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It is unnecessary to go into the very uninteresting and unimportant history of Henry's later years. A long war with France, prosecuted without much energy, led to no results, for the French kings attempts to stir up rebellions in the name of William the Clito, the son of Duke Robert, came to an end with that prince's death in. 1129. But the extension of the English borders in South Wales by the conquests of the lords marcher as far as Pembroke and Cardigan deserves a word of notice.

The question of the succession was the main thing which occupied the mind of the king and the whole nation in Henry's later years. It had a real interest for every man in an age when any doubt as to the heir meant the out-break of civil war such as had occurred at the death of the Conqueror and of Rufus. There was now a problem of some difficulty to be solved. Henry's only son William had been drowned at sea in 1120. He had no other child born in wedlock save a daughter, Matilda, who married the emperor Henry V, but had no issue by him.

On the emperors decease she wedded as her second husband Geoffrey of Anjou (1127), to whom during her father's last years she bore two sons. But the succession of a woman to the crown was as unfamiliar to English as to Norman ideas, nor did it seem natural to either to place a young child on the throne. Moreover, Matilda's husband Geoffrey was unpopular among the Normans; the Angevins had been the chief enemies of the duchy for several generations, and the idea that one of them might become its practical ruler was deeply resented.

The old king, as was but natural, had determined that his daughter should be his successor; he made the great council do homage to her in 1126, and always kept her before the eyes of his people as his destined heir. But though he had forced or cajoled every leading man in England and Normandy to take his oath to serve her, he must have been conscious that there was a large chance that such pledges would be forgotten at his death. The prejudice against a female heir was strong, and there were too many turbulent magnates to whom the anarchy that would follow a disputed succession presented temptations which could not be resisted.

Text extracted from the entry for ENGLISH HISTORY in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.

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