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King Henry of England

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King Henry of England

Henry Plantagenet

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Description

Aims

  • Keep your lands united under your rule
  • Ensure a stable succession
  • Preserve your dominant position over France

Background

You are an old man.  In your youth, you stole the heart of a queen, built an empire stretching from Scotland to the Pyrenees, and made England stable after two decades of civil war.  You have plotted and schemed and fought to become the greatest king in Christendom. But now, in the twilight of your life, it all seems to be slipping from your grasp.

The problem is your family.  It is said that your father's line has the devil's blood in its veins, due to a marriage in the distant past with a demon named Melusine; as a result they are cursed to fight, brother against brother and the sons against the father.  And so it is with you.  You have been blessed with sons, but they have been nothing but trouble.  A decade ago, your three eldest - Young Henry, Richard, and Geoffrey, rebelled against you and allied themselves with King Louis of France to seize land and power for themselves.  Only your youngest son, John, remained loyal.  You put down the rebellion, but at great cost.  You have spent the decade since trying to find a way of ensuring a stable succession while avoiding the kingdom splintering into civil war, but nothing has worked.  Your sons continued to fight one another.

Your wife, Eleanor, sided with your children and incited them to rebellion - apparently as revenge when your dalliance with Rosamund Clifford grew too close.  As a result you were forced to imprison her.  Rosamund died several years later, and some have suggested Eleanor had her poisoned.  Since then, you have amused yourself with a string of mistresses.  Your latest is Alais, the half-sister of Phillip of France, and your son Richard's betrothed.  She has recently been suggesting that you have your marriage to Eleanor annulled, and marry her instead.  While you clearly have just cause - your adultery, her rebellion, and the old fallback of consanguinity (ironically you are more closely related to her than her former husband was) - it would be risky.  Eleanor would retain all her lands, and she and her sons would lose any pretence of loyalty.  But you could always sire more legitimate sons with Alais.

Earlier this year, Young Henry and Geoffrey supported Richard's vassals in Poitou in rebellion.  Richard appealed to you for aid, but when you tried to intervene, your eldest son turned his armies against you, and even tried to have you killed.  During the resulting war, Young Henry contracted dysentery and died. He begged to see you as he lay dying, so he could ask forgiveness, but fearing a trap you refused and sent only a sapphire ring as a token.  And so your son died alone.  Despite all the bad blood between you, you grieve for him.  He cost you much, with his wars, his debts, and his rebellions - but you wish he had lived to cost you more.

Young Henry's death means you must decide on a new successor, and ideally have your other sons swear fealty to him.  Richard is the obvious choice, but he has always sided with his mother and fought against you.  So you have decided, for the moment, on John.  The problem will be getting Richard to accept it.  The other problem will be preventing the new French king from using the crisis to his advantage.  He is close to both Richard and Geoffrey, and has several obvious avenues for exploiting the situation.  Whoever you choose can be supported by France to claim their inheritance early.  Whoever you do not choose can be supported in a bid to claim it for themselves.  Anyone dissatisfied may be persuaded to swear fealty to France in exchange for support.  You will need to manage your affairs carefully if you are to keep your kingdom intact and avoid war. 

Young Henry's death also means that the County of Gisors - given to you as a dowry for his marriage to Margaret Capet - must be returned to France.  Gisors and the neighbouring Vexin are vital border territories, so vital that you could not trust even your own sons with them, and you do not wish to part with them.

Relationships with other characters (8)

  • Alais

    Philip of France's half-sister, a treaty between yourself and King Louis of France 15 years ago saw her betrothed to Richard, bringing the County of Vexin (a vital border territory) as a dowry.  She has lived in your court ever since.  She is now your latest mistress, and clearly hopes to be your wife.

    show the relationship of Alais with King Henry of England

  • Constance of Brittany

    Geoffrey's wife, and your past ward.  You forced her father to abdicate in her favour, then ruled his lands as her guardian for 15 years.  Many years ago you attempted to seduce her and make her your mistress, but she turned you down.

    show the relationship of Constance of Brittany with King Henry of England

  • Eleanor of Aquitaine

    Your wife, the love of your life, and your bitterest enemy.  As a young man, you seduced her away from her first husband, King Louis of France.  But your relationship was tumultuous and you constantly strayed.  After she incited your sons to rebel against you, you have kept her imprisoned for the past ten years.  You have summoned her to court to help resolve the succession, in the hope that she can persuade your sons to accept your decision.  But you also hope to flaunt your relationship with Alais in front of her.

    show the relationship of Eleanor of Aquitaine with King Henry of England

  • Geoffrey

    Your third son.  Like his two older brothers, he has constantly rebelled against you, and he has now taken up with your enemies, allying himself with Philip of France and even becoming his Seneschal.

    show the relationship of Geoffrey with King Henry of England

  • John

    Your youngest son, he has always been your favourite.  While he has flaws - at various times you've caught him lying, cheating, stealing, and whipping his servants - he is young, and he will grow out of them. 

    show the relationship of John with King Henry of England

  • King Philip of France

    The new King of France.  You knew where King Louis stood on things, but you don't know where Phillip does.  But he seems to be continuing his father's policies of using your sons against you, and is close to Richard and Geoffrey.  He is likely to want to reclaim Margaret's dowry, and may try and force you to adhere to your agreement to marry Richard to Alais as well.

    show the relationship of King Philip of France with King Henry of England

  • Margaret

    Young Henry's widow, and Alais' sister.  Her marriage to your son settled the border between yourself and France by bringing you the County of Gisors, a vital border territory, but this is under threat due to Young Henry's death.  You have heard that things did not end well between her and your son; she was exiled to Paris last year after a scandalous affair with William Marshal, one of Young Henry's knights, and he was apparently seeking an annulment when he died.

    show the relationship of Margaret with King Henry of England

  • Richard

    Your second son, and now the eldest surviving, he was always Eleanor's favourite; she made you agree to him holding the Duchy of Aquitaine - land which he then used as a powerbase in the rebellion against you.  He is betrothed to Alais, but you delayed the marriage to prevent your son becoming too close to the French court.  Now you have reasons of your own to delay it further.

    show the relationship of Richard with King Henry of England

Notes for organizers

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