‘A Star Lit by God’: Boy kings, childish innocence, and English Exceptionalism during Henry III’s minority, c.1216–c.1227

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Abstract

There is widespread acceptance among scholars that Henry III’s young age and innocence worked to his advantage in distinguishing his reign from that of his father's, which was marked by tyrannical behaviour. But the intertwined strands of childhood, innocence and paternal sin are rarely analysed at any greater length. Nor have these ideas been placed within a wider contemporary framework. This paper traces when and where the motif of 'childish innocence' appeared during Henry III’s minority to show how firmly these ideas were embedded within a wider European context. The circumstances of baronial rebellion and child kingship during the 1210s and 1220s were not unique in provoking recourse to ideas of childish innocence. Instead, a far more interesting picture emerges of an England influenced by papal and continental ideology contributing to a distinctively thirteenth-century political entwining of childhood and innocence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThirteenth Century England XVIII
PublisherBoydell and Brewer
Number of pages27
Volume18
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 Sep 2021

Publication series

NameThirteenth Century England
PublisherBoydell and Brewer
ISSN (Print)0269-6967

Keywords

  • Henry III of England
  • child kingship
  • rulership
  • England
  • innocence
  • political history
  • medieval history
  • Exceptionalism
  • comparative history

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