Eustace IV, Count of Boulogne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Eustace IV
Blason Courtenay.svg
Coat of arms of the county of Boulogne
Count of Boulogne
Reign 25 December 1146[1] – 17 August 1153
Predecessors Matilda I and Stephen
Successor William I
Born c. 1127–1135[1]
Died (1153-08-17)17 August 1153 (aged c. 17–26)
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Burial Faversham Abbey, Kent
Spouse Constance of France
House Blois
Father Stephen, King of the English
Mother Matilda I, Countess of Boulogne

Eustace IV (c. 1127–1135 – 17 August 1153), Count of Boulogne, was the eldest son of King Stephen of England and Countess Matilda I of Boulogne.[2] When his father seized the English throne on Henry I's death in 1135, he became heir apparent to the English throne. upon his mother's death in 1152 he inherited the county of Boulogne and other estates.

He was first mentioned in one of his parents' charters dated no later than August 1131.[2] As heir to the English throne In 1137, he did homage for Normandy to Louis VII of France, whose sister, Constance, he subsequently married in 1140 (as a widow she remarried to Count Raymond V of Toulouse). Eustace was knighted in 1147, at which date he was probably from sixteen to eighteen years of age. In 1151 he joined his brother-in-law Louis VII in a raid upon Normandy, This was short lived however when Louis accepted Henry Plantagenet homage for the Normandy, the following year he was in France as part of a wider coalition of Henry's enemies but Henry's control of the duchy remained unshaken.[2]

In the later stages of the period known as the Anarchy, King Stephen was concerned with cementing Eustace as his heir without question, At a council held in London on 6 April 1152, Stephen induced a small number of barons to pay homage to Eustace as their future king; but the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theobald of Bec, and the other bishops declined to perform the coronation ceremony on the grounds that the Roman curia had declined Stephen's want to use the Capetian custom and crown Eustace in his own lifetime, opting rather they stick to English custom, thus denying Eustace his coronation.

After the second siege of Wallingford in July 1153, after Duke henry had invaded England and attracted widespread support, Stephen was persuaded to agree to terms this later became known as the treaty of Winchester This cemented Duke Henry as King Stephen's heir. Eustace withdrew from the court as a result of this "greatly vexed and angry, because the war, in his opinion, had not reached a proper conclusion"[3]

Eustace died suddenly the next year, in early August 1153, struck down (so it was said) by the wrath of God while plundering church lands near Bury St Edmunds, Others believe that Eustace died simply of a broken heart[2]. The death of Eustace was hailed with general satisfaction as opening the possibility of a peaceful settlement between Stephen and his rival, the young Henry of Anjou. According to William of Newburgh, King Stephen was "grieved beyond measure by the death of the son whom he hoped would succeed him; he pursued warlike preparations less vigorously, and listened more patiently than usual to the voices of those urging peace."

The reputation Eustace left behind was mixed on the one hand The Peterborough Chronicle, not content with voicing this sentiment, gives Eustace a bad character. "He was an evil man and did more harm than good wherever he went; he spoiled the lands and laid thereon heavy taxes."[4] Eustace raided church lands near Peterborough possibly inciting this hatred from the chronicle. He had used threats against the recalcitrant bishops, and in the war against the Angevin party had demanded contributions from religious houses. However the Gesta Staphani describes his courtly manner as a true heir to King Stephen able to "meet men on a footing of equality or superiority as the occasion acquired".[5]

He was buried in Faversham Abbey in Kent, which was founded by his parents. They too were buried in Faversham Abbey; all three tombs are now lost, as a consequence of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.


  1. ^ a b Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 52
  2. ^ a b c d Edmund King, Eustace, count of Boulogne, Oxford Online Dictionary of National Biography, 2004
  3. ^ Potter, K. R.; Davies, R. H. C. (1976). Gesta Stephani. Clarendon press. pp. 239–8. ISBN 978-0198222347.
  4. ^ Clark, Cecily (1970). The Peterborough chronicle. Oxford: Clarendon press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0198111368.
  5. ^ Potter, K. R.; Davies, R. H. C. (1976). Gesta stephani. Clarendon press. pp. 208–9. ISBN 978-0198222347.
Eustace IV, Count of Boulogne
Born: ? c. 1130 Died: 17 August 1153
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Matilda I and Stephen
Count of Boulogne
Succeeded by
William I
Preceded by
Count of Mortain
Succeeded by