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Medieval Sourcebook:
Roger of Hoveden:
The Last Days and Death of Henry II, 1189, from The Chronicle

Roger of Hoveden was a royal clerk who compiled a History of England in the early years of the thirteenth century.  As a royal clerk he was well-placed to gather information from members of the royal court, and he also included many documents, especially letters, into his history.  This is the bulk of the entry for 1189 up to the coronation of Richard I.

In the year of grace 1189, being the thirty-fifth and last year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said Henry was at Saumur, in Anjou, on the day of the Nativity of our Lord, which fell on the Lord’s day, and there he kept that festival; although many of his earls and barons, deserting him, had gone over to the king of France and earl Richard against him. After the feast of Saint Hilary, the truce being broken, which existed between the before-named kings, the king of France, and earl Richard and the Bretons, (with whom the said king of France and earl Richard had entered into covenants, and had given sureties that if they should make peace with the king of England, they would not omit to include them in that peace) made a hostile incursion into the territories of the king of England, and ravaged them in every direction.
On this, the cardinal John of Anagni came to the before named kings in behalf of our lord the pope, and sometimes with kind words, sometimes with threats, exhorted them to make peace. Moved by his urgent entreaties, the said kings, by the inspiration of the Divine grace, gave security that they would abide by the decision of himself, and of the archbishops of Rheims, Bourges, Rouen, and Canterbury, and named as the day for a conference to be held near La Ferte Bernard, the octave of Pentecost; on which the before-named cardinal, and the four archbishops above-mentioned, pronounced sentence of excommunication against all, both clergy and laity, who should stand in the way of peace being made between the said kings, the persons of the kings alone excepted.
On the day of the conference, the king of France, and the king of England, earl Richard, the cardinal John of Anagni, and the four archbishops before-mentioned, who had been chosen for the purpose, and the earls and barons of the two kingdoms, met for a conference near La Ferte Bernard. At this conference, the king of France demanded of the king of England, his sister Alice to be given in marriage to Richard, earl of Poitou, and that fealty for his dominions should be sworn to the said Richard, and that his brother John, assuming the Gross, should set out for Jerusalem. To this the king of England made answer that he would never consent to such a proposal, and offered the king of France, if he should think fit to assent thereto, to give the said Alice in marriage to his son John, with all the matters previously mentioned more at large, more fully and more completely than the king demanded. The king of France would not agree to this; on which, putting an end to the conference, they separated, mutually displeased. However, the cardinal John of Anagni declared that if the king of France did not come to a complete arrangement with the king of England, he would place the whole of his territory under interdict; to which the king of France made answer, that he should not dread his sentence and that he cared nothing for it, as it was supported upon no grounds of justice. For he said, it was not the duty of the Church of Rome to punish the kingdom of France by its sentence or in any other manner, if the king of France should think fit to punish any vassals of his who had strewn themselves undeserving, and rebellious against his sway, for the purpose of avenging the insult to his crown; he also added, that the before-named cardinal had already smelt the sterling coin of the king of England. Then closing the interview, the king of France departed thence, and took La Ferte Bernard, and then Montfort, and next Malestroit, Beaumont, and Balim.
After this he came to Le Mans, on the Lord’s day, pretending that he was going to set out for Tours on the ensuing Monday; but when the king of England and his people seemed to have made themselves at ease as to the further progress of the king of France, he drew out his forces in battle array, for the purpose of making an assault upon the city. This being perceived by Stephen de Tours, the seneschal of Anjou, he set fire to the suburbs. The fire, however, rapidly gaining strength and volume, running along the walls, communicated with the city; seeing which, the Franks approached a bridge of stone, where Geoffrey de Burillun and many with him of the party of the king of England met them with the intention of pulling down the bridge; on which, a desperate conflict took place, and a great part of the armies were slain on both sides, and in the conflict, the before named Geoffrey was taken prisoner, and wounded in the thigh; many others also of the king of England’s army were taken, while the rest immediately tool to flight, with the intention of betaking themselves to the city, but the Franks entered it with them.
The king of England seeing this, and being in a state of desperation, contrary to his promise when he came, took to flight with seven hundred of his knights. For he had promised the inhabitants of that city that he would not forsake them, giving it as his reason, that his father rested there, as also, the circumstance that he himself was born there, and loved that city more than all others. The king of France pursued him for three miles; and if the stream which the Franks forded had not been very wide and deep, they would hare pursued them as they feed with such swiftness, that they would have been all taken prisoners. In this flight, many of the Welch were slain. The king of England, however, with a few of his men, got to Chinon and there took refuge within the fort. The rest of the household of the king of England who were surviving, took refuge within the tower of Le Mans; immediately on which, the king of France laid siege to the town, and, partly through his miners, partly the assaults of his engines, the tower was surrendered to him within three days, together with thirty knights and sixty men at arms.
Marching thence, he took Mont Double by surrender of the castle and its lord. For the viscount of this castle had been the means, indeed, the especial cause, of this catastrophe; for, lying in ambush, he had, armed, fallen upon Geoffrey, the earl of Vendôme, who was unarmed, and had wounded him so seriously, that at first his life was despaired of, though by the grace of God he afterwards entirely recovered from the effects thereof. The king of France was the more vexed at his acting thus, because the before-named viscount had strictly bound himself to the king of France, by a promise that he would injure none of his people either in going or returning, or annoy him while engaged in the siege of Le Mans. The king departing thence, the castle of Trou was surrendered to him, together with Roche l’Eveque, Montoire, Chateau Carcere, Chateau Loire, Chateau Chaumont, Chateau d’Amboise, and Chateau de Roche Charbon.
At length, on the sixth day of the week after the festival of the Nativity of Saint John, on the day after the feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, the king of France came to Tours. On the Lord’s day next after this, Philip, earl of Flanders, William, archbishop of Rheims, and Hugh, duke of Burgundy, came to the king of England, who was then at Saumur, for the purpose of making peace between him and the king of France. The king of France had, however, sent him word before they set out, that from Chateau Saint Martin, whither he had betaken himself by fording the Loire, he should make an attack upon the city. Accordingly, on the ensuing Monday, at about the third hour, applying their scaling ladders to the walls on the side of the Loire, which on account of the small quantity of the water, was much contracted and reduced, the city was taken by storm, and in it eighty knights and a hundred men at arms.
To their great disgrace, on the one side, the Poitevins were planning treachery against their liege lord the king of England, and on the other the Bretons, who had joined the king of France, and had obtained from him letters patent, to the effect that he would never make peace with the king of England unless the Bretons were included in the treaty. Accordingly, the king of England, being reduced to straits, made peace with Philip, king of France, on the following terms:

Conditions of peace made between Henry, king of England and Philip, king of France.  

"Upon this, the before-named king of France and king of England, and Richard, earl of Poitou, with their archbishops, bishops, earls, and barons, about the time of the feast of the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, held a conference between Tours and Arasie, where the king of England wholly placed himself under the control and at the will of the king of France. The king of England then did homage to the king of France, although at the beginning of the war he had renounced the lordship of the king of France, and the king of France had quitted all claim of his homage. It was then provided by the king of France that Alice, his sister, whom the king of England had in his charge, should be given up and placed in the charge of one of five persons, of whom earl Richard should make choice. It was next provided by the king of France that security should be given by the oath of certain men of that land that his said sister should be delivered up to earl Richard on his return from Jerusalem, and that earl Richard should receive the oath of fealty from his father’s subjects on both sides the sea, and that none of the barons or knights who had in that war withdrawn from the king of England and come aver to earl Richard should again return to the king of England, except in the last month before his setting out for Jerusalem; the time of which setting out was to be Mid-Lent, at which period the said kings and earl Richard were to be at Vezelay, That all the burgesses of the vills, demesne of the king of England, should be unmolested throughout all the lands of the king of France, and should enjoy their own customary laws and not be impleaded in any matter, unless they should be guilty of felony. The king of England was to pay to the king of France twenty thousand marks of silver; and all the barons of the king of England were to make oath that if the king of England should refuse to observe the said covenants, they would hold with the king of France and earl Richard, and would aid them to the best of their ability against tile king of England. The king of France and earl Richard were to hold in their hands the city of Le Mans, the city of Tours, Chateau Loire, and the castle of Trou; or else, if the king of England should prefer it, the king of France and earl Richard would hold the castle of Gisors, the castle of Pasci, and the castle of Novacourt, until such time as all the matters should be completed as arranged above by the king of France.
While the before-named kings were conferring in person hereon, the Lord thundered over them, and a thunderbolt fell between the two, but did them no injury; they were, however, greatly alarmed, and separated accordingly, while all who were with them were astonished that the thunder had been heard so suddenly, seeing that no lowering clouds had preceded it. After a short time the kings again met together for a conference, on which a second time thunder was heard, still louder and d more terrible than before, the sky retaining its original sereneness; in consequence of which, the king of England, being greatly alarmed, would have fallen to the ground from the horse on which he was mounted, if he had not been supported by the hands of those who were standing around him. From that time he entirely placed himself at the will of the king of France, and concluded peace on the terms above written, requesting that the names of all those who, deserting him, had gone over to the king of France and earl Richard, should be committed to writing and given to him. This being accordingly done, he found the name of his son John written at the beginning of the list.
Surprised at this beyond measure, he came to Chinon, and, touched with grief at heart, cursed the day on which he was born, and pronounced upon his sons the curse of God and of himself, which he would never withdraw, although bishops and other religious men frequently admonished him so to do. Being sick even unto death, he ordered himself to be carried into the church, before the altar, and there devoutly received the communion of the body and blood of Christ; and after confessing his sins, and being absolved by the bishop and clergy, he departed this life in the thirty-fifth year of his reign, on the octave of the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, being the fifth day of the week; after a reign of thirty-four years, seven months, and four days.
After his death, having plundered him of all his riches, all forsook him, so true it is that just as flies seek honey, wolves the carcass, and ants corn, this crew followed not the man, but his spoils. At last however, his servants returned, and buried him with royal pomp. On the day after his death, when he was being carried out for burial in the Church of the Nuns at Fontevraud, earl Richard, his son and heir, came to meet him, and, smitten with compunction, wept bitterly; immediately on which the blood flowed in streams from the nostrils of the body at the approach of his son. His son, however, proceeded with the body of his father to the abbey of Fontevraud, and there buried him in the choir of the Nuns, and thus it was that he was "among the veiled women as one wearing the veil."


Roger wrote originally in Latin.  This translation was made by Henry T. Riley and was published as The Annals of Roger de Hoveden.  2 vols. London:  Bohn, 1853.  I believe this translation is now in the public domain.  The electronic form of this presentation is ©1998 by Scott McLetchie and may not be reproduced for any commercial purposes whatsoever.  It may be reproduced for non-profit educational purposes.

Etext file created for a class by Scott Mcletchie [], and used by permission here.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, October 1998


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