The re-united kingdom : Henry I Beauclerc

War and peace in the Duchy of Normandy

As the victor at Tinchebray Henry I 'Beauclerc' called together the Norman barons and prelates in Lisieux for a council of peace which also marked his coming to power (1106). Despite the severe penalties meted out against the rebels, however, Normandy remained the arena of troubles and incidents.

The first phase of conflicts which followed the defeat of Robert Curthose did however enable Henry to re-establish peace. The internal enemy, the house of Bellême, was finally subdued (1112) and accords were achieved with the King of France, Louis VI, who acknowledged the Duke of Normandy's suzerainty over Maine and Brittany.

With the house of Anjou, Henry resumed the policy of matrimonial alliances with the other major rival dynasty to the Normans, the Count of Blois. Adèle, daughter of William the Conqueror had married Stephen-Henry, Count of Blois. Similarly Henry I arranged the betrothal of his only son, William, with Matilda, daughter of Fulk of Anjou (1112-1113). Although ostensibly sound in terms of ensuring the frontiers, this policy carried the seeds of the next succession crisis. Two powerful houses, Blois and Anjou, had achieved a position from which to enter the order of succession to the Duchy of Normandy.

The Norman barons had not, however, renounced the idea of contesting the authority of the Duke-King. The rights of William Clito, the exiled son of Robert Curthose, to the title of Duke of Normandy was used by the barons as a pretext for refusing obedience to Henry. Once again, Henry did not hesitate to burn one of their cathedral towns in order to drive out the rebels (Evreux, 1119). The coalition led by the King of France was defeated at the battle of Brémule in 1119, but a last uprising again had to be put down between 1122 and 1124.

Henry held his brother Robert prisoner and refused all rights to his nephew William Clito. The legitimacy of these acts was called into question before the jurisdiction of the Pope. In 1119, the King of England had to justify himself before the Pope at Gisors, and, as his father William the Conqueror had done, won his case by virtue of his actions in support of the church upon which he based his authority.

previous page    next page