Henry II Crowned at Westminster Abbey


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Henry II Crowned at Westminster Abbey

Westminster, London The 19th of December 1154 AD

In more recent times it has been usual for coronations to take place after a lengthy period of mourning for the previous monarch, and preparations for the grand ceremony to crown the successor. In medieval times, however, any such delay could have invited the intervention of seemingly ever present rival candidates: thus less than two months after the death of the usurper Stephen on October 25 1154 Henry II was crowned in Westminster Abbey .
Henry’s succession had only been possible because of Stephen’s son’s death in August of the previous year, matters formalised in the Treaty of Wallingford (actually negotiated at Winchester ) in November 1153.
The coronation was remarkable for three reasons. Firstly, Henry was the first monarch to be crowned King of England rather than of the English. Secondly, it was the first joint coronation in our history, Eleanor of Aquitaine whom the 21-year-old Henry had married two years before being crowned as his consort alongside him. And thirdly, the new King earned his nickname thereafter because of his dress at the Abbey: English nobles had long worn cloaks that touched the ground behind them; Henry followed the Angevin fashion of short cloak and doublet, thus was called Curtmantle (short-cloak), doubtless also a sly reference to his shortish stature.

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