By J.P. Reedman
Of all English Kings, Henry I was undoubtedly the most fertile—although most of his children were born on the wrong side of the blanket. He had at least 22 illegitimate children, all of whom seem to have been well looked after, many of them becoming abbesses and churchmen, while others were married off noblemen and rich heiresses.
Possibly the eldest was Juliane or Juliana, born in England to a mistress called Ansfrida, who by her name appears to have been of Saxon ancestry. Juliane was probably the full sister of Richard of Lincoln, who drowned in the tragedy of the White Ship, along with his half-brother William, heir to England’s throne and his half-sister Matilda, Countess of Perche, another one of Henry’s many bastards.
At around the age of sixteen, Juliane was sent to Normandy to marry a young lord, Eustace of Breteuil. They had a son and two daughters, and possibly another child who died young, but records are sketchy. We do not even know the daughters’ names—although they play a huge part in Juliane’s tragic tale.
Like many Norman lords, Eustace was covetous of others’ lands and castles. Believing he had a claim on a neighbouring castle, he began hostilities with its long-term castellan, Ralph Harenc. King Henry I had to step in to try and work things out between the two men. He told Eustace he would consider his claim but it would take time; as a surety for his behaviour, Henry would take Eustace and Juliane’s two daughters, both under twelve, as hostages. Eustace would receive Ralph’s son in return.
Why Eustace did what he did next is not recorded by history. He took Ralph’s young son and blinded him, then sent him back to his father. Ralph Harenc demanded Eustace and Juliane’s daughters be sent to him so he could take revenge. This put King Henry in a difficult position. If he said no, it would look as if he was untrustworthy and favoured his own family, no matter what. He handed the girls to Harenc, who not only blinded them but cut their noses as well.
Needless to say, Juliane was enraged and grief-stricken at the fate of her daughters. With Eustace, she raised a rebellion against Henry (showing similar martial spirit to her half-sister, the infamous Empress Maude, mother of Henry II MY FATHER MY ENEMY LINK When she was alone at Breteuil, Henry arrived at her castle. After a brief standoff, she agreed to let him in—where she promptly picked up a crossbow and attempted to kill him with a bolt. She missed. The whole unhappy episode ended with Juliane leaping into the freezing moat and then fleeing to her husband at Pacy.
She was never in her father’s favour again. Eventually she became a nun at Fontevrault Abbey.
As for her girls, their fates are unknown, just like their names. Perhaps they died of their injuries; more likely they were sent away to a religious house.
Perhaps that is why Juliane went to Fontevrault, to join the children she had attempted, in an act brave but foolhardy, to avenge.
My Father, My Enemy:
Juliane, Daughter of Henry I
(Medieval Babes, Tales of Little-Known Ladies Book 6)
By J.P Reedman
Juliane Fitzroy is the illegitimate daughter of Henry I--one of his twenty-two bastards.
When her father weds her to a young Norman lord, Eustace de Breteuil, she thinks she has done well in life for the daughter of a Saxon concubine.
But Eustace wants a castle he cannot have. He starts hostilities with its castellan, Ralph Harenc, egged on by the dubious Amaury de Montfort.
To keep the peace, King Henry orders a hostage exchange between Eustace and Ralph. Juliane's pretty young daughters for Ralph's son.
In a drunken rage, fuelled on by Amaury, Eustace breaks the truce and blinds Harenc's boy. Furious, the King allows Ralph to take his own brutal vengeance upon Henry's own granddaughters.
Crazed with grief, Juliane plots revenge for the maiming of her children.
The Wheel of Fate spins. The King must die, his own daughter judge, jury, executioner...
Pick up your copy of
My Father, My Enemy
J.P. Reedman was born in Canada but has lived in the U.K. for 27 years.
Interests include folklore & anthropology, prehistoric archaeology (Neolithic/Bronze age Europe; ritual, burial & material culture), as well as The Wars of the Roses and other medieval periods. Novels include I, Richard Plantagenet, The Man Who Would be King, Secret Marriages (Wars of the Roses), The Hood Game (Robin Hood), The Stonehenge Saga (Bronze Age), and Medieval Babes, an ongoing series about little-known Medieval women.
J.P.’s most recent release is MY FATHER, MY ENEMY, about William the Conqueror’s granddaughter, Juliane Fitzroy, illegitimate daughter Henry I of England. Married to a Norman noble, life seems set for Juliane until her husband Eustace causes trouble with the castellan of Ivry. Hostages are exchanged by the King's order, Ralph's son for Juliane's daughters. A terrible tragedy happens and Juliane wants vengeance...she wants to kill the King.