Eustace IV of Boulogne

Eustace IV, Count of Boulogne (born some time between 1127 and 1135; died August 1153) was the son and heir of King Stephen of England. He became the heir-apparent to his father's possessions by the death of an elder brother before 1135.

In 1137 he did homage for Normandy to Louis VII of France, whose sister, Constance, he subsequently married. Eustace was knighted in 1147, at which date he was probably from sixteen to eighteen years of age; and in 1151 he joined Louis in an abortive raid upon Normandy, which had accepted the title of the empress Matilda, and was now defended by her husband, Geoffrey of Anjou.

At a council held in London on April 6 1152 Stephen induced a small number of barons to do homage to Eustace as their future king; but the primate, Theobald, and the other bishops declined to perform the coronation ceremony on the ground that the Roman curia had declared against the claim of Eustace.

The death of Eustace, which occurred during the next year, was hailed with general satisfaction as opening the possibility of a peaceful settlement between Stephen and his rival, the young Henry of Anjou.

The Peterborough Chronicle, not content with voicing this sentiment, gives Eustace a bad character. "He was an evil man and did more harm than good wherever he went; he spoiled the lands and laid thereon heavy taxes." He had used threats against the recalcitrant bishops, and in the war against the Angevin party had demanded contributions from religious houses; these facts perhaps suffice to account for the verdict of the chronicler.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.


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