It’s a fluke yet somehow entirely fitting that the discussion of the events of The Anarchy should begin in October, the month of King Stephen’s death 858 years ago. To get things kickstarted, let’s take a quick look at some King Stephen trivia.
~ Did you know?
• Some of the castles besieged by Stephen include Exeter, Shrewsbury, Dudley, Ludlow, Wallingford, Arundel, Corfe, Leeds, Lincoln, Oxford, Faringdon, Pevensey, Worcester, and Newbury.
• When Stephen had Roger of Salisbury and his nephews arrested in 1139 among the castles he seized were Devizes, Sherborne, Newark, and Sleaford.
• In addition to Faversham Abbey where they were buried, King Stephen and his Queen, Matilda, founded Coggeshall Abbey, which was situated south of the town of Coggeshall in Essex, in 1140. They were also supporters of the Templars.
• Stephen’s adherents at the Battle of Lincoln included William of Ypres, William de Warenne the 3rd Earl of Surrey, Alain de Dinan, Gilbert de Clare, Baldwin de Clare, Richard Fitz-Urse, and Ilbert de Lacy. William of Ypres was the illegitimate son of Philip of Loo who was a younger son of Robert I, Count of Flanders. Alain de Dinan married Eléonore, the daughter of Stephen, Count of Tréguier and Lord of Richmond who was the younger son of Eudes, Count of Penthièvre. William de Warenne, 3rd Earl of Surrey joined the Crusades in 1146 and was killed in battle on his way to the Holy Land. His daughter Isabel married Stephen’s youngest son William of Blois, who became the 4th Earl of Surrey.
• Stephen built Brightwell Castle near Wallingford in 1145. It is thought that his brother Henry, Bishop of Winchester held a manor there and that this castle was intended as both protection for the estate and as a counter to Wallingford castle which was held by Brian Fitzcount for the Empress Matilda. The castle was destroyed by Henry of Anjou in 1153.
• In 1153 Stephen appointed Richard de Lucy Constable of the Tower in London. Richard was subsequently made Chief Justiciar of England jointly with Robert, Earl of Leicester when Henry II became king in 1154.
• Stephen fathered at least 3 and possibly 5 illegitimate children, one of whom was Gervase, Abbot of Westminster 1138 – c.1157. Prior to his marriage Stephen had been associated with a woman named Dameta who is described as a gentlewoman of Normandy.