The year is 1134 and the place is England. King Henry Beauclerc reigns from his seat in Winchester, which he took thirty three years earlier when William Rufus was slain while hunting. While he has many sons, most of them are bastards. He has installed them in important positions throughout England, such as the Earl of Gloucester. His only legitimate heir, William Ætheling, drowned upon the White Ship in 1120, thirteen long years ago. Henry’s daughter, the Empress Matilda, has been recalled to England to rule as queen upon his death. On Christmas Day of 1126 she was acclaimed by the barons.

In 1127, Charles of Flanders was murdered. King Louis favored William Clito to rule the Flemings but Henry feared a threat on the Norman lands from Francia—thus, Henry attacked France in 1128 and paid for a proxy war in Flanders. William Clito died in July of that year, and the war ended. Meantime, our good king married Matilda to Fulk of Anjou’s eldest son, Geoffrey.

The Anarchy of King Stephen

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