Henri I ‘Beauclerc’ “King of England” (1068 – 1135)

King Henry I of England, son of William the Conqueror and father of at least 29 children between 3 and 5 legitimate and between 24 and 26 illegitimate children.

Genealogically King Henry I is my 28x great grandfather and I descend from him no less than 424 times most notable through my 15th great-grandfather King James V of Scotland, of which I do share a few similar facial traits and DNA with his great-grandchildren. (this post is a biography of King Henry I)


47 Generations of Family History

Generation 29

Henri I ‘Beauclerc’ “King of England” (1068 – 1135)

King of England

Duke of Normandy


Name:  Henry Beauclerc

Birth: 1068
Place of Birth: Selby, Yorkshire

Father: William I of England
Mother: Matilda of Flanders

Matilda of Scotland
Adeliza of Louvain

Legitimate Issue:
William Ætheling(5 August 1103 – 25 November 1120)
Empress Matilda (c. 7 February 1102 – 10 September 1167)
Elizabeth de Talby (1095 – 1135)
Adelaide de Normandie (1112 – )
Richard of England
Euphemia of England

Ilegitimate Issue:
Robert fitz Roy, Lord Okehampton (1093 – 1172)
Sybil fitz henry, Queen of Scotland (1104 – 1122)
William Constable (1105 – 1187)
Reginald de Dunstanville, 1st Earl of Cornwall (1110 – 1175)
Rohese de Normandie (1114 – 1176)
Gundred Rohesia (1120 – )
Maud fitz henry (1099 – )
Henry fitz henry (1103 – 1157)
Alice ‘Aline’ d’Angleterre (1099 – )
Matilda de Montvilliers (1102 – 1172)
Alice fitz roy (1114 – 1141)
Constance fitz henry (1115 – )
Isabel fitz henry (1120 – )
Maud du Perche (1086 – 1120)
Robert de Caen (1090 – 1147)
Mabel fitz roy (1088 – )
Maud fitz henry (1090 – 1128)
Emma fitz roy
Gilbert fitz roy
Juliane de Fontevrault (1090 – )
Fulk fitz roy (1092 – )
Richard of Lincoln (1094 – 1120)
William de Tracy (1090 – 1135)

King of England
Duke of Normandy

Death: 1 December 1135
Place of Death:  Saint-Denis-en-Lyons, Normandy
Place of Burial:  Reading Abbey

House: House of Normandy

Heraldry: Blason du duché de Normandie


Henry I Beauclerc, King of England and Duke of Normandy, died at Lyons-la-Foret, Normandy, on December 1, 1135, probably from an indigestion of lamprey. He was 67 years old.

Henry was the fourth son of King William the First, the Conqueror, he maintained his kingdom for thirty-five years in relative peace but, lack of male heir, left him in a precarious situation, his only legitimate son William Adelin drowned in the White Ship disaster of 1120 throwing the royal succession into doubt. 

Upon his accession on August 5, 1100, Henry I cultivated his popularity by granting barons who had carried him to the throne a Charter of Freedoms  by which he undertook to respect the “laws of Edward the Confessor” , the great Anglo-Saxon sovereign before the Norman conquest.

In this short text, he undertakes in particular to respect the right of the barons to bequeath their land to their heir and to marry as they wish. He also proclaimed an amnesty for crimes committed before his advent. A century later, the drafters of the Magna Carter of 1215 will not fail to be inspired by this pioneering text.

The Charter of King Henry I – 1130 AD

From A Source Book of London history from the Earliest Times to 1800 edited by P. Meadows, London: G. Bell and Sons, Ltd, 1914; pp. 8-30.

Henry, by the grace of God, King of England, to the archbishop of Canterbury, and to the bishops and abbots, earls and barons, justices and sheriffs, and to all his faithful subjects of England, French and English, greeting.

Know ye that I have granted to my citizens of London, to hold Middlesex to farm for three hundred pounds, upon accompt to them and their heirs; so that the said citizens shall place as sheriff whom they will of themselves; and shall place whomsoever, or such a one as they will of themselves, for keeping of the pleas of the crown, and of the pleadings of the same, and none other shall be justice over the same men of London; and the citizens of London shall not plead without the walls of London for any plea. And be they free from scot and lot and danegeld, and of all murder; and none of them shall wage battle. And if any one of the citizens shall be impleaded concerning the pleas of the crown, the man of London shall discharge himself by his oath, which shall be adjudged within the city; and none shall lodge within the walls, neither of my household, nor any other, nor lodging delivered by force.

And all the men of London shall be quit and free, and all their goods, throughout England, and the ports of the sea, of and from all toll and passage and lestage, and all other customs; and the churches and barons and citizens shall and may peaceably and quietly have and hold their sokes with all their customs, so that strangers that shall be lodged in the sokes shall give custom to none but to him to whom the soke appertains, or to his officer, whom he shall there put: And a man of London shall not be adjudged in amerciaments of money but of one hundred shillings (I speak of the pleas which appertain to money); and further there shall be no more miskenning in the hustings, nor in the folkmote, nor in any other pleas within the city, and the hustings may sit once in a week, that is to say on Monday: And I will cause my citizens to have their lands, 10promises, bonds and debts, within the city and withou; and I will do them right by the law of the city, of the lands of which they shall complain to :

And if any shall take toll or custom of any citizen of London, the citizens of London in the city shall take of the borough or town, where toll or custom was so taken, so much as the man of London gave for toll, and as he received damage thereby: And all debtors, which do owe debts to the citizens of London, shall pay them in London, or else discharge themselves in London, that they owe none; but, if they will not pay the same, neither come to clear themselves that they owe none, the citizens of London, to whom the debts shall be due, may take their goods in the city of London, of the borough or town, or of the country wherein he remains who shall owe the debt: And the citizens of London may have their chaces to hunt, as well and fully as their ancestors have had, that is to say, in Chiltre, and in Middlesex and Surrey.

Witness the bishop of Winchester, and Robert son of Richier, and Hugh Bygot, and Alured of Toteneys, and William of Alba-spina and Hubert the king’s Chamberlain, and William de Montfishet, and Hangulf de Taney, and John Bellet, and Robert son of Siward. At Westminster.

Henry, Accession to the throne and his last years.

Henry, was the youngest brother to King William Rufus, and was present at the hunting party when King William Rufus mysteriously died. As soon as the cry spread through the forest that the king was dead, Henry rode off at full speed to Winchester, and took possession of all his brother’s treasure. William Rufus had never married and left no heir to the throne of England. Henry claimed England promising to govern according to the old laws of England. As king, Henry carried out social and judicial reforms which included issuing the Charter of Liberties (as mentioned above) and restoring the English laws of King Edward the Confessor.

Tragedy at the court

Two years after the death of Henry’s wife Matilda, tragedy struck his royal court and even though Henry had every reason to be satisfied, a king, with no less than twenty four bastards, loses the only legitimate son who can succeed him in what is known as the sinking of the White Ship , at Christmas 1120.

On the edge of despair, he remarries with Adelaide de Louvain, who is slow to give him a replacement heir. For lack of better, he appointed to succeed him his daughter Mathilde ( Matilda in English).

She married in 1114, at age 12, the German Emperor Henry V, who was then 33. Widowed in 1125, she was three years later remarried by her father to the future Count of Anjou, Tours and Maine, Geoffrey V Bel Plantagenet , who is ten years younger than she (16 and 26 respectively) .

By this marriage, Henry I wants to protect Normandy against external claims. But the Norman barons deplore mezza voce this choice of a foreign prince and begin to regret having taken an oath of allegiance to Mathilde …

The Anarchy

When Henri 1st Beauclerc died, Mathilde (33 years) becomes Duchess of Normandy but is also proclaimed “lady of the English” (and not queen). She herself claims the title of “Empress” by virtue of her first marriage with the German Emperor. Henri, the son she had from Geoffrey, is only 2 years old.

However, his cousin, Etienne de Blois (about 40 years) claims to have been appointed by Henry I on his deathbed to succeed him.

Grandson of William the Conqueror by his mother Adele, married to the heiress of the county of Boulogne, also named Mathilde, Étienne was quickly crowned with the assistance of the bourgeois of London and a few barons. They deny for the occasion their oath to Henry Beauclerc to obey his daughter.

Taking advantage of the softness of the new king, the great lords bristle the country with castles and oppress the peasantry. As for the burghers of London, they proclaim themselves common .

Etienne (Stephen of Blois  in English) captures his rival in the fall of 1139 but commits the imprudence of releasing her on parole … They will therefore never stop fighting for more than ten years. This sad period remains known in England under the name of “Anarchy . 

Desperate to finish, Étienne begins negotiations with Mathilde that the unexpected death of his son Eustache will accelerate.

The king is resigned by the treaty of Winchester to designate as successor the son of Mathilde.

His death, October 25, 1154, opened the way to the throne to Henry Plantagenet, who became King of England under the name of Henry II on December 19 following.

Stephen Robert Kuta



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