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King Stephen Timeline

Date

  Summary

Detailed Information

1096/97
Birth

A son, Stephen, was born to Stephen, Count Palatine of Blois, Brie, Chartres and Meaux and his wife Adela, daughter of William I and Matilda of Flanders at Blois, France.

1125
Marriage

Stephen, count of Blois, married Matilda, daughter of Eustace III of Boulogne and his wife Mary, daughter of Malcolm III, and sister of the Queen.

Nov 1135 Succession Problems

Henry I was dying. He had named his daughter, Matilda as his successor and had forced the Barons to promise to be loyal to her. However, Matilda, who was in France, was not popular and few men wanted her to be Queen. Henry's nephew Stephen was in Boulogne and only a days' travel from England.

22 Dec 1135

Death of Henry I

Stephen, hearing of the death of his uncle, 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 supported Stephen's bid to be King instead of Matilda.

22 Dec 1135 Accession

Stephen, with the support of the Barons, who generally felt that women were unfit to rule, took the throne of England.

26th Dec 1135 Coronation

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.

22 March 1136 Coronation of Queen

Stephen's wife, Matilda, was crowned Queen Consort at Westminster Abbey.

1138 Matilda's Rebellion

Matilda had spent the two years since her cousin's accession tot he English throne raising forces to fight on her behalf. When her half-brother Robert of Gloucester joined her cause, she had a base from which to operate in England. Stephen then made two serious mistakes; he upset his brother Henry when he did not appoint him Archbishop of Canterbury, he also arrested three influential bishops, one of whom was Roger of Salisbury. 

1138 Stephen as King

The country needed a strong King but Stephen was not strong. He was charming and courageous but he could neither control his friends nor subdue his enemies. Some who had supported Stephen's claim to the throne now believed that they were wrong and called for Matilda to take her rightful place on the throne.

22nd Aug 1138 Battle of the Standard David I of Scotland invaded England both in support of Matilda and to extend his own lands. He was defeated by an army raised by Archbishop Thurstan of York. The battle took place at Cowton near Northallerton in Yorkshire and was fought round a wagon bearing the banners of the northern saints.
1139 Stephen makes peace with Scotland

To secure peace with Scotland, Stephen ceded Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmoreland to David. David's son, Henry, was created Earl of Northumberland.

Oct 1139 Civil War begins

Matilda and her forces landed at Arundel. Stephen was aware of her arrival and had the opportunity to imprison her. However, he allowed her to go free. She joined her half-brother, Robert of Gloucester, in Bristol. 

2 Feb 1141 Battle of Lincoln

A force of Matilda's supporters, led by Robert of Gloucester and Ranulf, Earl of Chester, defeated and captured Stephen while he was laying siege to Lincoln castle. Stephen was imprisoned in the city of Bristol.

Summer 1141 Matilda

Matilda was living royally in London. She took the title, Lady of the English and could have taken the English throne. However her arrogance and dictatorial behaviour destroyed her chances of being crowned in Stephen's place.

Late Summer 1141 Matilda driven out of London

Stephen's Queen, Matilda of Boulogne, had raised an army for her husband. They now marched to London and were joined by large numbers of Londoners who disliked Matilda. The 'Lady of the English' was driven out. 

14 Sept 1141 Battle of Winchester

Stephen's Queen, Matilda, and her supporters lay siege to Henry of Blois' palace at Winchester. They managed to encircle the town which forced Matilda to withdraw. Robert of Gloucester was captured and Matilda was forced to release Stephen in exchange.

1 Nov 1141 Stephen Restored

Stephen was restored to the throne.

25 Dec 1141 Second Coronation

Stephen was again crowned King of England in Canterbury Cathedral, Kent.

1144-7
Civil War

Civil war between Matilda and Stephen continued with neither side making headway. The war was conducted through a series of sieges which were generally won by the defenders.  

Oct 1147 Death of Robert of Gloucester

Robert of Gloucester, Matilda's right-hand man, died.

1148 Matilda leaves England

Disheartened by her failure to win the civil war and by the death of Robert of Gloucester, Matilda left England, never to return.

7 Sept 1151 Death of Geoffrey
Plantagenet

Matilda's husband, Geoffrey of Anjou died. Their son, Henry, became Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou.  

1152
Henry to England

Matilda's son, Henry Plantagenet sailed for England. He believed he was the rightful heir to England through his mother Matilda. However, he had no more success than his mother in taking the English throne. 

1152 Treaty of Wallingford

This treaty made provision for the English crown to pass to Matilda's son, Henry of Anjou. Stephen's legitimate children, Eustace and William would be passed over.

Dec 1153
Treaty of Westminster

This treaty allowed Stephen to remain King of England for life. It also stated that Stephen had adopted Henry Plantagenet as his heir. Stephen's second son, William, was to inherit all Stephen's baronial lands.

25 Oct 1154 Death of Stephen

King Stephen died. He was buried next to his wife and son in the monastery at Faversham.


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