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Tales From the Long Twelfth CenturyThe Rise and Fall of the Angevin Empire$
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Richard Huscroft

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300187250

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300187250.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 16 October 2019

The Prince’s Tale

The Prince’s Tale

William Atheling and the White Ship Disaster

(p.3) Chapter One The Prince’s Tale
Tales From the Long Twelfth Century

Richard Huscroft

Yale University Press

This chapter narrates the tale of Prince William Atheling, which raises one of the biggest ‘What ifs?’ of European history: had he survived to succeed Henry I, there would have been no civil war under King Stephen, no Angevin Empire, no Richard the Lionheart, no King John, and no Magna Carta. However, such speculation, whilst entertaining, is disconcerting. For one, it minimises the role played by any number of other chance occurrences in major events. It is simply impossible to know what would have happened if William had not drowned, and the kind of guesswork that these dramatic events produce is not as important as attempts to understand why his death was significant and what actually did happen as a result of it.

Keywords:   Prince William Atheling, Henry I, European history, King Stephen, Angevin Empire, Richard the Lionheart, King John, Magna Carta

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