Eustace IV, Count of Boulogne

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Eustace IV
Blason Courtenay.svg
Coat of arms of the county of Boulogne
Count of Boulogne
Reign25 December 1146 – 17 August 1153[1]
PredecessorsMatilda I and Stephen
SuccessorWilliam I
Bornc. 1130/31[1]
Died17 August 1153 (aged c. 23)
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Burial
SpouseConstance of France
HouseBlois
FatherStephen, King of the English
MotherMatilda 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.

Eustace 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).[3] 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's 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, 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 request 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 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 Henry as 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".[4]

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, 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."[5] 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 Stephani describes his courtly manner as a true heir to Stephen able to "meet men on a footing of equality or superiority as the occasion acquired".[6]

Eustace 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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Heather J. Tanner, Eleanor of Aquitaine: Lord and Lady, ed. B. Wheeler, John C. Parsons, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 153.
  2. ^ a b c d Edmund King, Eustace, count of Boulogne, Oxford Online Dictionary of National Biography, 2004
  3. ^ Sara McDougall, Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy, 800-1230, (Oxford University Press, 2017), 202.
  4. ^ Potter, K. R.; Davies, R. H. C. (1976). Gesta Stephani. Clarendon press. pp. 239–8. ISBN 978-0198222347.
  5. ^ Clark, Cecily (1970). The Peterborough chronicle. Oxford: Clarendon press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0198111368.
  6. ^ 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
1151–1153
Succeeded by
William I
Preceded by
Stephen
Count of Mortain
1135–1141
Succeeded by
Geoffrey