Sumptuous and Presumptuous

My blogpost on Henry of Blois, the 12th century bishop of Winchester, is published today on the English Historical Fiction Authors site.

Henry of Blois, was the grandson of William the Conqueror. Bernard of Clairvaux described him as ‘that old whore of Winchester’. For Henry of Huntingdon he was ‘a new kind of monster, composed part pure and part corrupt … part monk and part knight.’ Brian FitzCount accused him of ‘having a remarkable gift of discovering that duty pointed in the same direction as expediency’. He was also a papal legate, a major patron of the arts, and played a significant role in the civil war between King Stephen (Henry’s brother) and Empress Matilda (Henry’s cousin), during the period known as The Anarchy. I weigh the evidence for and against Henry, and judge that he lived sumptuously and was impressively presumptuous.

Henry of Blois’s tomb, discovered in 1761 in Winchester Cathedral, ‘wrapt in a brown and gold mantle, with traces of gold round the temples’.

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