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William Count of Poitiers

The first child of Henry Plantagenet (just before he became Henry II of England) and Eleanor of Aquitaine, William was born so soon after their 18 May 1152 marriage as to set people counting on their fingers: He is said by some historians -- the ones who believe the couple began an affair soon after they met in August 1151 -- to have been born on 17 August 1152 but by others to have been born in 1153. In August 1152 Henry, who had been fighting Eleanor's ex-husband Louis VII of France and his allies, rushed back to her, and they spent several months together. Around the end of November 1152 they parted: He went to spend some weeks with his mother and then sailed for England, arriving on 6 January 1153. So the historians who believe William was born in 1152 say that was why Henry came home then, and the progress they made thru her lands was to mark the birth of the new heir -- that is, that their stated purpose of "introducing the new count" to the people meant Count William, not Count Henry. The ones who think he was born in 1153 point out that Henry might still have been there nine months before William was born.

Whenever he was born, he died in 1156 but had been given the title of Count of Poitiers. For the past centuries, the dukes of Aquitaine had held that as one of their minor titles, so it had passed to Eleanor from her father, and giving it to her son was effectively a revival of the title, separating it from the dukedom.

Some authorities say he held the title of "Archbishop of York", but this is an error. His bastard half-brother Geoffrey Plantagenet (1151-1212), who was born within months of William, did later hold that office, so the mistake probably arose from a reference to King Henry's son in some record that was taken to mean William when it actually meant Geoffrey.



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