The sinking of the White Ship on the 25th November 1120 is one of the greatest disasters that England has ever suffered. Its repercussions would change English and European history for ever.
King Henry I was sailing for England in triumph after four years of fighting the French. Congregating with the king at the port of Barfleur on that freezing November night was the cream of Anglo-Norman society: three of his children, including the only legitimate male heir to the throne 17-year-old William Aetheling, William’s sister, Matilda, and one of his many illegitimate children, Richard of Lincoln as well as the flower of the aristocracy, famous knights, and mighty courtiers.
The White Ship, a clinker-built Viking-style boat propelled by 50 oarsmen, sank on 25 November, 1120 on its way to Southampton. It was only about a mile out from Barfleur harbour in France when it hit the submerged Quilleboeuf Rock. William was able to get away on a longboat when the ship foundered, but he made the fatal decision to order his guards to row back in a bid to rescue Matilda. Charles Spencer returns as a guest on The Andrew Eborn Show to talk about the dive to find The White Ship together with Roger Michel, Director of the Institute for Digital Archaeology.
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