Interesting surprise: If not for King Henry I of England 32 generations ago, I would not exist. I do partly have his nose … and his chin according to the Illustration of King Henry I from Cassell’s History of England.
I have a new interest in history now. My line to him is through “Elizabeth, Princess of England” whose father was King Henry I of England, whose father was also a king. I like the fact that King Henry I had scholarly interests and that he managed to curb abuses of power.
Henry I (c. 1068/1069 – 1 December 1135) was the fourth son of William I the Conqueror. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106. He was called Beauclerc for his scholarly interests and Lion of Justice for refinements which he brought about in the administrative and legislative machinery of the time.
Henry’s reign is noted for its political opportunism. His succession was confirmed while his brother Robert was away on the First Crusade and the beginning of his reign was occupied by wars with Robert for control of England and Normandy. He successfully reunited the two realms again after their separation on his father’s death in 1087. Upon his succession he granted the baronage a Charter of Liberties, which formed a basis for subsequent challenges to rights of kings and presaged Magna Carta, which subjected the King to law.
The rest of Henry’s reign was filled with judicial and financial reforms. He established the biannual Exchequer to reform the treasury. He used itinerant officials to curb abuses of power at the local and regional level, garnering the praise of the people. The differences between the English and Norman populations began to break down during his reign and he himself married a daughter of the old English royal house. He made peace with the church after the disputes of his brother’s reign, but he could not smooth out his succession after the disastrous loss of his eldest son William in the wreck of the White Ship. His will stipulated that he was to be succeeded by his daughter, the Empress Matilda, but his stern rule was followed by a period of civil war known as the Anarchy.
I’m also related to the last person to ever to conquer England (Henry I’s father).
“To press his claim to the English crown, William invaded England in 1066, leading an army of Normans, Bretons, Flemish people, and Frenchmen (from Paris and Île-de-France) to victory over the English forces of King Harold Godwinson (who died in the conflict) at the Battle of Hastings, and suppressed subsequent English revolts in what has become known as the Norman Conquest.
….William’s invasion was the last time that England was successfully conquered by a foreign power.”
I wonder if my late grandfather, a 33rd Degree Freemason, ever knew he was descended from kings. He may have known, but he never mentioned it. He also never mentioned being a Freemason. Not once. I only found out after he passed away. The only thing he ever said was, “If a man tells you the Freemasons asked him to join them, he is lying. If you have to ask join them, you have to go to them.” I wasn’t even sure why he said it at the time, but it made sense years later.