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White Ship

The White Ship, a 12th century vessel, sank in the English Channel near the Normandy coast, on November 25, 1120. Those drowned included William, the only unquestionably legitimate son of King Henry I of England. It is said that another possible legitimate son, Richard , also died on this ship, but the evidence for Richard's existance is slender. Some illegimate sons also died in the disaster.

The cause of the shipwreck remains unclear. Various stories surrounding its loss feature a drinking binge by the crew and passengers and mention that priests were not allowed on board to bless the ship in the customary manner. However, the Channel has often proven a notoriously treacherous stretch of water.

Only one person survived the wreck. Stephen of Blois, King Henry's nephew, had allegedly disembarked just before the ship sailed. If so, his action appears ironic, since, as a direct result of William's death, Stephen would later usurp the English throne, resulting in the period known as the Anarchy.