Henry of Blois

d.1171. Bishop of Winchester. Trained in Cluny, Henry in 1126 became abbot of the wealthy Glastonbury abbey, which post he continued to hold by special dispensation after he became bishop of Winchester in 1129. Proud and ambitious, he was instrumental in his brother Stephen's accession to the throne in 1135, and was therefore aggrieved because he failed to become archbishop of Canterbury in 1139. He became papal legate, however, and as such was very powerful. Far from being an instrument of Stephen, he represented the interests of the church and papacy, and even of Matilda, against those of his brother. The appointment as legate was not renewed after the death of Innocent II (1143), and because of this Henry was prepared to support Stephen's resistance to the papal will, especially in 1148. Under Henry II, age lost him Canterbury to Becket* (1162), but in the ensuing controversy with the Crown, Henry was a steady opponent of excessive royal authority within the church. He is famous also as a builder of churches and castles.