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King Henry I (1100 - 1135)

Name: King Henry I
Born: September, 1068 at Selby, Yorkshire
Parents: William I and Matilda of Flanders
Relation to Charles III: 25th great-grandfather
House of: Normandy
Ascended to the throne: August 3, 1100 aged 31 years
Crowned: August 6, 1100 at Westminster Abbey
Married: (1) Edith (Matilda), Daughter of Malcolm III
(2) Adelicia, Daughter of Geoffrey VII, count of Louvain
Children: Daughter Matilda, son William, and reputedly around 20 illegitimate children
Died: December 2, 1135 at St Denis le Fermont, Normandy, aged 67 years, 2 months, and 29 days
Buried at: Reading
Reigned for: 35 years, 3 months, 28 days
Succeeded by: his nephew Stephen

King of England from 1100. Youngest son of William the Conqueror, he succeeded his brother William II. He won the support of the Saxons by granting them a charter and marrying a Saxon princess, Edith, daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland. She was known as Matilda after her marriage, a name more acceptable to the Norman Barons than her Saxon name Edith. Henry's daughter was also called Matilda. He was an able administrator, and established a professional bureaucracy and a system of travelling judges. He was called Beauclerc because of his scholarly interests.

In 1101 his elder brother Robert, Duke of Normandy, attempted to seize the crown by invading England. However, after the Treaty of Alton, Robert agreed to recognise his brother Henry as King and returned to Normandy. They fought again in 1106 at Battle of Tinchebrai at which Robert was captured and Henry became Duke of Normandy as well as King of England. Henry's only legitimate son and heir, William, was drowned in 1120 in wreck of the White Ship and Henry tried to settle the succession on his daughter Matilda and her son Henry (later Henry II). However, Matilda widow of Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, was unpopular when she re-married into the House of Anjou rival of the House of Normandy. The throne was taken by Henry's nephew Stephen, who, towards the end of his reign, agreed to adopt Matilda's son as his heir.

Henry died in Normandy in 1135 of food poisoning according to legend from eating a 'surfeit of Lampreys' (an eel type fish). His body was taken to Rouen and then back to England where he was buried in Reading Abbey. The Abbey was subsequently destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries 1536 to 1541. Plans to try and locate his bones have been announced by the same team who found Richard III's remains in Leicester.


He was a good man, and there was great awe of him. In his day no man dared harm another' - The Peterborough Chronicle on Henry 1's character, 12th Century

'He preferred to contend by council rather than by the sword' - William of Malmesbury on Henry 1 c.1125

Timeline for King Henry I

Year Event
1100Henry I succeeds his brother, William II.
1100Henry issues a Charter of Liberties, pledging good governance.
1100Henry marries Edith known as Matilda, daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland.
1101Robert of Normandy invades England in an attempt to wrest the English throne from his brother, Henry. After failing, he signs the Treaty of Alton, which confirms Henry as King of England and Robert as Duke of Normandy.
1106War breaks out between Henry and Robert. Henry defeats Robert at the Battle of Tinchebrai, imprisons him in Cardiff Castle, and takes control of Normandy.
1118Death of Henry's wife Matilda.
1120Henry's son and heir, William, is drowned at sea when returning from Normandy in The White Ship which strikes a rock and sinks. Henry’s daughter, Matilda, becomes heir.
1121Henry marries Adelicia of Louvain
1126Henry persuades the barons to accept Matilda as his lawful successor to the throne.
1128Matilda, Henry's only surviving legitimate child, marries Geoffrey, Count of Anjou.
1135Henry I dies in Rouen, France, as a result of food poisoning