CHAPTER XI. THE LAST STAGE OF THE CIVIL WAR
In the spring of the next year, young Henry of Anjou made an attempt on England, and found his enemies still too strong for him. In the interval since his first visit, Robert of Gloucester, the wisest of the leaders of the Angevin cause, had died in his fortress of Bristol in 1174; and in February of 1148, Matilda herself had given up her long and now apparently hopeless struggle in England, and gone back to the home of her husband, though she seems to have encouraged her son in his new enterprise by her presence in England at least for a time. The older generation was disappearing from the field; the younger was preparing to go on with the conflict. In 1149 Henry was sixteen years old, a mature age in that time, and it might well have been thought that it was wise to put him forward as leader in his own cause. The plan for this year seems to have been an attack on Stephen from the north by the king of Scotland in alliance with the Earl of Chester, and Henry passed rapidly through western England to Carlisle, where he was knighted by King David. Their army, which advanced to attack Lancaster, accomplished nothing, because, as has been related, the allegiance of Ralph of Chester, on whom they depended, had been bought back by Stephen; and Stephen himself, waiting with his army at York, found that he had nothing to do. The Scottish force withdrew, and Henry, again disappointed, was obliged to return to Normandy.
Three years later the young Henry made another and finally successful attempt to win his grandfather's throne, but in the interval great changes had occurred. Of these one fell in the year next following, 1150. Soon after Henry's return from England, his father had handed over to him the only portion of his mother's inheritance which had yet been recovered, the duchy of Normandy, and retired himself to his hereditary dominions. Geoffrey had never shown, so far as we know, any interest in his wife's campaigns in England, and had confined his attention to Normandy, in which one who was still primarily a count of Anjou would naturally have the most concern; and of all the efforts of the family this was the only one which was successful. Now while still a young man, with rare disregard of self, he gave up his conquest to his son, who had been brought up to consider himself as belonging rather to England than to Anjou. On the other side of the channel, during this year 1150, Stephen seems to have decided upon a plan which he bent every effort in the following years to carry out, but unsuccessfully, - the plan of securing a formal recognition of his son Eustace as his successor in the throne, or even as king with him. At least this is the natural explanation of the reconciliation which took place near the close of the year, between Eustace and his father on one side and Henry Murdac on the other, by which the archbishop was at last admitted to his see of York, and then set off immediately for Rome to persuade the pope to recognize Eustace, and even to consecrate the young man in person.
In England the practice of crowning the son king in the father's lifetime had never been followed, as it had been in some of the continental states, notably in France; but the conditions were now exactly those which would make such a step seem desirable to the holder of the crown. By this means the Capetian family had maintained undisputed possession of the throne through turbulent times with little real power of their own, and they were now approaching the point when they could feel that the custom was no longer necessary. The decision to attempt this method of securing the succession while still in possession of power, rather than to leave it to the uncertain chances that would follow his death, was for Stephen natural and wise. It is interesting to notice how indispensable the consent of the Church was considered, as the really deciding voice in the matter, and it was this that Stephen was not able to secure. The pope - this was about Easter time of 1151 - rejected almost with indignation the suggestion of Murdac, on the ground of the violated oath, and forbade any innovation to be made concerning the crown of England, because this was a subject of litigation; he also directed, very probably at this time, the Archbishop of Canterbury, it was said at the suggestion of Thomas Becket, to refuse to crown Eustace.