History Revealed

The Anarchy

“Henry named Matilda as his heir and made his court swear an oath to follow her; his decision was not popular”

WHAT WAS THE ANARCHY?

The Anarchy was a period of civil war in England between 1135 and 1153, following the death of Henry I. The anonymous 12th-century history Gesta Stephani (The Deeds of Stephen) paints a dismal picture of the state of the country at this time: “England, formerly the seat of justice, the habitation of peace, the height of piety, the mirror of religion, became thereafter a home of perversity, a haunt of strife, a training-ground of disorder, and a teacher of every kind of rebellion.” The Anarchy would be looked back on for centuries to come as one of the darkest periods in England’s history.

WHAT HAD LED UP TO THE SUCCESSION CRISIS?

In 1120, Henry I’s only legitimate son and heir, William Adelin, was killed when his ship sank in the

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