Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Incidental…or not so Incidental, Lady Rosamund Clifford

Lady Rosamund Clifford (?- 1176)
In reading the Plantagenet Prelude, we come across more than just a passer-by incidental type of lady; this one happened to be a favourite mistress of Henry II, or so I beleive... 
I was intrigued by this mistress who was most probably a total change of pace for Henry, when compared to Eleanore.  Wherever you read about her there’s this sense of Rosamund bringing peace, joy and love in a warm, gentle and feminine haven for the rambunctious king to be enveloped in; extremely the opposite, when compared to the very intense, passionate and sporadic Eleanore (hey, even a king needs his respite;)
Whatever opinion I may have concluded to, the fact remains that there is little more than legend attributed to this fair lady.  There are so many stories that make for interesting reading and this is especially true of the books written about Eleanore. The one that prevails is the one of a very jealous Eleanore poisoning Rosamund at the Woodstock lodge that Henry put her up in.  And, still in others, she was murdered, tortured, or even roasted by the evil Eleanore- ahh!
It’s believed that Henry met Rosamund around the time that Eleanore was pregnant to their last child. Henry apparently met her during one of his campaigns on one of his stop-overs.  She was a young maiden,  daughter of a lord (marcher) and had several siblings as well.  Henry was taken by her beauty and she was to become his lover until death- or almost.  Two years before passing, Rosamund took up the veil, putting an end to their ‘grand’ love affair- she died two years later.
And so, how many heirs did the affair produce? This too is all based on legend and hearsay.  It’s speculated that she may have bore Henry at least one child, but no records can even prove that.  The story that she gave birth to Geoffrey Plantagenet and William Longespee would both prove wrong as well; Geoffrey was apparently born before the couple ever met and William was born four years after Rosamund died.  Historians claim that the two sons were born by two other different mistresses- but that’s another story.
Rosamund Clifford, Henry’s great love, with no facts and no records to substantiate the stories…was she merely but a passing concubine of the times or is there more to her story?
Here is a beautiful painting of Eleanore and Rosamund


  1. Great article and Rosamunde did indeed seem like a very intriguing figure. I hope there is more to her story than just a legend and I will definitely be reading more about her & her times now that I read your post.

  2. Thanks Lilly:) I really am intrigued too and would be very disappointed to know it's really nothing but legend..

  3. Great article. After reading SKP's trilogy I have a bit of a negative view on Rosamund. The way it was written in SKP's version, she seemed (to me) to decide that she was in love with the King, wanted to bed with him, and kept putting herself in his way until she achieved that. She also always was crying because Henry was never with her, which made her seem quite...unrealistic? That's just the impression I got from reading SKP's version. There certainly is a lot of legend surrounding the lady. :)

  4. Thanks Robinbird- See what I mean, there's just so much speculation about this lady...