In August 1139, the Angevin invasion finally arrived.
Baldwin de Redvers crossed over from Normandy to Wareham in an initial attempt to capture a port to receive the Empress Matilda’s invading army, but Stephen’s forces forced him to retreat into the south-west.
However, the following month, Matilda was invited by the Dowager Queen Adeliza, second wife of Henry I of England, to land at Arundel instead, and on 30 September 1139, Robert of Gloucester and Matilda arrived in England with 140 knights.
While Matilda stayed at Arundel Castle, Robert of Gloucester marched north-west to Wallingford and Bristol, hoping to raise support for the rebellion and to link up with Miles of Gloucester, who renounced his fealty to Stephen.
Once Stephen heard of the news, he promptly moved south, besieging Arundel and trapping Matilda inside the castle. He then agreed to a truce proposed by his brother, Henry of Blois. The full details of the truce are unknown, but the results were that Stephen released Matilda from the siege and then allowed her and her household of knights to be escorted to the south-west, where they were reunited with Robert of Gloucester. The reasoning behind this, a somewhat ludicrous decision, remains unclear. Contemporary chroniclers suggested that Henry of Blois argued that it would be in Stephen’s own best interests to release Matilda and concentrate on attacking Robert of Gloucester, Stephen may have also seen Robert of Gloucester instead of Matilda as his main opponent.
Another theory is that Stephen released Matilda out of chivalry. Stephen was certainly known for having a generous, courteous personality, and women were not normally expected to be targeted in Anglo-Norman warfare.
Stephen faced a military dilemma at Arundel, the castle was considered almost impregnable, and he may have been worried that he was tying down his army in the south whilst Robert of Gloucester roamed freely in the west.
Although Matilda had a few defections, she now controlled a compact block of territory stretching out from Gloucester and Bristol south-west into Devon and Cornwall, west into the Welsh Marches and east as far as Oxford and Wallingford, threatening London.
She had also established her court in Gloucester, close to Robert’s stronghold of Bristol, but far enough away for her to remain independent of her half-brother.
Stephen’s mission was to reclaim back the region. He started by attacking Wallingford Castle, which controlled the Thames corridor. Held securely by Brien FitzCount, Stephen found it too well defended. He left behind some forces to blockade the castle and continued west into Wiltshire to attack Trowbridge, taking the castles of South Cerney and Malmesbury en route.
Meanwhile, Miles of Gloucester marched east to Wallingford, attacking Stephen’s rear-guard forces and threatening an advance on London. This led to Stephen giving up on his western campaign and returning east to stabilise the situation and protect his capital.
At the beginning of 1140 Nigel, Bishop of Ely, who castles Stephen had confiscated the previous year, rebelled against Stephen as well. Nigel hoped to seize East Anglia and establishing a base of operations in the Isle of Ely.
Stephen responded quickly, taking an army into the fens and using boats lashed together to form a causeway that allowed him to make a surprise attack on the isle. Even though Nigel escaped to Gloucester, his men and castle were captured. Order was once restored temporarily in the east. Nothing is permanent.
Robert of Gloucester’s men retook some of the territory that Stephen had taken in his 1139 campaign. In an effort to negotiate a truce, Stephen’s brother, Henry of Blois, held a peace conference at Bath, where Robert of Gloucester represented Empress Matilda, while Matilda of Boulogne and Archbishop Theobald represented Stephen. The conference collapsed over the insistence by Henry of Blois and the clergy that they should set the terms of any peace deal, which Stephen found unacceptable.
Ranulf, 3rd Earl of Chester, was still upset that his rights to Carlisle and Cumberland were handed over to David I of Scotland’s son, Henry. So he devised a plan for dealing with the problem by ambushing Henry of Scotland whilst he was travelling back from Stephen’s court to Scotland after Christmas. However, Stephen responded to these rumours by escorting Henry of Scotland personally north, this proved to be the last straw for Ranulf.
Under the guise of a social visit, Ranulf seized Lincoln Castle in a surprise attack. Ranulf had actually claimed previously that he had rights to the castle.
Stephen then set out to Lincoln where they agreed to a truce, probably to keep Ranulf from joining Empress Matilda. Ranulf was allowed to keep the castle.
However, once Stephen had returned to London he received news that Ranulf, his brother and their family were relaxing in Lincoln Castle with a minimal guard force, a ripe target for a surprise attack. Abandoning the truce, Stephen saw this opportunity gathering his army again and sped north, but not quite fast enough. Ranulf must’ve got wind, escaping Lincoln Castle and declared his support for Empress Matilda. Stephen was forced to place the castle under siege.
While Stephen and his army were besieging Lincoln Castle at the start of 1141, Robert of Gloucester and Ranulf advanced on Stephen’s position with a somewhat larger force. When news of this reached Stephen, he held a council to decide whether to give battle or withdraw to gather more soldiers. Stephen decided to stay and fight, resulting in the Battle of Lincoln on 2 February 1141.
Stephen commanded the centre of his army, with Alan of Brittany on his right and William of Aumale on his left. Robert of Gloucester and Ranulf’s forces had superiority in cavalry and Stephen dismounted many of his own knights to form a solid infantry block; he joined them himself, fighting on foot in the battle.
Stephen wasn’t a gifted public speaker, so that was delegated to Baldwin of Clare, who delivered a rousing declaration.
After an initial success in which William of Aumale’s forces destroyed the Angevin’s Welsh infantry, the battle went badly for Stephen. Robert of Gloucester and Ranulf’s cavalry encircled Stephen’s centre, which he found himself surrounded by the enemy army.
Many of Stephen’s supporters, including Waleron de Beaumont and William of Ypres, fled from the field at this point, but Stephen fought on. Defending himself first with his sword then when that broke, with a borrowed battle axe. Finally, he was overwhelmed by Robert of Gloucester’s men and captured. He was then taken from the field into custody.
Robert of Gloucester took Stephen back to Gloucester where Empress Matilda was. He was then moved to Bristol Castle, traditionally used or holding high-status prisoners. At the beginning to his imprisonment he was left in relatively good conditions, but his security was later tightened and he was kept in chains.
After the capture of Stephen, Empress Matilda now began to take the necessary steps to have herself crowned Queen, which would require the agreement of the church and her coronation at Westminster.
Before Easter Henry of Blois summoned a council at Winchester, where he made a private deal with the Empress Matilda that he would deliver the support of the church, if she agreed to give him control over church business in England. He handed over the royal treasury, rather depleted except for Stephen’s crown, to the Empress, and excommunicated many of Stephen’s supporters who refused to switch sides as easily as Stephen’s own brother.
However, Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury was unwilling to declare Empress Matilda Queen of England so rapidly. A delegation of clergy and nobles, headed by Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, travelled to see Stephen in Bristol and consult about their moral dilemma. Should they abandon their oaths of fealty to Stephen? Given the circumstances, Stephen agreed he was prepared to release his subjects from their oath of fealty to him.
After Easter, the clergy gathered again in Winchester to declare the Empress “Lady of England and Normandy” as a precursor to her coronation. However, while Empress Matilda’s own followers attended the event, few other major nobles seem to have attended and a delegation from London prevaricated.
Stephen might be losing some support, but not from the one who mattered. His wife, Matilda, wrote to complain and demand Stephen’s release. Empress Matilda advanced to London to stage her coronation in June, where her position became dangerous. Despite securing the support of Geoffrey de Mandeville, who controlled the Tower of London, forces loyal to Stephen and his wife Matilda, remained close to the city and he citizens were fearful about welcoming the Empress Matilda.
On 24 June, shortly before the planned coronation, the city rose up against Empress Matilda and Geoffrey de Mandeville. They just fled in time making a chaotic retreat to Oxford.
Meanwhile, Geoffrey of Anjou invaded Normandy again and, in the absence of Waleran of Beaumont who was still fighting in England, Geoffrey of Anjou took all the duchy south of the River Seine and east of the Risle.
Unfortunately, no help was coming from Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, who appears to have been preoccupied with his own problems with France. The new French King, Louis VII, had rejected his father’s regional alliance, improving relations with Anjou and taking a more aggressive line with Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, which would result in war the following year.
Geoffrey of Anjou’s success in Normandy and Stephen’s weakness in England began to influence the loyalty of many Anglo-Norman barons, who feared losing their lands in England to Robert of Gloucester and Empress Matilda, and their possessions in Normandy to Geoffrey of Anjou. Many started to leave Stephen’s faction.
His friend and advisor Waleron de Beaumont, was one of those who decided to defect in mid-1141, crossing into Normandy to secure his ancestral possessions by allying himself with the Angevins, and bringing Worcestershire into the Empress Matilda’s camp.
Waleron de Beaumont’s twin brother, Robert of Leicester, effectively withdrew from fighting in the conflict at the same time.
Other supporters of Empress Matilda were restored in their former strongholds, such as Bishop Nigel of Ely, and others still received new earldoms in the west of England. The royal control over the minting of coins broke down, leading to coins being struck by local barons and bishops across the country.
Like I said earlier, Stephen’s wife, Matilda, played a critical part in keeping his cause alive during his captivity. Matilda gathered Stephen’s remaining lieutenants around her and the royal family in the south-east, advancing into London when the population rejected Empress Matilda. Stephen’s long-standing commander, William of Ypres, remained with Matilda in London; William Martel, the royal steward, commanded operations from Sherborne in Dorset, and Faramus of Boulogne ran the royal household.
Matilda appears to have generated genuine sympathy and support from Stephen’s more loyal followers. To say a woman cannot rule alone, were idiots when it came to both the Matildas.
Henry of Blois’ alliance with Empress Matilda proved short-lived, as they soon fell out over political patronage and ecclesiastical policy; the bishop met Stephen’s wife Matilda at Guildford and transferred his support to her. Personally, I wouldn’t trust someone who can easily change sides.
Empress Matilda’s position was transformed by her defeat at the rout of Winchester. Following their retreat from London, Robert of Gloucester and Empress Matilda besieged Henry of Blois in his papal castle at Winchester in July.
Matilda was using the royal castle in the city of Winchester as a base for her operations, but shortly afterwards herself and William of Ypres then encircled the Angevin forces with their own army, reinforced with fresh troops from London. Empress Matilda decided to escape from the city with her close associates, Fitz Count and Reginald of Cornwall, while the rest of her army delayed the royal forces. In the subsequent battle, Empress Matilda’s forces were defeated and Robert of Gloucester himself was taken prisoner during the retreat, although Empress Matilda herself escaped, exhausted, to her fortress at Devizes.
With both Stephen and Robert of Gloucester held prisoner, negotiations were held to try to agree a long-term peace settlement, but Matilda was unwilling to offer any compromise to Empress Matilda, and Robert of Gloucester refused to accept any offer to encourage him to change sides to Stephen. Instead, in November the two sides simply exchanged the two leaders, Stephen returning to his wife, and Robert of Gloucester to Empress Matilda in Oxford.
Henry of Blois held another church council, which reversed its previous decision and reaffirmed Stephen’s legitimacy to rule, and a fresh coronation of Stephen and Matilda occurred at Christmas 1141.
At the beginning of 1142 Stephen fell ill, and by Easter rumours had begun to circulate that he had died. Possibly this illness was the result of his imprisonment the previous year, but he finally recovered and travelled north to, not only assure people of his health, but to raise new forces and to successfully convince Ranulf of Chester to change sides once again. Stephen then spent the summer attacking some of the new Angevin castles built the previous year including Cirencester, Bampton and Wareham.
During the middle of 1142 Robert of Gloucester returned to Normandy to assist Geoffrey of Anjou with operations against some of Stephen’s remaining followers there, before returning in the autumn.
Meanwhile, Matilda came under increased pressure from Stephen’s forces and had become surrounded at Oxford. Oxford was a secure town, protected by walls and the River Isis, but Stephen led a sudden attack across the river, leading the charge and swimming part of the way. Once on the other side, Stephen and his men stormed into the town, trapping Empress Matilda in the castle. Oxford Castle, however, was a powerful fortress and, rather than storming it, Stephen had to settle down for a long siege, albeit secure in the knowledge that Empress Matilda was now surrounded. Just before Christmas, Empress Matilda sneaked out of the castle, crossed the icy river on foot and made her escape past the royal army to safety at Wallingford, leaving the castle garrison free to surrender the next day. Empress Matilda stayed with Fitz Count for a period before re-establishing her court at Devizes.
The war between the two sides in England reached a stalemate in the mid-1140s, while Geoffrey of Anjou consolidated his hold on power in Normandy.
1143 started precariously for Stephen when he was besieged by Robert of Gloucester at Wilton Castle, an assembly point for royal forces in Herefordshire. Stephen attempted to break out and escape, resulting in the Battle of Wilton.
Once again, the Angevin cavalry proved too strong, and for a moment it appeared that Stephen might be captured for a second time. On this occasion, however, William Martel, Stephen’s steward, made a fierce rear guard effort, allowing Stephen to escape from the battlefield. Stephen valued William Martel’s loyalty sufficiently to agree to exchange Sherborne Castle for his safe release. This was one of the few instances where Stephen was prepared to give up a castle to ransom one of his men. That just shows his loyalty.
In late 1143, Stephen faced a new threat in the east, when Geoffrey de Mandeville, the Earl of Essex, rose up in rebellion against him in East Anglia. Stephen had disliked the baron for several years, and provoked the conflict by summoning Geoffrey de Mandeville to court, where Stephen arrested him. Stephen threatened to execute Geoffrey de Mandeville unless the baron handed over his various castles, including the Tower of London, Saffron Walden and Pleshey, all important fortifications because they were in, or close to, London.
Geoffrey de Mandeville gave in, but once free he headed north-east into the Fens to the Isle of Ely, from where he began a military campaign against Cambridge, with the intention of progressing south towards London. With all of his other problems and with Hugh Bigod still in open revolt in Norfolk, Stephen lacked the resources to track Geoffrey de Mandeville down in the Fens and made do with building a screen of castles between Ely and London, including Burwell Castle.
For a period, the situation continued to worsen. Ranulf of Chester revolted once again in the middle of 1144, splitting up Stephen’s Honour of Lancaster between himself and Prince Henry. In the west, Robert of Gloucester and his followers continued to raid the surrounding royalist territories, and Wallingford Castle remained a secure Angevin stronghold, too close to London for comfort. Meanwhile, Geoffrey of Anjou finished securing his hold on southern Normandy and in January 1144 he advanced into Rouen, the capital of the duchy, concluding his campaign. Louis VII recognised him as Duke of Normandy shortly after. By this point in the war, Stephen was depending increasingly on his immediate royal household, such as William of Ypres and others, and lacked the support of the major barons who might have been able to provide him with significant additional forces. After the events of 1141, Stephen made little use of his network of earls. It seems Stephen’s rule was conflict after conflict. But do not despair, things are about to look up for Stephen.
After 1143 the war ground on but progressing slightly better for Stephen. Miles of Gloucester, one of the most talented Angevin commanders, had died whilst hunting over the previous Christmas, relieving some of the pressure in the west. Geoffrey de Mandeville’s rebellion continued until September 1144, when he died during an attack on Burwell. The war in the west progressed better in 1145, with Stephen recapturing Faringdon Castle in Oxfordshire. In the north, Stephen came to a fresh agreement with Ranulf of Chester, but then in 1146 repeated the ruse he had played on Geoffrey de Mandeville in 1143, first inviting Ranulf of Chester to court, before arresting him and threatening to execute him unless he handed over a number of castles, including Lincoln and Coventry. As with Geoffrey de Mandeville, the moment Ranulf was released he immediately rebelled, but the situation was a stalemate: Stephen had few forces in the north with which to prosecute a fresh campaign, whilst Ranulf of Chester lacked the castles to support an attack on Stephen. By this point, however, Stephen’s practice of inviting barons to court and arresting them had brought him into some disrepute and increasing distrust. Also, how many times is he going to realise, they are just going to go back on their word once they are free.
The character of the conflict in England gradually began to shift, the civil war was coming to an end.
In 1147 Robert of Gloucester died peacefully, and the next year Empress Matilda defused an argument with the Church over the ownership of Devizes Castle by returning to Normandy, contributing to reducing the tempo of the war. The Second Crusade was announced, and many Angevin supporters, including Waleran of Beaumont, joined it, leaving the region for several years. Many of the barons were making individual peace agreements with each other to secure their lands and war gains. Geoffrey of Anjou and Empress Matilda’s son, the future King Henry II, mounted a small mercenary invasion of England in 1147 but the expedition failed, not least because Henry lacked the funds to pay his men.
Surprisingly, Stephen himself ended up paying their costs, allowing Henry to return home safely. His reasons for doing so are unclear. One potential explanation is his general courtesy to a member of his extended family, another is that he was starting to consider how to end the war peacefully and saw this as a way of building a relationship with Henry.
Many of the most powerful nobles began to make their own truces and disarmament agreements, signing treaties between one another that typically promised an end to mutual hostilities, limited the building of new castles, or agreed limits to the size of armies sent against one another. Typically, these treaties included clauses that recognised that the nobles might, of course, be forced to fight each other by instruction of their rulers. A network of treaties had emerged by the 1150s, reducing, but not eliminating, the degree of local fighting in England.
Empress Matilda remained in Normandy for the rest of the war, focusing on stabilising the duchy and promoting her son’s rights to the English throne. The young Henry FitzEmpress returned to England again in 1149, this time planning to form a northern alliance with Ranulf of Chester. The Angevin plan involved Ranulf agreeing to give up his claim to Carlisle, held by the Scots, in return for being given the rights to the whole of the Honour of Lancaster; Ranulf of Chester would give homage to both David and Henry FitzEmpress, with Henry having seniority.
Following this peace agreement, Henry and Ranulf of Chester agreed to attack York, probably with help from the Scots. Stephen marched rapidly north to York and the planned attack disintegrated, leaving Henry to return to Normandy, where he was declared Duke by his father. Although still young, Henry was increasingly gaining a reputation as an energetic and capable leader. His prestige and power increased further when he unexpectedly married Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152. Eleanor was the attractive Duchess of Aquitaine and the recently divorced wife of Louis VII of France, and the marriage made Henry the future ruler of a huge swathe of territory across France.
In the final years of the war, Stephen too began to focus on the issue of his family and the succession. Stephen had given his eldest son, Eustace, the County of Boulogne in 1147, but interestingly it remained unclear whether Eustace would inherit England. Stephen’s preferred option was to have Eustace crowned while he himself was still alive, as was the custom in France, but this was not the normal practice in England, and Celestine II, during his brief tenure as pope between 1143 and 1144, had banned any change to this practice. The only person who could crown Eustace was Archbishop Theobald, who may well have seen the coronation of Eustace only as a guarantee of further civil war after Stephen’s death. The Archbishop refused to crown Eustace without agreement from the current pope, Eugene III, and the matter reached an impasse.
Stephen’s situation was made worse by various arguments with members of the Church over rights and privileges. Stephen made a fresh attempt to have Eustace crowned during Easter of 1152, gathering his nobles to swear fealty to Eustace, and then insisting that Theobald and his bishops anoint him King. When Theobald refused yet again, Stephen and Eustace imprisoned both him and the bishops and refused to release them unless they agreed to crown Eustace. Theobald escaped again into temporary exile in Flanders, pursued to the coast by Stephen’s knights, marking a low point in Stephen’s relationship with the church.
Henry FitzEmpress returned to England again at the start of 1153 with a small army, supported in the north and east of England by Ranulf of Chester and Hugh Bigod. Stephen’s castle at Malmesbury was besieged by Henry’s forces and Stephen responded by marching west with an army to relieve it. Stephen unsuccessfully attempted to force Henry’s smaller army to fight a decisive battle along the River Avon. In the face of the increasingly wintry weather, Stephen agreed to a temporary truce and returned to London, leaving Henry to travel north through the Midlands where the powerful Robert de Beaumont, Earl of Leicester, announced his support for the Angevin cause. Despite only modest military successes, Henry and his allies now controlled the south-west, the Midlands and much of the north of England. A delegation of senior English clergy met with Henry and his advisers at Stockbridge shortly before Easter.
Many of the details of their discussions are unclear, but it appears that the churchmen emphasised that while they supported Stephen as King, they sought a negotiated peace. Henry reaffirmed that he would avoid the English cathedrals and would not expect the bishops to attend his court.
Over the summer, Stephen intensified the long-running siege of Wallingford Castle in a final attempt to take this major Angevin stronghold. The fall of Wallingford appeared imminent and Henry marched south in an attempt to relieve the siege, arriving with a small army and placing Stephen’s besieging forces under siege themselves. Upon news of this, Stephen gathered up a large force and marched from Oxford, and the two sides confronted each other across the River Thames at Wallingford in July. By this point in the war, the barons on both sides seem to have been eager to avoid an open battle. As a result, instead of a battle ensuing, members of the church brokered a truce, to the annoyance of both Stephen and Henry.
In the aftermath of Wallingford, Stephen and Henry spoke together privately about a potential end to the war. Stephen’s son Eustace, however, was furious about the peaceful outcome at Wallingford. He left his father and returned home to Cambridge to gather more funds for a fresh campaign, where he fell ill and died the next month. That to me just seems a bit convenient. Not pointing fingers, but they are sure twitching.
Eustace’s death removed an obvious claimant to the throne and was politically “convenient” for those seeking a permanent peace in England. It is possible, however, that Stephen had already begun to consider passing over Eustace’s claim. Historian, Edmund King, observes that Eustace’s claim to the throne was not mentioned in the discussions at Wallingford, for example, and this may have added to Stephen’s son’s anger.
Fighting continued after Wallingford, but in a rather half-hearted fashion. Stephen lost the towns of Oxford and Stamford to Henry while Stephen was diverted fighting Hugh Bigod in the east of England, but Nottingham Castle survived an Angevin attempt to capture it. Meanwhile, Stephen’s brother, Henry of Blois and Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, were for once unified in an effort to broker a permanent peace between the two sides, putting pressure on Stephen to accept a deal.
Stephen and Henry FitzEmpress’s armies met again at Winchester, where the two leaders would ratify the terms of a permanent peace in November. Stephen announced the Treaty of Winchester in Winchester Cathedral. He recognised Henry FitzEmpress as his adopted son and successor, in return for Henry doing homage to him. Stephen promised to listen to Henry’s advice, but retained all his royal powers. Stephen’s remaining son, William, would do homage to Henry and renounce his claim to the throne, in exchange for promises of the security of his lands. Key royal castles would be held on Henry’s behalf by guarantors whilst Stephen would have access to Henry’s castles. And finally, the numerous foreign mercenaries would be demobilised and sent home.
Stephen and Henry sealed the treaty with a kiss of peace in the cathedral.
Stephen’s decision to recognise Henry as his heir was, at the time, of course was not necessarily a final solution to the civil war. Despite the issuing of new currency and administrative reforms, Stephen might potentially have lived for many more years, whilst Henry’s position on the continent was far from secure. Although Stephen’s son, William, was young and unprepared to challenge Henry for the throne in 1153, the situation could well have shifted in subsequent years. There were widespread rumours during 1154 that William planned to assassinate Henry, for example. Nonetheless, Stephen burst into activity in early 1154, travelling around the kingdom extensively. He began issuing royal writs for the south-west of England once again and travelled to York where he held a major court in an attempt to impress upon the northern barons that royal authority was being reasserted. After a busy summer in 1154, however, Stephen travelled to Dover to meet the Count of Flanders. Some historians believe that Stephen was already ill and preparing to settle his family affairs. Stephen fell ill with a stomach disorder and died on 25 October 1154.
Henry did not feel it necessary to hurry back to England immediately. On finally landing on 8 December 1154, however, Henry quickly took oaths of loyalty from some of the barons and was then crowned alongside Eleanor at Westminster. The royal court was gathered in April 1155, where the barons swore fealty to the new King and his sons. Henry presented himself as the legitimate heir to Henry I and commenced rebuilding the kingdom in his image. Although in reality, Stephen had tried to continue Henry I’s method of government during the war, the new government characterised the 19 years of Stephen’s reign as a chaotic and troubled period, with all these problems resulting from Stephen’s usurpation of the throne. Henry was also careful to show that, unlike his mother Empress Matilda, he would listen to the advice and counsel of others.
Various measures were immediately carried out, although, since Henry spent six and a half of the first eight years of his reign in France, much work had to be done at a distance.
England had suffered extensively during the war. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recorded how “there was nothing but disturbance and wickedness and robbery”. Certainly in many parts of the country, such as the South-West, the Thames Valley and East Anglia, the fighting and raiding had caused serious devastation.
The previously centralised royal coinage system was fragmented, with Stephen, Empress Matilda and local lords all minting their own coins. The royal forest law had collapsed in large parts of the country. Some parts of the country, though, were barely touched by the conflict, for example, Stephen’s lands in the south-east and the Angevin heartlands around Gloucester and Bristol were largely unaffected, and David I of Scotland ruled his territories in the north of England effectively.
Stephen’s overall income from his estates, however, declined seriously during the conflict, particularly after 1141, and royal control over the minting of new coins remained limited outside of the south-east and East Anglia. With Stephen often based in the south-east, increasingly Westminster, rather than the older site of Winchester, was used as the centre of royal government.
Among Henry’s first measures was to expel the remaining foreign mercenaries and continue the process of demolishing the unauthorised castles. Robert of Torigni recorded that 375 were destroyed, without giving the details behind the figure. Recent studies of selected regions have suggested that fewer castles were probably destroyed than once thought and that many may simply have been abandoned at the end of the conflict. Henry also gave a high priority to restoring the royal finances, reviving Henry I’s financial processes and attempting to improve the standard of the accounts. By the 1160s, this process of financial recovery was essentially complete.
The post-war period also saw a surge of activity around the English borders. The King of Scotland and local Welsh rulers had taken advantage of the long civil war in England to seize disputed lands, Henry set about reversing this trend.
In 1157, pressure from Henry resulted in the young Malcolm IV of Scotland returning the lands in the north of England he had taken during the war. Henry promptly began to refortify the northern frontier, restoring Anglo-Norman supremacy in Wales proved harder, and Henry had to fight two campaigns in north and south Wales in 1157 and 1158 before the Welsh princes Owain Gwynedd and Rhys ap Gruffydd submitted to his rule, agreeing to the pre-civil war division of lands.
I feel like this just shows, that even if you have the crown, doesn’t mean there will be peace.