King Henry II (Plantagenet) of England 1133 – 1189

King Henry IIBorn – 5th March 1133
Died – 6th July 1189
FatherGeoffrey of Anjou (Plantagenet) (1113 – 1151)
MotherEmpress Matilda (1102 – 1151)
Spouse – m. 1152 – Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122 – 1204)
Children – William (1153 – 1156), Henry (1155 – 1185), Matilda (1156 – 1189), King Richard I (1157 – 1199), Geoffrey of Brittany (1158 – 1186), Eleanor (1162 – 1214), Joan (1165 – 1199), King John (1166 – 1216)
King of England – 1154 – 1189
PredecessorStephen 1135 – 1154
SuccessorRichard I 1189 – 1199

1133 (5th March)
King Henry II of England, was born the son of Matilda, daughter of Henry I, and Geoffrey of Anjou at Le Mans, Anjou.
1135 (22nd November)
King Henry I died. Although Henry’s mother, Matilda, had been nominated as heir, she had little support. Stephen of Blois, with the support of his brother, Bishop of Winchester, took control of the treasury and became King of England.
1135 (26th December)
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.
1136 (21st July)
The Anarchy
Matilda was furious at Stephen’s treachery. Her half-brother, Robert of Gloucester, rebelled against Stephen beginning a period of civil war in England known as the Anarchy.
1139 (September)
Henry’s mother sailed for England and landed at Arundel in Sussex to press her claim to the throne.
1142 (during)
Henry , went to England to help his mother’s cause.
1144 (during)
Henry returned to Anjou to begin learning how to administer the family’s lands there.
1147 (During)
Henry, returned to England with a mercenary force to try to take the throne from Stephen. The mission failed because Henry did not have sufficient funds to pay his men and his mother refused to pay the men for him.
1148 (early)
Henry returned to Normandy.
1151 (7th Sept)
Henry became Duke of Normandy and Anjou following the death of his father, Geoffrey
1152 (18th May)
Henry married Eleanor of Aquitaine, who had been married to Louis VII of France, at Bordeaux cathedral, Gascony. The marriage allowed him to become Duke of Aquitaine.
1153 (17th August)
A son, William, was born to Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was styled Count of Poitiers.
1153 (December)
Treaty of Westminster
This treaty agreed that Stephen would hold the kingdom of England for the remainder of his life but that on his death he would be succeeded by Henry duke of Normandy.
1154 (25th October)
King Stephen died and Henry became King Henry II of England.
1154 (8th December)
Henry landed in England to take his place as King.
1154 (19th December)
Henry received oaths of loyalty from the barons before being crowned in Westminster Abbey. Eleanor of Aquitaine was crowned Queen at the same time.
1155 (January)
Henry appointed his close friend, Thomas Becket, as Chancellor of England.
1155 (28th February)
A son, Henry, was born to Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was later known as the Young King.
1156 (April)
Henry and Eleanor’s son, William died.
1156 (June)
A daughter, Matilda, was born to Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine at Windsor Castle. She was styled Duchess of Saxony.
1157 (during)
Henry successfully gained the return of the border lands of Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumbria ceded to King David I of Scotland by Stephen in 1139.
1157 (8th September)
A son, Richard, was born to Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine at Beaumont Palace, Oxford
1158 (23rd September)
A son, Geoffrey was born to Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
1160 (2nd November)
Henry’s eldest son, Henry the young king, married Margaret, daughter of Louis VII of France.
1162 (during)
Henry appointed his Chancellor, Thomas Becket, to the post of Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry hoped that his friend Becket would help him to reduce the power of the church.
1162 (during)
Henry accused the clergy of being too lenient in the punishment of wrongdoers within their own ranks. He also ordered that appeals to Rome, which had been allowed by Stephen, were to cease.
1162 (13th October)
A daughter, Eleanor, was born to Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine at Domfront Castle, Normandy.
1163 (July)
Council at Woodstock
Henry and Becket disagreed over payments to sheriffs.
1163 (October)
Council of Westminster
As part of his desire to reform the church Henry demanded that clerics who had committed crimes should be unfrocked and handed over to the lay courts for punishment. Becket strongly opposed this move.
1164 (30th January)
Constitution of Clarendon
This was a clear statement of the King’s customary rights over the church. The document was comprised of sixteen articles that laid out the degree to which the pope had authority and also the customary rights enjoyed by the King over the church. The document required that the bishops promise to observe these customs in good faith.
1164 (during)
Thomas Becket and the bishops refused to approve the Constitution of Clarendon and turned against Henry vigorously defending their ecclesiastical rights. The struggle between Henry and Becket was worsening.
1164 (November)
Becket exiled himself to France. Henry confiscated Becket’s property.
1165 (October)
A daughter, Joan was born to Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine at Angers Castle, Anjou.
1166 (2nd January)
Assize of Clarendon
This introduced measures for the trial by royal judges of those suspected of serious crimes. Royal judges were men who the king trusted – earls, barons abbots and counsellors.
1166 (during)
Henry occupied Brittany and installed his son Geoffrey as Duke.
1166 (24th December)
A son John was born to Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
1168 (during)
Henry and Eleanor began leading separate lives. Eleanor lived in Poitiers while Henry spent time in England and Normandy.
1168 (1st February)
Henry’s daughter, Matilda, married Henry V, the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria.
1169 (6th January)
Henry and Becket met at Montmirail in France and Becket paid homage to Henry. Henry agreed that Becket should return to England.
1170 (14th June)
Concern about the succession prompted Henry to crown his eldest son and heir Henry. The ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey and thereafter the young Henry became known as the Young King.
1170 (22nd July)
Henry and Becket met at Freteval and greeted each other cordially.
1170 (1st December)
Becket returned to England determined to punish all those who had played a part in the young king’s coronation. He brought with him an authorisation from the Pope for the excommunication of all bishops who had supported Henry during Becket’s exile and all barons who had profited from his exile.
1170 (after 1st December)
Henry was in Normandy when he was brought the news that Becket was threatening to excommunicate him for trying to reduce the power of the church. Henry was furious and amid his frustrated rant he may have shouted “will no-one rid me of this turbulent priest!” or words to that effect.
1170 (29th December)
Murder of Thomas Becket
Henry’s heated words were taken literally by four of his knights, Reginald Fitzurse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy and Richard le Breton. Anxious to win the kings favour they rode to Canterbury and murdered Becket in his own cathedral.
1171 (1st January)
Henry was very upset when he was told of Becket’s assassination.
1172 (around)
Richard de Claire, nicknamed Strongbow, had married King Dermot’s daughter and inherited his kingdom. Strongbow wanted to form an independent Norman state but Henry intervened and prevented this.
1172 (during)
Henry became a grandfather when his daughter, Matilda, who was married to the Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, gave birth to a daughter Richenza.
1172 (during)
Bull of Laudabiliter
This papal bull issued in 1155 gave Papal support to Henry to conquer Ireland, reform the Irish church and make it subject to Canterbury.
1172 (during)
Henry’s son, Richard, was created Duke of Aquitaine.
1172 (27th August)
Henry’s son, Henry was given a second coronation at Winchester Cathedral.
1173 (during)
Henry began an affair with Rosamund Clifford.
1173 (during)
Henry reached an agreement with Rhys ap Gruffyd that he should become known as Lord Rhys and would be recognised as the effective ruler of Wales in return for loyalty to the King.
1173 (21st February)
Thomas Becket was canonised.
1173 (March)
Henry the young king, supported by his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and his brothers, Richard, Geoffrey and John, joined forces with Louis VII of France and William (the Lion) of Scotland, and rose against Henry II. Henry was forced to leave control of England to his Justiciar Richard de Luci while he went to defend Normandy against his sons.
1174 (13th June)
Battle of Alnwick
William (the Lion) of Scotland was defeated and captured at Alnwick. He was forced to agree to the treaty of Falaise which made Scotland and its church subject to rule by King Henry II.
1174 (8th July)
Henry’s wife, Eleanor and his eldest son sailed from Harfleur to Southampton. When the ship reached England Eleanor was taken to Winchester and held under house guard.
1174 (September)
Henry’s daughter, Eleanor, married Alfonso VIII, King of Castile at Burgos Cathedral Castile.
1174 (30th September)
Louis VII surrendered to Henry near Rouen
1176 (January)
Assize of Northampton
This session reinforced trial by royal judges first introduced by the Assize of Clarendon in 1166.
1176 (during)
King Henry II was now stronger than ever and forgave his sons for turning against him. He decided to make his lands a federation of self-governing states that would be ruled over by his sons on his death.
Henry the young king would rule England, Normandy and Anjou
Richard would rule Aquitaine
Geoffrey would rule Brittany
John would rule Ireland
1177 (13th February)
Henry’s daughter, Joan, married William II, King of Sicily.
1179 (during)
Henry ruled that in cases concerning property rights a defendant could now opt for trial by jury rather than trial by battle.
1180s (during)
Henry’s sons continued to be rebellious and antagonistic towards him.
1181 (July)
Henry’s son, Geoffrey, married Constance, daughter of Conan IV, Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond.
1183 (11th June)
Henry, the Young King died at Martel Castle, Turenne, France, from dysentery.
1186 (19th August)
Geoffrey, duke of Brittany, son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine died after being trampled by his horse at a tournament.
1186 (around)
Philip Augustus, King of France, took advantage of the continuing quarrels between Henry and his sons. He supported Richard and John against their father in the hopes that he would be able to recover the Angevin Empire for France.
1189 (6th July)
King Henry II died in France. He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Richard.



Published Aug 11, 2016 @ 16:53 – Updated – Feb 28, 2022 @ 12:12 pm

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2016 – 2020). King Henry II (Plantagenet) of England 1133 – 1189. Available: Last accessed May 14th, 2022