Henry VIII,the Reign
The Royal Progress of 1535
Gloucester,the Back Story
In March 1533, Henry promised that he would repair the insult to Kings Henry II and John, who had been tricked into offering the realm in tribute to the Holy See. He was also determined to reunite the crown with the goods churchmen had appropriated from it.
Letters & Papers No 235 1533 Volume 6, dated 15 March 1533
Gloucester, the Back Story
31 Jul 1535
William the Conqueror is the most famous person in English history.
A debatable point. There are others to be considered for that title, but William would be up there with the best of them, and he is synonymous with the most famous date in English history. Within a little over thirty years after his death however William’s Norman legacy was in chaos.
Following the demise of the Conqueror’s three oldest sons, his fourth, Henry I, became king of England in 1100. Henry was a sprightly fellow, and fathered ( at least)a dozen children. Only two however were born to his wife, Matilda of Scotland, the other ten were illegitimate.
The two children born in wedlock were William Adelin and his sister, also named Matilda. William Adelin however was drowned in 1120, in an incident known as the White Ship tragedy, while crossing the English Channel from Barfleur.
King Henry insisted that his daughter – not altogether popular because she was a woman – inherit his throne, she was, after all, a grandchild of the Conqueror, and the king obliged his court to swear an oath of loyalty to her and her successors.
When the time came however, another of William the Conqueror’s grandchildren, Stephen of Blois moved too quickly for her and seized the fledgling kingdom for himself.
Robert Earl of Gloucester was the oldest of Henry I’s illegitimate children, thus Matilda’s half-sister, to him Stephen had dishonoured his father, and with the blessing of the church, grabbed the crown from his sister.
But the pugnacious Robert was having none of that, not without a fight.
He took up the cause in Matilda’s name, and a bitter civil war ensued , it lasted for nineteen years.
The lands of the counties west of London were ravaged, crops despoiled, villages burned and butchery became a pastime, a time ‘when Christ and his saints slept,’ a time known to history as The Anarchy.
Gloucester and Bristol were the strongholds in the western counties which the Duke dominated, Stephens army held the areas further east and around London.
Over the years scores of castles were built and dominated the landscape from Winchester to Bristol. Fortunes ebbed and flowed on both sides over the decades but neither force really ever gained the upper hand. As time passed the reason for the conflict changed and became a war for the next succession to the English crown , Matilda’s son Henry or Stephen’s son Eustace Count of Boulogne.
Eustace’s mother was from the dynasty from which Henry VIII’s queen, Anne de Boulogne, claimed descent, , these environs, towards her, were hostile.
Royal progress of 1535 with the area of conflict during much of The Anarchy overlaid.