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1139CE

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§Europe

§England

An invasion of England by Robert and Matilda appeared imminent. Geoffrey and Matilda had secured much of Normandy and, together with Robert, spent the beginning of the year mobilising forces ready for a cross-Channel expedition.Matilda also appealed to the papacy at the start of the year, putting forward her legal claim to the English throne; unsurprisingly, the pope declined to reverse his earlier support for Stephen, but from Matilda's perspective the case usefully established that Stephen's claim was disputed.

Meanwhile, Stephen prepared for the coming conflict by creating a number of additional earldoms. Only a handful of earldoms had existed under Henry I and these had been largely symbolic in nature. Stephen created many more, filling them with men he considered to be loyal, capable military commanders, and in the more vulnerable parts of the country assigning them new lands and additional executive powers. Stephen appears to have had several objectives in mind, including both ensuring the loyalty of his key supporters by granting them these honours, and improving his defences in vulnerable parts of the kingdom. Stephen was heavily influenced by his principal advisor, Waleran de Beaumont, the twin brother of Robert of Leicester. The Beaumont twins and their younger brother and cousins received the majority of these new earldoms. From 1138 onwards, Stephen gave them the earldoms of Worcester, Leicester, Hereford, Warwick and Pembroke, which—especially when combined with the possessions of Stephen's new ally, Prince Henry, in Cumberland and Northumbria—created a wide block of territory to act as a buffer zone between the troubled south-west, Chester and the rest of the kingdom.

Stephen took steps to remove a group of bishops he regarded as a threat to his rule. The royal administration under Henry I had been headed by Roger, the Bishop of Salisbury, supported by Roger's nephews, Alexander and Nigel, the Bishops of Lincoln and Ely respectively, and Roger's son, Roger le Poer, who was the Lord Chancellor. These bishops were powerful landowners as well as ecclesiastical rulers, and they had begun to build new castles and increase the size of their military forces, leading Stephen to suspect that they were about to defect to the Empress Matilda. Roger and his family were also enemies of Waleran, who disliked their control of the royal administration. In June 1139, Stephen held his court in Oxford, where a fight between Alan of Brittany and Roger's men broke out, an incident probably deliberately created by Stephen. Stephen responded by demanding that Roger and the other bishops surrender all of their castles in England. This threat was backed up by the arrest of the bishops, with the exception of Nigel who had taken refuge in Devizes Castle; the bishop only surrendered after Stephen besieged the castle and threatened to execute Roger le Poer. The remaining castles were then surrendered to the king. The incident removed any military threat from the bishops, but it may have damaged Stephen's relationship with the senior clergy, and in particular with his brother Henry. Both sides were now ready for war.

§Germany

After Henry the Proud's death in October, the civil war between the between Guelphs and Ghibellines was continued by his son, Henry the Lion, who was supported by the Saxons, and by his brother Welf. King Conrad III, began a seige at Weinsberg.

§Papal States

April - The Second Lateran Council was attended by close to a thousand clerics. Its immediate task was to neutralise the after-effects of the schism, which had arisen after the death of Pope Honorius II in February 1130 and the setting up of Petris Leonis as the antipope Anacletus II.

  • Canon 4: Injunction to bishops and ecclesiastics not to cause scandal by wearing ostentatious clothes but to dress modestly.
  • Canons 6, 7, 11: Repeated the First Lateran Council's condemnation of marriage and concubinage among priests, deacons, subdeacons, monks, and nuns.
  • Canon 10: Excommunicated laity who failed to pay the tithes due the bishops,
  • Canon 12 Fixed the periods and the duration of the Truce of God.
  • Canon 14: Prohibition, under pain of deprivation of Christian burial, of jousts and tournaments which endangered life.
  • Canon 20: Kings and princes were ordered to dispense justice in consultation with the bishops.
  • Canon 25: Forbade any cleric to accept a benefice from a layman.
  • Canon 27: Nuns were prohibited from singing the Divine Office in the same choir with monks.
  • Canon 28: No church was to be left vacant more than three years from the death of the bishop; secular canons who excluded from episcopal election regular canons or monks were condemned.

The council also may have banned the use of crossbows against Christians, although the authenticity, interpretation and translation of this source is contested.

Another decision confirmed the right of religious houses of a diocese to participate in the election of the diocese's bishop

March 29 - Papal bull, Omne Datum Optimum endorses the Knights Templar. Pope Innocent II elevated the order of the Knights Templar to a new position of Papal privilege, granting them exemption from local taxes. They were later given the right to build their own churches.

§Portugal

July 26 - Independence of Portugal from the Kingdom of León and Castile declared after the Battle of Ourique against the Almoravids lead by Ali ibn Yusuf: Prince Afonso Henriques becomes Afonso I, King of Portugal, after assembling the first assembly of the estates-general of Portugal at Lamego, where he was given the Crown from the Bishop of Bragança, to confirm the independence.

§Ongoing

Civil war in England and Normandy between 1135 and 1153, which resulted in a widespread breakdown in law and order known as the Anarchy.

§Sources

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