Sinking of the White Ship in 1120 off Barlfleur on the Normandy coast drowned William Adelin, only legitimate son of Henry I, and brought 20 years of civil war to England between Maud (Matilda), daughter of the king, and Stephen of Blois, the King's nephew. The period was known as The Anarchy (1135-1153), resolved by the accession to the throne of Maud's son by Count Geoffrey of Anjou: Henry II, the first Plantagenet.
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Stephen the Usurper! He was the nephew of Henry I, who had named his daughter, the Empress Matilda, as his heir after his only legitimate son died in the White Ship disaster. Because it was unheard of for a woman to rule England, members of the nobility who had pledged allegiance to Matilda while Henry was alive abruptly ditched her for Stephen after Henry I's death. A civil war that lasted years was the result. Stephen managed to hang onto the throne, fighting Matilda's faction to secure the throne for his son, Eustace. But Eustace died young, and Stephen saw the writing on the wall. He and Matilda called a truce -- Stephen would remain king until he died, but the throne would then pass to Matilda's son, Henry, who became Henry II.
Wilhelm II the last German Emperor and King of Prussia. Mercurial, insecure and easily led, he had a fanatical hatred of his cousin, England's King George VII, and a need to be considered leader of a Great Power (despite Germany being a small country with little international clout).
Catherine Howard (1523-1542) was Queen of England the 5th wife of King Henry VIII. They married in 1540 almost immediately after the annulment of his marriage to Anne of Cleves. However Catherine Howard was beheaded after less than two years of marriage to Henry on the grounds of treason for committing adultery while married to the King.
The White Ship was a vessel that sank in the English Channel near the Normandy coast off Barfleur, on 25 November 1120. Only two of those aboard survived. Those who drowned included William Adelin, the only surviving legitimate son and heir of King Henry I of England. William Adelin's death led to a succession crisis and a period of civil war in England known as the Anarchy.
Empress Matilda (1102 - 1167). After her brother died and her father failed to have a son with his second wife, he made the barons swear to honor Matilda as queen after his death. She was married first to Emperor Henry V and then to Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, who was the father of her son, Henry II. She briefly held power in 1141. She fought against her cousin, Stephen, for the throne, but lost. In 1153 Stephen was forced to accept her son as his heir, and she lived to see him crowned king.
Empress Matilda was the sole surviving heir of King Henry I. Matilda married Henry V Holy Roman Emperor but had no children & after eleven years of marriage Henry died. She then married Geoffrey V Count of Anjou. They had three sons, the eldest of whom eventually became King Henry II. Upon the death of her father in 1135 the throne was usurped by her cousin Stephen of Blois who claimed the throne whilst Matilda was in Normandy pregnant with her third child.