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King Henry II (1154-1189)
Fair Rosamund (1) : Charles Dickens tells the story of King Henry II and the enchantingly beautiful Rosamund Clifford.
Fair Rosamund
Part one

From ‘A Child’s History of England’ by Charles Dickens.

The story of Rosamund Clifford, mistress of a young Henry II, is one of the great romances of English literature. Disappointingly – or perhaps not, since it is a bitter tragedy — apart from the most essential facts it is a legend. The best one can do is to ask one of our great novelists, Charles Dickens, to let us down gently.

THERE is a pretty story told of this Reign, called the story of Fair Rosamond. It relates how the King doted on Fair Rosamond, who was the loveliest girl in all the world; and how he had a beautiful Bower built for her in a Park at Woodstock; and how it was erected in a labyrinth, and could only be found by a clue of silk.

How the bad Queen Eleanor, becoming jealous of Fair Rosamond, found out the secret of the clue, and one day, appeared before her, with a dagger and a cup of poison, and left her to the choice between those deaths.

How Fair Rosamond, after shedding many piteous tears and offering many useless prayers to the cruel Queen, took the poison, and fell dead in the midst of the beautiful bower, while the unconscious birds sang gaily all around her.

From ‘A Child’s History of England’ by Charles Dickens.

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Picture: By John William Waterhouse (1849-1917), via Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
Rosamund Clifford in her retreat, discovered by Queen Eleanor. Henry married Eleanor of Aquitaine at Whitsun, May 18th 1152, in Poitiers while he was still only Duke of Normandy; he acceded to the English throne in 1154. Their children included King Richard I and King John. Henry seems to have embarked on his affair with Rosamund – daughter of Walter de Clifford of Clifford Castle in Herefordshire – in 1166, and it was publicly acknowledged in 1174.
By Charles Dickens

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