The Last English Royal Ancestor of Peter Worden I

 

John R. Schuerman

 

In the November 2006 issue of Wordens Past, I authored an article on the various ways that Peter Worden is descended from Charlemagne, together with a chart of the relationships leading to those descents.  The chart has some errors and is incomplete.  I now have found some 160 possible descents of Peter Worden from Charlemagne (no doubt there are many more).  Pat and Rex Warden have agreed to post a new chart (now covering five pages) on the Worden family website.  Posting there makes it easier to correct and enlarge, and avoids enshrining errors in print.

 

One significant error on the earlier chart concerns the mother of Margaret of Wales, shown there as Joan, the daughter of King John of England.  Not shown on the chart is Joan's husband, Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales ("Llywelyn the Great").  Margaret of Wales was Llywelyn's daughter, but not by Joan, rather she was the daughter of an unnamed mistress of Llywelyn.  So Margaret of Wales is not a descendant of King John (she is an ancestor of Peter Worden).

 

Thus, the latest English royal ancestor of Peter Worden (that I know of) is King Henry II (1133-1189), King John's father.  Peter Worden is descended from Henry's illegitimate son, William Longespee (the name means "long sword").  William's mother is known to have been named Ida but there is dispute as to her parentage.  

 

Henry II was the son of Maud of England and Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and Maine.  Geoffrey was not known as "Plantagenet" during his lifetime, that name was given him by later historians (it comes from "planta genista," a sprig of broom, that he wore on his helmet).  The eight kings of England from Henry II to Richard II (d. 1399) are known as Plantagenets, although the first three, Henry II, Richard I, and John are also known as "Angevins" (for Anjou).  Maud was the daughter of King Henry I and Matilda of Scotland, the daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland and St. Margaret.  St. Margaret descended from pre-conquest Anglo-Saxon kings of England while Malcolm descended from a long line of Scottish royalty as I discussed in an earlier article in WP.  Maud was the widow of Emperor Henry V of Germany at the time she married Geoffrey Plantagenet and liked to be called "The Empress."

 

William the Conqueror (King William I) was succeeded by his son William II ("Rufus") who had no heirs and was succeeded by his brother Henry I.  Henry I's son and presumed heir was William who was killed when the White Ship went down as it left Barfleur, France for Southampton in November 1120.  This left William's older sister, Maud, as the presumptive heir to the crown, but on Henry I's death her cousin Stephen was chosen king.  A civil war ensued between the supporters of Stephen and those of Maud.  The war was resolved by the understanding that Maud's son, Henry, would become king on the death of Stephen, which occurred in 1154.  Henry II reigned for 35 years, until his death in 1189.  His reign was one of the most successful in English history, but not without considerable turmoil. 

 

As with all of the early post-conquest kings of England, Henry II was also duke of Normandy.  Actually, before he became king, Henry's father, Geoffrey, had conquered Normandy and assumed the title of Duke of Normandy which he then conferred on his son.  Henry also inherited the title of count of Anjou from his father.  He married Eleanor of Acquitaine, the divorced wife of King Louis VII of France and daughter of Duke William of Acquitaine, so through her he became the Duke of Acquitaine.  Thus, he was lord not only of England but also of a substantial part of what is now western France.  As with all of the kings following William I, he was more French (or rather, Norman) than English.  In fact, he spoke only French and Latin, not English.  During the time he was king of England he spent most of his time in France, much of it in various military campaigns.  Chroniclers of the day report that he was bow-legged, presumably from his days on horseback.  His head was closely shaved.  He was extraordinarily energetic, moving from place to place rapidly, such that some thought he was able to fly. 

 

A year after becoming king in 1154, Henry experienced one of the first challenges to his authority, this from his brother, Geoffrey, who claimed that their father (who was now dead) had promised him the lordship of Anjou and other places in France if Henry became king of England.  Henry put down this challenge by a combination of diplomacy and threats of military action, the diplomacy including appeals to the English pope, Adrian IV.  Geoffrey died in 1158, which put an end to this phase of threats to Henry's vast power.

 

But there were challenges to come from another quarter.  Thomas Becket was archdeacon of Canterbury at the time Henry became king.  Henry appointed him as his chancellor, the official in charge of the administration of the realm.  Becket served in this capacity with great zeal, protecting the king's interests at every turn, to the point that the archbishop of Canterbury, Theobold, was concerned about encroachments on the church's prerogatives.  When Theobold died in 1162, Henry appointed Becket archbishop.  First, Becket had to be ordained as a priest and the next day he was consecrated as archbishop.

 

Becket immediately began to oppose the king on all matter of issues involving church-state relations.  Henry felt betrayed.  They were both headstrong men.  The conflict escalated and in 1164 Henry brought charges against Becket who fled to France.  While he was away, Henry had his son, Henry, crowned as co-king.  This coronation was performed by the archbishop of York, which infuriated Becket, since coronations were supposed to be the province of archbishops of Canterbury.  Becket returned to England in 1170 and proceeded to excommunicate the archbishop of York and a couple of other people.  Henry erupted in anger, he is reported to have said, "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" (he probably didn't say exactly that, but he probably meant it).  Four knights responded by tracking down Becket in Canterbury Cathedral where they murdered him.  He was quickly venerated as a martyr and shortly made a saint.  By all accounts, Henry was mortified, not intending to have this as the outcome.  But he was blamed.  The pope threatened retaliation, perhaps excommunication.  Henry embarked on a long process of conciliation and penance, which eventually led to his absolution.  For years afterwards he periodically traveled to Canterbury to do penance at the cathedral.

 

This problem was followed by difficulties within his family.  Henry and Eleanor had five sons.  The eldest, William, died at the age of three.  The others were Henry (crowned joint king in 1170 and called the "Young King"), Richard, Geoffrey, and John.  He also had a number of illegitimate children, including William Longespee. (A mistress was Rosamond Clifford, the famous "Fair Rosamond," but she is not known to have mothered any of his children.)  Henry attempted to provide his sons with various pieces of his empire but they squabbled among each other and were unhappy with their allocations.  Meanwhile, his queen, Eleanor, had become estranged, perhaps because of his affair with Rosamund, and took up residence in France.  She began to plot with her sons and with her former husband, King Louis VII of France, against Henry.  Also involved in this plot was the king of Scotland, William the Lion, also an ancestor of Peter Worden and whom I discussed in an earlier WP. 

 

In the course of the ensuing conflict, in 1173-75, Eleanor was imprisoned and William the Lion captured.  Henry II prevailed, but the troubles with and between his sons continued.  Henry, the Young King, died in 1183 at the age of 28 and his brother Geoffrey died in a tournament in 1186, leaving Richard and John as the surviving sons.  Tensions with France continued, sometimes erupting into open warfare, with Henry's sons sometimes with him, sometimes plotting against him.  King Henry II died in July 1189, frustrated in his attempts to unify and pacify his French holdings.

 

On Henry's death, his son, Richard I ("Lionheart") became king.  Richard was renowned for being the first major English crusader, an effort that ended in disaster.  Richard had no heir, so his brother John became king after his death.

 

Although he was not English and spent relatively little time in the country, Henry II, along with his very able administrators, developed a foundation for the law and administration of the country that lasted for many generations.  He instituted a system of inquests and writs (causes of legal action) and a centralized bureaucracy that reduced the level of corruption and capriciousness in the operations of state.  He established the precursor to the grand jury for deciding whether a criminal trial should be held, although the principal means of deciding ultimate guilt was still the ordeal in which the accused was put through an ordeal by fire or water, on the assumption that God would intervene to save an innocent peson.

 

A number of other ancestors of Peter Worden were prominent before and during Henry II's reign.  Notable were two that  were involved in the civil war between Stephen and Maud: Earl Miles of Hereford and Earl Robert de Caen, an illegitimate son of Henry I and so half-brother of Maud.  Both at first supported Stephen and then changed over to Maud. 

 

I show below the descent from William I to Alice Plumpton.  I have shown the descent from Alice to Peter Worden in a previous WP.

 

Sources:

There are a number of books on Henry II.  One that is relatively short and lively is Henry II Plantagenet, by John Schlight (1973).  I have made considerable use of the biography of Henry II in the Dictionary of National Biography (U.K.), online through libraries that subscribe, as well as The Oxford Companion to British History.  For Henry's genealogy (both ancestors and descendants) see Stewart Baldwin's Henry Project online at

http://sbaldw.home.mindspring.com/hproject/henry.htm.  Extensive discussions of the descendants of Henry may be found in Douglas Richardson's Plantagenet Ancestry (2004).  A useful discussion of trial by ordeal may be found on the Wikipedia website.

 


 

                  King William I = Matilda of Flanders

                ___1027-1087_____|___ 1030-1083

                |                   |

         King William II     King Henry I = Matilda of Scotland

          1060-1100           1068-1135   |

         Count Geoffrey Plantagenet = Maud of England

          1113-1151                 |  1102-1167

                           King Henry II = Ida

                            1133-1189    |

                          William Longespee = Ela of Salisbury

                           d.1226___________|   1191-1261

                                 |

                     Ida Longespee (d.<1269) = William de Beauchamp

                            _________________|

                            |

                   Maud de Beauchamp = Roger de Mowbray (d.1263)

                        d.1273       |

              Rose de Clare = Roger de Mowbray (d. 1297)

                            |

                      John de Mowbray (1286-1323) = Aline de Braose

                                      ____________|

                                      |

                       Christiana de Mowbray = William Plumpton

                           d.1363            |         d.1362

                                   Alice Plumpton