The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Crowning of Young Henry in 1170

Source: Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. Vol. II of VI, pp. 129-131.
Source of this text was Project Gutenberg.

He kept his Christmasse at Nauntes, whither all the great lords and barons of Britaine resorted to him. The solemnitie of which feast being past, he entred into the lands of [130] earle Eudo, and wasted the same, till the said earle submitted himself. At length, after the king had taken order for the good gouernement of Normandie, and his other countries on that side the sea, he returned into England in the first wéeke of March, but not without great danger, by reason of a tempest that tooke him on the seas, beginning about midnight, and not ceassing till 9. of the clocke in the morning, about which houre he came on land at Portesmouth, not with many of his ships, the rest being tossed and driuen to séeke succour in sundrie créeks and hauens of the land, and one of them which was the cheefest and newest, was lost in the middle of the flouds, together with 400. persons, men & women: among whome was Henrie de Aguell with two of his sons, Gilbert Sullemuy, and Rafe Beumont the kings physician & houshold seruant.

After this the king held his Easter at Winsor, whither William the Scotish king came with his brother Dauid, to welcome him home, and to congratulat his happie successe in his businesse on the further side the seas. They were honorablie enterteined, and at their departure princelie rewarded. The king thus returned into England, punished the shiriffes of the land very gréeuously for their extortion, briberie, and rapine. After this, studieng how to assure the estate of the realme vnto his sons, vpon good consideration remembring that no liuing creature was more subiect to the vncerteintie of death than Adams heires, and that there is ingraffed such a feruent desire in the ambitious nature of man to gouerne, that so oft as they once come in hope of a kingdome, they haue no regard either of right or wrong, God or the diuell, till they be in possession of their desired prey: he thought it not the worst point of wisedome to foresee that which might happen. For if he should chance to depart this life, and leaue his sons yoong, and not able to mainteine wars through lacke of knowledge, it might fortune them through the ambition of some to be defrauded and disappointed of their lawful inheritance. Therefore to preuent the chances of fortune, he determined whilest he was aliue to crowne his eldest sonne Henrie, being now of the age of 17. yeares, and so to inuest him in the kingdome by his owne act in his life time: which deed turned him to much trouble, as after shall appeare.

Being vpon this point resolued, he called togither a parlement of the lords both spirituall and temporall at London, and there (on S. Bartholomews daie) proclaimed his said sonne Henrie fellow with him in the kingdome, whom after this on the sundaie following, being the fouretéenth daie of June 1170. Roger archbishop of Yorke did crowne according to the manner, being commanded so to doo by the king. This office apperteined vnto the archbishop of Canturburie, but bicause he was banished the realme, the king appointed the archbishop of Yorke to doo it, which he ought not to haue doone without licence of the archbishop of Canturburie within the precinct of his prouince (as was alledged by archbishop Becket) who complained thereof vnto pope Alexander, and so incensed the pope, that he being highly moued by his letters, forbad not onelie the archbishop of Yorke, but also Gilbert bishop of London, and Jocelin bishop of Salisburie (who were present at the coronation) the vse of the sacraments, which made king Henrie far more displeased with the archbishop Thomas than he was before.

Upon the daie of coronation, king Henrie the father serued his sonne at the table as sewer,1 bringing vp the bores head with trumpets before it, according to the maner. Whervpon (according to the old adage,

Immutant mores homines cùm dantur honores)

the yoong man conceiuing a pride in his heart, beheld the standers-by with a more statly countenance than he had béen woont. The archbishop of Yorke, who sat by him, marking his behauior, turned vnto him, & said; "Be glad my good sonne, there is not an other prince in the world that hath such a sewer at his table." To this the new king answered, as it were disdainefullie, thus: "Why doost thou maruell at that? My father in doing it, thinketh it not more than becommeth him, he being borne of princelie bloud onlie on the mothers side, serueth me that am a king borne hauing both a king to my father, and a [131] queene to my mother." Thus the yoong man of an euill and peruerse nature, was puffed vp in pride by his fathers vnseemelie dooings.

But the king his father hearing his talke, was verie sorrowfull in his mind, and said to the archbishop softlie in his eare: "It repenteth me, it repenteth me my lord, that I haue thus aduanced the boy." For he gessed hereby what a one he would prooue afterward, that shewed himselfe so disobedient and froward alreadie. But although he was displeased with himselfe in that he had doone vndiscréetlie, yet now when that which was doone could not be vndoone, he caused all the Nobles and lords of the realme togither with the king of Scots and his brother Dauid, to doo homage vnto his said sonne thus made fellow with him in the kingdome: but he would not release them of their oth of allegiance, wherein they stood bound to obeie him the father, so long as he liued.


1. According to Henry Vizetelly, a sewer was an officer who placed and removed plates from the table, that is, a waiter.

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