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White Ship

The White Ship was a 12th century ship that sank in the English Channel near the Normandy coast, on November 25, 1120. On board were William, the only legitimate son of King Henry I of England, and at least one of Henry's 20-plus acknowledged bastards, Richard.

The cause of the shipwreck is not clear. The various stories surrounding its loss include a drinking binge by the crew and passengers and mention that priests were not allowed on board to bless the ship in the customary manner. However, the Channel is and always was a notoriously treacherous stretch of water.

There was only one survivor of the wreck. It is said that Stephen of Blois, King Henry's nephew, had disembarked just before the ship sailed. If so, that was ironic, since, as a direct result of William's death, Stephen would later usurp the throne, resulting in the period known as the Anarchy.

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