Despite having fathered more than twenty children, when King Henry I of England died in 1135, he left no surviving legitimate sons. He bequeathed his kingdom to his daughter Matilda, but common citizenry and powerful nobles alike rejected her in favor of Henry's nephew, Stephen of Blois, who was crowned King in 1135. However, Matilda had her supporters, and a civil war called the Anarchy broke out between the two factions.
Henry Beauclerc, the youngest and last surviving son of William the Conqueror, served as King Henry I of England after the death of his older brother, William II, in 1100. Nineteen years into his reign, he and his only legitimate son, William the Atheling, celebrated a successful military campaign against Louis VI of France, and the marriage of the teenaged William to Matilda of Anjou, the daughter of a powerful French Count. They remained in Normandy for some time and, on November 25, 1120, King Henry, Prince William, and their respective entourages prepared to cross the English Channel and return to London.
Before he attacked and seized the crown of England in 1066, William the Conqueror held the title of Duke of Normandy, a region of northern France. Throughout the rest of his reign, and of the six English kings that followed, Normandy, while technically still owing its allegiance to France, operated under English control. More than a century later, King Richard I, known as the 'Lion-Heart', built a series of castles, including the imposing Château Gaillard, in order to retain his control of Normandy.
On a clear spring day in June of 1559, two massive horses thundered toward each other as their armored riders lowered their lances. The crowd cheered as the competitors clashed and pieces of broken lance flew into the air, signifying a score for one of the lancers. The jouster dressed in black and white tottered, then steadied himself in the saddle. As attendants rushed out to assist the wounded man, cheers turned to gasps as pieces of his opponent's shattered lance could be seen projecting from his visor. Blood spilled from the helmet; the tilt had taken a deadly turn.
In the early 3rd century AD, the Roman Empire teetered on the edge of an epic fall. On March 8, 217, the despised and ruthless Emperor Caracalla stopped to relieve himself against a roadside tree during a long overland ride, insisting on some privacy as he did so. In his moment of vulnerability, one of his guards, Julius Martialis, assassinated the Emperor with a single thrust of a dagger. Martialis did not survive his victim for long, as one of the Emperor's other bodyguards, a Scythian, immediately shot the assassin dead.