Author of the Historia Anglorum, a history of England containing important information on the early crusading movement.
Henry succeeded his father, Nicholas, as archdeacon of Huntingdon between 1113 and 1123. The history, his greatest work, was commissioned by Alexander, bishop of Lincoln; its post-Conquest sections, constantly updated during the 1130s and 1140s, benefited from Henry’s extensive contacts in England and abroad.
Henry’s account of the First Crusade (1096-1099) in Book VII was based upon the Gesta Francorum but added material from oral sources. He alone alleged that in 1099 the rulership of Jerusalem was first offered to Robert Curthose, duke of Normandy, whose refusal blighted the rest of his life. Henry’s forte was the good story that pointed a moral. He was much briefer on the Second Crusade (1147-1149) and highly critical of its failure in Outremer, which he attributed to the moral failings of the crusaders as well as to Greek treachery (Book X). He pointed to the successes in Iberia achieved by a smaller, humbler army, which included his kinsman Hervey de Glanville, as well as Seher de Arcelles, a benefactor of Lincoln cathedral and his probable source for this campaign.