King Henry II Fact 1: Henry II was born on March 5, 1133 in Le Mans, France to Geoffrey of Anjou and Empress Matilda.
King Henry II Fact 2: He was King Henry II of England from December 19, 1154 to July 6, 1189. He reigned over the country for almost 35 years. During his lifetime, he earned numerous titles including the King of England, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Count of Nantes, and Lord of Ireland.
King Henry II Fact 3: His father was Geoffrey of Anjou and his mother was Empress Matilda, the eldest daughter of King Henry I of England and the Duke of Normandy. Henry II was the eldest child of Geoffrey of Anjou and Empress Matilda (a title his mother inherited from her first marriage to the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry V).
King Henry II Fact 4: Little is known about his early childhood, however, historians believe that Henry II likely lived in Anjou, France from approximately 7 years of age where he received an education from a grammarian known as Peter of Saintes.
King Henry II Fact 5: At the age of nine, his father sent him to Bristol where he was educated by Master Matthew at the home of Robert of Gloucester. He received part of his education from the Canons (priest) of St Augustine's in Bristol. Upon his return to Anjou, France around 1143-44, he continued his studies with a French scholastic philosopher known as William of Conches. He spoke only Latin and French, but was said to understand a number of languages including English.
King Henry II Fact 6: Henry II grew into an attractive man with red hair and freckled skin. He was short, well built and bow legged from riding horses. He was a strong leader with energy and drive, as well as an intimidating, bad tempered character who bullied others. He enjoyed various leisure activities including hunting.
King Henry II Fact 7: In 1147, he led an unsuccessful expedition with his forces to England. Henry II was forced to remain in England as he was unable to finance his small group of mercenaries and his family were unwilling to support him.
King Henry II Fact 8: For reasons unknown, King Stephen allowed Henry II to remain in England and paid him an excellent salary. However, he was later forced to return to Normandy following an unsuccessful attack in York during 1149 alongside his great-uncle, King David of Scotland.
King Henry II Fact 9: Louis VII felt somewhat threatened by Henry II and his father, Geoffrey of Anjou, who was becoming increasingly powerful. He feared that his possessions might be compromised if Henry II was crowned King of England. When Henry II became the Duke of Normandy in 1150, Louis VII wanted to remove him from the province. After launching a military campaign against Henry, the two men made their peace when they reached an amicable agreement in 1151.
King Henry II Fact 10: Following the death of his father, Geoffrey of Anjou, in 1151, peace between Henry II and Louis VII did not last long. Henry II planned to marry Louis VII's beautiful wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Louis had his marriage to his wife annulled and felt very insulted, when just 8 weeks later, Henry when became married to her! A battle broke out along the borders of Normandy, with Henry's brother Geoffrey who held an ongoing feud with Henry over inheritance, siding with Louis VII. Fighting came to an end when the French King became ill and withdrew from the conflict.
King Henry II Fact 11: Following ongoing conflicts between King Stephen and Henry II, a peace agreement was made in 1153, when the Treaty of Wallingford (also known as the Treaty of Winchester) brought the Ancharchy to an end. The Ancharcy was the civil war that occurred between England and Normandy from 1135 to 1154. The treaty recognized that Stephen would remain King of England until his death and that Henry II would become his heir and inherit the throne upon his passing.King Henry II Fact 16: The ongoing conflict between Henry II and Louis VII became known as a cold war. It occurred over a number of decades and resulted in Henry's ever increasing empire taking over Brittany, through to central France and further south into Toulouse. A number of treaties were passed between the two leaders over the years, but peace was never maintained for very long.
King Henry II Fact 12: King Stephen died on October 25, 1154 and Henry II was crowned King of England on December 19, 1154. During his initial reign, the King's financial situation was limited and he made great efforts to rectify parts of the country that had been the subject of devastation during the long lasting civil war between England and Normandy. He worked hard to restore lands, and regain the system of royal justice and the royal finances. He viewed himself as the heir to his grandfather, Henry I, as opposed to Stephen.
King Henry II Fact 13: He was a persistent man, full of energy and determination to succeed. During his early reign over England, he successfully restored the country's royal administration and managed to re-established leadership over Wales. He took full control over his lands in Anjou, Maine and Touraine.
King Henry II Fact 14: Thomas Becket was an English chancellor and an old friend of Henry II, he appointed him Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162 as he wanted to reform relationships with the Church. The Becket controversy occurred during the 1160s following a number of disagreements between Henry II and Thomas Becket over taxation policies and land ownership. Tensions between the two men grew, and eventually ended with the death of Thomas Becket on December 29, 1170.
King Henry II Fact 15: He was desperate to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Henry I, and continued to restore his once-powerful empire. Although somewhat reserved, Henry II’s mother, Matilda, was a highly influential character in his life. She believed strongly in ancestral rights and privileges.
King Henry II Fact 17: By 1172, King Henry II held full control over England, many parts of Wales, eastern areas of Ireland and western France.
King Henry II Fact 18: Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, had eight children called William, Henry, Richard, Matilda, Geoffrey, Eleanor, Joanna and John. His children began to rebel as they grew older as tensions mounted over inheritance. Their power struggle resulted in several revolts over the years, one ending with the death of Young Henry.
King Henry II Fact 19: He died at the age of 56 on July 6, 1189 as a result of a bleeding ulcer. He was buried at Fontevraud Abbey near Chinon in Anjou, France.
King Henry II Fact 20: Following his death, his eldest son was crowned King Richard I of England. He reigned from July 6, 1189 to April 6, 1199. He became known as Richard the Lionheart and is since remembered as a great military leader.
Influence & Legacy of William III: Henry II reigned as King of England from December 19, 1154 to July 6, 1189. Although he succeeded King Stephen, he regarded himself as heir to his royal grandfather, Henry I.
Short Facts about King Henry II for Kids
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