Come now, gentle reader, and let me tell you a story about a woman and the cousin who would steal her crown...
On the fateful day of 25 November 1120, a royal company boards a great vessel which was ready to carry them back to England. Such happiness filled this company that they filled their stomachs with wine, and so much so that a few of the companions left to board another ship, believing trouble to be near. And these suspicions proved correct, for off the coast of Barfleur the White Ship hit a rock and thereafter sank. Many lost their lives on this tragic night, including the precious William Adelin, son and only heir of the English king, whose own dinghy sank when he turned around to save his illegitimate half-sister, Matilda the Countess of Perche, as many people clung to the dinghy fore saving.
Williamís father, King Henry, was greatly aggrieved when he heard this tale. Although the king was known for his remarkable ability to produce children, as he fathered many illegitimate, William was his only legitimate male son. With quick thinking, the king turned to his only remaining legitimate child as a successor, a daughter named Maud, who was already an empress. But King Henry knew well that his barons would likely turn her aside due to her womanhood, and in 1126, at the kingís Christmas court, Maud sat beside beside him as he made his barons swear an oath. This was no ordinary oath - this was a question of fealty. The king intended his barons to swear their allegiance before Maud, one that would ensure her acceptance as Queen of England upon his death, but when the time came for this oath to be acted on, the majority of barons ignored their pledge. For when King Henry died nine years later, on 1 December 1135, they chose the kingís nephew Stephen of Blois, son of the kingís sister Adela, to be their sovereign.
Supported by the Church and the nobility, Stephen arrived in England on the 22nd of the same month, while his cousin Maud was in Anjou, was pregnant with her third child. Four days later, at Westminster Abbey, Stephen was crowned King of England by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Meanwhile, the usurperís brother Henry of Blois, a bishop, circulates rumors that the oath sworn to Empress Maud was by force and was therefore invalid, and that on his deathbed King Henry changed his mind about the succession, wanting Stephen to replace him.
Enraged, the Empress Maud landed at Arundel in 1139, ready to begin her bid for her crown. England was thrown into a brutal civil war, one where alliances were easily made and broken as it was used as pretext for filling ambitions. The story that followed is well-known, ending with the Treaty of Wallingford and the kingship of Henry II, but this is our tale as we bring these great characters back to life.
It is 1135 and Henry Beauclerc's reign is coming to an end. Almost fifteen years have passed since William the Atheling's tragic death, and King Henry has not sired another heir. His only legitimate child is a daughter, Maud, widow of the Holy Roman Emperor and wife of the Count of Anjou.
Maud hopes that the oath of fealty sworn to her by Henry's barons will be kept, but there is another claimant who might arise and wear the crown.
Stephen of Blois didn't usurp the throne and Maud becomes Queen as planned.
King Stephen's Line
The Treaty of Wallingford was never signed and Henry Plantagenet never became King.
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