34 Anarchy III – Resolution

Stephen and Matilda fought themselves to a standstill, until the Empress tires of the struggle, and essentially leaves the stage around 1149. Many of her key supporters die – Miles of Gloucester and Robert of Gloucester – weakening her resolve and strength. Thereafter her son Henry picks up the baton. But the Treaty of Westminster in 1153 which brings the Anarchy to a close is as much a result of exhaustion as victory

34 Anarchy III – Resolution rm

 The Angevins conquer Normandy

Stephen's capture in 1141 had a big impact in Normandy. Most of the Barons  decide to defect, and by 1145 Geoffrey is officially and safely the new Duke of Normandy.

The Fall of Oxford

In 1142, the Empress was trapped in Oxford castle, and after 3 months of seige provisions were running low. Matilda managed to escape through a gate with 4 companions and, wearing white against rthe snow, she escaped to Abingdon. But Oxford fell to Stephen. 


Stephen doesn't manage his barons well; he arrested Geoffrey de Mandeville and Ranulf without warning, and conseuqntly both revolt. Geoffrey dies in 1144, but Ranulf and Hugh Bigod remain a thorn in Stephen's side

Henry Fitz Empress enters the fray

Henry launched expeditions in 1142, 1147 and 1153. But it's only in 1153 that, now Duke of Anjou and Normandy, he brings a force worth having. Despite this, 1153 is far from a great success for him millitarily. 

The Treaty of Westminster, 1153

The peace comes about because: 

  • The barons are sick of war – they make their own peaces with each other, and refuse to prosecute the war as their leaders would like
  • Eustace, Stephen's son dies
  • Everyone is tired. 

Under the treaty, Stephen reigns til he dies – and Henry will be his heir. Here below is a copy of the treaty itself. 

Download The Treaty of Westminster 1153

Anarchy what Anarchy?

Historians nowadays stress the lack of anarchy rather than the extend of it. It seems that what we are really seeing is a bit of score settling, and then governance simply becomes more distributed, more exercised by the Barons than the King. England is still governed. But in the war zone, life is indeed very probably hell on earth but then hts what war is like. None the less, there are a mass of illegal taxes, such as the 'tenserie', protection money, and illegal castles that Henry II would have to deal with. 

2 thoughts on “34 Anarchy III – Resolution

  1. David,
    When you impress your children by reciting the monarchs of England (I’m sure its not just me), do you include Matilda and Stephen? Or just Stephen? I know she wasn’t crowned but a significant section of the population (the ones that mattered at any rate) considered her Queen, she was the chosen successor and Stephen was clearly a usurper. Obviously you wouldn’t include Jane Grey (I think you get extra marks for including Richard Cromwell) but I can’t help but feel that Matilda should get at least an asterixed inclusion.

  2. Hi Simon
    Thanks for your comments; I have to confess that I am rather traditional, and I don’t include either Matilda or Lady Jane. In fact I don’t know that I include Cromwell either. On the other hand, if I did actually try to talk my children through all the monarchs, I’d probably only get to Egbert before they’d left ! Funnily enough, in a very un-historian kind of way I don’t like Matilda very much… So I suppose the other question is which king you’d start with ?

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