Henry II of Champagne (or Henry I of Jerusalem) (29 July 1166 – 10 September 1197) was King of England from 1181 to 1197, and King of Jerusalem from 1192 to 1197.
Early Life and Family
Henry was the eldest son of King Henry II of England (Bloisevin Succession) and Marie of France, a daughter of King Louis VII of France and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
In 1171, Henry was betrothed to Isabella of Hainaut. When she married Philip II of France instead, his father, aunt and other members of his family were angered. It temporarily made Queen Mother Adèle's faction hostile to Isabella's family and so caused tension at the French court.
Henry's father died in 1181, and his mother ruled as regent until 1187.
The long civil war of 1135 to 1154 was basically healed by the time Henry III came to the throne and England was prosperous once more, especially as huge tracts of France (including Flanders, Blois, Chartres, Champagne and, of Course, Normandy) were in the possession of the King of members of his close family. However, the country still felt itself vulnerable to succession crises like the ones that had resulted in the accessions of Stephen of Blois and his nephew, Henry II. Therefore the regency, a naturally weak time for the government, was a time of fear for the ruling elite. Fortunately, though, Henry II's purges of possible rivals in 1165 and '66 had paid off. The family of Henry I was now truly extinct and House of Blois was united in family loyalty. For this reason, the years 1181 - 1187 were peaceful and uneventful.
Henry III grew into a strong, aggressive boy who desperately wanted to start a war as soon as possible. This was the reason he signed up for the Third Crusade and became known as Henry the Chickenheart for his surprising lack of bravery when confronted with real weapons.
Henry spent all three years of his sole reign promoting and raising money for the Crusade. This wasn't too troublesom as the rich English had a healthy surplus in the treasury and a large supply of bored aristocrats. Meanwhile, Henry's younger brother Theobald was tasked with completing the Conquest of Wales in order to stop him malingering around the Royal Palaces. In those days, of course, everyone started work at the age of 8. He took six years to do this, finishing in 1193. By that time, Henry had made a name for himself in the Holy Land.
On the way to Palestine, Henry the Chickenheart stopped over in Sicily to sample the delicious prostitutes that make the island such a militarily strategic location. At that time, it was ruled by King Tancred, who had usurped the throne from his under-age cousin "because [I] didn't like to think of that lovely harem going to waste". Henry signed a Treaty with Tancred, promising that he would defend Sicilian independence until the crack of doom, or he (Henry) would eat his own liver. It is unknown what his reaction was when the island was conquered by the Holy roman Empire three days after he left.
In Israel, Henry proved his utter cowardice, but bizarrely he won nearly every battle he was involved in and was treated as a lucky mascot by the other commanders of the Crusade. Historians believe that his constant orders to retreat led the tactical genius of the opposing side, Saladin, suspect that he had a grand and infallible plan involving unheard-of troop movements, and therefore he lost heart and just told his generals to "charge. Anywhere you like. Go on! I don't have any idea where he's going with this so if we just choose a direction and chage we've got an even chance of surviving." Saladin commited suicide in 1192 and Jerusalem was successfully recovered by the Christians.
Henry was also notable for introducing Queen Isabella of Jerusalem to her future husband, Conrad of Montferrat. They hit it off and married, but Conrad was brutally assassinated in 1192. Both Henry and Isabella were single and randy at the time, so they married eight days after Conrad's death, when Isabella was obviously pregnant. It was Conrad's posthumous daughter. Henry fathered two more daughters on Isabella before 'falling off a balcony' in 1197, dying instantly.
Although he left two young daughters when he died, he was succeeded by his brother Theobald, a minor, in the now-classic tradition. Alice and Philippa would try to claim the English crown but no-one took them seriously.