Henry III and the Building of Westminster Abbey
by Professor David Carpenter

Date: Thursday 18 February 2016

The leading authority on Henry III explains in this illustrated talk why the art-loving king rebuilt Westminster in such spectacular style as a coronation church and royal mausoleum.

Henry III and the Building of Westminster Abbey

The long reign of Henry III was one of the most significant in English history. It saw the implantation of Magna Carta into political life, the development of parliament and the rise of English national feeling.

On October 13th 1269 Henry translated the body of Edward the Confessor to its shrine within the new church at Westminster. He had spent well over £40,000 on the works, a sum which could have built three or four of the castles with which his son, Edward I, later conquered Wales. But it was worth it. The new church was the finest in Christendom. The God-given nature of Henry’s rule, which he had done so much to stress, had not saved him from revolution, but it may well have saved his throne. There was no attempt to depose Henry as there had been with King John.                                                                          

David Carpenter is Professor of Medieval History at Kings College London with a distinguished career at the universities of Oxford, Aberdeen and London. He has written extensively on this period, particularly in The Reign of Henry III and The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284.

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