Rosamund Clifford

DESCRIPTION: King Henry II loves Rosamund Clifford, and constructs a bower at Woodstock to guard her from Queen Eleanor's jealousy. The King and Rosamund talk at length. He departs for the wars. Queen Eleanor poisons Rosamund
AUTHOR: Thomas Deloney? (Bodleian attribution for the broadsides)
EARLIEST DATE: 1765 (Percy) (Broadside registered 1656)
KEYWORDS: love separation death poison royalty
1154-1189 - Reign of Henry II
c. 1176 - Death of Rosamund Clifford
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Percy/Wheatley II, pp. 154-164, "Fair Rosamund" (1 text)
BBI, ZN2820, "When as King Henry rul'd this Land/"; cf. BBI, ZN2442, "Sweet youthful charming ladies fair"
cf. Chappell/Wooldridge I, pp. 163-164, "Rosamund" (1 text, 1 tune)

Bodleian, Wood 401(7), "A Mournful Ditty of the Lady Rosamond, King Henry the Seconds Concubine, Who Was Poysoned to Death by Queen Elenor in Woodstocst [sic] Bower Near Oxford" ("Whereas king Henry rul'd this land"), F. Coles (London), 1658-1664; also Antiq. c. E.9(123), "A Lamentable Ballad of Fair Rosamond, King Henry the Second's Concubine"; 2806 c.14(196), "The Life and Death of Fair Rosamund, Concubine to King Henry II"; Harding B 5(61), Johnson Ballads 1366, Harding B 5(64), Harding B 5(62), "The Life and Death of Fair Rosamond, King Henry the Second's Concubine"; G.A. Oxon b.96(7), G.A. Oxon b.96(6)[some words illegible], Douce Ballads 3(25b), "A Lamentable Ballad of Fair Rosamond, Concubine to Henry 2nd"
cf. "Queen Eleanor's Confession" [Child 156] (subject)
cf. "Fair Rosamond" (subject)
cf. "Flying Fame" (tune, per Bodleian broadsides)
When Anne, a Princess of renown/The Glorius Warriour (BBI ZN2817)
NOTES [316 words]: Romantic pieces based on the tale of Rosamund Clifford seem to have been fairly common, but I have lumped them all here, excerpt for "Fair Rosamund," on the grounds that few can be demonstrated to be traditional.
The versions listed above seem to fall into two families; the Percy text goes with the broadside "When as King Henry Ruled this Land"; Chappell's version is a "Sweet Youthful Charming Ladies Fair" type of text.
There are traditional elements to the songs, however, as the folk accounts do not match the actual facts. This possibly justifies their inclusion here.
The facts are these: Henry II truly did marry Eleanor of Aquitaine, and he truly did have an affair with Rosamund Clifford. Rosamund seems to have been the true love of Henry's life.
Beyond this, all is conjecture. We do not have dates of Rosamund's romance with Henry, and the evidence conflicts. Geoffrey, Bishop of Lincoln is said to have been their (second) son, born in 1159. But this conflicts with other evidence about Henry's amours. Also, Henry was still busily having children by Eleanor at that time. The last child of Henry and Eleanor was the future King John, born 1166/67. Henry was still a relatively young man of about 34, while Eleanor was about 45 and probably incapable of bearing further children.
Rosamund was the daughter of Walter FitzPonce, who took the surname Clifford upon gaining the title of Clifford Castle (by marriage) some time before 1138. The date of Rosamund's birth is uncertain. She died around 1176 or 1177, but the death was the result of natural causes -- and she was living in a nunnery at the time! Indeed, by the 1170s, Henry had Eleanor under virtual house arrest; even had she wanted to, she probably could not have arranged Rosamund's death.
For more on this, see the notes to "Queen Eleanor's Confession" [Child 156]; there is also some material in "Fair Rosamond." - RBW
Last updated in version 2.6
File: Perc2154

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