Henry II Plantagenet
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Henry Plantagenet (1133 - 1189)

Henry (Henry II) "King of England, Curtmantle, FitzEmpress" Plantagenet
Born in Le Mans, Sarthe, Pays de la Loire, Francemap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 18 May 1152 (to 6 Jul 1189) in Francemap
Descendants descendants
Died at age 56 in Chateau de Chinon, Indre-et-Loire, Centre, Francemap
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Preceded by
King of England
25 Oct 1154 – 6 Jul 1189
Succeeded by
Richard I


Henry II, King of England

The House of Plantagenet crest.
Henry II Plantagenet is a member of the House of Plantagenet.
Henry II established the House of Plantagenet. Born to Matilda during a turbulent period, his mother was swept aside while Stephen seized the throne. It was only after he married the most powerful woman in Europe, Eleanor -- Duchess of Aquitaine and ex-consort of Louis XII -- that he was able to take the crown.
A man of war, he spent his life on campaigns and stayed on the move. At first, Eleanor shared in the monarch's administrative power and often acted as regent. But with Thomas Becket's rise to power, she was over-shadowed. Becket was not a religious man. Neither was he of noble blood. But with the king's favor, he was able to spend lavishly. Then... in a disastrous political move, Henry forced Becket into the clergy. Suddenly... Beckett became pious, and changed Henry's plan. Once the king realized that he could not control the man he made, he threw a fit the world never forgot. A few of his knights were in ear-shot. Took the king's temper tantrum at face value... and murdered Beckett in his own church.
Europe went into an uproar. Henry got bad press. And voila -- the man of the cloth, who once stunned the French with gaudy displays of wealth... became canonized. They say that Beckett's memory haunted Henry for the rest of his life, but it never stopped him from enjoying power. Although he showered titles on his sons, and even named some of them King ... he refused to let them rule. This led to a series of mutinies within his own family, and he even incarcerated the Queen for years on end. But Eleanor outlived him, and even helped her youngest son John, to ascend the throne.[1][2]


Year Event
1133 (5 March) Birth of Henry in Le Mans, Sarthe, Pays de la Loire, France
1147 First expedition against Stephen in England
1149 Second expedition to England
1153 (18 May) Marries Eleanor of Aquitaine
1153 Third expedition to England results in Treaty of Winchesterby which Stephen nominates Henry his heir
1153 (25 October) Succeeds to the throne
1154 (19 December) Crowned first Plantagenet monarch at Westminster Abbey
1155 Adrian IV, the English pope, issues the bull Laudabiliter, giving Henry his blessing to invade Ireland
1162 Becket becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
1164 Becket goes into exile
1166 Assize of Clarendon establishes trial by jury
1170 Invasion of Ireland by Richard de Clare (Strongbow)
1171 Strongbow acknowledges overlord in Ireland
1173 Outbreak of Great Rebellion led by Henry's sons
1174 (13 July) Great Rebellion ends with defeat of William the Lion of Scotland at Alnwick
1174 (July) Henry does penances at the shrine of St. Thomas Becket
1176 Assize of Northampton makes land ownership dependent on royal law
1182/3 Henry 'the Young King' rebels
1188/9 Richard allies with Louis of Franch against Henry II.
1189 (6 July) Henry dies at Chinon Castle.
1189 (8 July) Burial at Fontevraud Abbey.

A major study of Henry's itinerary was done by Rev. Eyton.[4]


Henry II of England ("Curtmantle"; 5 Mar 1133 - 6 July 1189) ruled as King of England (1154-1189),[5] Count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. [6][7][8][9]
Henry II has no known coat of arms, but he probably bore a coat with two lions passant (tinctures unknown).[10]

Early life

Henry was born at Le Mans, Anjou on 5th March, 1133 to Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and Empress Matilda. His claim to the throne was strengthened by descent from both English Saxon kings and kings of Scotland through his maternal grandmother Matilda. Her father was Malcolm III of Scotland and his mother was Margaret of Wessex (Saint Margaret of Scotland), grand-daughter of Edmund Ironside.

Character and Appearance

According to Alison Weir, Henry was stocky and bowl-legged, but Eleanor apparently liked the "freckled ... face and red haired" Henry.[11] She first laid eyes on him in France when she was married to Louis. At the time, Henry was about 10 years her junior and a stark contrast to her boring husband. The French king was pious, timid, wore a plain church frock, and felt guilty over sex.[12] Along with court intrigues against the Duchess, Louis' over-all demeanor certainly aided her decision to divorce him for the young and virile Henry.[12]
Known to have a great memory, Henry II knew Law and Latin. Obsessed with war and administration, he didn't care for fashion. Unlike Eleanor, he wasn't refined.[12][12] He also had a ridiculous temper, and is remembered for rolling on the floor and chewing reeds.[12].


On 18 May 1152, at the age of 19, Henry married Eleanor of Aquitaine at either Poitiers Cathedral[13][14] or Bordeaux Cathedral.[15][16] (The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; entry for Henry II does not give a marriage place.[17])
Eleanor of Aquitaine, was the daughter of William X, Duke of Aquitaine and Aenor de Chatellerault. She had previously been the wife of Louis VII, King of France, but they divorced.

Legitimate Children

Henry's first son, William, Count of Poitiers, died in infancy. In 1170, Henry and Eleanor's fifteen-year-old son, Henry, was crowned king (another reason for rupture with Thomas Becket, whose other bishops acquiesced to this during Becket's exile), but he never actually ruled and does not figure in the list of the monarchs of England; he became known as Henry the Young King to distinguish him from his nephew Henry III of England.
Henry II depicted in Cassell's History of England (1902)Henry and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, had five sons and three daughters: William, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey, John, Matilda, Eleanor, and Joan. John Speed, in his 1611 work History of Great Britain, mentions the possibility that Henry and Eleanor had a son named Philip, who died young. His sources no longer exist and he alone mentions this birth.[2] Henry's attempts to wrest control of her lands from Eleanor (and from her heir Richard) led to confrontations between Henry on the one side and his wife and legitimate sons on the other.


work in progress.
  • Ida de Toeni, Countess of Norfolk. Issue: William de Longespee, 3rd Earl of Salisbury.
Henry had a number of illegitimate children by various women, and several were reared in the royal nursery. Some remained members of the household in adulthood. Among them were:
  • Morgan, son of Nesta, elected Bishop of Durham in 1213 but the appointment was never confirmed;[20] died an oblate at Fountains Abbey in 1217[21]
  • Matilda, Abbess of Barking
Around 1174, Henry began negotiating the annulment of his marriage in order to marry Alys.[22] His affair with Alys Capet-107 continued for some years, but unlike Rosamund, Alys allegedly gave birth to an illegitimate child.


Initially good friends, Henry's fights with Beckett were fated to cast a long shadow over Europe.[23] Beckett was extravagant.[24] But when Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury died, Henry appointed Beckett to control the church's legal system through him. But Beckett suddenly started acting pious, and destroyed Henry's plan.
A council was held at Westminster in October 1163, Beckett was not a man to compromise, neither, however, was Henry. Eventually Beckett agreed to adhere to the 'ancient customs of the realm'. To win the matter, Henry defined the customs in the Constitutions of Clarendon. Beckett backed down, but fight escalated and Beckett fled the country.
Four years later, Henry was anxious to have his eldest son, young Henry, crowned to avoid a disputed succession. In January 1169, Henry and Beckett met at a conference at Momtmirail in Normandy, but they got into an argument. Beckett angrily excommunicated some of Henry's followers. Henry retaliated by letting the Archbishop of York coronate his son. But they reached a compromise at a later meeting, and Thomas returned to England.
It didn't help. The fighting continued and Henry flew into a rage over Beckett's stubborn ways. That's when he said those fatal words -- "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" -- within earshot of four of his knights. They took it at face value and went to slay Beckett, standing in his cathedral.[12]
Ironically, it was the moment that made the outlandish Becket. Suddenly, Europe cared about him, and England was threatened with excommunication. The King resorted to public penance, walking barefoot into Canterbury Cathedral, where he had the monks scourge him to prove it.

Rebel Sons

The power-hungry king was faced with a new threat from his own family. His inability to share responsibility with his sons became deeply resented. His namesake and heir -- Henry, the newly crowned but powerless Young King -- was dissatisfied. So was John 'Lack Land.' When Henry II tried to negotiate his marriage, the prospective father-in-law asked that John be given some property. The King gave his youngest son three castles in Anjou but Young Henry didn't like it. He demanded the right to rule England, Normandy or Anjou, but wound up fleeing to the French court. The King of France had his own axe to grind and soon ... Young Henry rebelled against his father. He was joined at the court of France by his equally annoyed brothers, Richard and Geoffrey, now Duke of Brittany since his marriage to the heiress Constance of Brittany.
Eleanor wasn't happy either, and was arrested trying to join her rebellious sons in France ... dressed as a man. Meanwhile, Normandy was attacked, but the King of France -- as usual -- retreated. But Henry, always the forgiving father, made peace with his sons while he conveniently, put Eleanor under house-arrest for the next ten years as he continued to womanize in public.[12]
Further disputes arose between young Henry and his brother, Richard.[25] After plundering the shrine of Rocamadour, the Young Henry became ill.[26] A few days later he was dead.
Henry planned to re-divide the Angevin Empire -- giving Anjou, Maine, Normandy and England to Richard and asking him to relinquish his mother's province of Aquitaine to John. Richard refused. John and Geoffrey were dispatched to Aquitaine to take the duchy by force but lost. So the King ordered all of his sons to England. Richard and Geoffrey now thoroughly detested each other and arguments ruled the family. Geoffrey, a treacherous and untrustworthy youth, was killed at a Paris tournament in 1186.


Phillip Augustus of France wanted more power for the French crown by retaking Plantagenet lands. So he told Richard, Henry II wanted to disown him for John. Richard, believed it and demanded full recognition as heir to the Angevin Empire. Henry refused. Rebellion was the result.
Then Henry got sick at Le Mans. Richard thought he was creating delays, and attacked the town with Phillip. Henry had the southern suburbs of Le Mans set on fire to stop their advance, but the wind changed, and burned it down.
Henry fled but a conference was arranged near Tours, where Richard forced him to accept all terms. Phillip of France, however, was shocked by Henry's gaunt appearance, and offered his cloak as a seat on the ground. Henry refused. But he supposedly whispered in his son's ear, and said: "God grant that I die not until I have avenged myself on thee". Henry wanted a list of those who rebelled against him.
He got the list after retreating to Chinon, only to discover John Lackland's name at the top. The son he trusted and fought for deserted him for the victors.
In the end, it was faithful William Marshall and his illegitimate son Geoffrey who stood by him to the end. He told Geoff, "You are my true son ... the others, they are the bastards." As his condition continued to deteriorate he said, "now let everything go as it will, I care no longer for myself or anything else in this world".
He lingered semi-conscious, breathing his last on 6th July, 1189. His last words were "Shame, shame on a conquered King". Defeated at last, he faced the wall and died. Richard I succeeded him.
Henry II body was laid in the chapel of Chinon Castle, where the corpse was stripped by servants. William Marshall and Geoffrey found a crown, sceptre and ring, probably taken from a religious statue. It was then taken to the Abbey of Fontevrault in Anjou for burial.
The new King Richard I was summoned by William Marshall and gazed at his father's corpse without emotion. After lying in state the body of the great Henry II was buried, according to his wishes, at the Abbey of Fontevrault, which was to become the mausoleum of the Angevin Kings.
A few quotes from historic manuscripts shed a unique light on Henry, Eleanor, and their sons.
From Sir Winston Churchill Kt, 1675: "Henry II Plantagenet, the very first of that name and race, and the very greatest King that England ever knew, but withal the most unfortunate . . . his death being imputed to those only to whom himself had given life, his ungracious sons..."
From Sir Richard Baker, A Chronicle of the Kings of England: Concerning endowments of mind, he was of a spirit in the highest degree generous ... His custom was to be always in action; for which cause, if he had no real wars, he would have feigned ... To his children he was both indulgent and hard; for out of indulgence he caused his son Henry to be crowned King in his own time; and out of hardness he caused his younger sons to rebel against him ... He married Eleanor, daughter of William Duke of Guienne, late wife of Lewis the Seventh of France. Some say King Lewis carried her into the Holy Land, where she carried herself not very holily, but led a licentious life; and, which is the worst kind of licentiousness, in carnal familiarity with a Turk."

Burial of King Henry

(Royal Tombs of Medieval England) Henry II died at Chinon on 6 July 1189, and was buried three days later in the neighboring abbey church at Fontevrault, which had been endowed by the king and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Henry's burial at Fontevrault was probably due to its proximity to Chinon rather than the king's instructions. Roger of Howden records that in 1170, stricken by illness, Henry had instructed his burial in the monastery at Grandmont, near Ambazac, and on his recovery began building the abbey church. Henry's will of 1182 contains no instructions for his burial, and makes a larger bequest to Grandmont than it does to Fontevrault. Matthew Paris records that Henry's body lay in state dressed in tunic and mantle, wearing the regalia of golden crown, jeweled gloves, ring, buskins and spurs, holding a scepter and girt with sword, his face uncovered. The king's effigy monument and that of other members of his royal family were probably originally located near the abbey high altar but were installed in their present positions in the abbey nave in 1967. The effigy carvings are too low to have accommodated coffins.


  1. Carroll, L. (2010). Notorious Royal Marriages: A juicy journey through nine centuries of dynasty, destiny, and desire. NY, NY: New American Library. Print.
  2. Weir, A. (2007). Eleanor of Aquitaine: By the wrath of God, Queen of England. London, UK: Vintage Books. Print.
  3. The Kings and Queens of England
  4. Eyton, R. W. (1878), Court, household and itinerary of King Henry II. https://archive.org/details/courthouseholdit00eyto
  5. Henry was the first to use the title "King of England" (as opposed to "King of the English").
  6. Henry became duke of Normandy in 1151. After his father died the next year, he inherited Angevin territories in France.
  7.  : Henry's inheritance from his father included Anjou and Maine. Matilda gave him the Duchy of Normandy and the claim to be king of England. But his holdings paled in comparison to Europe's most coveted duchess, Eleanor of Aquitaine. By marrying her the legendary heiress, he effectively became a powerful man, able to threaten the French. With Touraine, Aquitaine, and Gascony, he was also able to take the English throne.
  8. The nickname "Plantagnet," came about because Henry's father wore a sprig of Planta Genista in his helmet. It coined the surname of one of England's greatest dynasties that ruled the country throughout medieval times. But it didn't become a surname until the mid 15th century.
  9.  : On the death of King Stephen in 1154, Henry came to the English throne at the age of 21 in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Wallingford.
  10. Wikipedia:Royal Arms of England
  11. Peter of Blois (Contemporary) and Weir: Eleanor of Aquitaine
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Weir, Alison. Eleanor of Aquitaine.
  13. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry by Jane Martindale for 'Eleanor [Eleanor of Aquitaine], suo jure duchess of Aquitaine', print and online 2004
  14. Alison Weir. Britain's Royal Families, Vintage Books, 2008, p. 60
  15. Douglas Richardson. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham (Salt Lake City: the author, 2013), Vol. I, pp. 24-43, ENGLAND 4
  16. Charles Cawley. Medieval Lands: A Prosopography of Medieval European Noble and Royal Families, entry for 'ELEONORE d'Aquitaine', accessed 13 October 2023
  17. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry by Thomas K Keefe for 'Henry II', print and online 2004, revised online 2008
  18.  : Henry's affair with Rosamund Clifford, the "fair Rosamund" of legend, probably began in 1165 during a Welsh campaign. It continued until her death in 1176. However, it was not until 1174, at around the time of his break with Eleanor, that Henry acknowledged Rosamund as his mistress.
  19. Geoffrey, was born in the early days of Henry's marriage to Eleanor. His mother, Hikenai or Ykenai, was said to be a prostitute.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Henri d'Anjou, FMG (#MedLands), citing Raine, J. (ed.) (1839) Historiæ Dunelmensis Scriptores Tres (London), Roberti de Graystanes Historia de statu Ecclesiæ Dunelmensis ("Raine (1839) Robert de Graystanes"), p. 35.
  21. Richard T W McDermid. Beverley Minster Fasti'’, Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 1993, p. 5
  22. Dau. King Louis VII of France and betrothed to Henry's son Richard.
  23. The son of a wealthy London merchant of Norman extraction, Beckett was appointed Chancellor.
  24. Sent on a mission to the court of France to negotiate marriage for Young Henry and Margaret, daughter of the French King by his second wife, his lavish style made a vivid impression on the French.
  25. The Young King objected to a castle Richard had built on what he claimed to be his territory. Henry, aided by his brother Geoffrey, attempted to subdue Richard and the affair provided a further excuse to rebel against their father. Richard allied himself with their father. The Young King began to ravage Aquitaine.
  26. Once he knew death was inevitable, he asked his followers to lay him on a bed of ashes spread on the floor as a sign of repentance and begged his father to forgive and visit him. The King, suspecting a trap, refused to visit his son, but sent a sapphire ring, once owned by his grandfather Henry I, to the young Henry as a sign of his forgiveness.
  • "Royal Ancestry" 2013 by Douglas Richardson Vol. I page 21
  • "Royal Ancestry" 2013 by Douglas Richardson Vol. I page 24
  • "Royal Ancestry" 2013 by Douglas Richardson Vol. I page 40
Illegitimate child of Henry II, by a mistress, Ida de Tony, daughter of Ralph de Tony (died 1162), by Margaret, daughter of Robert, 2nd Earl of Leicester. Ida later became the wife of Roger le Bigod, Earl of Norfolk (died 1221).
  • "Royal Ancestry" 2013 by Douglas Richardson Vol. I pages 129, 159, 197, 354, 448, 479, and 536

See also:

  • Cawley, Charles; Medlands,"ENGLAND Kings 1066-1603". 2021. Fmg.Ac.Henry of Anjou
  • Royal Tombs of Medieval England M. Duffy 2003 p. 55-57
  • Richard Barber, The Devil's Crown: A History of Henry II and His Sons (Conshohocken, PA, 1996)
  • Ian Crofton, The Kings and Queens of England, Metro Books, NY, 2006, pgs 66-69
  • Robert Bartlett, England Under The Norman and Angevin Kings 1075-1225 (2000)
  • J. Boussard, Le government d'Henry II Plantagênêt (Paris, 1956)
  • John D. Hosler Henry II: A Medieval Soldier at War, 1147-1189 (History of Warfare; 44) Brill Academic Publishers, 2007 ISBN 9004157247
  • John Harvey, The Plantagenets
  • John Harvey, Richard I
  • Ralph Turner & Richard Heiser, The Reign of Richard Lionheart
  • W.L. Warren, Henry II (London, 1973)
  • Nicholas Vincent, "King Henry II and the Monks of Battle: The Battle Chronicle Unmasked," in Belief and Culture in the Middle Ages: Studies Presented to Henry Mayr-Harting. Eds. Henry Mayr-Harting, Henrietta Leyser and Richard Gameson (Oxford, OUP, 2001), pp.
  • Ancestral Roots; Fredrick Weis; 7th ed., 1992.
  • Barbara Bair, 8409 Mulberry Ave., Buena Park, Ca. 90620 (1995)
Daughter of Clement Elvalandingham & Gertrude Murray Marang.
Mr. Henry is reported to be a direct descendant of Patrick Henry.
  • Some English Descendants of Malcome Canmore King Of the Scots RJCW 307. Author: Gregory Lauder-Frost F.S.A. (Scot) (lauderfrost@@btinternet.com)
  • Royalty for Commoners. Roderick W. Stuart, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore.

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Henry II by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. Y-chromosome DNA test-takers in his direct paternal line on WikiTree:

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Comments: 18

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If Eleanor of Aquitaine is truly my 24th great grandmother - there is nothing that could thrill me more! She was a strong, educated, intelligent female in a time when women had no voice!
posted by Jean (Reiners) Johnson
Also my 23rd great grandfather. Had no idea I am descended from royalty.
posted by Esther Watrous
My 23rd great grandfather. Interesting stuff.
posted by Alison (Effertz) Libby
My 23rd great paternal grandfather
I recently discovered a new resource that sets forth a table of the ancestors of King Henry II of England (Plantagenet-1627). This table goes as far as Fergus (Maceric-1), King of Dal Riata in the sixth century. It is today referenced in the source section of Plantagenet-1627, but the link provided is broken. The table has been moved, see below.

It is now hosted on the website of the American Society of Genealogists and is coordinated by Stewart Baldwin, a Fellow of that society. It can be accessed by going to the home page of the Society at https://fasg.org/ and navigating to Projects, The Henry Project. To link directly to the Henry II Ancestor Table, go to https://fasg.org/projects/henryproject/data/at.htm. Most of the ancestors in this table have active links to additional page(s) discussing these ancestors at length. Some very interesting analyses of the scholastic research relevant to Henry's ancestors by extremely knowledgable experts. Included are lots of citations to the sources they accessed, a great resource if you can find them. I am posting this comment on Plantagenet-1627 and Maceric-1. Help share it with others who may have an interest.

posted by David Kearns
I just saw this myself and check here to see if anyone had seen it. Missed it by 4 days. Glad to see your on it!
posted by Michael Stills
Thanks David and Michael, I was aware that Stewart Baldwin's, The Henry Project, is now hosted by the American Society of Genealogists, and hopefully this is a permanent move.

Unfortunately because all the URLs point to a particular page in that database, it's not something that can be automatically changed but will have to be done manually. Though it might be possible to get a list of all the profiles that have the old website as a source. I'll investigate that.

posted by John Atkinson
I wish I could say I was "on it", but it was just dumb luck. Glad I could share it.
posted by David Kearns
Thank you for such an interesting biography on my 26th great grandfather! Yesterday I was browsing Wikitree and noticed the link to Featured Connections. It showed me many interesting connections but this royal connection on my mothers side was a direct one, amazing!
Please add 1175 The Treaty of Windsor to this time line; helpful for cross-referencing because the Irish annuls make frequent references to "the Son of the Empress" without naming him Henry
posted by Valerie Willis
We are including a Hugh as a son. The profile does not explain anything, but while there has been such a proposal it seems not to be widely accepted. See http://sbaldw.home.mindspring.com/hproject/prov/henry002.htm
posted by Andrew Lancaster
I moved some of the end sections around to a more conventional order, removed Richardson Royal Ancestry's doubled up mention, and added reference to the Henry II ancestry website which is highly respected. OTOH I feel the links and bibliography could be pruned. We can not mention every book or website about him, but should focus on ones with genealogical importance, and also I feel we should not mention specific sources that are about any specific modern families descended from Henry. I have also mentioned concerns about the wording of the MEDLANDS template on G2G over time.
posted by Andrew Lancaster