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Henry II , king of England, duke of Normandy and of Aquitaine, count of Anjou

Born: 1133   Died: 1189   Active: 1154-1189   

Henry succeeded to the Crown at a difficult time, for he followed the nineteen anarchic years of Stephen's reign (1135-54). Contemporaries remarked on his great energy and temper, but also his tendency to be unpredictable.

Gerald of Wales (d. c. 1220) described Henry as the 'Alexander of the West' who subjected Ireland, dominated Scotland and wielded considerable influence in France, and not least, married Louis VII's former wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. But Henry was also renowned for his family conflicts - he faced rebellion from his sons and conflict with his wife; and was villified as the man responsible for the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170, an event that shook Christendom to the core. Henry sought to centralize administrative government but scholars are now divided in their opinion of the king and his achievements.

Sites associated with this person

Basingwerk Abbey, Flintshire (patron)

Bibliographical sources

Web links (open in new window)

Keefe, Thomas K., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online - Henry II (View website) (Subscription reqd.)