With the heir to the throne dead, Henry now looked to either his nephew Stephen or his newly widowed daughter Matilda to inherit the crown. Neither were ideal options and what Henry did next would determine the fate of England... Image
His brother Robert, although pacified in Normandy, was a natural magnet for those opposed to Henry's rule. Sensing weakness, his enemies looked to Robert's son, William Clito, to provide the rallying cry for a change. Henry sought to counter this by strategically marrying Matilda
His chose to ally with the county of Anjou, a natural bulwark to France and Normandy. Count Faulk's son Geoffrey Plantagenet seemed the perfect choice. The boy was a precocious warrior, strong, energetic and ambitious. They were married on Whitsun 1128 in Le Mans. Image
Henry intended for Geoffrey to be excluded from any claim to the crown, looking to empower his future grandson. He then attempted to make his barons and nobles swear an oath of allegiance to Matilda, a difficult and contentious act, one which was heavily resisted.
His barons, esp Roger of Salisbury, had tried to make the oath conditional on their consenting to Matilda's choice of husband. When Geoffrey was chosen unilaterally by Henry, many felt relieved from their oaths, despite the King forcing fielty on three occasions, in 1127/28/31
To add to his difficulties, Matilda and Geoffrey appear to have had a terrible start to their marriage, with Matilda arriving in England without her husband and being forcibly returned to Anjou by Henry's council.
So overall, Henry's position was v precarious. No son, a daughter married to a foreign and disliked count, a kingdom brewing with resentment and rebellion and his dynasty hanging by a thread of unprecedented oaths of loyalty to a Queen.
In 1135 Henry made his final crossing into Normandy, with ill portents of an eclipse and an earthquake. He died Dec 1, the story detailing a week of fever and illness after a 'surfeit of lamprey'. His death sparked an immediate anarchy in the region, robbers taking advantage.
With no clear successor there was chaos across Normandy and England, each baron looking to their own. But someone else had been preparing for this moment, someone who immediately set sail across the Channel with his small retinue. Stephen was heading to claim the throne... Image

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