King Stephen (c. 1096 – 25 October 1154) was a grandson of William the Conqueror. On the death of his uncle Henry I he challenged Henry's heir, Matilda, for the throne of Southern England. Nineteen years of war and chaos ensued. As the chroniclers of those times wrote:
""In the days of this King there was nothing but strife, evil, and robbery, for quickly the great men who were traitors rose against him. When the traitors saw that Stephen was a good-humoured, kindly, and easy-going man who inflicted no punishment, then they committed all manner of horrible crimes . . . And so it lasted for nineteen years while Stephen was King, till the land was all undone and darkened with such deeds, and men said openly that Christ and his angels slept".
Stephen it seems was an unusually amiable person for a medieval king, which may have compounded his problems - though he dealt severely enough with the unfortunate magician Meraud.