The Angevin Kings and Queens

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis   in Medieval Miscellany, Medieval People

This is the first part of the talk Bruce MacCarthy gave at the general meeting of the New South Wales Branch on 8 February 2014.


Today, some historians divide the Plantagenets into four distinct Royal Houses: Angevins, Plantagenets, Lancaster and York but, collectively, the Plantagenet family as they are now known formed the longest-running dynasty in British history, with 14 kings over more than 330 years from 1154 to 1485.  Even if we similarly group together the Hanoverians and their successors, from George I onwards, they have so far provided only 11 kings and queens and are only in their 300th year in 2014.

In my two journeys to Europe, I have always tried to visit places with Plantagenet connections.  For example, I have been to the ruins of Dürnstein Castle, where Richard I was held captive by Duke Leopold of Austria in 1192-3.  In May 2008, my wife and I toured King John’s castle in Limerick.  This castle was built on the orders of King John, and was completed around 1200.  It is well worth a visit for the excellent historical displays.  Of course, we also visited the Richard III Museum in York, when we were there in 2010, and I recall an article on this museum in your 2011 journal.

However, the most beautiful place with Plantagenet connections I have visited is the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, (in English, Fontevrault Abbey) a UNESCO World Heritage site in the picturesque Loire valley of France.  Fontevraud Abbey has been referred to as the “necropolis of the kings and queens of the Angevin empire” because four Angevins (two kings and two queen consorts) were buried there.

The Angevins

The term “Angevin” derives from the French County of Anjou, which is centred on the city of Angers, south west of Paris in the lower Loire Valley.  Anjou was united with the English Crown when Henry Plantagenet, who had been Count of Anjou since 1151, succeeded to the English throne as Henry II in 1154.  Henry was the son of Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, and Matilda, daughter of King Henry I of England.  The name “Plantagenet” derives from Geoffrey’s custom of wearing a sprig of Broom (planta genista) in his cap.

Matilda, widow of the Holy Roman Emperor, had returned to England in 1125.  In 1128, she was pressured by her father to marry Geoffrey, who was 11 years her junior.  As her father’s only surviving legitimate heir, Matilda had been recognised as his successor.  However, when the king died in 1135, she was in Normandy, and her cousin, Stephen of Blois, took advantage of her absence and moved quickly to have himself crowned as King.  Matilda’s attempt to reclaim the throne lead to years of civil war in England.  She was briefly in control of the country in 1141 but was never crowned and was never able to consolidate control.

The civil war was finally resolved in 1153 with an agreement, in the Treaty of Winchester, that Stephen would keep the throne until his death, but Matilda’s eldest son would succeed him.  Following Stephen’s death in 1154, Henry Plantagenet was crowned as Henry II, King of England, on 19 December 1154.

Matilda’s mother had been a legitimate descendent of the pre-conquest House of Wessex, so Henry II in effect re-united in the English monarchy the pre- conquest royal bloodline with that of the post-conquest Normans.

Henry II’s early years

Henry was born in Le Mans, France in 1133.  From the age of 14, he became active in military campaigns in support of his mother’s quest for the English crown.  His campaign of 1153 (the year after he married Eleanor of Aquitaine) led to the Treaty of Winchester, which secured his recognition as Stephen’s successor.


Eleanor was born around 1122.  She inherited the Duchy of Aquitaine in 1137 and was instantly one of the most eligible brides in Europe.  Within months she had married King Louis VII of France.  As his consort, she participated in the Second Crusade (1147-49).

The marriage was not a happy one.  The relationship soured even further during the Crusade.  Eleanor asked Pope Eugene III for an annulment, but the Pope initially refused.  However, Louis consented when their second child was not a son, but another daughter.  The Pope now gave his approval, and an annulment was granted in March 1152 on the grounds of consanguinity.
Assurances were given that Eleanor’s lands would be restored to her, in accordance with an arrangement made at the time of the wedding in 1137.  Though Louis and Eleanor had been enthroned as Duke and Duchess of Aquitaine, the arrangement was that the Duchy would remain independent of France until such time as a son of theirs became both King of France and Duke of Aquitaine.  As no son was ever born, Eleanor’s landholdings were not merged with those of France.

Henry and Eleanor

After the annulment, Eleanor again became a desirable marriage partner, so much so that two lords independently wanted to kidnap and marry her by force in order to claim her lands.  Eleanor, forewarned of this, promptly married Henry who was not only Count of Anjou, but also the Duke of Normandy.  The marriage took place in a very low-key ceremony in May 1152, only eight weeks after the annulment.

As was the case with his father, Henry was younger than his bride, in this case by nine years.  Interestingly, though her earlier marriage had been annulled on the grounds of consanguinity, Eleanor was more closely related to Henry (third cousins) than she had been to Louis (fourth cousins once removed).

Through his marriage to Eleanor, Henry became Duke of Aquitaine and Gascony.  The addition of these substantial territories to his created an “empire” stretching from the Pyrenees in the south to the Scottish border in the north and parts of Ireland in the west.

Henry’s father had previously declared that, if Henry became King of England, he should renounce his right to the title and lands of Anjou, and cede them to his younger brother, Geoffrey.  However, to have done so, would have meant splitting his landholdings into two parts.  Once having gained Eleanor’s lands, Henry was never likely to give up Anjou, even for England.

Eleanor’s marriage to Henry was an affront to Louis, Henry’s feudal overlord in Anjou.  Henry had not only married Louis’ ex-wife, but he now had great landholdings and the power to rival Louis politically.  In the face this potential threat, Louis promptly created a coalition of nobles who had reason to regard Henry as an enemy, including Stephen of England, Stephen’s son Eustace, and Henry’s brother Geoffrey.  Within months of the marriage, this coalition engaged in coordinated attacks against Henry.  Capetian troops attacked Aquitaine.  Louis, Eustace and others combined to attack Normandy, while Geoffrey raised a revolt in Anjou.  Stephen attacked Henry’s allies in England.

It could have been a disaster for Henry, but a combination of events saved him.  Henry had intended to return to England to pursue his claims there, but he rushed to Anjou where he forced Geoffrey to surrender.  Then Louis became ill and had to retire from the conflict.  Henry’s defences held.  Eustace died suddenly and, although Henry was unable to defeat Stephen, the treaty of Winchester was signed, guaranteeing Henry’s right to succeed Stephen.

The question of the ceding of Anjou to Geoffrey was raised again, but the Pope ruled that Henry’s oath to do so had been forced upon him.  Louis did not support Geoffrey because Henry paid homage to him for Normandy, Anjou, and Aquitaine.  In the end, Geoffrey had to be satisfied with an annual pension.

In the next few years, Henry claimed further lands and entered into alliances to create a ring of buffer states in such places as Brittany, Flanders, Scotland and Wales.  He also sought to expand into Ireland.  By 1172, he controlled England, large parts of Wales, the eastern half of Ireland and the western half of France.

Just as the marriage of Eleanor and Louis had been a difficult one so, too, the marriage of Eleanor and Henry was complex and marred by arguments and revolts.  Nevertheless, their relationship produced at least eight pregnancies over a period of 13 years.  Eleanor definitely had five sons and three daughters by Henry.

Eleanor clearly had influence with Henry.  He trusted her to manage England for several years after 1154, and later was happy for her to govern Aquitaine.  However, the relationship later soured and she supported her older sons in the Great Revolt of 1173–74.  She was then imprisoned by Henry.  This revolt is one of two key issues by which Henry’s 35-year reign is remembered, the other being his conflict with Archbishop Becket.

The Thomas Becket Controversy

The death of Becket is probably the most remembered event in Henry’s reign.  Becket had been his Chancellor, and Henry appointed him as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162.  Henry probably expected him to be subservient, but Becket proved to be a staunch protector of the church.  This led to a number of disagreements between him and the King.  Both parties were reluctant to back down.  Henry harassed associates of Becket and Becket excommunicated some allies of the king.  Eventually, Becket fled to France in 1164.

Henry wanted to have his son Young Henry crowned as King of England during his own lifetime.  This was a novel concept for England, though Stephen had wanted to do it with Eustace.  Coronations were traditionally performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury but, when Henry’s attempts at conciliating with Beckett failed, the King had young Henry crowned by the Archbishop of York.  Becket’s response was to lay an interdict on England.

There was reconciliation in 1170 and Becket returned to England.  However, an intemperate remark by the King led to some of his knights killing Becket, in the belief Henry wished this.

The great revolt of 1173-74

While Henry had been keen to build a physically continuous landholding, he did not regard his lands as a single entity.  Rather, he regarded them as personal possessions he planned to distribute to his children.  Young Henry was crowned King of England in 1170,  but he never actually ruled and he had little money.  Richard became Duke of Aquitaine in 1172.  Geoffrey became Duke of Brittany in 1181.  Even John, once derisively nicknamed Lackland, became Lord of Ireland in 1185.  At one stage, Gascony was nominated as part of the dowry of one of Henry’s daughters.  This partition of the lands between his children gave them a degree of independent power.  It became harder for Henry to control them.

After his coronation, Young Henry demanded part of his inheritance, at least England or Normandy or Anjou.  Henry refused.  Young Henry may also have resented the death of Becket, who had been his tutor.  Geoffrey was discontented because, as he had not yet married Constance (daughter of the late Duke of Brittany who had died in 1171), he still did not have lands of his own.  Richard’s relationship with Henry had also broken down.

When King Henry decided that some castles, previously allocated to Young Henry, were to be given to John, Young Henry finally had enough.  He was furious and fled to join Louis in Paris.  Eleanor supported her son, as did Richard and Geoffrey, both of whom joined him at Louis’ court.  Eleanor attempted to join them, but was captured by her husband’s forces in November 1173.

Louis naturally supported Young Henry, who recruited other allies including the King of Scotland and various nobles to whom he promised lands if he won.  Only in Anjou was King Henry relatively secure.

Even though the crisis was both large and widespread, King Henry had several advantages.  He controlled powerful castles in strategic areas and most of the English ports.  So, eventually, Henry II prevailed.  In mid-1174 he did penance at Becket’s tomb in Canterbury, asserting that the revolt was divine punishment against him.  This public act of piety helped him to restore his image and royal authority.  The English rebels were finally crushed, allowing him to return to France in August 1174.  Falling on the French forces who were trying to take Rouen, he forced Louis to sue for peace.

In the aftermath of the revolt, Henry made peace with his sons.  In exchange for the castles given to John, Young Henry was given castles in Normandy and some money.  Richard and Geoffrey were given half the revenues of their respective Dukedoms.  Eleanor, however, was kept under house arrest until the 1180s.

Henry then busied himself trying to rectify some of issues he believed had led to the revolt.  He extended royal justice in England and spent time in Normandy shoring up local support among the barons.  He made use of the growing Becket cult to increase his own prestige, attributing his successes in 1174 to the Saint’s intercession following his own public penance.

Despite Henry’s efforts at building stability, Young Henry’s grievances persisted.  War broke out again in 1183 but the fighting ended with young Henry’s sudden death from dysentery in June of that year.

As Richard was now the heir apparent for the Kingdom of England, Henry proposed that John should become Duke of Aquitaine.  This enraged Richard, but Henry got his own way in early 1185.  He sent Eleanor to Normandy to intercede with Richard, while at the same time threatening Richard that other lands might be given to Geoffrey.  When Geoffrey died in 1186, Henry was left with only two living sons, Richard and John.

Tensions between Henry and Richard resulted in a further outbreak of violence in 1188.  By then, Henry was suffering what would prove to be a fatal illness.  Plagued by this illness, he was forced to surrender, to pay homage to King Philip of France and to recognise Richard as his heir.  Perhaps the final straw for Henry was being informed that John, his favourite, had publicly sided with Richard in the conflict.  Henry collapsed with a fever and died in July 1189.  He was buried at the nearby Abbey of Fontevraud.

Though Henry’s reign was plagued by family disputes and wars, many of the changes he introduced had major long-term consequences.  He made use of juries and re-introduced the sending of justices (judges) on regular tours of the country to try cases for the Crown. His legal reforms are generally regarded as laying down the basis for English common law.

Eleanor survived her husband by almost 15 years, living throughout the reign of Richard and well into the reign of John.  She died in 1204 and was also interred in Fontevraud Abbey, with her husband Henry and her son Richard.  She had outlived all but two of her children: King John of England, and Queen Eleanor of Castille.

Eleanor and Henry II - smlTomb effigies of Eleanor and Henry II at Fontevraud Abbey (photograph by Elanor Gamgee, used under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.)

Richard I

Richard was born in 1157.  His first recorded visit to the continent was in 1165.  Despite being born in England, he spent very little time there, spending most of his time in France and on crusade.

By the age of 16, he had taken command of his own army, putting down rebellions against his father.  Soon he was involved in fighting against his father in the great revolt but was reconciled with him in 1174.

In 1175, Richard was sent to Aquitaine to punish the barons who had fought on his behalf against Henry.  It was during this campaign that Richard acquired his well-known nickname Lionheart or, in French, Coeur de Lion.  He is one of the few English Kings remembered by an epithet, not a number.

He put down revolts in Gascony in 1179 and in Angouleme in 1182.  As mentioned above, there were renewed tensions between Richard and his father in 1183 these continued on and off until Henry’s death.  On succeeding to the Crown in 1189, Richard released Eleanor from house arrest, and she then ruled Aquitaine on his behalf.

Richard was crowned in September 1189.  He had declared that no women or Jews should attend the ceremony, but some Jewish leaders arrived to present him with gifts.  Richard’s courtiers stripped and flogged the Jews and flung them out.  The resulting rumour that Richard had ordered Jewish people be killed prompted massacres in which many Jews were beaten to death, burned alive or robbed.  Others were forced to undergo baptism as Christians.  Realising that these assaults could destabilise his realm at a time when he wished to leave on crusade, Richard ordered the execution of those responsible for the more serious crimes.  He distributed a writ demanding that the Jews be left alone but this edict was not universally honoured and further violence against Jews ensued in the following year.

The Third Crusade

Again, it would take an entire article to provide a detailed account of the Third Crusade.  This account can only be extremely brief.
Having already decided to take up the cross, Richard started to raise and equip a Crusader army soon after his accession.  He lifted taxes and sold offices.  He appointed various people to administer his lands during his absence and set out on the crusade with King Phillip of France in the summer of 1190, travelling to the Holy Land via Sicily and Cyprus.  I will skip over the problems that arose in Sicily and say little more than that Richard conquered Cyprus, and married Berengaria of Navarre there.

Some doubt whether the marriage was ever consummated, though Richard and Berengaria were together during the first part of the crusade.  Berengaria never visited England during Richard’s lifetime.  Indeed Richard himself spent only six months in England during the marriage.  They had no children and, although there are accounts of Richard having had at least one illegitimate child, rumours have persisted that Richard may have been homosexual or bisexual.

Richard later sold Cyprus to the Knights Templar.  The island remained a Christian stronghold until 1571.  Richard’s exploits in Cyprus contributed to his growing reputation, and to his finances.

Landing in Acre in 1191, Richard aided in the capture of that city despite being seriously ill.  The crusade was marred by quarrels between the various Crusader factions over the status of their leaders.

There had been thousands of Muslim prisoners kept as hostages following Saladin’s surrender of Acre.  When several of his allies had left to return home, Richard feared that his forces would be bottled up and that he would not be able to advance with so many prisoners.  So he had them executed.  He moved south and defeated Saladin’s forces in September 1191. The army moved on towards Jerusalem.  Unfortunately, bad weather and the risk that they might be trapped by relieving Muslim forces caused the Crusaders to return to the coast.  In 1192, the Crusaders again approached Jerusalem but disagreements about how to prosecute the attack caused them to retreat yet again.

Realising that he needed to return to England to reassert his authority there, Richard negotiated a three-year truce with Saladin in September 1192,  The agreement allowed Christian pilgrims and merchants access to Jerusalem.

Bad weather and a shipwreck forced Richard and his party to travel overland through central Europe.  He was captured in December 1192 by the Duke of Austria, who had a grudge against him because of events in the Holy Land.  Duke Leopold imprisoned Richard at Durnstein castle for about three months before handing him over to the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VI, who also held grudges against him.  The Emperor held Richard imprisoned in Trifels castle, and demanded a crippling ransom of 150,000 marks.

Eleanor worked hard to raise the ransom money, taxing both clergy and laymen.  Meanwhile, Prince John and King Phillip of France offered Henry 80,000 marks to keep Richard prisoner, but this offer was rejected.  Finally the ransom was paid and Richard was released in February 1194.  Although John had effectively revolted during Richard’s imprisonment, Richard forgave him on his return to England and named him as his heir, bypassing their nephew Arthur of Brittany.

Philip had conquered Normandy during Richard’s imprisonment.  Richard set out to re-take it.  He poured large amounts of money into the campaign, building alliances and constructing castles.  It was during one of his campaigns, in 1198, that Richard adopted the motto “Dieu et Mon Droit” which is still used by the British monarchy.

In March 1199, while besieging a tiny castle, Richard was struck in the neck by a bolt from a crossbow.  A surgeon botched the job of removing it.  The wound became gangrenous and it was obvious that he would not survive.  He died in his mother’s arms at Chalus on 6 April 1199.  His heart was buried at Rouen, his entrails were buried at Chalus, and the rest of his body was buried at the feet of his father at Fontevraud.  Berengaria survived him by more than 30 years, and was buried in Le Mans.

Richard was, in his lifetime and long afterwards, a favourite hero with troubadours and romancers.  He was a brave, experienced and astute general, but an objective appraisal would suggest that he falls short of our current ideal of chivalrous excellence.  His memory is stained the massacre of the Saracen prisoners at Acre.  When he was thwarted, his fury was ungovernable.  As a ruler he was equally profligate and rapacious.  One would be hard-pressed to identify any useful measure which could be attributed to him
Perhaps the best summary of Richard was provided by the historian Steven Runciman, who said “he was a bad son, a bad husband, and a bad king, but a gallant and splendid soldier.”


John was born in England in 1166.  His early education was at Fontevraud, but he later was educated in England.  When he was five, his father had him betrothed to Alais, the daughter of the Count of Savoy.  Had this marriage come to fruition, it would have secured the southern borders of Aquitaine with an alliance and, eventually, John would have inherited all the Count’s possessions.  However, Alais died before the marriage could take place and John was again left as a prince without any clear inheritance.

When his older brothers revolted in 1173, John was only a boy and he travelled with his father.  From then on, he was increasingly recognised as his father’s favourite.  Henry looked for ways to find lands for John and, in 1176, he disinherited the sisters of Isabelle of Gloucester, making her very wealthy, and then had John betrothed to her.  The following year, he made John Lord of Ireland at the age of 10.

John made his first visit to Ireland in 1185, but his attempt to rule was not successful.  Ireland had only recently been conquered by the Anglo Normans and there were residual tensions between the incoming settlers and administrators on the one hand and the existing inhabitants on the other.  John offended the local dignitaries and failed to make allies among the new settlers.  He lost ground militarily against the Irish and returned to England later that year.

When Geoffrey died in 1186, John’s nephew, Arthur, became Duke of Brittany.  In theory, Arthur was closer in line to the English throne than John, but Arthur’s age meant that, in practice, John was a step closer.  Richard was the only adult ahead of him.  Richard wanted to go on crusade, but was worried that, in his absence, Henry might appoint John as his heir.  However, when the king died in 1189, Richard inherited and set about securing things to minimise the chance of any revolt while he was crusading.

Richard named Arthur as his heir.  He made John Count of Mortain, and gave him numerous valuable landholdings in several counties though he took care to keep control of key castles in those counties.  Meanwhile, John married Isabel of Gloucester.

Richard left control of England in the hands of trusted nobles and clerics and John promised not to visit England for the next three years.  With these arrangements in place, Richard felt he had time to conduct a successful crusade and return to England without fear of John seizing power.  In the end, however, Eleanor persuaded Richard to allow John to return to England while he was away.

The death of one of those left in charge and quarrels between others created a situation which John was able to exploit.  He set himself up with his own royal court and portrayed himself as Regent and a possible future king.  Armed conflict broke out between John and Chancellor William Longchamp.  John took control of London in October 1191, isolating the Chancellor in the Tower.  Richard sent the Archbishop of Rouen to England to restore order.

The news that Richard had married, and might have legitimate children, weakened John’s position but it was strengthened again by Richard’s failure to return and the eventual news that he had been captured and imprisoned by the Duke of Austria.  John travelled to France to explore an alliance with King Phillip.  He agreed to set his wife aside and marry Phillip’s sister.

Fighting broke out in England between forces loyal to Richard and John’s allies, but John was forced to accept a truce.  When Richard finally returned in 1194, John’s forces surrendered.  Richard later forgave John and, as mentioned above, named him as his heir, bypassing young Arthur or Brittany.  However, Richard took back all John’s lands other than Ireland.  John then remained loyal to Richard and had a number of successes in battles on Richard’s behalf against King Phillip.  Richard returned the county of Gloucestershire to him and restored him as Count of Mortain.

The issue of succession to the throne was not clear cut.  Norman law favoured John as the only surviving son of Henry II, but Angevin Law favoured Arthur as the son of an elder son of Henry.  When Richard died in 1199, there was open conflict.  John, supported by Eleanor and the bulk of the English and Norman nobility, was crowned King.  On the Continent, the majority of the nobility in Brittany, Maine and Anjou supported Arthur.  Phillip, ever keen to break up the Angevin territories, stepped in on Arthur’s side.  John moved into France and set about acquiring allies.  In the end, a truce was negotiated in May 1200, but the peace lasted for only two years.

John had earlier agreed to set his wife aside to marry Phillip’s sister, but this never happened.  Nevertheless, he did abandon his wife, arguing that he had never achieved papal permission to marry her (she was a cousin).  He married Isabella of Angouleme, though she was currently engaged to marry Hugh de Lusignan.  This fact eventually gave rise to further hostilities.

Philip reassigned all of John’s lands that fell under the French crown to Arthur, with the exception of Normandy, which he took back for himself and began a further war against John.  By the end of 1204, John’s only remaining possession on the continent was Aquitaine.

John’s predecessors had ruled as absolute monarchs, believing themselves to be above the normal law.  John wanted to follow in that tradition, but opinions were changing and many believed that kings should rule in accordance with custom and law and take advice from their nobles.  Sometimes, John justified his actions by saying that he had taken the advice of his barons.

Because he spent more time in England, he was much more intimately involved in the system of administration.  He regarded the administration of justice as being particularly important and worked hard to ensure that the system worked efficiently.  Did he do so because of an inherent love of justice or because an efficient system helped him to raise revenue?  This is open to debate, but the changes he introduced were certainly popular with many free tenants who were happy to see a more reliable legal system that was less dependent upon the barons.  Of course, the barons did not view these changes so favourably, particularly as they remained subject to Royal justice, which was often arbitrary and vindictive.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury died in 1205, John became involved in a dispute with the Pope over who would be the new Archbishop.  The Pope laid an interdict on England.  He eventually excommunicated the King in 1209, but they reconciled in 1213 when John offered feudal service to the Pope for the kingdom of England.  Looked at one way, this was a humiliation for John but, from another perspective, it was an advantage because, thereafter, the Pope backed John on both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Meanwhile, tensions between John and the barons were growing.  John held a council in early 1215 to discuss the possibility of reforms.  He may have been playing for time while he was waiting for letters of support from the Pope and while recruiting more forces.  He also claimed he would become a crusader.  In any event, by the time the Pope’s letters of support arrived, his opponents had organised themselves.  They renounced their feudal ties to John and marched to take London, Exeter and Lincoln.  The rebels’ successes prompted others to defect from John and persuaded him to seek peace talks.

A meeting took place at Runnymede in June 1215.  The result was the Magna Carta.  It provided for a peace agreement and reforms addressing specific baronial complaints.  Though it only focused on the rights of free men, as opposed to serfs, it provided protection of Church rights, protection from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice and limitations on taxation without baronial consent.  A council of barons would be created to monitor John’s adherence to the charter and the rebel army would stand down.

No one seriously attempted to implement the peace accord.  The barons did not stand down the Army.  The Pope decided that charter was illegal and unjust and excommunicated the rebel barons.  War broke out again.  Prince Louis of France allied himself with the barons and invaded England in May 1216.  Things were at a stalemate when John died in October 1216.  He was buried in Winchester Cathedral.

He was succeeded by his young son Henry III, with William Marshall being declared protector of the nine-year-old boy.  Peace finally was achieved in 1217 with the treaty of Lambeth.  Magna Carta was re-issued in an edited form as a basis for future government.

The end of the Angevin era

While Richard had been Count of Anjou, the title technically passed on his death to his infant nephew, Arthur Duke of Brittany.  John was de-facto Count, but he lost Anjou to Phillip II of France, and so he was the last of the three English Kings regarded as “Angevin.”  The next kings are identified as “Plantagenets.”  Then come the Lancastrians and Yorkists, sub-branches of the Plantagenet family.

The Angevin empire was essentially a French empire.  The first two Angevin kings largely spent their lives and their most active years in France.  Henry II, Eleanor and Richard (and John’s second wife who was from Angouleme about 200 km south of Angers) were all buried in Fontevraud, France.

However, from the time of John onward, the crown of England became more and more Anglo-centric.  This is reflected in the fact that, unlike Henry II and Richard, King John and his first (English) wife were buried in England.

Though Henry III continued to claim Normandy and Anjou until 1259, John’s continental losses and the consequent growth of French power was a turning point in British and European history.

Tags: , , , ,

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 at 9:36 and is filed under Medieval Miscellany, Medieval People. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a reply

Name (*)
Mail (will not be published) (*)