King Henry I’s Illegitimate Daughters, Pawns In A Dynastic Strategy

Ancient Origins IRAQ Tour

Print
    
Marriage of Guinivere (Public Domain)

King Henry I’s Illegitimate Daughters, Pawns In A Dynastic Strategy

Familial identity and affinity were crucial factors in the establishment of an aristocrat’s social and political contexts, defining to a significant extent their place and interactions within the networks of power in which they existed. These factors derived from the family’s role as a receptacle of wealth. While personal disputes were far from uncommon, a sense of identity and inclusivity in a shared dynastic enterprise necessarily required, and was incentivized by, a stake within the collective fortunes and inheritance portfolio of that family.  Marriage was not only the principal mechanism through which these family networks could maintain themselves, but also the means through which they could cultivate and grow other connections and so expand their political and landed interests within wider networks of aristocratic power through a process of consolidation and synthesis.

Depiction of the marriage of the Norman Lord Strongbow to the Irish princess Aoife in Waterford in 1170 by Daniel Maclise (Public Domain)

Depiction of the marriage of the Norman Lord Strongbow to the Irish princess Aoife in Waterford in 1170 by Daniel Maclise (Public Domain)

The Institution of Marriage

The perpetuation and relative inclusivity of the 11th and 12th century aristocratic family, which was composed of an overlapping mesh of landed interests and marriage ties, greatly benefited from the adoption of regulated and legally recognized lines of inheritance. These were formed in reaction to Church reforms and the colonization of the institution of marriage. The growing conception of marriage’s increased permeance promoted and highlighted the importance of maternal lineage as a point of connectivity within aristocratic familial networks. The exploitation of and interaction with these extended networks of affinity, principally through the medium of marriage and as part of a coherent and expansive dynastic strategy, was just as crucial to the success of a 12th-century king of England as it was for the echelons of the lesser aristocracy.


Become a member to read more OR login here

Ancient Origins Quotations