Henry II

Henry was the eldest son of Empress Matilda (daughter of Henry I by his second wife) and her second husband Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou. He was known as Henry 'Curtmantle' or 'Fitz Empress' when he was young and succeeded King Stephen in October 1154. Archbishop Thomas a Becket disagreed with the King's wishes and a rash phrase spoken by Henry led to Thomas' murder at Canterbury cathedral. Henry was devastated that his knights had committed this deed and did public penance.


At Bordeaux on 18th May 1152 he married Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine.


Henry and his queen Eleanor of Aquitaine were crowned in Westminster Abbey on Sunday 19th December 1154 by Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury. His titles were King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine and Count of Anjou and Maine. His son, Henry the Younger, had a coronation on 14th June 1170, in an attempt to settle the succession to the throne during the father's lifetime. But the young Henry died before his father.


He died as a result of a riding accident at Chinon in France on 6th July 1189 and was buried with his family at Fontevrault. Effigies of him and his wife can be seen there.

Further reading

Queens Consort of Westminster Abbey

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004



4th or 5th March 1133


6th July 1189


19th December 1154

Portrait of Henry II wearing a gold crown and necklace with a red cloak with white fur collar
King Henry II by Unknown artist

© National Portrait Gallery, London [Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]