Eustace, Son of King Stephen: The Model Prince in Twelfth-Century England

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Christopher A. Peck (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Richard Barton

Abstract: During the twelfth century in England, there were three viable princes who were their father’s eldest sons – yet all three died before the age of thirty, and none lived long enough to fully take the throne. This had important implications for English politics, for the process of Anglo-Norman royal succession, and for what it meant to be a prince. Eustace (c.1130-1153), the central figure in this essay, was the prince of England under his father King Stephen, and was also the count of Boulogne from 1147 until his death in 1153. Curiously enough, he is notably absent from modern scholarship and is only brought up in connection to his father, or other places and events with historical significance. The primary objective of this essay is to begin to consider Eustace’s life and his deeds – an objective which is accomplished by the first two sections of this essay. The third section is then dedicated to the comparison of Eustace to the two other English princes of the twelfth century, William Aetheling and Henry the Young King, who similarly met an early end. Based on a model of kingship, these three princes are juxtaposed against one another, and their aptitudes and deeds are assessed and evaluated based largely upon the opinions of the contemporary chroniclers. Eustace, though flawed in the eyes of many of these chroniclers, shines through as the model English prince of the twelfth century. This study on Eustace provides further insights into adjacent topics such as English politics during Stephen’s reign, the role of a prince, and also provides a framework for the historical evaluation of princes.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Language: English
Date: 2018
Eustace, Eustace IV, Boulogne, King Stephen, Twelfth Century, Count of Boulogne, Prince, Princes, Henry the Young King, William Aetheling, William Adelin, Normandy, Chroniclers, William of Malmesbury, William Marshal, Henry I, Henry II, Duke Henry, Empress Matilda, kingship, anger, chivalry, divine justice, divine favor, justice, charity, heil, le chevalerie, Gesta Stephani, Henry of Huntingdon, White Ship

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