King Stephen initially owed his throne to the support given by great churchmen, in particular his brother Henry of Winchester, Roger of Salisbury and the archbishop of Canterbury, William of Corbeil. However, while the premature death of his son Eustace in 1153 ruled out any chance of the succession passing to him, the decision of Archbishop Theobald to back the Angevins had already made it clear that Stephen’s successor would not be his younger son William, but Henry of Anjou, and this was confirmed by Stephen in the Treaty of Winchester of November 1153. Stephen did not live long enough to contest this later, and following his death on 25 October 1154 Henry succeeded unchallenged. So secure did he feel that he was not crowned until 19 December. In 1135 Stephen was supported by the senior English bishops because they saw this as the most effective way to prevent civil war. More than that, Henry of Winchester in particular was confident of his ability to ensure that, through him, his brother would protect the liberties of the church. According to William of Malmesbury,1 when addressing the council in 1141 which confirmed Matilda as the lady of England, Bishop Henry claimed that he had made himself guarantor between Stephen and God that he would honour and exalt Holy Church, maintain good laws and repeal bad ones.
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