the coronation of Stephen 1135 consecrated wafer falling to the ground 1096 – 25 October 1154

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19th era / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: B6YJF4
Stephen often known as Stephen of Blois (c. 1096 – 25 October 1154) was a grandson of William the Conqueror. He was the last Norman King of England, from 1135 to his death, and also the Count of Boulogne jure uxoris. His reign was marked by civil war with his rival the Empress Matilda and general chaos, known in as The Anarchy. He was succeeded by Matilda's son Henry II, the first of the Angevin or Plantagenet kings. There were three principal contenders for the succession to Henry I and one 'fancied outsider.' The least popular was the Empress Matilda, not simply because she was a woman, but because her husband Geoffrey, Count of Anjou was an enemy of the Normans. The other contenders were two men of royal birth, Robert, Earl of Gloucester and Stephen. The 'outsider' was Stephen's older brother, Theobald, Count of Blois. However, Theobald did not want the kingdom, at least not enough to fight for it. Before his death in 1135, Henry I named his daughter Matilda his heir and made the barons of England swear allegiance to her. Stephen was the first baron to do so. However, upon King Henry's death, Stephen claimed the throne, saying Henry had changed his mind on his deathbed and named Stephen as his heir. Once crowned, Stephen gained the support of the majority of the barons as well as Pope Innocent II and the first few years of his reign were peaceful, notwithstanding insurgences by the Welsh, King David I of Scotland, and Baldwin de Redvers.