Author Topic: King Stephen I  (Read 37043 times)

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Offline basilforever

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King Stephen I
« on: December 20, 2006, 10:30:28 AM »
I noticed King Stephen does not have a thread about him.

Does anyone have any pictures and information about him? He interests me.



From what little I have read of him, he sounds like a kind and not very ruthless man, especially for the time.

From Wikipedia:

Stephen had many traits that made him seem superficially fit for kingship: his high birth, his descent from the Conqueror, his handsomeness, his bravery and his good nature. But he possessed none of the ruthlessness necessary for the ruthless times he lived in; indeed, Walter Map says of Stephen: "He was adept at the martial arts but in other respects little more than a simpleton."

He doesn't look to handsome in the above pic though.  :-\
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Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2006, 10:36:19 AM »
Well, the picture isn't contemporary, so I wouldn't set much store by it. Stephen certainly seems to have been almost the opposite to his Norman relatives - kind where they were cruel, forgiving when they held grudges etc. These weren't qualities that made for a successful king in the 1100s however. His reign was plagued by a conflict with his cousin, Maude (or Matilda), daughter of Henry I and rightful heir to the throne - Stephen was a usurper. His reign was described by chroniclers as 'nineteen long winters' and 'When Chris and His Saints Slept' (I'd highly recommend Sharon Penman's novel of the same name, set mainly in Stephen's reign - he and Maude are main characters). Eventually Maude pulled out of the conflict, but Stephen was later forced to agree to accept her son Henry Plantagenet as his heir, disinheriting his own sons Eustace and William. Eustace died soon after, a relief to all, whereas William was treated well by Henry II, but died quite young.
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Offline basilforever

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2006, 11:34:04 AM »
I know he was a usurper, but it was understandable. He grew up in England, and would have thought that he was more entitled, being a man, to the throne than Matilda. There are so many other usurpers as well. The succession eventually went right with Henry II. Stephen was actually nice to Henry II. Matilda did get to reign briefly as Queen in 1141. I suppose if we had another Queen regnant named Matilda, she would have to be Matilda II.

Are there any other pictures of King Stephen?

I used to think that the expression ''when Christ and his saints slept" during this time meant that Stephen was such a cruel and despotic monarch that things were very bad, but now I realise that this is not true and that it was such a tough time because Stephen was so nice and people took advantage of that and behaved badly.

As it says in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle:

In the days of this King there was nothing but strife, evil, and robbery, for quickly the great men who were traitors rose against him. When the traitors saw that Stephen was a good-humoured, kindly, and easy-going man who inflicted no punishment, then they committed all manner of horrible crimes . . . And so it lasted for nineteen years while Stephen was King, till the land was all undone and darkened with such deeds, and men said openly that Christ and his angels slept".
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Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2006, 12:05:28 PM »
I know he was a usurper, but it was understandable. He grew up in England, and would have thought that he was more entitled, being a man, to the throne than Matilda. There are so many other usurpers as well. The succession eventually went right with Henry II. Stephen was actually nice to Henry II. Matilda did get to reign briefly as Queen in 1141. I suppose if we had another Queen regnant named Matilda, she would have to be Matilda II.

Actually she was never queen - she was 'Domina' or 'Lady of the English'. And yes, many people thought of Stephen as a better candidate than Matilda/Maude, but I don't think he was brought up in England - surely it was Boulogne (sp?), his family's territory?

Quote
Are there any other pictures of King Stephen?

None that I've ever seen.
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
-Sherlock Holmes

"Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget."

Offline Kimberly

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2006, 01:30:59 PM »
Stephen was one of the richest and most powerful of the Norman nobles and well liked by his uncle Henry 1st. When Henry died, Stephen wasted no time before claiming the English throne for himself even though he had sworn an oath to support Henry's daughter Matilda as rightful successor. The Norman barons supported him even though they too had sworn the same oath. The whole of Stephen's reign was a mish-mash of civil conflict, sieges, imprisonment and turn coat supporters. Stephen died at Dover Castle and his body was buried in the Abbey of Faversham in Kent. His tomb was destroyed and his bones were thrown into the nearby river at the time of the Dissolution.
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Offline Yseult

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2006, 04:47:51 PM »
Stephen remember me his father, Stephen Henry count of Blois. He had not a very clever mind, neither a strong will. Under the preassure of his wife Adela of Normandy, a very proud and spirited lady, he took the cross for a second time in his life. But it was a good deal of gossip about his cowardice and he died during an fated attack at Ramelah.


Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2006, 04:52:15 PM »
Yes, you're right Yseult - I remember reading that somewhere. Adela lived to be quite old for that time, didn't she?
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
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Offline basilforever

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2006, 04:32:00 AM »
I know he was a usurper, but it was understandable. He grew up in England, and would have thought that he was more entitled, being a man, to the throne than Matilda. There are so many other usurpers as well. The succession eventually went right with Henry II. Stephen was actually nice to Henry II. Matilda did get to reign briefly as Queen in 1141. I suppose if we had another Queen regnant named Matilda, she would have to be Matilda II.

Actually she was never queen - she was 'Domina' or 'Lady of the English'. And yes, many people thought of Stephen as a better candidate than Matilda/Maude, but I don't think he was brought up in England - surely it was Boulogne (sp?), his family's territory?

Quote
Are there any other pictures of King Stephen?


None that I've ever seen.


I know that she called herself lady of the English, but there was a time in 1141 when Matilda actually beat Stephen in battle and imprisoned him (well her forces did) and Matilda was the ruler, which means she was Queen.

It was the Battle of Lincoln, in February 1141, and Stephen lost and was captured and brought before his cousin Matilda. She imprisoned him and ruled herself, but her most important attendant the Earl of Gloucester was captured, so she was obliged to release Stephen and he was RESTORED to the throne in November. Since he was restored to the throne, this means someone else was occuping that throne for a time, and I believe that means Matilda was the first Queen Regnant of England after the Conqueror, and not Jane or Mary I. But it is a matter of there being different opinions about this as you know. Matilda is listed in the list of English Monarchs on Wikipedia. We would have Matilda II if there is another Queen Matilda I really think so.

Stephen was born in Blois in France, but he was sent to be reared at the court of his uncle Henry I in 1106 when he was about 10. He was close to his uncle Henry and was with him on his deathbed, where he claimed that Henry I changed his mind and told him (Stephen) that he wanted him to be King.

I will look for some more pictures of His Majesty King Stephen I.
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Offline basilforever

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2006, 04:53:09 AM »
Quote
Stephen died at Dover Castle and his body was buried in the Abbey of Faversham in Kent. His tomb was destroyed and his bones were thrown into the nearby river at the time of the Dissolution.

That's terrible, how sad.  :'(

Is there absolutely nothing left of King Stephen in his tomb?

This might have happened to Richard III's remains as well.  >:(
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Offline Kimberly

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2006, 04:59:54 AM »
The title "Queen of England" IS disputed. Matilda used many titles one of which was Lady of the English but her personal seal read;
"Mathildis dei gracia Romanorum Regina"- Matilda by grace of God, Queen of the Romans.
She was also known as Empress Matilda, Lady of the English. On March 3rd 1141, she was ceremonially proclaimed Lady of the English at Winchester Cathedral but a formal coronation never took place.
And yes Basilforever, the same thing happened to poor old Richard III,  >:(
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Offline basilforever

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2006, 05:26:15 AM »
More pictures of King Stephen:







0844230
Matilda niece of King David of Scotland is permitted by King Stephen of Blois to retire from Arundel castle and was conducted, under the safeguard of the legate, to the outposts of the Earl of Gloucester - October 1139
© Balean / TopFoto









http://www.aragon10.free-online.co.uk/cilia%20la%20corte-legacy/6874.htm There is a good page for King Stephen here

King Stephen 1135 - 1154
Nephew of Henry I and grandson of William l. The Welsh and Scots invaded. Civil war followed between King Stephen and Matilda, Henry I's daughter. A compromise was decided, Matilda's son, Henry Plantagenet, was to be king when Stephen died.







 1135: Stephen King: Henry’s daughter, Matilda & husband Geoffrey lay claim from Anjou:
1139: Matilda in England: Named Queen
1141, But returns to Geoffrey in Normandy.
1151: Henry becomes Duke on Geoffrey’s death & King when John loses mainland Normandy but asserts ducal rights in Jersey in 1213.


Stephen, King of England
« Last Edit: December 21, 2006, 05:44:25 AM by basilforever »
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Offline basilforever

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2006, 05:36:06 AM »





He looks like a strong, handsome King here

0844231
Henry of Anjou and King Stephen of Blois confer across the Thames about the rightful heir to the throne and agreeing to a truce.
1153
© Balean / TopFoto





There are plenty of pictures of His Majesty!

Kimberly, I agree that it is clear Matilda did not use the title ''Queen of England'', but still, I think of her as the first Female Ruler of England, and thus Queen, even though she wasn't called Queen of England, she was still the monarch for a time in 1141. And certainly, after Henry I's death she was the legal heir, and monarch before Stephen usurped, which was pretty much immediately.

And Matilda not being crowned Queen doesn't matter because lots of monarchs weren't crowned properly in a formal coronation, Edward VIII wasn't, but he is still Edward VIII.  :-\
« Last Edit: December 21, 2006, 05:49:22 AM by basilforever »
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Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2006, 06:35:15 AM »
Yes, but Matilda never styled herself queen. No one styled her queen. The very concept of a 'queen regnant' in England was so novel that they didn't know what to call her. Just because she had the power of a queen doesn't mean she was one - she was never proclaimed a queen. She generally referred to herself as 'Empress Matilda' (her first husband having been Emperor of Germany) whereas Stephen's people, her enemies, referred to her as the Countess of Anjou, which rankled with her because she disliked her second husband the Count of Anjou. Mary I, Henry VIII's daughter, was the first crowned queen regnant of England - some would call Jane Grey the first queen regnant. I mean, Oliver Cromwell had all the powers of a king during the Interregnum, and was actually offered the crown more than once, but we don't call him 'King Olly'.  ;D
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Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2006, 06:36:29 AM »

There are plenty of pictures of His Majesty!


How many are real, contemporary portraits though?  ;)
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
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"Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget."

Offline Mischa

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Re: King Stephen I
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2006, 03:47:28 PM »
Basil, I don't want to dissapoint you but there are no real portraits in the eleventh century at all. They just were not done. If the artists of this time drew a king, they drew a picture of what they thought a king should look like.

They idea of drawing a portrait or the wish of having a portrait of oneself or another person, just did not occur. It was of no importance what a human being looked like, because they all were just mortal beings created by god who would die and decompose soon. It was just a different world with different values and individualism was not even known as a word.

The pictures you posted above are all nineteenth century, I think. (Except the one from the Tapestry of Bayeux, which is of course no individual portrait at all.) None of the artists really knew what Steven looked like and we never will know.

Sorry

M.