Angevin Empire

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The extent of the Angevin Empire around 1172; solid yellow shows Angevin possessions, checked yellow Angevin hegemony

The term Angevin Empire is a modern term describing the collection of states once ruled by the Angevins of the House of Plantagenet.

The Plantagenets ruled over an area stretching from the Pyrenees to Ireland during the 12th and early 13th centuries, located north of the kingdoms of Navarre and Aragon. This "empire", originally established by Henry Plantagenet as Count of Anjou and as Henry II, King of England, extended over roughly half of medieval France, all of England, and some of Ireland.

However, despite the extent of Plantagenet rule, his son John, King of England was defeated by Philip II of France of the House of Capet, which left the empire split in two, having lost the provinces of Normandy and Anjou. This defeat, after which the ruling Plantagenets retained their English territories and the French province of Gascony, set the scene for the Saintonge War and the Hundred Years' War.

Origin of the term and its application[edit]

The Angevin Empire is a neologism defining the lands of the House of Plantagenet: Henry II and his sons Richard I and John. Another son, Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany, ruled Brittany and established a separate line there. As far as historians know, there was no contemporary term for the region under Angevin control; however, descriptions such as "our kingdom and everything subject to our rule whatever it may be" were used.[1] The term Angevin Empire was coined by Kate Norgate in her 1887 publication, England under the Angevin Kings.[2] In France, the term Espace Plantagenêt (Plantagenet Area) is sometimes used to describe the fiefdoms the Plantagenets had acquired.[3]

The adoption of the Angevin Empire label marked a re-evaluation of the times, considering that both English and French influence spread throughout the dominion in the half century during which the union lasted. The term Angevin itself is the adjective applied to the residents of Anjou and its historic capital, Angers; the Plantagenets were descended from Geoffrey I, Count of Anjou, hence the term.[4]

The use of the term Empire has engendered controversy among some historians, as the area was a collection of the lands inherited and acquired by Henry. It is unclear whether or not these dominions shared any common identity.[5][6][7] Some historians argue that the term should be reserved solely for the Holy Roman Empire, the only Western European political structure actually named an empire at that time,[8] although Alfonso VII of León and Castile had taken the title "Emperor of all Spain" in 1135.[9] Other historians argue that Henry II's empire was neither powerful, centralised, nor large enough to be seriously called an empire.[10] There was no imperial title, as implied by the term Angevin Empire.[11] However, even if the Plantagenets themselves did not claim any imperial title some chroniclers, often working for Henry II himself, did use the term empire to describe this assemblage of lands.[12] In essence the highest title was "king of England", to which were added the titles of dukes and counts held in France that were completely and totally independent from the royal title, and not subject to any English royal law.[13] Because of this some historians prefer the term commonwealth to empire, emphasising that the Angevin Empire was more of an assemblage of seven fully independent, sovereign states loosely bound to each other.[14]

Geography and administration[edit]

At its largest extent, the Angevin Empire consisted of the Kingdom of England, the Lordship of Ireland, the duchies of Normandy, Gascony and Aquitaine (also called Guyenne)[15] as well as of the Counties of Anjou, Poitou, Maine, Touraine, Saintonge, Marche, Périgord, Limousin, Nantes and Quercy. While the duchies and counties were held with various levels of vassalage to the King of France,[16] the Plantagenets held various levels of control over the Duchies of Brittany and Cornwall, the Welsh princedoms, the county of Toulouse, and the Kingdom of Scotland, although those regions were not formal parts of the empire. Further claims were laid over Berry and Auvergne, but these were not fulfilled.

The frontiers were sometimes well known and easy to draw, like the one between the royal Demesne of the King of France and the Duchy of Normandy. In other places they were not as clear, especially as regards the eastern frontier of Aquitaine where there often was a difference between the frontiers Henry II and, later, Richard I claimed and the ones where their real power ended.[17] One of the most important characteristics of the Angevin Empire was its "polycratic" nature, a term taken from one of the most important political pamphlets written by a subject of the Angevin Empire: the Policraticus by John of Salisbury.

  • England was under a rather firm control and was probably one of the most controlled areas. The Kingdom was divided in shires with sheriffes enforcing the common law. A Justiciar was appointed by the King to make his voice respected when he was absent. As the kings of England were more often in France than England they used writs more frequently than the Anglo-Saxon kings; curiously, this rather helped England than anything else.[18] Under William's rule, Anglo-Saxon nobles were often replaced by Anglo-Norman ones who could not own large expanses of contiguous lands, which made it much harder for them to rise against the King and defend all of their lands in the same time. Earls held a status similar to that of the continental counts. Yet none of them were really strong enough to be a match for the king.
    Château d'Angers and its massive walls, overlooking the city and the Maine River. The current castle was however built after the Angevin Empire.
  • In Greater Anjou,[19] for instance, two kinds of officials enforced the rule: prévots or seneschals. These were based at Tours, Chinon, Baugé, Beaufort, Brissac, Angers, Saumur, Loudun, Loches, Langeais and Montbazon. However, the other places were not administered by the Plantagenets but by other families. For instance, Maine was at first largely self-ruling and lacked of administration. The Plantagenets made efforts to improve the administration of this land by installing new administrators such as the seneschal of Le Mans. These reforms came too late though and the Capetians were the ones that really derived benefits from these reforms after annexing Greater Anjou.[20]
  • Gascony was a very loosely administrated region, with officials only stationed in Entre-deux-mers, Bayonne, Dax, as well as on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela and on river Garonne up to Agen. The rest of Gascony was left without an administrator, and was a large area compared to several other provinces. It was difficult for the Angevin, as it had been for the predecessor Poitevin dukes, to cement their authority over the duchy.[21]
  • As for Poitou and Guyenne, the castles were concentrated in Poitou where there were official representatives while in the eastern provinces of Périgord and Limousin there simply were none. Indeed there were lords that ruled these regions as if they were "sovereign princes" and they had powers in fields such as minting coins. Richard the Lionheart himself met his demise in Limousin.
  • Normandy was probably one of the most administrated states of the Angevin Empire. Prévots and vicomtes lost of their importance to the advantage of baillis who held both judicial and executive powers. They were introduced in the 12th century in Normandy and organised the country more like the sheriffs did in England. The Ducal authority was strong on the frontier between the Royal Demesne and the Duchy but was more loose elsewhere.
  • Ireland was ruled by the Lord of Ireland who had a hard time imposing his rule at first. Dublin and Leinster were Angevin strongholds while Cork, Limerick and Ulster were taken by Anglo-Norman nobles.[22]

In Aquitaine and Anjou, although ducal and comital authorities did exist, it was not homogeneous. For example, the Lusignan dynasty, powerful in these lands, proved important opponents of the Plantagenets.

  • Scotland was an independent kingdom, but after a disastrous campaign led by William the Lion, English garrisons were established in the castles of Edinburgh, Roxburgh, Jedburgh and Berwick in southern Scotland as defined in the Treaty of Falaise.[23]
  • Toulouse was held through vassalage by the count of Toulouse but the latter did rarely comply. Only Quercy was directly administrated by the Plantagenets and it remained a contested area for the time being.
  • Brittany, a region where nobles were traditionally very independent, was under firm Plantagenet control. Nantes was under undisputed Angevin rule while the Plantagenets often involved themselves in Breton affairs and installed archbishops and imposed authority on the region.[24]
  • Wales obtained good terms provided it paid homage to the Plantagenets and recognised them as lords.[25] However it remained almost self-ruling. It supplied the Plantagenets with knives and longbows which England later used with great success.

Economy and revenue[edit]

The economy of the Angevin Empire was quite complicated due to the varying political structure of the fiefdoms. Areas like England which had a centralised power structure generated larger revenues than the more loosely administrated regions such as Limousin; where local princes could mint their own coins.

The White Tower, seen from the River Thames, was built by William the Conqueror.

It is commonly believed that money raised in England was used for continental issues.[18] Also, due to the high level of administration of England and, to a lesser extent, Normandy, it was the only area where revenue was fairly consistent.

The English revenues themselves varied from year to year:

  • When Henry II became king, his annual income from England was a mere £10,500, or half the English revenue under Henry I Beauclerc.[26][27] This was due in part to The Anarchy and Stephen of Blois' loose rule. As time went on, Henry II installed his authority and incomes consequently went up to £22,000 a year.
  • When it was time to prepare for the Crusade, revenues had increased to £31,050 per year, but fell again to £11,000 a year while Richard I the Lionheart was away.
  • Under John Lackland incomes remained stable for a time at £22,000 a year. In order to pay for the reconquest of France, he registered an income of £83,291 and yet that didn't include all sources like the Jews which could have increased it to £145,000 in the year of 1211.

In Ireland, the revenue was fairly low at a mere £2,000 for 1212; however, records are missing for the most part. For Normandy, there were a lot of fluctuations relative to the politics of the Duchy. In 1180, the Norman revenues were only £6,750 while they reached £25,000 a year in 1198, higher than in England.[28] What was more impressive was the fact the Norman population was considerably smaller than England's, an estimated 1.5 million as opposed to England's 3.5 million.[29][30]

For Aquitaine, Anjou and Gascony there is no record about revenues. It is not that these regions were poor; there were large vineyards, important cities and iron mines. This is what Ralph of Diceto, an English chronicler, wrote about Aquitaine:

Aquitaine overflows with riches of many kinds, excelling other parts of the western world to such an extent that historians consider it to be one of the most fortunate and flourishing of the provinces of Gaul. Its fields are fertile, its vineyards productive and its forests teem with wild life. From the Pyrenees northwards the whole countryside is irrigated by the River Garonne and other streams, indeed it is from these life-giving waters that the province takes its name.

The Capetian kings did not record such incomes, although the royal principality was more centralized under Louis VII and Philip II than it had been under Hugh Capet or Robert the Pious.[31] The wealth of the Plantagenet kings was definitely regarded as bigger, Gerald of Wales commented on this wealth with these words:[32]

One may therefore ask how King Henry II and his sons, in spite of their many wars, possessed so much treasure. The reason is that as their fixed returns yielded less they took care to make up the total by extraordinary levies, relying more and more on these than on the ordinary sources of revenue.

Petit Dutailli had commented that: "Richard maintained a superiority in resources which would have given him the opportunity, had he lived, to crush his rival." There is another interpretation, not widely followed and proven wrong, that the king of France could have raised a stronger income, that the royal principality of the king of France generated alone more incomes than all of the Angevin Empire combined.[33]

Formation of the Angevin Empire (1135–1156)[edit]

Context before the Anarchy[edit]

Chinon Castle, located on the bank of the Vienne river in Chinon, France.

The Counts of Anjou had been vying for power in northwestern France for a long time. The counts were recurrent enemies of the Dukes of Normandy and of the Dukes of Brittany and sometimes even of the French King himself. Fulk IV, Count of Anjou claimed rule over Touraine, Maine and Nantes; however, of these only Touraine proved to be effectively ruled, as the construction of the castles of Chinon, Loches and Loudun exemplify. Fulk IV married his son Fulk, King of Jerusalem, called "Fulk the Younger", to Ermengarde, Countess of Maine, heiress of the province of Maine, thus unifying it with Anjou.

While the dynasty of the Angevins was successful, their rivals, the Normans, had conquered England, while the Ramnulfids or Poitevins had become Dukes of Aquitaine as well as Vasconia and the Count of Blois became the Count of Champagne.

King Henry I of England had defeated his brother Robert Curthose, made an enemy of Robert's son William Clito (who became Count of Flanders in 1127) and used his paternal inheritance to claim the Duchy of Normandy and the Kingdom of England. Henry I tried to establish an alliance with Anjou against Flanders by marrying his only legitimate son, William Adelin, to Fulk the Younger's daughter, but William died in the White Ship disaster in 1120.

Henry I then married his daughter Matilda to Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou; however, the Anglo-Normans had to accept Matilda's inheritance to the throne of England. There had been only one occurrence of a medieval European queen regnant before, Urraca of León and Castile, and it wasn't an encouraging precedent; nevertheless, in January 1127 the Anglo-Normans barons and prelates recognized Matilda as heiress to the throne in an oath. On June 17, 1128, the wedding was celebrated in Le Mans.

The Anarchy and the question of the Norman succession[edit]

The obverse of Eleanor of Aquitaine's seal. She is identified as Eleanor, by the Grace of God, Queen of the English, Duchess of the Normans. The legend on the reverse calls her Eleanor, Duchess of the Aquitanians and Countess of the Angevins.[34]

In order to secure the succession, castles and supporters were needed in both England and Normandy. Had Matilda and Geoffrey succeeded, there would have been two authorities in England: King Henry I and his daughter, Matilda. Henry I prevented the disunion by refusing to hand over any castle to Matilda as well as confiscating the lands of the nobles he suspected of supporting her. By 1135, major disputes between Henry I and Matilda drove the barons loyal to Henry I against Matilda. In November 1135, Henry "Beauclerc" was dying; Matilda was with her husband in Maine and Anjou while Stephen of Blois, Matilda's cousin and another contender for the throne, was in Boulogne. Stephen rushed to England upon the news of Henry I's death and was crowned King of England in December 1135.[35]

Geoffrey V first sent Matilda alone to Normandy, in a diplomatic mission to be recognized Duchess of Normandy to replace Stephen. However, Geoffrey V was not far behind, at the head of his army, and he quickly captured several fortresses in southern Normandy, which he was never to lose. It was then that an Angevin noble, Robert III of Sablé, rose up, opening a front on Geoffrey's rear and forcing him to withdraw to Anjou to end the revolt.

When Geoffrey V returned to Normandy in September 1136, the region was plagued with local struggles and infighting among the barons. Stephen was not able to travel to Normandy and as result, the situation remained chaotic. Geoffrey had found new allies with the Count of Vendôme and, most importantly, the Duke of Aquitaine. At the head of a new army and prepared to conquer Normandy, Geoffrey V was wounded and was forced to return to Anjou once more. Adding to that, an outbreak of diarrhea plagued his army. Orderic Vitalis stated "the invaders had to run for home leaving a trail of filth behind them". Stephen finally arrived in Normandy in 1137 and restored order, but he had lost much of credibility in the eyes of his supporter Robert of Gloucester. Geoffrey took control of the strongholds of Caen and Argentan without resistance, but he now had to defend Robert's possession in England against the anger of the King. In 1139, Robert and Matilda crossed the channel and arrived in England while Geoffrey kept the pressure on Normandy. Stephen was captured in February 1141 at the Battle of Lincoln, which prompted the collapse of Normandy.

Geoffrey now controlled almost all of Normandy, but no longer had the support of Aquitaine. King Louis VII of France was now Duke of Aquitaine by his marriage to Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1137; he had no interest in the shifts in Norman politics, since he already ruled vast and powerful territories. While Geoffrey V asserted control of Normandy, Matilda was suffering defeats against Stephen's allies.[36] At Winchester, Robert of Gloucester was captured while covering Matilda's retreat. Matilda freed Stephen in exchange for Robert.

In 1142, Geoffrey V was beseeched to cross the Channel to assist Matilda but he refused; he had become more interested in Normandy. Following the capture of Avranches, Mortain and Cherbourg, Geoffrey V launched a decisive attack on Rouen capturing it in 1144. He then anointed himself as Duke of Normandy and, in exchange for the cession of Gisors to Louis VII, was formally recognized by the King. Satisfied with his new role in Normandy, Geoffrey V made no effort to assist Matilda in England even as she was on the verge of defeat. Helie (Elias), Geoffrey's younger brother, felt that he deserved his fair share and asked for Maine. No sooner had that issue been settled, another Angevin noble rebelled: Gerald Berlay, newly appointed seneschal of Poitou by Louis VII, led a revolt in southern Anjou against Geoffrey V.

Accession of Henry and nominal foundation of the Angevin Empire[edit]

Stephen had by no means given up his claims on Normandy. Even though Louis VII had clearly recognised Geoffrey Plantagenet as duke, an alliance between the two Kings was possible because of the issue over Gerald Berlay. Louis VII agreed to recognise Geoffrey's son Henry as the new duke in 1151 in exchange of concessions in Norman Vexin. The death of Geoffrey, aged only 38, made Henry count of Anjou in 1151. According to the story told by William of Newburgh (in the 1190s) Geoffrey declared that Henry would have to hand down Anjou to one of his young brothers, also called Geoffrey, if he was to win the crown of England. To compel Henry to follow his will, Geoffrey V had ordered that he be left without sepulture until Henry swore an oath that he would renounce Anjou if he were to acquire England.

Henry II of England, first Angevin King

In March 1152, Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine divorced under the pretext of consanguinity at the council of Beaugency because the couple was not getting along.[37] The terms of the divorce left Eleanor as Duchess of Aquitaine but under rule of the King; eight weeks later she married Henry (who was no less related to her than was Louis VII). With Henry thus becoming Duke of Aquitaine and Gascony, it was obvious he would never give Anjou up to his brother, since it would mean splitting his land into two parts. A coalition of all of Henry's enemies was set up by Louis VII: King Stephen of England and his son Eustace IV of Boulogne (married to Louis' sister), Henry the Liberal (promised to Eleanor's daughter), Robert of Dreux (Louis VII's brother) and Geoffrey who no longer had hope of being given Anjou.

In July 1152, Capetian troops attacked Aquitaine while Louis VII himself, along with Eustace IV, Henry of Champagne and Robert of Dreux attacked Normandy. Geoffrey raised a revolt in Anjou while Stephen attacked Angevin loyalists in England. Several Anglo-Norman nobles switched allegiance, sensing an impending disaster. Henry was about to sail for England to pursue his claim when his lands were attacked. He first reached Anjou and compelled Geoffrey to surrender. He then took the decision to sail for England in January 1151 to meet Stephen. Luckily enough Louis VII fell ill and had to retire from the conflict while Henry's defences held against his enemies. After seven months of both battles and political gambles Henry failed to get rid of King Stephen; then Eustace IV died in dubious circumstances, "struck by the wrath of god." This was the last straw and King Stephen gave up the struggle by ratifying the Treaty of Winchester. He made Henry his heir on condition that the land possessions of his family were guaranteed in England and France—the same terms Matilda had refused after her victory at Lincoln. Henry became Henry II of England in December 1154. Subsequently the question was again raised of Henry's oath to cede Anjou to his brother Geoffrey. Henry II received a dispensation from Pope Adrian IV under the pretext the oath had been forced upon him, and he proposed compensations to Geoffrey at Rouen in 1156, but the latter refused and returned to Anjou to rise once again against his brother. If Geoffrey had a solid moral claim, his position was nonetheless weak. Louis VII would not interfere since Henry II paid homage to the King of France for Normandy, Anjou and Aquitaine as vassal. Henry II crushed Geoffrey's revolt, and Geoffrey had to be satisfied with an annual pension.

Expansions of the Angevin Empire[edit]

Henry II clearly claimed further lands and worked on the creation of a ring of vassal states, especially around England and Normandy, as buffers. The most obvious ones were Scotland, Wales, Brittany and Flanders, which could be also used as starting points for further expansions.

David of Scotland had taken advantage of The Anarchy to seize Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumberland. In Wales important leaders like Rhys of Deheubarth and Owain Gwynedd had emerged. In Brittany, there is no evidence that the Duke of Brittany, namely Eudes, had recognised the Norman overlordship. Two vital frontier castles, Moulins-la-Marche and Bonmoulins, had never been taken back by Geoffrey Plantagenet and were in the hands of Robert of Dreux. Count Thierry of Flanders had joined the alliance formed by Louis VII in 1153. Further south, the Count of Blois acquired Amboise. From Henry II's perspective, there were some issues to solve.[27]

King Henry II showed himself to be an audacious and daring king; he was also active and mobile.[38] Though he was often more present in France than in England as Ralph of Diss, Dean of St Paul's, said with irony:[39]

There is nothing left to send to bring the king back to England but the Tower of London
The situation in 1154.

Castles and strongholds in France[edit]

Henry II bought Vernon and Neuf-Marché back in 1154. This new strategy now regulated the Plantagenet-Capetian relationship. Louis VII could not deny his own unsuccessful attempt at breaking Henry II down. Because of the Angevin control of England in 1154, it was pointless to object to the superiority of the overall Angevin forces over the Capetian ones. However, Henry II wouldn't stop claiming the land until the Norman Vexin was entirely recovered. Thomas Becket was sent as ambassador to Paris in 1158 to lead negotiations and he displayed all the wealth the Angevins could provide to the Capetians. Louis VII's daughter, Margaret, who was still a baby, was promised to Henry the "future young king" (King Henry II's son). Although a baby, Margaret was old enough to be given a dowry at her wedding; this dowry happened to be the Norman Vexin. Henry II was given back the castles of Moulins-la-Marche and Bonmoulins. Theobald V, Count of Blois handed Amboise back to him.

Flanders[edit]

Although Dietrich of Alsace had taken part in the assaults against Henry II along with Louis VII the wool trade between England and Flanders favoured a cordial relationship between the two men up to the point that the Count appointed Henry II guardian of his lands so that he undertake on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem without concerns. In 1159, William of Blois died without an inheritance, he was Stephen's last son, leaving the titles of Count of Boulogne and Count of Mortain vacant. Henry II absorbed the County of Mortain but wanted to grant Boulogne to Thierry's son, Matthew, who married Marie of Boulogne. The title of Count of Boulogne was accompanied with important manors in London and Colchester.

England traded much of its wool with Flanders via the port of Boulogne. An alliance with these two counties was then logically sealed by this wedding and the concessions of manors. Henry II had to get Marie out of her convent first, which had been a common practice in England since the Normans. In 1163, the few official remaining documents showed Henry II and Thierry renewed the treaty signed by William the Conqueror. Flanders would provide Henry II with knights in exchange of an annual tribute in money.

Brittany[edit]

In Brittany, the duke Conan III declared his son Hoël a bastard and disinherited him. It was his sister Bertha who became Duchess of Brittany making her husband of the time, Eudes, nominally Duke. Hoël was then co-ruler with his brother in law, and had to be satisfied as Count of Nantes. Bertha was the widow of Alan de Bretagne with whom she already had a son, Conan. Conan who had become Earl of Richmond in 1148 was Henry II's perfect candidate to become the new Duke of Brittany as any Duke with possessions of importance in England could be easier to control.

In 1156, the Duchy of Brittany was hit by civil unrest which led to Conan IV's accession while in Nantes the population called for Henry II's help against Hoël. Geoffrey (Henry II's brother again) was made new Count of Nantes by Henry II, but he did not hold the position for long, as he died in 1158 at only 24 years of age. In 1158, Conan IV briefly ruled as Count of Nantes however, Henry II took the title that same year by mustering an army in Avranches to threaten Conan. In 1160 Henry II married his cousin Margaret of Scotland to Conan in an arranged wedding. He then appointed the archbishop of Dol. Without a tradition of a strong rule in Brittany, discontent grew among the nobles. This led to a revolt that Henry II answered in 1166. He betrothed his own 7-year-old son, Geoffrey, to Conan's daughter and later forced Conan to abdicate for his future son-in-law, making Henry II the ruler of Brittany, yet not the Duke. Breton nobles strongly opposed this, and more attacks on Brittany followed, first in 1167, then in 1168, and finally in 1173. Each of these invasions were followed by confiscations, and Henry II installed his men, William Fitzhamo and Rolland of Dinan, in the area. Although it was not formally part of the Plantagenet fiefdom, Brittany was under firm control.

Scotland[edit]

Seal of William the Lion, King of Scotland

Henry II met Malcolm IV in 1157 about Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumberland previously seized by his grandfather, David I of Scotland. In 1149, before Henry II became powerful, he made an oath to David that the lands north of Newcastle should belong to the King of Scotland forever. Malcolm reminded him of this oath but Henry II did not comply. There is no evidence that Henry II got a dispensation from the pope this time, as William of Newburgh put it, "prudently considering it was the king of England who had the better of the argument by reason of his much greater power."

Malcolm IV gave up and paid homage in return for Huntingdon, which he inherited from his father.[40]

William the Lion, the next King of Scotland, was unhappy with Henry II since he was given Northumberland by David I in 1152 and therefore lost it to Henry II when Malcolm IV handed it back in 1157.

As a part of the coalition set by Louis VII, William the Lion first invaded Northumberland in 1173 and then again in 1174, as a result he was captured near Alnwick and had to sign the tough Treaty of Falaise. Garrisons were to be set in the castles of Edinburgh, Roxburgh, Jedburgh and Berwick.[23] Southern Scotland was from then under firm control just as Brittany was. Richard I of England would end the Treaty of Falaise in exchange for money to fund his own crusade, setting a context for cordial relationships between the two awe- inspiring kings.

Wales[edit]

Rhys of Deheubarth, also called Lord Rhys, and Owain Gwynedd were closed to negotiations. Henry II had to attack Wales three times, in 1157, 1158 and 1163 to have them answer his summons to the court. The Welsh found his terms too harsh and largely revolted against him. Henry then undertook a fourth invasion in 1164, this time with a massive army. According to the Welsh chronicle Brut y Tywysogion, Henry raised "a mighty host of the picked warriors of England and Normandy and Flanders and Anjou and Gascony and Scotland" in order to "carry into bondage and to destroy all the Britons."[41]

Bad weather, rains, floods, and constant harassment from the Welsh armies slowed the Angevin army and prevented the capture of Wales (see the Battle of Crogen); a furious Henry II had Welsh hostages mutilated. Wales would remain safe for a while, but the invasion of Ireland in 1171 pressured Henry II to end the issue through negotiations with Lord Rhys.[25]

Ireland[edit]

King John's castle built on the Shannon River

Further plans of expansion were considered as Henry II's last brother didn't have a fiefdom. The Holy See was most likely to support a campaign in Ireland which would bring its church into the Christian Latin world of Rome. Henry II was given Rome's blessing in 1155 under the form of a Papal bull[42] but had to postpone the invasion of Ireland because of all the issues in his domains and around them. In the terms of the Bull Laudabiliter, "Laudably and profitably does your magnificence contemplate extending your glorious name on earth."

William X, Count of Poitou died in 1164 without being installed in Ireland, but Henry II didn't give up on the conquest of Ireland. In 1167 -Dermot of Leinster- an Irish King, was recognised as "prince of Leinster" by Henry II and was allowed to recruit soldiers in England and Wales to use in Ireland against the other Kings. The knights first met great success in carving themselves lands in Ireland, so much it worried Henry II enough to land himself in Ireland in October 1171 near Waterford and confronted to such demonstration of power most native kings of Ireland recognised him as their lord. Even Rory O' Connor, the king of Connacht who claimed to be High King of Ireland paid homage to Henry II. Henry II installed some of his men in strongholds like Dublin and Leinster (as Dermot was dead). He also gave unconquered kingdoms such as Cork, Limerick and Ulster to his men and left the Normans carving their lands in Ireland. In 1177 he made John, his son, the first Lord of Ireland, though John was too young and landed in Ireland only in 1185. He failed to install his authority on the land and had to return to Henry II. Only 25 years later John would return to Ireland while others built castles and installed their interests.

Toulouse[edit]

Carcassonne was a fortified city of the County of Toulouse

Much less tenable was the claim over Toulouse. Eleanor's ancestors claimed the huge County of Toulouse as it used to be the central power of the ancient Duchy of Aquitaine back in the times of Odo the Great.[15] Henry II and maybe even Eleanor were probably totally unrelated to this ancient line of dukes (Eleanor was a Ramnulfid while Henry II was an Angevin). Toulouse was a very large city, heavily fortified and much richer than many cities of the time. It was of strategical importance as it is between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean. The County of Toulouse was the largest state of the Kingdom of France with its large access to the Mediterranean Sea itself, and included significant cities like Narbonne, Cahors, Albi, Nîmes and Carcassonne.

Toulouse wasn't easy prey though. The city was incredibly large and fortified for a medieval city.[43] Not to mention the least, Raymond V was married to Louis VII's sister therefore attacking Toulouse would have endangered the policy of peace with the King of France. The County of Toulouse had also many heavily fortified areas like Carcassonne and its five sons: Queribus, Aguila, Termes, Peyrepertuse and Puylaurens and many more castles and fortified cities.[44]

In June 1159 Henry II gathered in Poitiers what probably was the biggest army he had ever sent, formed by troops from all of his fiefdom (from Gascony to England), that army also included reinforcements sent by Thierry and Malcolm IV. Henry II attacked from the north while other of his allies, namely the Trencavels and Ramon Berenguer opened a different front. Henry II couldn't capture Toulouse proper and the recurrent conflicts with Toulouse would be called the Forty Years War with Toulouse by William of Newburgh. Henry II captured Cahors though as well as various castles in the Garonne valley (in the Quercy region), he came back in 1161 and then too busy with conflicts elsewhere in his fiefdom he left his allies fighting against Toulouse. Alfonso II the King of Aragon himself having interests there joined the war. In 1171 Henry II set an alliance with Humbert of Maurienne adding one more enemy of Raymond V to his alliance. In 1173, in Limoges, Raymond finally gave up after over a decade of constant fights. He paid homage to Henry II, to his son also called Henry and to his other son Richard the Lionheart newly appointed new Duke of Aquitaine.[45]

Pinnacle of the Angevin Empire (1160–1199)[edit]

Louis VII was known by his contemporaries for his piety and love of peace. Stephen of Paris wrote of King Louis VII:[46]

He was so pious, so just, so catholic and benign, that if you were to see his simplicity of behaviour and dress, you would think, unless you already knew him, that he was not a king but a man of religion. He was a lover of justice, a defender of the weak.

Even Walter Map, a contemporary English satirical chronicler, had been kind toward Louis VII and praised him marking a contrast with the harsh critiques he did toward other kings.[47]

King Louis VII was a man of peace who hated violence and war[48] but the attacks on Toulouse made clear that peace with Henry II wasn't peace at all but just the opportunity to make war elsewhere. Louis VII himself was in an awkward position: his subject was more powerful than he was by a large degree and worst of all he had no male heir. Constance, his second wife, died in childbirth in 1160 and Louis VII announced he would remarry at once, in the urgent need of a male heir, with Adèle of Champagne. The young Henry was finally married to Margaret aged only 2, under the pressure of Henry II, and as declared in 1158 the Norman Vexin went to him as the dowry. Had Louis VII died without a male heir, Henry the Young would have been in a comfortable position to become the next King of France himself.

In 1164 King Louis found a dangerous ally in Archbishop Thomas Becket.[49] King Louis and Becket had met previously in 1158, but now the circumstances were very different. Louis had got already a few clerical refugees in his land, and was then called Rex Christianisimus (most Christian king) by John of Salisbury.[50]

The murder of Thomas Becket, archbishop and martyr.

Indeed there were growing conflicts between the king of England and the archbishop and Henry II provoked Becket's murder by pronouncing words like, "What miserable traitors have I nourished in my household who led their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born clerck!"[51]

Becket was murdered in 1170, and the Christian world put the blame on Henry. By contrast, Louis, who had protected Becket, gained widespread approval. Although his secular power was still much weaker than Henry's, Louis now had the moral advantage.

In 1165, the idea of a possible succession of Henry the Young to the throne of France was all gone away when Adèle gave birth to a son, named Philip. With the arrival of a clear French heir, the fragile peace was at an end. In 1167 Henry II marched on Auvergne, and in 1170 he also attacked Bourges. Louis VII answered by raiding the Norman Vexin, forcing Henry II to move his troops north, giving Louis the opportunity to free Bourges. At that point, not just Louis VII was wondering if Henry II's expansionism would ever end.

Henry II never treated his land as a coherent sovereign but much more as private possessions he planned to distribute to his children. Henry the young was crowned King of England in 1170 though he never actually ruled; Richard the Lionheart became Duke of Aquitaine in 1172; Geoffrey became Duke of Brittany in 1181; John became Lord of Ireland in 1185; while Leonora (born in 1161) was promised to Alfonso VII with Gascony as dowry during the campaign against Toulouse in 1170. This partition of the lands between his children made it much harder for him to control them, as several of them would then turn against him.

Following his coronation Henry the Young King asked for part of his inheritance, at least England or Normandy or Anjou, but Henry II refused. Henry the Young then joined Louis VII at his court, while Eleanor of Aquitaine herself joined the conflict and both Richard the Lionheart and Geoffrey of Brittany joined their brother at the court of the King. From then, states that Henry II had pressured joined the conflict against him. Another King to join Louis VII was William the Lion, King of Scotland. Philip, the Count of Flanders also joined the conflict, as well as the Count of Boulogne and Theobald the Count of Blois. Henry II emerged victorious: because of his wealth he could recruit very large amount of mercenaries, and he had captured and imprisoned Eleanor early on as well as captured William the Lion and forced him into the Treaty of Falaise. Henry II bought the County of Marche, then he asserted the French Vexin and Bourges should be given at once, but this time there was no invasion to back the claim.

Philip II Augustus and Richard I the Lionheart[edit]

Louis VII died and was buried in the Saint Denis Basilica in 1180. His son, aged only 15, ascended to the throne of France in 1183. Philip II of France's policy was to use Henry II's sons against him. Richard the Lionheart administered Aquitaine since 1175 but his policy of centralisation of the Aquitanian government had grown unpopular in the eastern part of the Duchy, notably Périgord and Limousin. Richard the Lionheart was accused of many crimes there, including murders and rapes.[52] If Richard was unpopular in Aquitaine, Philip II was equally unliked by his contemporaries[53] with comments describing him as: astute, manipulative, calculating, penurious and ungallant ruler.

In 1183, Henry the Young King joined a revolt led by Limoges and Geoffrey of Lusignan against Richard in order to take Richard's place. They were joined by Philip II, Raymond V and by Duke Hugh III of Burgundy. Henry the Young died suddenly of a fatal illness in 1183, saving Richard's position. Henry the Young King was buried in Notre Dame de Rouen.

Richard was then Henry II's oldest son and inherited much of Henry the Young King's status. Henry II ordered him to hand down Aquitaine to John Lackland, but Richard refused to comply. Henry II had too much to cope with at the time to take care of this: Welsh princes were now contesting his authority, William the Lion was asking for his castles to be given back and as Henry the Young was dead Philip II asked for the Norman Vexin to be given back. Henry II finally asked Richard I to surrender Aquitaine to Eleanor while Richard retained the control. Still in 1183, Raymond V had taken Cahors back and Henry II asked Richard to mount an expedition against Toulouse. Geoffrey of Brittany was quarrelling violently with his brother Richard and it was obvious Geoffrey could be used by the Capetians, but his sudden death in 1186 in a tournament killed the plot. In 1187, Philip II and Richard were more than strong allies, as Roger of Hoveden reported:[54]

The King of England was struck with great astonishment, and wondered what [this alliance] could mean, and, taking precautions for the future, frequently sent messengers into France for the purpose of recalling his son Richard; who, pretending that he was peaceably inclined and ready to come to his father, made his way to Chinon, and, in spite of the person who had the custody thereof, carried off the greater part of his father's treasures, and fortified his castles in Poitou with the same, refusing to go to his father.

In 1188 Raymond V attacked again, joined by the Lusignans. It was rumoured that Henry II himself financed the revolts. By this time Philip II attacked Henry II in Normandy and captured strongholds in Berry. In 1188, Philip II and Henry II met to discuss peace again, Henry II refused to make Richard his heir. One story reports that Richard said "Now at last, I must believe what I had always thought impossible."[55]

This was the final collapse of all Henry's strategy. First Richard paid homage to the King of France for all the lands his father held. As Richard and Philip II attacked Henry II no one in Aquitaine stood for him and the Bretons seized the opportunity to attack him too. Even Henry's birthplace, Le Mans, was captured and Tours also soon fell. He was simply encircled in his castle of Chinon. Henry was finally compelled to surrender. He gave a large tribute in money to Philip II and swore that all his subjects in France and England would recognise Richard as their lord. Henry II died two days later, learning John had joined Richard and Philip. The old king was buried in Fontevraud Abbey.

Eleanor, who was Henry's hostage, was then freed while Lord Rhys raised and began to reconquer the southern parts of Wales that Henry had annexed. Richard I was crowned King in Westminster Abbey in November 1189, while he was already installed as Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou and Duke of Aquitaine. Philip II asked for the Norman Vexin to be given back but the issue was settled when Richard I announced he would marry Alys, Philip II's sister. Richard I also recognised Auvergne was meant to belong to the crown of France and not to the Duke of Aquitaine ending Henry's claim on the place. In Britain King William of Scotland opened negotiations with King Richard of England (the two lion kings) to revoke the Treaty of Falaise and an agreement was reached.[56]

The Third Crusade[edit]

The next priority was the crusade, it had been delayed long enough and Richard I considered it was time to do his religious duty. Beyond purely religious matter, his ancestor Fulk V had been King of Jerusalem and Guy de Lusignan was a Poitevin noble while his wife -Sybilla- was no less than Richard's cousin. The crusade as well as French issues would be the reason for Richard's absence in England: the Lion Heart would spend less than six months of his reign in England.[57]

"Philip II (right) and Richard I (left) at Acre"

Before leaving, Richard I had to make sure nothing went wrong while he was in the Holy Land. There was little doubt Raymond V would take the opportunity to expand his lands in Aquitaine. To counter that threat, he built an alliance with Sancho VI the Wise the King of Navarre. On the way to the Holy Land, Richard I married Berengaria the princess of Navarre in 1191, therefore repudiating Alys. To calm down Philip II, he accepted that if he had two sons the youngest should take Normandy or Aquitaine or Anjou and rule it for the King of France.[58]

The administration left behind worked rather well, as an attack from the Count of Toulouse was repelled with the help of Sancho VI. The Siege of Acre was over. (Richard I had also upset Leopold V the Virtuous by removing his banner from Acre.) Much has been said about the reasons Philip II went back to France; it is often considered his dysentery was the principal reason. Other causes could have been the way his sister had been treated by Richard I or that he couldn't stand that his subject had more power and wealth than he did or even that following the Count of Flanders's death, Philip came back to ask for his share of the land of Artois.

Richard I left Palestine in October 1192 and would have retrieved his lands intact had he reached home in time. But Leopold V arrested him near Vienna, accusing him of the murder of his cousin Conrad, and then handed him down to Emperor Henry VI. John Lackland was summoned to Philip II's court and accepted to marry Alys with no less than Artois has a dowry. In return, the entire Norman Vexin would be given to the King of France. After all, no one was sure if Richard I would be ever released. Yet, all of the forces John could gather were a bunch of mercenaries as even William the Lion did not join his revolt and also sent money for Richard's ransom. Another revolt in Aquitaine was suppressed by Elias de la Celle, but in Normandy Philip II himself was leading the operations. By April 1193 he had reached Rouen and although the ducal capital couldn't be taken, he and his allies were then controlling all the ports from the Rhine to Dieppe. Confronted to the situation, Richard's regents conceded the Treaty of Mantes in July 1193, confirming Philip II's control on all the land he had taken including the entire Norman Vexin, the castles of Drincourt and Arques in Normandy and the castles of Loches and Châtillon in Tourraine as well as adding a substantial payment once Richard is back.

In a new treaty in 1194, concessions to the King of France went much further, when Tours with all the castles of Tourraine and all of Eastern Normandy except for Rouen were surrendered. The County of Angoulême was declared independent of Aquitaine, Vendôme was given to Louis of Blois and Geoffrey III of Perche acquired Moulins and Bonmoulins.[59] Emperor Henry VI finally released Richard I in 1194 in exchange of the ransom.

Richard freed, recovers his lands, and finally dies[edit]

Richard I was in a difficult position, Philip II had taken over large parts of his lands and had inherited of Amiens and Artois. England was Richard's most secure possessions, Hubert Walter who had been to the crusade with the King of England was appointed his justiciar. King Richard took over John's lordship over Ireland and rejected William the Lion's claim over the northern territories.

The construction of Château Gaillard began under Richard's rule, but he died before it could be seen finished.

Richard I had merely crossed the English Channel to claim back his territories that John Lackland betrayed Philip II by murdering the garrison of Évreux and handing the town down to Richard I. "He had first betrayed his father, then his brother and now our King" said William the Breton. Sancho the Strong, the future King of Navarre, joined the conflict and attacked Aquitaine, capturing Angoulème and Tours. Richard himself was known to be a great military commander.[60] The first part of this war was difficult for Richard who suffered several setbacks, for Philip II was also a great commander and politician. But by October the new Count of Toulouse, Raymond VI, left the Capetian side and joined Richard's. He was followed by Baldwin IV of Flanders, the future Latin Emperor, as this one was contesting Artois to Philip II. In 1197, Henry VI died and was replaced by Otto IV, Richard I's own nephew. Renaud de Dammartin, the Count of Boulogne and a skilled commander, also deserted Philip II. Baldwin IV was invading Artois and captured Saint-Omer while Richard I was campaigning in Berry and inflicted a severe defeat to Philip II at Gisors, close to Paris. A truce was accepted, and Richard I had almost recovered all Normandy and now held more territories in Aquitaine than he had before. Richard I had to deal with a revolt once again, but this time from Limousin. He was struck by a bolt in April 1199 at Châlus-Chabrol and died of a subsequent infection. His body was buried at Fontevraud like his father.

John's reign and the collapse (1199–1217)[edit]

John was not king yet; he had to fight to keep his lands. Following the news of Richard's death, Philip II captured Évreux in a rush. John tried to take the Angevin treasure and the castle of Chinon to install his power. But, in the local custom,[61] the son of an older brother was preferred to a claimant. Henceforth they recognised Arthur as their ruler, son of Geoffrey of Brittany, depriving John of the Angevins' ancestral land. Only in Normandy and England he could install his rule. In Rouen, Normandy, he was made Duke in April 1199 and he was crowned King of England in May at Westminster Abbey. He left his mother, Eleanor, controlling Aquitaine.

His allies, Aimeri of Thouars and three Lusignan nobles led an attack on Tours in an attempt to capture Arthur and install John as count. Aimeri of Thouars was promised the title of seneschal had he captured Arthur. By this time John went to Normandy to negotiate a truce with Philip II. He took profit of this truce to gather Richard's former allies, especially the Count of Boulogne, the Count of Flanders and the Holy Roman Emperor. In the end no less than 15 French counts swore allegiance to John who was now definitely in a much stronger position than Philip II. A strong supporter of the King—William des Roches—even switched side in front of so much power and handed down Arthur, whom he was supposed to protect, to John. Arthur managed to escape and join Philip II's court very soon though. It was also the moment the Count of Flanders and many knights decided to join the crusade in 1199 and deserted John's court. John's dominant position was short-lived and then he had to accept the Treaty of Le Goulet in 1200. Philip II was confirmed over the lands he had taken in Normandy joined by further concessions in Auvergne and Berry. John was recognised at the head of Anjou in return of what he swore he would not interfere if Baldwin IV or Otto IV attacked Philip II.

The Lusignans' case and decisive defeats[edit]

Hugh IX of Lusignan took Eleanor in hostage; John then recognised him as Count of Marche, thus expanding Lusignan power in the region. In August 1200, John had his first marriage annulled and he married Isabella who was already betrothed to Hugh X. John then confiscated La Marche. The Lusignans themselves called for Philip II's intervention, and he summoned John to his court. John refused to meet his King, so Philip II used his power of suzerainty to confiscate all the lands John held in France. Phillip then accepted Arthur's homage, granting Arthur control of Poitou, Anjou, Maine, and Tours in 1202. Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, joined Philip II, as did Renaud de Dammartin. Most of John's other allies were either in the Holy Land or had deserted him. Of them, only Sancho VII the Strong remained, and he was in a weak position and unable to render much assistance to John.

Arthur launched an attack in Poitou with his Lusignan allies, while Philip II attacked Normandy and captured many castles on the frontier. John was in Le Mans when the attacks were launched and decided to move southward. John's forces captured Arthur along with Hugh X and 200 knights; this success was quickly followed by the capture of the Viscount of Limoges, who John imprisoned in Chinon. The year 1202 was a time of triumph for John, who had distinguished himself from Richard I nor Henry II by successfully stifling his enemies.

Unfortunately, John suffered from a fatal character flaw: "he could not resist the temptation to kick a man when he was down."[62] He took pleasure in humiliating his enemies. After Arthur was murdered in prison (almost certainly at John's command), many of John's supporters deserted him.

John's former allies, many of whom now actively fought against him, handed Alençon over to Philip II in Normandy. Vaudreuil was delivered to the King of France without a fight. John, who was trying to retake Alençon, was forced to withdraw once Philip II arrived. Château Gaillard itself had fallen in 1204 after a six-month siege; this was a devastating loss for the Angevins. Philip II continued campaigning in Normandy and successfully captured Argentan, Falaise, Caen, Bayeux and Lisieux in only three weeks. At the same time, a force of Breton knights captured the Mont Saint-Michel and Avranches. Tours fell in 1204, Loches and even Chinon followed in 1205; only Rouen and Arques continued to resist. Rouen finally capitulated and opened its gates to the King. The ducal castle was then destroyed and a bigger one was commissioned.

Eleanor died in 1204. Most of the Poitevin nobles joined Philip II since they were loyal to Eleanor, but not to John. After Eleanor's death, Alfonso VIII asked for Gascony, which was part of the dowry Henry II had given his daughter. Gascony was one of the few French portions of the once-powerful "Angevin Empire" to remain loyal to the Angevins; the Gascons resisted Alfonso and the territory remained under John's control.

The two kings finally agreed to a truce in 1206. The "Angevin Empire" had been reduced to only Gascony, Ireland, and England.

Campaigns in the British Isles and return to France[edit]

John had to make his rule on the isles undisputed following the loss of Normandy and Anjou. He campaigned in South Wales in 1208, the Scottish border in 1209, Ireland in 1210, and North Wales in 1211. These campaigns often met with success. John used all resources he could muster to finance a campaign in France. Taxation of the Jews generated additional incomes, while all land property of the church was seized, which led to John's excommunication.

Philip II victorious at Bouvines.

In 1212, John was ready to land and invade France, but a revolt in Wales forced him to delay his plans and then a baronnal revolt in England made it worse. Philip II was then also in preparation for an invasion of England, but his fleet was destroyed while anchored at Damme by the Earl of Salisbury, William Longespee. Hearing of the news, John ordered all the forces he had set to defend England to sail for Poitou. He landed in La Rochelle in 1214 and was then allied with Renaud de Dammartin, Count Ferdinand of Flanders and of course with Otto IV. His allies would attack in the northeast of France while he would attack from the southwest. John went to Gascony and tried to install his garrison in Agens, but it was expelled. Unlike Normandy, Philip II had never invaded Poitou; it had just switched its allegiance. In order to invade Paris from England, it was much easier to go through Normandy than through the southwest. Thus, King Philip II concentrated his efforts there.

The sword swung two ways, as for Philip II it was easier to launch an invasion of England from Normandy. As a consequence, Poitou was left without a strong royal presence. John betrothed his daughter, Joan, to Hugh IX of Lusignan's son Hugh X, in return for which the Lusignans were granted Saintonge and the Island of Oleron, as well as possibilities of further concessions in Touraine and Anjou. These were huge gains for the Lusignans, yet John called that bringing them to submit. [63]

Peter was the Duke of Brittany of the time. He was loyal to the King of France, but his claim to the rule of Brittany was fairly weak. If anything, Eleanor of Brittany had a stronger claim, as she was the elder sister of the defunct Arthur. John had her captured and used her as blackmail against Peter with one hand, while tempting him by offering Richmond with the other hand. Peter refused to change allegiance in the end, and not even the capture of his brother Robert III of Dreux near Nantes made him change his stance.

John entered Angers and captured a newly built castle at Roche-au-Moine; but Prince Louis rushed from Chinon with an army and took it back by pushing John to retreat. Even though this was a setback, John had at least made the job of his allies easier by dividing the Capetian army. Then happened the disastrous Battle of Bouvines, in which all his allies were defeated by King Philip II.

John was beaten, the economy of the Kingdom of England was bankrupted, and he was seen as a failed plunderer.[64] All of the money that he could gather and all of the power that he used, brought nothing and his allies were all dead or captured. Unable to regain Brittany, he also abandoned the idea to release his niece, in order to prevent her potential threat to his throne, leading the deserted princess to end up in prison decades later.

This quote, taken from Capetian France 987–1328, summarises the reasons of the Angevin collapse:[65]

It is often said of the Plantagenet lands in the late twelfth century that they were an empire in decline, divided by the treachery of Henry II's sons and held together only with difficulty by Richard I and John; and the attempt to hold them together gravely overstrained their resources and undermined their power from within, making their survival as a unit quite impossible. Thus Philip's conquest becomes unavoidable, and John's responsibility is greatly diminished.

Capetians in England[edit]

In 1215, the English barons, convinced that John would not respect the terms of the recently signed Magna Carta, sent a letter to the French court offering the crown of England to Prince Louis, now a maternal grandson-in-law of Henry II. By November a Capetian garrison was sent to London to support the rebels. On 22 May 1216 Capetian forces landed at Sandwich led by Prince Louis himself. John fled, allowing Louis to capture London and Winchester.[66][67] By August, Louis controlled most of eastern England; only Dover, Lincoln, and Windsor remained loyal to John. Even King Alexander II of Scotland travelled to Canterbury and paid homage to Prince Louis, recognizing him as King of England.[68]

John died two months later, defeated even in England. In contrast to John's failure to honour the terms of Magna Carta, the regency which followed him (Henry III being a minor) ruled in compliance with it. The Anglo-Norman barons therefore withdrew their support from Louis. He was defeated nearly a year later at Lincoln and Sandwich, and dropped his claim to the English crown by the Treaty of Lambeth in September 1217.

Cultural influence[edit]

The hypothetical continuation and expansion of the Angevin Empire over several centuries has been the subject of several tales of alternate history. Historically both English and French historians had viewed the juxtaposition of England and French lands under Angevin control as something of an aberration and an offence to national identity. To English historians the lands in France were an encumbrance, while French historians considered the union to be an English empire.[69]

The Plantagenet kings adopted wine as their main drink, replacing the beer and cider used by the Norman kings. The ruling class of the Angevin Empire was also French speaking.[70]

The 12th century is also the century of the Gothic architecture, first known as "Opus Francigenum", from the work of the Abbot Suger[71] at Saint Denis in 1140. The Early English Period began around 1180 or 1190, in the times of the Angevin Empire,[72] but this religious architecture was totally independent of the Angevin Empire, it was just born at the same moment and spread at those times in England. The strongest influence on architecture directly associated with the Plantagenets is about kitchens.

Richard I's personal arms of three golden lions passant guardant[73] on a red field appear in most subsequent English royal heraldry, and in variations on the flags of both Normandy and Aquitaine.

From a political point of view the continental issues were given more attention from the monarchs of England than the British ones already under the Normans.[74] Under Angevin lordship things became even more clear as the balance of power was dramatically set in France and the Angevin kings often spent more times in France than England.[75] With the loss of Normandy and Anjou the fiefdom was cut in two and then the descendants of the Plantagenets can be regarded as English kings accounting Gascony in their domain.[76] This is accordant with the newfound Lordship of Aquitaine being conferred upon the Black Prince of Wales, passing thence to the House of Lancaster, which had pretensions to the Crown of Castile, much as Edward III had to France. It was this assertion of power from England onto France and from Aquitaine onto Castile which marked the difference from earlier in the Angevin period.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Due to the nature of the Angevin Empire there are a good number of sources in French. Thus to enjoy the largest array of sources requires a good knowledge of both English and French.

  • "The Angevin Empire" by John Gillingham, editions Arnold.This book as been largely used as English source for this article.
  • "L'Empire des Plantagenet" by Martin Aurell, editions Tempus, in French. From 2007 available in an English translation by David Crouch.
  • "Noblesse de l'espace Plantagenêt (1154-1224)", editions Civilisations Medievales; it's a collection of essays by various French and English historians on the Angevin ruling class. It's a bilingual sourcebook which articles in French or English (but not both at a time).
  • "The Plantagenet Chronicles" by Elizabeth Hallam. This book tells the history of the Angevin Dynasty and it is written in English.

Appendixes, notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ John Gillingham: "The Angevin Empire" page 2, second edition, Arnold Editions.
  2. ^ Norgate, Kate, England Under the Angevin Kings.
  3. ^ Martin Aurell - L'empire des Plantagenêt page 11: En 1984, résumant les communications d'un colloque franco-anglais tenu à Fontevraud (Anjou), lieu de mémoire par excellence des Plantagenêt, Robert Henri-Bautier, coté français, n'est pas en reste, proposant, pour cette "juxtaposition d'entités" sans "aucune structure commune" de substituer l'imprécis "espace" aux trop contraignants "Empire Plantagenêt" ou "Etat anglo-angevin".
  4. ^ Definition of "Angevin" from "Laboratoire d'Analyse et de Traitement Informatique de la Langue Française".
  5. ^ "Capetian France 937 - 1328" Editions Longman page 221: "Closer investigation suggests that several of these assumptions are unfounded. One is that the Angevin dominions ever formed an empire in any sense of the word."
  6. ^ David Carpenter "The Struggle for Mastery" page 191: "England and Normandy were now part of a much larger political entity which historians often call (without any precise constitutional meaning) the 'Angevin Empire'."
  7. ^ The Angevin Empire page 3: "Unquestionably if used in conjunction with atlases in which Henry II's lands are coloured red, it is a dangerous term, for the overtones of the British Empire are unavoidable and politically crass. But in ordinary English usage 'empire' can mean nothing more specific than an extensive territory, especially an aggregate of many states, ruled over by a single ruler. When coupled with 'Angevin', it should, if anything, imply a French rather than a 'British' Empire."
  8. ^ Martin Aurell "L'empire des Plantagenet" page 10: Il n'empêche que des réticences ont naguère été exprimées par quelques historiens. Elles contiennent leur part de vérité, et ont le mérite de nuancer un problème complexe. D'abord elles proviennent de ceux qui considèrent que le terme "empire" devrait être réservé à l'Empire Romano-Germanique, seule réalité institutionelle de l'Occident mediéval nommée explicitement par les sources d'époque
  9. ^ Medieval Iberia: an encyclopedia, Ed. E. Michael Gerli and Samuel G. Armistead, (Taylor & Francis, 2003) p.60
  10. ^ Martin Aurell - L'empire des Plantagenet page 10: Plus solides, d'autres critiques émanent, ensuite, de spécialistes du droit et de la science politique pour qui l'étendue des domaines d'Henri II, si impressionnante soit-elle pour le XIIème siècle, fait bien pâle figure en comparaison des vastes Empires helléniques, romains, byzantins, abbasside, ottoman ou Habsbourg, sans mentionner les empires coloniaux du XIXème siècle.
  11. ^ Capetian France page 222: "As for the idea that the Plantagenet lands were seen as an empire, in the sense of a political unit, there is no substance for this usage in contemporary thought. Why do we need to use this term at all? Henry II and Richard I did not do so."
  12. ^ Martin Aurell - L'empire des Plantagenet page 10: Dans "le dialogue sur l'échiquier" (vers 1179), un ouvrage technique sur le principal organe financier de l'Angleterre, rédigé par l'évêque de Londres et trésorier d'Henri II, Richard Fitz Nigel (vers 1130 - 1198), on peut lire: "par ses victoires le roi élargit (dilataverit) son empire au loin."
  13. ^ The Angevin Empire page 5: "In these circumstances there is a danger of attributing England an importance which it may not have possessed. In one way England undeniably 'was' the most important part - it gave the ruler a royal crown. Since the first element in his title was then 'Rex Anglorum' this meant that the most convenient shorthand of referring to him was "king of England" or even - Frenchman though he was - as the English king, "il reis Engles".
  14. ^ Martin Aurell- L'empire des Plantagenets page 11: De même en 1973, William L. Warren rejette explicitement l'expression "Empire", au nom du lien trop lâche unissant les différentes principautés territoriales gouvernées par Henri II; tout au plus admet-il l'existence d'un "Commonwealth", souple fédération regroupant sept "Dominions" autonomes, dont le seul point commun serait leur dépendance, à peine fondée sur la vassalité et le serment de fidélité, au roi.
  15. ^ a b Capetian France 937 - 1328" Editions Longman page 74: "There was a hiatus between the Carolingian duchy and its successor that was assembled by Count of Poitou in the early tenth century..."
  16. ^ Capetian France 937–1328, page 64: "Then in 1151 Henry Plantagenet paid hommage for the duchy to Louis VII in Paris, homage he repeated as king of England in 1156."
  17. ^ John Gillingham: "The Angevin Empire" page 50: "... in 1169 Henry II ordered the construction of dykes to mark the line of the frontier."
  18. ^ a b David Carpenter "The Struggle for Mastery" page 91: "But this absenteeism solidified rather than sapped royal government since it engendered structures both to maintain peace and extract money in the King's absence, money which was above all needed across the Channel."
  19. ^ Capetian France 937–1328, page 66: "Greater Anjou" is a modern expression, referring to the adjacent territories ruled by the counts of Anjou: these were Anjou, Maine, Touraine, Vendôme and Saintonge."
  20. ^ Capetian France page 67: The Capetians were ultimately to reap the benefits of these developments after Anjou fell to Philip Augustus in 1203–4.
  21. ^ Elizabeth M. Hallam & Judith Everard, Capetian France 987–1328 Editions Longman page 76: "Central political power was weak and society unusually lacking in hierarchy ... Dukes William IX and William X made some headway, and later so too did Richard the Lionheart, but they were only partly successful."
  22. ^ "Seán Duffy in Medieval Ireland observes that 'there is no contemporary depiction of it [the invasion] as Anglo-Norman or Cambro-Norman, or, for that matter, Anglo-French or Anglo-Continental. Such terms are modern concoctions, convenient shorthands, which serve to emphasize the undoubted fact that those who began to settle in Ireland at this point were not of any one national or ethnic origin' (pp 58–9)." Information retrieved from Wikipedia's page on "Norman Ireland"
  23. ^ a b The Struggle for Mastery page 226: By the Treaty of Falaise in 1174 William was released, but in return for acknowledging that his kingdom was henceforth a fief held from the king of England. Henry was also to receive hommage and fealty from the earls and barons and other men of "the land of the king". All of this was to be guaranteed though the surrender by King William of the castles of Roxburgh, Berwick, Jedburgh, Edinburgh and Sterling.
  24. ^ John Gillingham "The Angevin Empire" page 24: "Increasingly over the next few years he behaved as though he (Henry II) were lord of Brittany, or at any rate of eastern Brittany, arranging Conan's marriage, appointing an archbishop of Dol and manipulating to his own advantage the inheritance customs of the Breton nobles."
  25. ^ a b "The Struggle for Mastery" page 215: "In 1171 Henry led a great army to Pembroke, whence he sailed for Ireland. This was a decisive moment in Welsh history. Henry's intervention in Ireland made the security of south Wales an absolute necessity. Had he met resistance he would doubtless have achieved it by force. Instead it was achieved by Rhys's immediate submission, a submission so spontaneous and dignified that it immediately won Henry's trust."
  26. ^ The Angevin Empire page 58: Thus the revenue at the start of Henry II's reign, averaging about £10,500 a year during the three years 1156–58, was less than half that indicated by the one surviving pipe roll of Henry I's reign.
  27. ^ a b The Struggle for Mastery page 191: Henry II inherited a very different realm from that seized by Stephen nineteen years earlier. Royal revenue was down by two-thirds; royal lands, together with castles and sheriffdoms, had been granted away, often with hereditary rights; earldoms, often with semi-regal powers, had proliferated; control over the church had been shaken; the former royal bastion in South Wales had passed into the hands of barons and native rulers; and the far north of England was now subject to the king of the Scots.
  28. ^ "Crises, Revolutions and Self-sustained Growth: Essays in European Fiscal History 1130 - 1830", editions Stamford. Section: "The Norman fiscal revolution, 1193-98" by V. Moss.
  29. ^ "King John, new interpretations", editions S.D. Church. Section: "The English economy in the early thirteenth century" by J.L. Bolton.
  30. ^ "The Angevin Empire" page 60: "In 1198, for example, both Caen and Rouen had to find more money than London."
  31. ^ Capetian France page 227: "it (a surviving contemporary document) also demonstrates that the royal finances were operating by a well-established system."
  32. ^ Capetian France page 226
  33. ^ Capetian France page 227: "In the 1930s Lot and Fawtier deducted that if extra war revenues were discounted the ordinary revenues of Philip Augustus still amounted to more than the Plantagenets could raise, and that the French domain yielded more than all the Angevin lands put together."
  34. ^ Bonnie Wheeler, John Carmi Parsons; Eleanor of Aquitaine: Lord and Lady; Palgrave Macmillan, 2003
  35. ^ Carpenter, David. The Struggle for Mastery. p. 163. "It was in Boulogne that Stephen heard the news of Henry's death, while the empress, the old king's daughter and chosen successor, was far away in Anjou." 
  36. ^ Gillingham, John. The Angevin Empire. p. 16. "While Geoffrey held on the gains he had made in Normandy, in England Matilda was driven back almost to a square one." 
  37. ^ Capetian France page 158: "The campaign culminated with the burning of the church at Vitry, with 1,500 people caught in the flames, an event that apparently greatly horrified the king... Petit-Dutaillis has suggested that the burning of Vitry was a shock which transformed the king, and brought him under the influence of Bernard of Clairvaux and Suger instead of Eleanor of Aquitaine... When he had been on crusade there had been clear signs of growing rift between him and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was accused by contemporary chroniclers of lewd and improper behaviour and of showing an unnatural fondness for her uncle, Raymond of Antioch."
  38. ^ "The Struggle for Mastery page 192: "Often 'crucified with anxiety' over crises in his dominions, in the words of his clerks, Roger of Howden, his speed of movement was legendary: 'The king of England is now in Ireland, now in England, now in Normandy, he seems rather to fly than to go by horse or ship' exclaimed Louis VII."
  39. ^ The Struggle for Master page 193: "Henry spent 43 per cent of his reign in Normandy, 20 per cent elsewhere in France (mainly in Anjou, Maine and Touraine) and only 37 per cent in Britain."
  40. ^ Duncan, p.72; Barrow, p. 47; William of Newburgh in SAEC, p. 239. Can also be found in other sources without much troubles.
  41. ^ The Angevin Empire page 27: "Henry's response to the revolt of 1164 was to invade again, this time on a massive scale. According to the Welsh Chronicles of the Princes, in 1165 Henry gathered a "mighty host of the picked warriors of England and Normandy and Flanders and Anjou and Gascony and Scotland" (a catalogue which omitted the fleet hired from the Norses of Dublin) and his purpose was "to carry into bondage and to destroy all the Britons"."
  42. ^ The Angevin Empire page 28
  43. ^ In 721 the Muslim army that crossed the Pyrenees was entirely destroyed in a disastrous siege. It was due, for a part, to the massive fortifications of the city.
  44. ^ These castles are called the "Cathars Castles", yet they weren't built by the Cathars themselves. They were built to defend the area against southern invaders like the Caliphate or the Spanish Kingdoms.
  45. ^ John Gillingham: "The Angevin Empire" pages 29 and 30, second edition, Arnold Editions
  46. ^ Capetian France page 155.
  47. ^ Capetian France page 156: The English Walter Map, a harsh and satyrical critic of kings and clerics, nevertheless found much to praise in Louis.
  48. ^ "The Angevin Empire" page 30-31: Louis's love of peace impressed all his contemporaries but, as king of the French, he could not honorably stand by while men who were his subjects and kinsmen were attacked.
  49. ^ Capetian France page 162: In 1164 Louis VII gained another useful, although also rather embarrassing, ecclesiastical refugee in his lands. Archbishop Thomas Beckett fled to France from the wrath of Henry II and stayed first at Pontigny, then as Sens.
  50. ^ Capetian France page 162.
  51. ^ The Struggle for Mastery page 203
  52. ^ Roger of Hoveden, Gesta Henrici II Benedicti Abbatis, vol. 1, p. 292... such information can be found in many other sources though.
  53. ^ Capetian France page 164: Despite his achievement he was, however, far less popular with contemporaries; his personality does not seem to have been attractive.
  54. ^ The Annals of Roger of Hoveden, vol. 2, trans. Henry T. Riley, London, 1853
  55. ^ The Angevin Empire page 40.
  56. ^ The Struggle for Mastery: With Richard in a hurry, a bargain was quickly struck. William gave £6,666 to recover the castles of Berwick and Roxburgh and free his realm from the subjection to England imposed in 1174.
  57. ^ The Struggle for Mastery page 245: King Richard I, conqueror of Cyprus, crusader extraordinary (the sobriquet "Lionheart" was contemporary), spent less than six months of his ten-year reign in England.
  58. ^ F. Delaborde: "Receuil des actes de Philipe Auguste".
  59. ^ Gillingham, Richard the Lionheart, 231, 238
  60. ^ John France, "Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300" London 1999.
  61. ^ In the Kingdom of France each feudal states had its own laws, called customs, which often prevailed.
  62. ^ "King John", WL Warren (London, 1961).
  63. ^ The Angevin Empire, page 106: In a report sent back to England he wrote triumphantly on his success in bringing them to submit. What this actually meant was that he arranged a betrothal between his daughter Joan and Hugh of Lusignan's son, also called Hugh, and granted them Saintes, Saintonge, and Oléron until some permanent provision in Anjou and Touraine could be arranged. Some submission! In reality the Lusignans had been persuaded to change sides and had exacted a high price in return, including custody of Joan.
  64. ^ Barwell's chronicle.
  65. ^ page 221, Editions Longman.
  66. ^ John Gillingham "The Angevin Empire" Editions Arnorld page 107: This time it was on the beaches of England that John chose not to fight. With commendable efficiency and foresight he had mustered his army in the right place and at the right time but, when he saw Louis's troops disembarking at Sandwich on 22 May 1216, the comforts of his chambers at Winchester suddenly seemed irresistible.
  67. ^ David Carpenter in "The Struggle for Mastery", page 299: On 21 May 1216 Louis landed in Kent. He brought several great French nobles and 1,200 knights, a formidable force that John feared to face. Louis took Rochester, entered a cheering London and then seized Winchester.
  68. ^ David Carpenter in "The Struggle for Mastery, page 299" ... Carlisle was surrendered to Alexander who then came south to do homage to Louis for the Northern Counties.
  69. ^ J. Boussard: "Le Gouvernement d'Henri II Plantagenêt" Editions Paris pp. 527–32.
  70. ^ Robert of Gloucester: "The Normans could then speak nothing but their own language, and spoke French as they did at home and also taught their children. So that the upper class of the country that is descended from them stick to the language they got from home, therefore unless a person knows French he is little thought of. But the lower classes stick to English and their own language even now"
  71. ^ An article on the abbot and the architecture.
  72. ^ "L'art Gothique", section: "L'architecture Gothique en Angleterre" by Ute Engel: L'Angleterre fut l'une des premieres régions à adopter, dans la deuxième moitié du XIIeme siècle, la nouvelle architecture gothique née en France. Les relations historiques entre les deux pays jouèrent un rôle prépondérant: en 1154, Henri II (1154-89), de la dynastie Française des Plantagenêt, accéda au thrône d'Angleterre.
  73. ^ French heraldry blazons lions in this attitude as leopards
  74. ^ David Carpenter: "The Struggle for Mastery" page 91: Absentee kings continued to spend at best half their time in England until the loss of Normandy in 1204.
  75. ^ John Gillingham in the "Angevin Empire" page 1: Then the political centre of gravity had been in France; the Angevins were French princes who numbered England amongst their possessions.
  76. ^ John Gillingham "The Angevin Empire" page 1 again: But from the 1220s and onwards the centre of gravity was clearly in England; the Plantagenets had become kings of England who occasionally visited Gascony.