Henry was born in September, 1068, at Selby in Yorkshire. After succeeding to the throne of England on the sudden death of his brother, he proceeded to usurp the duchy of Normandy, which by the right of inheritance belonged to his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, whom he imprisoned at Cardiff until his death in 1134. In England, Henry carried out social and judicial reforms, restoring the laws of King Edward the Confessor.
On November 11, 1100, Henry married Edith, daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland, by whom he had up to four children before her death in 1118. When she married Henry, Edith changed her name to Matilda at Henry's request for political reasons. On January 29, 1121, he married Adeliza, daughter of the Count of Louvain, but there were no children from this marriage.
Henry I also holds the record for the largest number of illegitimate children born to any English king, with a provisional total of twenty-five.
However, neither of his legitimate sons, both by his first wife, survived him; both died in the wreck of the White Ship, on November 25, 1120, off the coast of Normandy. One of these sons, Richard, remains extremely obscure and may not have existed at all. The other, William, definitely existed and his death proved a disaster for England.
Henry died of food poisoning from eating foul lampreys in December,
1135, at St. Denis le Fermont in Normandy and was buried at Reading Abbey.
He willed the throne of England to his daughter, Matilda, sometimes called
"Empress Maud", who was married to Henry V, the Holy Roman Emperor. Although
Henry's barons had already sworn allegiance to her as their queen, the
throne was usurped by Henry I's nephew Stephen, and civil war broke out.
The dispute was eventually settled by Stephen's naming of Matilda's son,
Henry, as his heir in 1153.
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