Born on this day of 1 October in 1207

Henry of Winchester, in nine years’ time to be the third king to bear the name Henry since the Norman Conquest. This excerpt from my new biography describes what kind of man he was: ‘He was witty, eloquent, and well informed, had a phenomenal memory and mischievous sense of humour, but he could also be temperamental, devious and prone to making hasty judgements. While he had a mystical side that drew him, not surprisingly, to the number three, he wasn’t as superstitious as some supposedly steelier kings. Some of the chances he took appear positively reckless, but also understandable given what he hoped to achieve, and more or less had to in order to revive the Plantagenet dynasty. He took pride in being the first king since the Norman Conquest to be born and raised in England, but he never longed to see more of it, or the rest of Britain and Ireland for that matter, the way he did for France. Although abandoned by his mother and manipulated by the ministers of his minority, piety and charity led him to forgive them and everybody else who betrayed his trust. The insecurity and loneliness of his youth made him needy and emotionally driven, something most men in his position would try to conceal, but not Henry. With him, everything was out there, in his speeches, letters, and documents. It might just as well be, for deep down he knew everything was part of a plan that would turn out well in the end.

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