King Stephen is the King of England during most of the events of The Pillars of the Earth. The present plotline opens as he is crowned King and the period known as 'The Anarchy' begins. Stephen took the crown, unrightfully, from his cousin Maud, who has the better claim. He uses his gender as a male ruler, and his relationship with the Church, to bring most of the Barons, Earls and Bishops on side, however not all of the them join him and so the country enters a state of war. Throughout history Stephen has been given a mixed repuation. In The Pillars of the Earth he is presented as brave and chivarlous, but has his faults, such as his lust for power. It is a mixed interpretation and mostly accurate to his historical personality.
Stephen was born in Blois in France, either in 1092 or 1096.His father was Stephen-Henry, Count of Blois and Chartres, an important French nobleman; Stephen's father played only a brief part in his early life, being an active crusader. During the First Crusade Stephen-Henry had acquired an unfortunate reputation for cowardice, and he returned to the Levant again in 1101 to rebuild his reputation where he was killed at the battle of Ramlah. Stephen's mother, Adela of England, was the daughter of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders, famous amongst her contemporaries for her piety, wealth and political talent. She had a strong matriarchal influence on Stephen during his early years.
Stephen had at least four brothers and one sister, along with two probable half-sisters. Stephen's eldest brother was William, who under normal circumstances would have inherited the title of count. William was probably intellectually disabled, and Adela instead had the title passed over him to her second son, Theobald, who went on to later acquire the county of Champagne as well as Blois and Chartres. Stephen's remaining older brother, Odo, died young, probably in his early teens. Stephen's younger brother, Henry of Blois, was probably born four years after Stephen. The brothers formed a close-knit family group, and Adela encouraged Stephen to take up the role of a feudal knight, whilst steering Henry towards a career in the church, possibly so that their personal career interests would not overlap. Unusually, Stephen was raised in his mother's household rather than being sent to a close relative; he was taught Latin and riding, and was educated in recent history and Biblical stories by his tutor, William the Norman.
The Pillars of the EarthEdit
At the start of the Present Day in Part I, Stephen is crowned as King. After the death of any legitimate heirs of Henry I, the throne was going to pass to Maud, or his brother Theobold, who was actually accepting the Barons pledges as Stephen crossed the Channel and, with the help of his younger brother Henry, seized the royal treasury. This, and his willingness to work with the Church during his rule, allowed him to take the crown successfully.
Part II Edit
King Stephen first appears in person when Bishop Waleran takes Philip to Winchester to see him, to ask fro their reward for informing him of Bartholomew's role in the conspiracy. When they do gain an audience with him, Stephen praises Philip for looking like a monk, and listens to their plead with good grace. He warns them that he has already promised Percy Hamleigh the Earldom in advance though.
After Philip and the Hamleighs work out a deal, the King recieves Percy, who relates the compromise to him. He accepts this and grants the two parties their respective shares of the Earldom.
Part III Edit
The King is next seen when Willaim goes to him to ask leave to bury his late father, Percy Hamleigh. Stephen grants him leave but doesn't confirm him in his Earldom, the contest instead being fought by Richard, the son of Bartholomew.
The King is again seen before the Battle of Lincoln. In this case, Philip travels to the city to protest about the brutality of William in illegally taking the Shiring quarry. The King recieves him as he did in Winchester, with a smile, but otherwise ignores him for a period of days. However, eventually Stephen has need of Philip: he needs his clothes to scout the beseiged Lincoln keep, which he can't do in his royal robes. Philip is tested for his willingness to put his life in danger for both his cause and King, as he is made to wear the robes, but he accepts, much to both Stephen and the entire Court's surprise.
Stephen leads Philip in scouting the castle, all the while talking about the quarry. For a second it appears that he is going to agree to Philip's requests, but then at that moment William Hamleigh arrives, with a large force of men for the coming battle, enough to tip the odds in their favour in the fast approaching battle with Robert of Glouscester.
Appearance and PersonalityEditStephen is described as a man with a lot of tawny hair and fine features, making him more handsome than the average man. He has intelligent eyes and a relaxed stance, often with his legs stretched out in front of him.
Stephen's personality is very mixed. He is brave and chilvarous. He doesn't back down from a fight and can be implusive. He has an air of authority to him, and often disregards what others say if he doesn't like it. Stephen has a people personality and is at ease among his men in battle or court. He has a good sense of humour, but his mood can change quickly.
Some of the information taken in this Wiki is originally from the Wikipedia page, Stephen, King of England.