Newly refitted, The White Ship sank near the Normandy coast on 25 November 1120. Three hundred souls drowned after the ship foundered on rocks. There was a single survivor. Amongst the dead was William Adelin, the only legitimate son and heir of Henry I. His death led to a crisis of succession and a period of bloody civil war know as the Anarchy.
William escaped the capsize in a small craft but he turned back into danger in an attempt to rescue his half-sister, Matilda after he realised she had not left the ship. It was his last action on this earth.
Charles Spencer is the historical author of Killers of the King, Blenheim and To Catch a King. He has written extensively of his family and their lives at the family home, Althorp House, Northamptonshire.