Plantagenet history

How the wreck of the White Ship plunged England into chaos

Never was a monarch so undone by water as Henry I. A fruit of the sea killed him in 1135: he ate too many lampreys, a jawless, parasitic fish that sucks its prey to death. But the tragedy of his reign occurred 15 years earlier. At the most ill-fated party of the Middle Ages, his heir — the 17-year-old William Ætheling (Anglo-Saxon prince) — drowned when the White Ship sank, taking nearly 300 of his friends and relatives with him. The ramifications of his death were seismic, leading to a succession crisis that saw thousands die in a bitter civil war. The author of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle famously described this

The Plantagenet we always forget

Watching Heston Blumenthal arrange the infernal horror that is a lamprey’s head on a plate is one thing; seeing an enthusiastic dinner guest suck the raw, bloody meat out of it is quite another — something you will never, in fact, unsee. But finding the YouTube link to this spectacle in the chatty preface to an academic book on Henry III is quite the best indicator that you are in for a colourful ride. David Carpenter has chosen his subject thoughtfully. The history of English kings and queens is a well-trodden path, yet even aficionados struggle to list three things Henry did well and three areas in which he needed