Overcoming the Great Rebellion

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Henry's Good Fortune

  • After Henry's visit to Beckets tomd, the day after (13th July) King William I of Scotland and  and knights suprised at Alnwick by a scratch force of loyalists, William was among the few escaping slaughter  - seen as God giving his approval of Henry's campaign 
  • Capture at Alnwick to the heart of the rebels and when Henry rapidly moved down the Midlands, the oppostion 'collapsed like a house of cards'
  • Eleanor tried to escape war zone, joining her sons but from Poitiers to Paris was captured whilst disguised as a man - now becomes Henry's prisoner until his death
  • However he also had spies following her - good management counter argument 
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Henry's Strengths

Popular Support

  • At Dunwich, women and children hurled rocks at rebel army and Henry's justiciae Richard de Lucy gathered a great deal of support from the English magnates
  • In spite of his friendship and respect for Thomas Becket, De Lucy remained unswirvingly loyal to Henry
  • Richard Fitznigel supplied Henry with the financial support/ backing to overcome the rebellion, stopping the reliance of feudal levies
  • Towns - in towns they rejected the demand to surrenderon arrival of knights led by Louis or Hugh
  • London and Newcastle for example declared resoundingly for the monarch and non-military residents (women) committed to the resistance 
  • Inhabitants preferred the rule of a strong king who could keep peace, order and stability - towns in paticular despised Flemish mercenaries, reminder of Stephen's reign, civil war
  • Most towns only just won written concessions - merchants and anyone who benefited from their enterprise resisted intrusion that might have reversed their new gains 
  • The illegitimate family of Henry II remained loyal e.g. Reginald earl of Cornwall as he had no claims against him - power of patronage 
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Henry's Strengths


  • East Anglia forces led by Earl Robert was intercepted and defeated by a scratch force loyal to Henry (said to be outnumbered 4 to 1)
  • Henry made numerous of his 'lightening counter-attacks' - one on Louis' rearguard near Verneuil and on Richard at La Rochelle, leaving them scrambling to escape
  • Henry had control of transport and north-south routes; opposition had very little naval transport, meaning troops couldnt be brought as efficiently as Henry's could 
  • Did not depend on feudal levies, used mercenaries, paid them well + they lived up to their reputation as brutal, destructive fighters - lacking refinements of the court trained knights
  • Henry packed armies with fearsome Brabanter mercenaries - costly but highly skilled/ mobile
  • His energetic tactics not only cowed his less resolute enemies but exposed Louis as a poor militarly general and poor leader


  • Despite everything that had gone on before (Becket crisis), the Church still supported him
  • Support because of crusade in Ireland and penance after Becket 
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Weak Opposition

  • People supported Henry for his strong legal reforms and systems and managed to keep their support. However Henry YK made promises he couldnt neccessarily keep
  • Able to make William of Scotland his vassal due to the consistent inability of Scottish troops to break through from Carlisle to central and then southern England in spite of thie numbers - the ability of a strong monarch to retain basic lines of communication not his ability to field a large army gave final victory to the king
  • Louis VII's conservative reliance on archaic tactics and upon feudal levies/ personnel led to his defeat - at Verneuil, Henry's mercenaries frightened away the french feudal levies just as they were nearing success and towns people losing confidence 
  • Louis' leisurely seige of Rouen - so desperate he tried taking it by trickery, breaking sacred terms of a truce as part of the deceit used for his own goals, but failing again due to aleatoru circumstances
  • Richard enraged by the capture of Eleanor, tried to capture great mercantile centre of La Rochelle using trading rivalry of nearby Saintes - he was no match for his father, another lightening swoop westward. Richard and followers made a scramble to escape, fled to Taillebourg Castle leaving behind most military equipment as well as best knights and archers who were captured at Saintes
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Weak Opposition

  • The rebels had no loyalty to Henry YK, no clear unity of motives - in it for own good, money, land 
  • Louis and the young king's less than inspired three pronged attack into eastern Normandy. Idea being that all 3 armies would converge on Rouen while Earl Hugh of Chester led Bretons west. Young king invested castle of Gournay, Louis besieged Verneuil whilst Philip of Flanders laid siege to Drincourt but lost heart when brother, Matthew of Boulogne, killed by sniper's crossbow - ordered to retreat 
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