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13th-century manuscript depiction of Stephen

Stephen, King of England (c. 1094 – 1154), ruled from 1135 until his death. Born in the County of Blois in central France, he was brought up by his mother, Adela, daughter of William the Conqueror. Placed into the court of his uncle, Henry I of England, Stephen rose in prominence and was granted extensive lands. When Henry died in 1135, Stephen crossed the English Channel and took the throne in spite of his earlier oaths to support the claim of Henry's daughter, the Empress Matilda. In 1138 the Empress's half-brother Robert of Gloucester rebelled against Stephen, and in 1139 the Empress and Robert invaded England. The revolt took hold in the south-west, and Stephen was captured at the battle of Lincoln in 1141. He was abandoned by many of his followers and lost control of Normandy. He was freed after Robert was captured at the Rout of Winchester, but the civil war dragged on for many years. Upon his death, he was succeeded by the Empress's son, Henry II, the first of the Angevin kings. (Full article...)