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House of Anjou
Blason Geoffroy Plantagenet.svg
Arms of Geoffrey V of Anjou
Country France, Jerusalem, England
Parent house
Founded 877
Founder Ingelger
Final ruler Richard III of England
(senior line)
Isabella of Jerusalem
(junior line)
Current head Extinct
Cadet branches

The House of Anjou, usually referred to simply as the Angevins /ænvɪns/, was a noble family of Frankish origin that emerged as the rulers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of England in the 12th century. Founded by Ingelger in the Carolingian Empire during the 9th century, the Angevins emerged as part of the minor feudal nobility in the French province of Gâtinais, rising to become viscounts of Angers. Under Ingelger's son, Fulk the Red, the family's territory was expanded to create the County of Anjou, a fief of the Kingdom of France. The reigns of the early counts of Anjou were marked by power struggles with neighbouring provinces such as Normandy and Brittany for regional supremacy, resulting in Angevin influence extending into Maine and Touraine. In the early 12th century, Fulk the Younger went on crusade, forging valuable links with the Knights Templar and eventually inheriting the Kingdom of Jerusalem through marriage to Baldwin II's daughter Melisende in 1131.

Geoffrey Plantagenet, Fulk's eldest son by his first wife, succeeded to Anjou in 1129 upon his father's departure for Jerusalem, whilst Baldwin III, Fulk's eldest son with Melisende, inherited Jerusalem after Fulk's death in 1143. The Jerusalem branch of the family continued until the demise of Isabella in 1205, though briefly interrupted by the turbulence around the fall of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade. The senior line of the family, through the marriage of Geoffrey to the Empress Matilda, received control of England and Normandy by 1154, and marriage of Geoffrey's son Henry Curtmantle to Eleanor of Aquitaine expanded the family's holdings into what was later termed the Angevin Empire. After John lost the Angevins' continental territory along with Anjou itself to the Capetians in 1204, the family became known as the House of Plantagenet,[1] adopting Geoffrey's nickname and ruling England until the reign of Richard II, after which the succession was disputed by two cadet branches, the House of Lancaster and the House of York.


The first documented member of the Angevins was an obscure 9th century Frankish nobleman named Ingelger.[2] Later generations of his family believed Ingelger or Ingelgarius was the son of Tertullus (Tertulle) and Petronilla.[3] Around 877 he came into possession of lands in accordance with the Capitulary of Quierzy which Charles the Bald had issued. These included Château-Landon in beneficium, and he was a casatus in the Gâtinais and Francia. Contemporary records refer to Ingelger as a miles optimus, a great military man.[4]

By Louis II of France, Ingelger was appointed viscount of Orléans, which city was under the rule of its bishops at the time.[4] At Orléans Ingelger made a matrimonial alliance with one of the leading families of Neustria, the lords of Amboise. He married Adelais, whose maternal uncles were Adalard, Archbishop of Tours, and Raino, Bishop of Angers. Later Ingelger was appointed prefect (military commander) at Tours, then ruled by Adalard.[4]

At some point Ingelger may have been appointed Count of Anjou, at a time when the county stretched only as far west as the Mayenne River. Later sources credit his appointment to his defence of the region from Vikings,[5] but modern scholars have been more likely to see it as a result of his wife's influential relatives.[4] He was buried in the church of Saint-Martin at Châteauneuf-sur-Sarthe and was succeeded by his son Fulk the Red.[5] The County of Anjou passed down in the dynasty founded by Ingelger until in 1060 Geoffrey II Martel died childless, and the county passed to his nephew, Geoffrey III the Bearded, son of Geoffrey of Gâtinais by a sister of Martel.

Angevin Counts[edit]

Monarchs of Jerusalem and Monarchs of England[edit]

Angevins of Jerusalem[edit]

By 1127 Fulk was preparing to return to Anjou when he received an embassy from King Baldwin II of Jerusalem. Baldwin II had no male heirs but had already designated his daughter Melisende to succeed him. Baldwin II wanted to safeguard his daughter's inheritance by marrying her to a powerful lord. Fulk was a wealthy crusader and experienced military commander, and a widower. His experience in the field would prove invaluable in a frontier state always in the grip of war.

However, Fulk held out for better terms than mere consort of the Queen; he wanted to be king alongside Melisende. Baldwin II, reflecting on Fulk's fortune and military exploits, acquiesced. Fulk abdicated his county seat of Anjou to his son Geoffery and left for Jerusalem, where he married Melisende on June 2, 1129. Later Baldwin II bolstered Melisende's position in the kingdom by making her sole guardian of her son by Fulk, Baldwin III, born in 1130.

Fulk and Melisende became joint rulers of Jerusalem in 1131 with Baldwin II's death. From the start Fulk assumed sole control of the government, excluding Melisende altogether. He favored fellow countrymen from Anjou to the native nobility. The other crusader states to the north feared that Fulk would attempt to impose the suzerainty of Jerusalem over them, as Baldwin II had done; but as Fulk was far less powerful than his deceased father-in-law, the northern states rejected his authority.

The death of Fulk, as depicted in MS of William of Tyre'sHistoria andOld French Continuation, painted in Acre, 13C. Bib. Nat. Française.

In Jerusalem as well, Fulk was resented by the second generation of Jerusalem Christians who had grown up there since the First Crusade. These "natives" focused on Melisende's cousin, the popular Hugh II of Le Puiset, count of Jaffa, who was devotedly loyal to the Queen. Fulk saw Hugh as a rival, and in 1134, in order to expose Hugh, accused him of infidelity with Melisende. Hugh rebelled in protest and secured himself to Jaffa, allying himself with the Muslims of Ascalon. He was able to defeat the army set against him by Fulk, but this situation could not hold. The Patriarch interceded in the conflict, perhaps at the behest of Melisende. Fulk agreed to peace and Hugh was exiled from the kingdom for three years, a lenient sentence.

However, an assassination attempt was made against Hugh. Fulk, or his supporters, were commonly believed responsible, though direct proof never surfaced. The scandal was all that was needed for the queen's party to take over the government in what amounted to a palace coup. Author and historian Bernard Hamilton wrote that the Fulk's supporters "went in terror of their lives" in the palace. Contemporary author and historian William of Tyre wrote of Fulk "he never attempted to take the initiative, even in trivial matters, without (Melisende's) consent". The result was that Melisende held direct and unquestioned control over the government from 1136 onwards. Sometime before 1136 Fulk reconciled with his wife, and a second son, Amalric was born.

In 1143, while the king and queen were on holiday in Acre, Fulk was killed in a hunting accident. His horse stumbled, fell, and Fulk's skull was crushed by the saddle, "and his brains gushed forth from both ears and nostrils", as William of Tyre describes. He was carried back to Acre, where he lay unconscious for three days before he died. He was buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Though their marriage started in conflict, Melisende mourned for him privately as well as publicly. Fulk was survived by his son Geoffrey of Anjou by his first wife, and Baldwin III and Amalric I by Melisende.

Baldwin III ascended the throne with his mother as co-ruler, in 1143. His early reign was laced with squabbles with his mother over the possession of Jerusalem, till 1153, when he took personal hold of the government. He died in 1162, without heirs, and the kingdom passed to his brother, Amalric I, although there was some opposition among the nobility to Amalric's wife Agnes; they were willing to accept the marriage in 1157 when Baldwin III was still capable of siring an heir, but now the Haute Cour refused to endorse Amalric as king unless his marriage to Agnes was annulled. The hostility to Agnes, it must be admitted, may be exaggerated by the chronicler William of Tyre, whom she prevented from becoming Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem decades later, as well as from William's continuators like Ernoul, who hints at a slight on her moral character: "car telle n'est que roine doie iestre di si haute cite comme de Jherusalem" ("there should not be such a queen for so holy a city as Jerusalem").

Nevertheless, consanguinity was enough for the opposition. Amalric agreed and ascended the throne without a wife, although Agnes continued to hold the title Countess of Jaffa and Ascalon and received a pension from that fief's income. The church ruled that Amalric and Agnes' children were legitimate and preserved their place in the order of succession. Through her children Agnes would exert much influence in Jerusalem for almost 20 years. Almaric was succeeded by his son by Agnes, Baldwin IV.

The marriage of Amalric I of Jerusalem and Maria Comnena at Tyre

Almaric's wives, Agnes of Courtenay, now married to Reginald of Sidon, and Maria Comnena, the dowager Queen, who had married Balian of Ibelin in 1177. His daughter by Agnes, Sibylla, was already of age, the mother of a son, and was clearly in a strong position to succeed her brother, but Maria's daughter Isabella had the support of her stepfather's family, the Ibelins.

In 1179, Baldwin began planning to marry Sibylla to Hugh III of Burgundy, but by spring 1180 this was still unresolved. Raymond III of Tripoli attempted a coup, and began to march on Jerusalem with Bohemund III, to force the king to marry his sister to a local candidate of his own choosing, probably Baldwin of Ibelin, Balian's older brother. To counter this, the king hastily arranged her marriage to Guy of Lusignan, younger brother of Amalric, the constable of the kingdom. A foreign match was essential to bring the possibility of external military aid to the kingdom. With the new French king Philip II a minor, Guy's status as a vassal of the King and Sibylla's first cousin Henry II of England - who owed the Pope a penitential pilgrimage - was useful.

William of Tyre discovers Baldwin's first symptoms of leprosy (MS ofL'Estoire d'Eracles (French translation of William of Tyre's Historia), painted in France, 1250s.British Library, London.)

By 1182, Baldwin IV, increasingly incapacitated by his leprosy, named Guy as bailli. Raymond contested this, but when Guy fell out of favour with Baldwin the following year, he was re-appointed bailli and was given possession of Beirut. Baldwin came to an agreement with Raymond and the Haute Cour to make Baldwin of Montferrat, Sibylla's son by her first marriage, his heir, before Sibylla and Guy. The child was crowned co-king as Baldwin V in 1183 in a ceremony presided by Raymond. It was agreed that, should the boy die during his minority, the regency would pass to "the most rightful heirs" until his kinsmen - the Kings of England and France and Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor - and the Pope were able to adjudicate between the claims of Sibylla and Isabella. These "most rightful heirs" were not named.

Baldwin IV died in spring 1185, and was succeeded by his nephew. Raymond was bailli, but he had passed Baldwin V's personal guardianship to Joscelin III of Edessa, his maternal great-uncle, claiming that he did not wish to attract suspicion if the child, who does not seem to have been robust, were to die. Baldwin V died during the summer of 1186, at Acre. Neither side paid any heed to Baldwin IV's will.

After the funeral, Joscelin had Sibylla named as her brother's successor, although she had to agree to divorce Guy, just as her father had divorced her mother, with the guarantee that she would be allowed to choose a new consort. Once crowned, she immediately crowned Guy. Meanwhile, Raymond had gone to Nablus, home of Balian and Maria, and summoned all those nobles loyal to Princess Isabella and the Ibelins. Raymond wanted instead to have her and her husband Humphrey IV of Toron crowned. However, Humphrey, whose stepfather Raynald of Châtillon was an ally of Guy, deserted him and swore allegiance to Guy and Sibylla.

Lists of Monarchs of Jerusalem[edit]

Fulk lost influence after 1136, and died in 1143. Melisende continued to reign by right of law

Jerusalem was lost in 1187; Sybilla died in 1190, but Guy refused to cede the crown; kingship disputed until 1192, after which kings ruled over a narrow coastal strip.

The Angevins of Jerusalem became extinct with the death of Isabella of Jerusalem. There were several disputes over the throne of Jerusalem, until the conquering of it by the Saracens. However, although Outremer (Jerusalem's name under the crusaders) was lost to the Saracens, the claim to the title of King of Jerusalem continued to be passed down through several generations, until almost every monarch in Europe used the title.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Angevin dynasty". History Today. 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  2. ^ Vauchez, Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, 65.
  3. ^ The anonymous twelfth-century Gesta Consulum Andegavorum names his father as Tertullus nobilem dux, but both the name Tertullus and the title dux are unusual. Another twelfth-century source, the Chronicon Turonensis (c.1180) records that Ingelger was nepos Hugonis ducis Burgundiæ, a nephew/grandson of Hugh, Duke of Burgundy. Rather than a chronologically dubious reference to Hugh the Black, this is thought to be Hugh the Abbot, an influential counselor of both Louis II and Louis III of France. (Later sources confuse this Hugh with Hugh, son of Charlemagne, resulting in some 19th-century sources erroneously naming Petronilla as granddaughter of Charlemagne.) Modern scholars are divided as to the historicity of Tertullus and Petronilla.
  4. ^ a b c d Bernard S. Bachrach (1993), Fulk Nerra, the Neo-Roman Consul, 987–1040: A Political Biography of the Angevin Count (Berkely: University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-07996-5), 4–5.
  5. ^ a b Anjou: Chapter 1. Comtes d'Anjou atMedieval Lands Project.