Learn about the royal romance of King Henry II and the woman known as Fair Rosamund.
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The Legend of Henry II and Fair Rosamond
It’s therefore fair to say that Richard I is perhaps not to the best of kings to feature in this program. Despite early indications to the contrary and it is in fact Richard’s father Henry II who’s more to offer the true romantic in search of a king who knew how to rule their ladies. Even as a young man, Henry of Anjou was a handsome hero and the force to be record with. His mother and Matilda had been promised to the thrown of England after the death of her father Henry I who made to the Baron’s promise to accept her as his heir.
When he died, they remained on the deal and the crown passed to his nephew Steven. This resulted in years of civil war. It was only a resolved when young Henry raised an army at King Steven agreed to named Matilda’s son as his heir.
Steven died in 1154 and when Henry was crowned king at the Westminster Abbey the handsome French born 21 year old brought with him a queen his French wife Eleanor of Aquitaine.
It was an interesting match with the bride being about 11 years older than the groom. And she’d previously been married to the French sovereign Louie VII. Eleanor claims she had thought to marry a king only to find she’d married a monk of the charismatic, passionate, well-educated woman who’d also been the most eligible heiress in all of France sought and annulment form the pope which was granted on the grounds consanguinity but basically means they were too closely related.
Ironically, she was even more closely related to Henry, the second husband. And if rumors are to be believed, she had an affair with his father before him which resulted in Geoffrey of Anjou advising his son against marrying his chosen bride. It’s possible that the chemistry between the Eleanor and Henry was electric in the early days. But overall the marriage was a stormy as both of their personalities that Henry was unfaithful to his queen is undisputed and his choice of mistress would vary to say at least. The mother of his illegitimate son Geoffrey who went on to become arch bishop of York was describe by medieval writer at Henry II’s court as being a based born, common harlot who’d stooped to all uncleanliness.
Henry also fathered illegitimate children with at Alice of France the daughter of Eleanor former husband, Louie VII at his second wife Constance of Castile and if that wasn’t complicated enough, Henry was actually supposed to look after her as she was betroth to his son Richard the Lionheart of Robin Hood fame mentioned earlier.
Over a period of 13 years, Eleanor provided Henry with five sons and three daughters. But by the time the last child John was born the marriage was in effect over.
Again, this hardly sounds like a first rate romance but one of the major factors in the deterioration of Eleanor and Henry’s marriage was a lady who we know very little about, generally referred to as the Fair Rosamond and the king were quite openly head over heels in love with.
To discover more we need to travel to the beautiful—country side where England meets Wales. Their boarder regions known as the well smutches were controlled by the marcher lords often known Norman decent with strong ties to the English kings and Henry II met his Fair Rosamond while visiting her father eight marcher lord. This wonderful manor house the former Cistercian Abbey in the far astatine was built on land granted by Henry II and while records exist of later monarch staying at the Abbey while hunting in the royal forest. There’s been speculation that Henry and Rosamond might have met in secret here when the king was in the district.
Nevertheless, this royal love story is most frequently associated with Woodstock in Oxfordshire with the magnificent Blenheim Palace stands today. Long before the classical architecture of Von Brandt dominated the scene, Henry in store Rosamond in a lodge here legend has it. But Eleanor discovered what's become known as Fair Rosamond’s Bower and the jealous queen is alleged to have poisoned her rival who died in 1176.
Although a good story this is unlikely to be true as Eleanor was spending more time away from Henry attending to her lands in France with the royal couple having in reality or but separated. As time passed, she took revenge on her philandering husband by turning his sons especially her favorite Richard, against him which eventually leads to Henry’s dying for and death at the age of 56.
Its being reported that when Henry had no choice but to make peace with his son Richard, he secretly whispered may the lord never permit me to die until I have taken due vengeance upon you. The queen of Aquitaine had overtime proved to be more than a match for her unfaithful husband. And as she outlived both Henry II and their son Richard the first dying at the incredible age of 82, her influence as the Douja queen continued in to the 13th century making Eleanor a veritable tigress to her son’s Lionheart.