Henry the Young King

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Henry, the Young King

Henry the Young King (February 28, 1155June 11, 1183) was the second of five sons of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Henry was a younger maternal half-brother of Marie de Champagne and Alix of France. He was a younger brother of William, Count of Poitiers. He was also an older brother to Matilda of England, Richard I of England, Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany, Leonora of Aquitaine , Joan Plantagenet and John of England.

Fostered by Thomas Becket, in June 1170 the fifteen-year-old Henry was crowned king during his father's lifetime, but he never actually ruled and is not counted among the monarchs of England. There is a story that at the banquet following his coronation, he was waited on by his father, who remarked what a rare honor it was to be waited on by a king; the younger Henry replied that it was only fitting for the son of a count to wait on the son of a king.

He is now known as "Henry the Young King" to distinguish him from his nephew Henry III of England. He broke with his father and allied with his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine and brothers in a civil war (1173–74) in which he tried to wrest the power of the crown from his father. When he died at the age of 28 of dysentery, during the middle of a second rebellion, his father is said to have exclaimed: "He cost me much, but I wish he had lived to cost me more."

The historian W. L. Warren said of him, "The Young Henry was the only one of his family who was popular in his own day. It was true that he was also the only one who gave no evidence of political sagacity, military skill, or even ordinary intelligence…", and elaborated in a later book, "He was gracious, benign, affable, courteous, the soul of liberality and generosity. Unfortunately he was also shallow, vain, careless, empty-headed, incompetent, improvident, and irresponsible."

Henry did not seem much interested in the day-to-day business of government, or in the subtleties of military tactics. Instead he spent much of his time at tournaments or meddling in the affairs of his brothers.

Henry the Young King was married to Marguerite of France, daughter of King Louis VII of France by his second wife Constance of Castile, on November 2, 1160 when he was 5 years of age and she was 2. The marriage was orchestrated by Henrys father, Henry II, in order to gain control over Marguerites dowry, the strategically vital castles of the Vexin region between Normandy and Paris. Her maternal grandparents were Alfonso VII of Castile and Berenguela of Barcelona. Berenguela was a daughter of Ramon Berenguer III, Count of Barcelona by his third wife Douce of Provence.

The only child of Henry and Marguerite was William, born prematurely on June 19, 1177, and dying on June 22 of the same year. This difficult delivery seems to have rendered her sterile, as she had no further children by Henry or her second husband. In 1182 Henry accused her of having a love affair with the famed knight William Marshal. Henry repudiated his wife and sent her back to France, and exiled Marshal from his court. Marshal offered to prove his innocence via trial by combat, but this offer was refused.

Henry the Young King died of dysentery in 1183, while in rebellion against his father. On his deathbed he reportedly asked to be reconciled to his father, but King Henry, fearing a trick, refused to see him. His brothers Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland both later became king.


  • Henry II, by W.L. Warren, ISBN 0520034945
  • The Young King Henry Plantagenet, 11551183, in history, literature, and tradition, by O.H. Moore
  • William Marshal: the flower of chivalry, by Georges Duby
  • Marriage as Tactical Response: Henry II and the Royal Wedding of 1160, Lindsay Diggelmann, English Historical Review CXIX, no. 483, September 2004, pp. 954-964
Preceded by:
Count of Anjou
with Henry
Succeeded by:
de:Heinrich der Jngere (England)

pt:Henrique o Jovem ru:Генрих-младший


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