The events of 25th November 1120 unleashed decades of bloodshed and civil war – ushering in a Game of Thrones clash of factions and families brawling for power.
By 1120, King Henry I was perhaps the most formidable ruler in Europe, with an enviable record on the battlefield, immense lands and wealth, and unprecedented authority in his kingdoms. Everything he had worked so hard for was finally achieved, and he was ready to hand it on to his beloved son and heir, William Ætheling.
Now the time came to return to England after four years of fighting the French. Henry I and his retinue set out first. The White Ship – considered the fastest afloat – would follow, carrying the young prince William.
Spoilt and arrogant, William had plied his comrades and crew with drink from the minute he stepped aboard. It was the middle of the night when the drunken helmsman rammed the ship into rocks. The next day only one of the three hundred who had boarded the ship was alive to describe the horrors of the slow shipwreck. William, the face of England’s future, had drowned along with scores of the elite.
With their heir dead, a civil war of untold violence erupted, a game of thrones which saw families turned in on each other with English and Norman barons, rebellious Welsh princes and the Scottish king all playing a part in a bloody, desperate scrum for power.
On the 900th anniversary of the shipwreck, historians Charles Spencer and Dan Jones join How To Academy to retell this extraordinary and bloody story: an unmissable feast for fans of epic storytelling and history alike.