King Stephen, was born to Stephen-Henry, Count of Blois and his wife Adela, daughter of William I
and Matilda of Flanders
at Blois, France. He was the couple’s fourth son, his brothers William, Theobald and Odo had been born earlier. He also had two elder sisters Alix and Adelaide.
Stephen’s brother, Henry, was born to Stephen-Henry, Count of Blois and his wife Adela, daughter of William I.
Stephen began his education. He was schooled at home by the tutor, William the Norman.
Stephen’s sister, Eleanor, was born to Stephen-Henry, Count of Blois and his wife Adela, daughter of William I.
1102 (19th May)
Stephen’s father died while on crusade and Stephen’s older brother, William, became Count of Blois and Chartres.
Stephen’s older brother Theobald came of age and the title of Count of Blois and Chartres was transferred to him from William who is believed to have been intellectually disabled and unfit to hold the titles.
Adela, Stephen’s mother, sent him to the Normandy court of his uncle, King Henry I
Stephen was knighted by King Henry I after having fought with him defending Normandy.
Stephen was created Count of Mortain by Henry I.
Stephen visited England for the first time.
1120 (25th November)
White Ship Disaster
Stephen was due to return to England with Henry I’s son on the White Ship
but changed his mind and decided to take a later ship. The ship sank and Henry I’s son, William Adelin
, heir to the English throne died. Stephen’s sister Lucia and her husband were among the dead.
The death of William Adelin caused a succession problem for King Henry I who had no remaining male heir to succeed him. King Henry married Adeliza, daughter of Geoffrey, Count of Louvain, Duke of Lower Brabant and Lower Lorraine, in Windsor, hoping for a male heir.
A son, Baldwin, was born to Stephen and Matilda.
Stephen was among the nobles that were required by King Henry I to swear an oath to support Henry’s daughter Matilda
‘s claim to the English throne.
1128 (17th June)
King Henry’s daughter, Matilda, married Geoffrey, Count of Anjou. He was fifteen years old and she was reluctant to enter into the marriage. However, the marriage secured Henry the support of Fulk of Anjou which he hoped would help his daughter to succeed.
A son, Eustace, was born to Stephen and Matilda.
A daughter, Matilda, was born to Stephen and Matilda.
1133 (5th March)
Stephen’s son, Baldwin, died.
A son, William, was born to Stephen and Matilda.
1135 (22nd November)
King Henry I of England died. When Stephen, heard of the death of his uncle, he rode to Winchester, where, with the support of his brother, Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester, he took control of the treasury. Roger of Salisbury also supported Stephen’s bid to be King instead of Henry I’s daughter, Matilda.
1135 (22nd December)
Stephen took the throne of England. He was supported by the Barons, who generally felt that women were unfit to rule.
1135 (26th December)
The Archbishop of Canterbury
was persuaded to crown Stephen. It was argued that the oath of allegiance sworn to support Matilda was invalid as it had been exacted by force. A fictitious story was also put about that King Henry had changed his mind about the succession on his deathbed.
A daughter, Marie, was born to Stephen and Matilda.
1136 (22nd March)
Stephen’s wife, Matilda, was crowned Queen Consort at Westminster Abbey.
Battle of Llwchwr (Gower)
This battle, fought between Welsh and Norman forces was won by the Welsh.
1136 (1st January)
David I of Scotland supported Henry I’s daughter Matilda’s claim to the English throne and invaded the north of England. Stephen marched north to intercept the Scottish king.
Fulk of Anjou invaded Normandy in support of his daughter-in-law Matilda.
Battle of Crug Mawr
This battle in Wales saw the Normans defeated by the forces of Owain Gwynedd.
King Stephen invaded Normandy. He tried to form an alliance with King Louis VI of France but lost control of his army and was forced to agree peace with Geoffrey of Anjou. Stephen agreed to pay 2000 marks per year if Geoffrey maintained peace on the Norman border.
1137 (8th March)
Adela of Blois, Stephen’s mother and daughter of William I, died.
Following the murder of Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare, South Wales rose in rebellion led by Owain Gwynedd and Gruffydd ap Rhys. The rebels made gains including Carmarthen Castle. Richard’s brother Baldwin Fitz Gilbert de Clare and Lord Robert Fitz Harold of Ewyas were sent to put down the rebellion but had little success.
King Stephen decided against committing more troops to subdue Wales.
1138 (late January)
David I of Scotland made a number of raids in Northumberland. He took Norham Castle and put Wark Castle to siege.
Matilda’s half brother Robert of Gloucester decided to support Matilda’s bid to be crowned Queen. This move marked the beginning a period of Civil War known as The Anarchy.
1138 (10th June)
Battle of Clitheroe
King David I of Scotland’s nephew, William Fitz Duncan, defeated the English in this battle fought on the Bowland Fells.
1138 (22nd August)
Battle of the Standard
David I of Scotland was defeated at Cowton Moor near Northallerton in Yorkshire. The English army, raised by Archbishop Thurstan of York, fought round a wagon bearing the banners of the northern saints giving the battle its name.
1139 (9th April)
King David I of Scotland and King Stephen reached an agreement and hostilities were ended between the two after Stephen agreed to cede Northumbria and Cumbria to the Scot.
Stephen ordered the arrest of Roger, Bishop of Salisbury and Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln for refusing to give up their castles to the King.
Henry I’s daughter Matilda landed at Arundel in Sussex to press her claim to the throne.
Stephen marched south and put the castle of Arundel to siege but then backed down and allowed Matilda to leave and join with Robert of Gloucester.
1139 (after October)
Supported by Robert of Gloucester, Matilda quickly gained control of the south-west of England
1140 (6th February)
Archbishop Thurstan of York died.
1140 (after 6th February)
Stephen alienated church leaders when he refused to accept their advice regarding who to appoint as new Archbishop of York. Stephen preferred to keep the See for members of his family.
Peace of Bath
Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester, held a peace conference at Bath to try to find a settlement between King Stephen and the clergy, but it collapsed when the clergy insisted that they should set the terms of peace rather than the King.
1141 (2nd February)
Battle of Lincoln
Stephen and Matilda fought a decisive battle at Lincoln. Stephen was captured and held prisoner by Matilda who declared herself Queen of England.
1141 (2nd March)
Matilda met with Stephen’s brother, Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester. Having disagreed with Stephen over the ruling of the country Henry gave his support to Matilda.
1141 (3rd March)
Matilda was given a formal welcome to Winchester and handed the keys to the treasury.
Matilda went to Oxford before going on to London.
1141 (24th June)
Matilda had set 24th June as the date for her coronation, however a group of pro-Stephen supporters forced her to flee to Oxford before the event.
Henry of Blois, seeing that Matilda did not have the support of London, decided to change sides and directed Stephen’s forces to besiege Matilda’s forces in Winchester.
1141 (31st July)
As soon as she learned of Henry of Blois’ actions Matilda set out for Winchester with her own army and lay siege to Stephen’s forces that were besieging her own forces.
1141 (early August)
Winchester was set on fire (probably by Stephen’s forces). This made it more difficult for Matilda’s forces to withstand the siege.
1141 (14th September)
The Rout of Winchester
Matilda’s forces were no longer able to withstand the siege by Stephen’s forces and tried to break out and flee north. Matilda was able to get away but her half-brother Robert of Gloucester was captured.
Matilda was unable to continue the war without Robert of Gloucester and refused to make peace with Stephen’s wife. It was agreed that Robert of Gloucester would be swapped for Stephen and both were released.
Matilda’s eldest son, Henry
, arrived in England to help his mother’s cause.
Robert of Gloucester put Wilton Castle, where Stephen was staying, under siege. However, Stephen was able to break free and the siege failed.
Geoffrey, Earl of East Anglia rose up against Stephen and planned a march south to London.
Ranulf of Chester rebelled against Stephen but Matilda was unable to use this to further her claim to the throne
Geoffrey, Earl of East Anglia died.
Matilda’s eldest son, Henry, who Matilda and her supporters expected to be king after Stephen, returned to Anjou to begin learning how to administer the family’s lands there
Matilda’s half-brother and chief supporter, Robert of Gloucester died.
Matilda’s son, Henry Plantagenet, returned to England with a mercenary force to try to take the throne from Stephen. The mission failed because Henry did not have sufficient funds to pay his men and his mother refused to pay the men for him.
Matilda returned to Normandy.
1152 (3rd May)
Stephen’s wife, Matilda, died of a fever at Hedingham Castle.
1152 (18th May)
Henry Plantagenet, married Eleanor of Aquitaine. This gave him control of Aquitaine as well as Anjou and made him very powerful.
Henry Plantagenet returned to England to try to win support for his claim to the throne. He had limited success because the barons did not want to return to a state of civil war. The church acted as a mediator and it was agreed that Henry would be named Stephen’s successor and would inherit the throne when Stephen died.
1153 (17th August)
Stephen’s son, Eustace, died.
1154 (25th October)
King Stephen died and Henry Plantagenet, became King Henry II
of England. He was crowned on the same day.
First published 2016, updated and republished Dec 12 @ 3:20 9m – Updated – [last-modified]