Stephen of Blois
of Blois, Count of Boulogne, was the grandson of William the Conqueror,
he was admitted to the court of his uncle King Henry I, gaining prominence
and lands. He married Matilda of Boulogne, between them they inheriting
wealthy estates in Kent and Boulogne.
Stephen was to have sailed on the doomed ‘White Ship’ but
got off and waited for another vessel, the sinking of the ‘White
Ship’, took the life of Henry’s son William Adelin, and
two hundred and ninety-eight passengers. The lost of the heir apparent
laid open the succession of the English throne on the death of King
Henry I in 1135. Stephen seized the day and crossed the channel from
Boulogne with an invasion fleet with the help of his brother Henry of
Blois, landed without incurring a strong resistance from the garrisons
placed to defend the ports. by Empress Matilda’s half-brother
Robert of Gloucester a supporter of Matilda and Geoffrey, the Count
of Anjou whom she had married in 1128.
December Stephen’s army had reached his estates on the edge of
London, and began to seize power taking the throne, on 22nd December
1135, four days later he was crowded King of England, breaking an oath
made to King Henry to support the claim of Empress Matilda, Henry’s
1139, Empress Matilda formed an allegiance with Robert Earl of Gloucester,
and took Arundel Castle and embarked on getting support in England with
the aim of claiming the throne, taking the title ‘Lady of the
English’, a civil war broke out throughout the country, known
as ‘The Anarchy’.
in February 1141, Stephen laid siege to Lincoln Castle belonging to
the Earl of Chester. The Earl with the help of Robert of Gloucester
defeated and captured Stephen and moved him to Bristol where Empress
Matilda put him in prison. In April Matilda was elected Queen and moved
to London for her coronation, but the citizens of London supported Stephen
and drove her out before she could be crowned. Stephen’s wife
sent an army to assist her husband, Robert, Earl of Gloucester was captured
and held until Empress Matilda released Stephen who restored control
of the Throne.
1142, Empress Matilda was besieged Oxford, but escaped across the snow
wearing a white cape to Wallingford Castle. Matilda’s son Henry
II in 1147, while only 14 years of age, he had raised a small army of
mercenaries and invaded England but was defeated, he again tried in
1149, and once again Stephen defeated him, Henry returned to Normandy
where in 1151 became both Count of Anjou and the Duke of Normandy giving
him wealth and power.
later Henry invaded England again to attempt to get Stephen’s
agreement that he should become King of England on Stephen’s death,
later that year Stephen’s son Eustace died in a battle with Henry
at Wallingford, which left Stephen without an heir and agreed with Empress
Matilda that her son Henry II would succeed to his throne.
Stephen died 25th October 1154 at Dover Priory, his wife Matilda had
died in 1152. They along with their son Eustace were buried in Faversham
Abbey where Stephen and Matilda had founded in 1147.