The culture, language and individual identity of the indigenous ‘Briton’ has long since been lost to invading races and the passage of time. It should not be surprising therefore, that the forces that gave rise to that, provided us with Monarchs whose hearts and souls were still steeped in their own native lands. For instance, Richard i (The Lionheart), of his ten-year reign, spent only one in England and never learned to speak English!
Understandably then, some were intent on being buried in the land of their birth rather than their adopted country. At least one – James ii – had little choice other than to live and die in France after being dethroned and exiled by Parliament in 1688. But I have stopped short of visiting their tombs due to their being desecrated and their remains scattered during the religious and civil wars of the 17th/18th centuries.
With the exception of George i, who died in Germany and is buried in a vault at his family’s castle in Herrenhausen near Hanover (not open to the public), nothing is left of the remaining English Monarchs buried in France save a thigh bone of William The Conqueror in his tomb at Caen.
Nevertheless, they constitute a vital part of the story and are accordingly included. They are:
William i (The Conqueror) 1066-1087 buried Caen – France Henry ii 1154-1189 buried Fontevrault – France Richard i (Coeur de Lion) 1189-1199 buried Fontevrault – France James ii 1685-1688 buried Paris – France George i 1714-1727 buried Herrenhausen – Germany
Above: St Stephen’s Abbey, Caen and a view of the Nave.
Below: the stone slab on the tomb of William the Conqueror which translated reads, ‘Here was buried the invincible William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, King of England, founder of this house who died in 1087’.
Below: the memorials to King James ii 1685-1688 who, after being deposed, died in exile in 1701. He is buried in St Germain-en-Laye, Paris.
Below left: the tombs of Fontevrault Abbey of (at the back) King Henry ii, 1154-1189, with Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine on his right and, foreground, King Richard i (Coeur de Lion) 1189-1199 with Queen Berengaria on his right.
Above right: a closer view of King Henry’s and Queen Eleanor’s tombs.