Henry I

Henry was a son of William I and his queen Matilda and was born at Selby in Yorkshire in late 1068. He was present when his brother William II (William Rufus) was killed in the New Forest in 1100 and he then set out for London and his coronation ceremony.


He married Princess Matilda (originally called Edith but re-named Matilda in honour of his mother), daughter of Malcolm III, King of Scots and his wife St Margaret, in Westminster Abbey on 11th November 1100. Their only son William was drowned in the wreck of the White Ship. His second bride was Adeliza, daughter of Godfrey, Count of Louvain in January 1121.


The oath at his coronation, which took place on 5th August 1100, was based on traditional texts but was the first to be actually written down. He undertook to reform abuses of his predecessor and to "restore the law…as my father made counsel with the barons". The Archbishop of Canterbury was in exile so the ceremony was performed by the Bishop of London. Both his queens had coronations (in 1100 and 1121 respectively).


He was staying in Normandy when he died from eating too many lampreys (eels) on 1st December 1135. The body was returned to England for burial at Reading Abbey, which Henry had founded.

Further reading

Queens Consort of Westminster Abbey

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004



1st December 1135


5th August 1100


11th November 1100

Painting of Henry I wearing a gold crown, gold collar and red cloak with white fur trim
King Henry I by Unknown artist, oil on panel, 1597-1618

© National Portrait Gallery, London NPG 498(02)