CHAPTER XVI. HENRY OUTGENERALLED

The prince who died thus pitifully on June 11, 1183, was near the middle of his twenty-ninth year. He had never had an opportunity to show what he could do as a ruler in an independent station, but if we may trust the indications of his character in other directions, he would have belonged to the weakest and worst type of the combined houses from which he was descended. But he made himself beloved by those who knew him, and his early death was deeply mourned even by the father who had suffered so much from him. Few writers of the time saw clearly enough to discern the frivolous character beneath the surface of attractive manners, and to the poets of chivalry lament was natural for one in whom they recognized instinctively the expression of their own ideal. His devoted servant, William Marshal, carried out the mission with which he had been charged, and after an absence of two years on a crusade for Henry the son, he returned and entered the service of Henry the father.

The death of a king who had never been more than a king in name made no difference in the political situation. It was a relief to Richard who once more and quickly got the better of his enemies. It must also in many ways have been a relief to Henry, though he showed no disposition to take full advantage of it. The king had learned many things in the experience of the years since his eldest son was crowned, but the conclusions which seem to us most important, he appears not to have drawn. He had had indeed enough of crowned kings among his sons, and from this time on, though Richard occupied clearly the position of heir to the crown, there was no suggestion that he should be made actually king in the lifetime of his father. There is evidence also that after the late war the important fortresses both of Aquitaine and Britanny passed into the possession of Henry and were held by his garrisons, but just how much this meant it is not easy to say. Certainly he had no intention of abandoning the plan of parcelling out the great provinces of his dominion among his sons as subordinate rulers. It almost seems as if his first thought after the death of his eldest son was that now there was an opportunity of providing for his youngest. He sent to Ranulf Glanvill, justiciar of England, to bring John over to Normandy, and on their arrival he sent for Richard and proposed to him to give up Aquitaine to his brother and to take his homage for it. Richard asked for a delay of two or three days to consult his friends, took horse at once and escaped from the court, and from his duchy returned answer that he would never allow Aquitaine to be possessed by any one but himself.

The death of young Henry led at once to annoying questions raised by Philip of France. His sister Margaret was now a widow without children, and he had some right to demand that the lands which had been ceded by France to Normandy as her marriage portion should be restored. These were the Norman Vexin and the important frontier fortress of Gisors. In the troublous times of 1151 Count Geoffrey might have felt justified in surrendering so important a part of Norman territory and defences to the king of France in order to secure the possession of the rest to his son, but times were now changed for that son, and he could not consent to open up the road into the heart of Normandy to his possible enemies. He replied to Philip that the cession of the Vexin had been final and that there could be no question of its return. Philip was not easily satisfied, and there was much negotiation before a treaty on the subject was finally made at the beginning of December, 1183. At a conference near Gisors Henry did homage to Philip for all his French possessions, a liberal pension was accepted for Margaret in lieu of her dower lands, and the king of France recognized the permanence of the cession to Normandy on the condition that Gisors should go to one of the sons of Henry on his marriage with Adela which was once more promised. This marriage in the end never took place, but the Vexin remained a Norman possession.

The year 1184 was a repetition in a series of minor details, family quarrels, foreign negotiations, problems of government, and acts of legislation, of many earlier years of the life of Henry. After Christmas, 1183, angered apparently by a new refusal of Richard to give up Aquitaine to John, or to allow any provision to be made for him in the duchy, Henry gave John an army and permission to make war on his brother to force from him what he could. Geoffrey joined in to aid John, or for his own satisfaction, and together they laid waste parts of Richard's lands. He replied in kind with an invasion of Britanny, and finally Henry had to interfere and order all his sons over to England that he might reconcile them. In the spring of the year he found it necessary to try to make peace again between the king of France and the Count of Flanders. The agreement which he had arranged in 1182 had not really settled the difficulties that had arisen. The question now chiefly concerned the lands of Vermandois, Amiens, and Valois, the inheritance which the Countess of Flanders had brought to her husband. She had died just before the conclusion of the peace in 1182, without heirs, and it had been then agreed that the Count should retain possession of the lands during his life, recognizing certain rights of the king of France. Now he had contracted a second marriage in the evident hope of passing on his claims to children of his own. Philip's declaration that this marriage should make no difference in the disposition of these lands which were to prove the first important accession of territory made by the house of Capet since it came to the throne, was followed by a renewal of the war, and the best efforts of Henry II only succeeded in bringing about a truce for a year.