne. Matilda fought back leading to the civil war between her supporters and supporters of King Stephen.
Henry, Duke of Normandy was the son of Matilda. Henry assisted his mother in the civil war against King Stephen. Eventually King Stephen was forced to recognise Henry as the rightful heir to the English throne and when Stephen died Henry became king as Henry II.
Robert, Earl of Gloucester was the illegitimate son of Henry I, King of England and a chief supporter of his step-sister Matilda's claim to the English throne during the civil war.
David I, King of Scotland had been educated at the court of Henry I and gave important support to Matilda during the civil war. David assisted Matilda's son Henry and knighted him. David was defeated by Stephen at the Battle of the Standard in August of 1138.
Stephen of Blois was the grandson of William the Conqueror and the nephew of Henry I, King of England. Stephen's mother was Henry's sister. When Henry I died Stephen had rushed to England and claimed the throne for himself as Stephen I, King of England.
Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex was a powerful baron who took advantage of the chaos of the civil war to cause as much destruction as possible to further his own power and wealth. At first Mandeville sided with King Stephen but when Matilda took the upper hand in the war he changed sides. When King Stephen later regained power Mandeville changed sides again. All these changes of loyalty finally caught up with the Earl and he was banished.
|Stephen of Blois|
|Reign From||December 22, 1135|
|Coronation||December 26, 1135|
|Reign To||October 25, 1154|
|Between April and November of 1141, Matilda became Queen of England but she was not crowned.|
|Reign From||December 19, 1154|
|Coronation||December 19, 1154|
|Reign To||July 6, 1189|
|1136||King Stephen captures Bampton|
|Bampton Castle in Devon captured by King Stephen.|
|Feb||Treaty of Durham|
|A peace treaty signed by King David of Scotland and King Stephen. The Scottish King had invaded northern England in January and had captured many of the major towns including Carlisle and Newcastle. In response, Stephen had raised a large army and marched north to Durham. King David agreed to talk rather than fight and an arrangement was agreed allowing the Scots to keep Carlisle in return for stopping their advance. David refused to do homage to the English King as his loyalties rested with Matilda, King Henry's daughter. King David's son did pay homage to Stephen and received the Earldom of Huntingdon in return.|
|1138||Start of Civil War|
|Robert, the Earl of Gloucester and half brother to Matilda (daughter of Henry I) rebels against King Stephen, supporting Matilda's claim to the throne of England.|
|Arundel Castle siege|
|Matilda was given refuge by William de Albini at Arundel Castle. King Stephen built siege works around the castle in response but was unable to break the castle's defences. Matilda escaped but was later captured.|
|Shrewsbury Castle captured by Stephen|
|Stephen captured the castle at Shrewsbury. Henry (II) would capture back the castle before the end of Stephen's reign.|
|Dudley castle attacked by Stephen|
|The Castle and lands around Dudley were attacked by King Stephen during the early part of his war against Matilda.|
|Ludlow castle siege|
|Ludlow Castle was captured on behalf of Matilda in 1138 and King Stephen besieged the castle in an attempt to regain it. During the siege the King bravely saved Prince Henry of Scotland from being injured by a grappling hook thrown from the castle.|
|Jan||The Scots invade Northumbria|
|King David of Scotland took an army across the border and attacked Northumbria. He wanted Northumbria for his son Henry.|
|Feb||Stephen marches north|
|In response to the Scottish attack in the north, Stephen took an army into Scotland but the two kings did not meet and Stephen returned to England.|
|May||Robert sides with Matilda|
|Robert, the Earl of Gloucester announces that he will assist Matilda, his step-sister in her claim for the English throne.|
|Aug 22||Battle of 'the Standard'|
|David I of Scotland was defeated at the battle of 'the Standard' in Yorkshire. The name for the battle came from the banners that were carried into battle by the English.|
|1139||Wallingford Castle siege|
|After Brian fitz Count the owner of the castle at Wallingford sided with Matilda, king Stephen built two siege castles to force him out.|
|Corfe Castle siege|
|In 1139 Baldwin de Redvers took the castle for Matilda. King Stephen besieged the castle but was unable to take it back.|
|Leeds Castle siege|
|King Stephen besieged Leeds Castle which was being held against him by supporters of Matilda. The castle fell to the King and he took control of it.|
|Jun||Roger, Bishop of Salisbury is arrested|
|King Stephen arrested Roger, the Bishop of Salisbury. Bishop Roger was a powerful landowner and had several castles. Stephen also arrested Alexander, the bishop of Lincoln and had him imprisoned. Stephen wanted to take control to bishop Roger's castles and the bishop was taken to his castle at Devizes where he was held captive outside the walls and starved until the castle surrendered. Roger's son was also captured and tortured until the castle finally fell to the King. Roger's castle at Sherborne was also captured by Stephen. The castles at Newark and Sleaford in Lincolnshire belonging to bishop Alexander were forced to surrender to the King using the same underhand tactics.|
|Sep 30||Matilda arrives in England|
|Matilda arrives in England to further her attempts to take the throne from king Stephen. She was assisted by Robert of Gloucester, the illegitimate son of Henry I, King of England and a chief supporter of his step-sister Matilda's claim to the English throne.|
|1140||Woodstock held by Matilda|
|The Palace of Woodstock was held by Matilda's supporters during the conflict with Stephen. Henry (II) spent much of his time there.|
|Dec||Stephen besieges Lincoln|
|Lincoln, held by Matilda's supporters, was besieged by King Stephen. The siege would continue until February the next year.|
|1141||Winchester Castle burns down|
|The castle was destroyed during the civil war.|
|Feb 2||Battle of Lincoln|
|Matilda's forces defeated and captured King Stephen at the battle of Lincoln. Stephen was held captive until September when Matilda's forces were defeated at Winchester.|
|Apr||Matilda is elected Queen|
|After Stephen had been captured at Lincoln, Matilda was elected as Queen of England at Winchester. Her new position as ruler of England was not to last for long|
|Jun||Matilda enters London|
|Matilda and her supporters entered London for her coronation. Her supporters included David I, king of the Scots. Geoffrey de Mandeville who controlled the Tower of London, abandoned his king as he saw Matilda had the upper hand. He joined her side and offered her the Tower of London. He did this to ensure he kept the Earldom of Essex which made him one of the most powerful barons of the time.|
|Sep 14||Rout of Winchester|
|Matilda's forces were besieging a royalist held castle at Wolvesey near Winchester and were attacked and defeated by a royalist relief army. King Stephen who was being held captive at the time was exchanged for Robert, earl of Gloucester one of Matilda's supporters who was captured in the defeat.|
|1142||Henry (II) spends a year in England|
|Henry spent a year in England at Bristol being taught by Master Matthew. He came across the channel with Earl Robert of Gloucester.|
|Mandeville and Matilda|
|Secret negotiations between Matilda and Mandeville take place.|
|Oct - Dec||Oxford siege and Matilda's escape|
|Oxford was besieged by King Stephen trapping Matilda inside the city. But just before Christmas Matilda managed to escape across the snow and ice of the frozen Thames dressed in white so that she would not be seen. Matilda escaped to Wallingford Castle and Oxford fell to the King.|
|1143||Sep||Mandeville is arrested|
|King Stephen arrested Geoffrey de Mandeville at a meeting of the Royal Court. Mandeville had tried Stephen's patience with his disloyalty and the king did not want the Tower of London (which Mandeville controlled) fall into the hands of Matilda. Mandevilles castles and title of Earl of Essex were taken from him, and he became an outlaw.|
|1144||Construction of Faringdon Castle|
|Built by Robert, Earl of Gloucester. The castle soon came under siege by King Stephen who after four days took the castle and destroyed it.|
|Geoffrey Plantagenet captures Normandy|
|After several years of conflict between the Angevins and the Barons of Normandy Geoffrey Plantagenet, count of Anjou, captured Rouen and took control of the whole of the duchy of Normandy. Geoffrey also took the title of Duke of Normandy.|
|1145||Stephen takes Farringdon Castle|
|King Stephen captures the castle at Farringdon from Matilda.|
|1147||Pevensey Castle siege|
|King Stephen leys siege to Pevensey castle and has to wait for the castle's reserves to run out before the castle falls.|
|Henry arrives in England|
|Henry landed in England with a small army intent on attacking Stephen. Unfortunately, Henry's army of mercenaries was small and they were not being paid enough. Stephen gave Henry money to pay the mercenaries and for Henry to return to Normandy. Henry left England.|
|Oct 31||Robert, Earl of Gloucester dies|
|The death of Robert was a blow to Matilda's attempts to fight for the English throne. Matilda was to leave England shortly afterwards.|
|1148||Feb||Matilda leaves England|
|Without the support of the Earl of Gloucester, who died the previous year, Matilda left England for Normandy.|
|1149||May 22||Henry (II) knighted by David|
|Henry the future king of England (Henry II) was knighted at Carlisle by David, King of the Scots.|
|King Stephen besieged then plundered the city of Worcester but was unable to capture the castle due to its strong defences.|
|1152||Newbury Castle Siege|
|Besieged and captured by King Stephen in 1152 (or 1153).|
|Apr 6||Theobald refuses to crown Eustace|
|King Stephen had several lords swear to have Eustace, his son, as the next king of England. Theobald the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had to accept as well, refused to crown Eustace favouring Henry II's claim to the throne instead.|
|1153||Reading Castle destroyed|
|Reading Castle destroyed by Henry II.|
|Jan||Henry invades England|
|Henry and a fleet of 30 to 40 ships landed on the south coast of England. Henry chose to attack Malmesbury, one of Stephen's out posts. The Winter weather took its toll on Stephen's troops and a truce was agreed. In the Midlands, the Earl of Leicester took Henry's side and this gave Henry control of large number of castles in the area.|
|Aug 17||Stephen's son Eustace dies|
|Eustace wanted to continue the fight against Henry and had started attacking areas around Cambridge and East Anglia. He ransacked the Abbey at Bury St. Edmunds but died very shortly afterwards from a sudden illness.|
|Nov 6||Treaty of Wallingford|
|Henry had besieged a fort that Stephen had built at Crowmarsh on the banks of the Thames opposite Wallingford Castle. An agreement of succession of Henry II after Stephen was concluded and witnessed by the English Knights Templars. King Stephen accepted Henry of Normandy, Anjou and Aquitaine as heir to the throne and in turn Henry recognised Stephen as king. Stephen made his barons do homage to Henry (Jan.1154).|
|1154||Jan||Meeting at Oxford|
|At a meeting at Oxford the barons accepted Henry as the rightful heir to the English throne and paid homage to him. Henry was displeased because in the terms of the treaty of Wallingford many of the castles that had been built during the civil war were supposed to have been destroyed but were still standing.|
|Spring||Henry returns to Normandy|
|A triumphant Henry returned to Rouen in Normandy to a warm reception from his family including Eleanor and his eight month old son William.|
|Oct 25||Stephen dies|
|Stephen had agreed that Henry should become King on his death. Henry was in Normandy at the time.|
|Dec||Henry II succeeds Stephen|
|Henry became king of England upon the death of King Stephen.|
|Dec 8||Henry lands in England|
|Although the English Channel was stormy, Henry needed to get to England as it had been without a King since the end of October. His ship landed somewhere near Southampton and he went straight to Winchester where he received the Royal treasures and the homage of the English barons.|
|Dec 19||Henry crowned at Westminster Abbey|
Henry of Normandy crowned Henry II of England, and Eleanor of Aquitaine crowned Queen, at Westminster.