Angevin kings of England

The Angevins (/ˈændʒɪvɪnz/; "from Anjou") were a royal house of French origin that ruled England in the 12th and early 13th centuries; its monarchs were Henry II, Richard I and John. In the 10 years from 1144, two successive counts of Anjou in France, Geoffrey and his son, the future Henry II, won control of a vast assemblage of lands in western Europe that would last for 80 years and would retrospectively be referred to as the Angevin Empire. As a political entity this was structurally different from the preceding Norman and subsequent Plantagenet realms. Geoffrey became Duke of Normandy in 1144 and died in 1151. In 1152 his heir, Henry, added Aquitaine by virtue of his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Henry also inherited the claim of his mother, Empress Matilda, the daughter of King Henry I, to the English throne, to which he succeeded in 1154 following the death of King Stephen.[2]

Henry was succeeded by his third son, Richard, whose reputation for martial prowess won him the epithet "Cœur de Lion" or "Lionheart".[3] He was born and raised in England but spent very little time there during his adult life, perhaps as little as six months. Despite this Richard remains an enduring iconic figure both in England and in France, and is one of very few kings of England remembered by his nickname as opposed to regnal number.[4]

When Richard died, his brother John – Henry's fifth and only surviving son – took the throne. In 1204 John lost much of the Angevins' continental territories, including Anjou, to the French crown. He and his successors were still recognized as dukes of Aquitaine. The loss of Anjou from which the dynasty is named is the rationale behind John's son—Henry III of England—being considered the first Plantagenet—a name derived from the nickname of his great-grandfather, Geoffrey. Where no distinction is made between the Angevins—and Angevin era—and subsequent English Kings, Henry II is the first Plantagenet king.[5][6][7][8][9] From John the dynasty continued successfully and unbroken in the senior male line until the reign of Richard II before dividing into two competing cadet branches, the House of Lancaster and the House of York.

Royal Arms of England

Arms adopted in 1198
Parent houseHouse of Châteaudun
FounderGeoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou
Current headExtinct[1]
Final rulerJohn, King of England
Cadet branches



The adjective Angevin is especially used in English history to refer to the kings who were also counts of Anjou—beginning with Henry II—descended from Geoffrey and Matilda; their characteristics, descendants and the period of history which they covered from the mid-twelfth to early-thirteenth centuries. In addition it is also used pertaining to Anjou, or any sovereign, government derived from this. As a noun it is used for any native of Anjou or Angevin ruler. As such Angevin is also used for other Counts and Dukes of Anjou; including the three kings' ancestors, their cousins who held the crown of Jerusalem and unrelated later members of the French royal family who were granted the titles to form different dynasties amongst which were the Capetian House of Anjou and the Valois House of Anjou.[10]

Angevin Empire

The term "Angevin Empire" was coined in 1887 by Kate Norgate. As far as it is known there was no contemporary name for this assemblage of territories which were referred to—if at all—by clumsy circumlocutions such as our kingdom and everything subject to our rule whatever it may be or the whole of the kingdom which had belonged to his father. Whereas the Angevin part of this term has proved uncontentious the empire portion has proved controversial. In 1986 a convention of historical specialists concluded that there had been no Angevin state and no empire but the term espace Plantagenet was acceptable.[11]


The Children of Henry2 England
Thirteenth-century depiction of the Angevins (Henry II and his legitimate children): (left to right) William, Henry, Richard, Matilda, Geoffrey, Eleanor, Joan and John

The Angevins descend from Geoffrey II, Count of Gâtinais and Ermengarde of Anjou. In 1060 this couple inherited, via cognatic kinship, the county of Anjou from an older line dating from 870 and a noble called Ingelger.[12][13] The marriage of Count Geoffrey to Matilda, the only surviving legitimate child of Henry I of England, was part of struggle for power during the tenth and eleventh centuries among the lords of Normandy, Brittany, Poitou, Blois, Maine and the kings of France. It was from this marriage that Geoffrey's son, Henry, inherited the claims to England, Normandy and Anjou that marks the beginning of the Angevin and Plantagenet dynasties.[14] This was the third attempt by Geoffrey's father Fulk V to build a political alliance with Normandy. The first was by marrying his daughter Matilda to Henry's heir William Adelin, who drowned in the wreck of the White Ship. Fulk then married his daughter Sibylla to William Clito, heir to Henry's older brother Robert Curthose, but Henry had the marriage annulled to avoid strengthening William's rival claim to his lands.[15]

Inheritance custom and Angevin practice

As society became more prosperous and stable in the 11th century, inheritance customs developed that allowed daughters (in the absence of sons) to succeed to principalities as well as landed estates. The twelfth-century chronicler Ralph de Diceto noted that the counts of Anjou extended their dominion over their neighbours by marriage rather than conquest.[16] The marriage of Geoffrey to the daughter of a king (and widow of an emperor) occurred in this context. It is unknown whether King Henry intended to make Geoffrey his heir, but it is known that the threat presented by William Clito's rival claim to the duchy of Normandy made his negotiating position very weak. Even so, it is probable that, should the marriage be childless, King Henry would have attempted to be succeeded by one of his Norman kinsmen such as Theobald II, Count of Champagne or Stephen of Blois who in the event did seize King Henry's English crown. King Henry's great relief in 1133 at the birth of a son to the couple, described as "the heir to the Kingdom", is understandable in the light of this situation. Following this the birth of a second son raised the question of whether custom would be followed with the maternal inheritance passing to first born and the paternal inheritance going to his brother, Geoffrey.[17]

According to William of Newburgh writing in the 1190s, the plan failed because of Geoffrey's early death in 1151. The dying Geoffrey decided that Henry would have the paternal and maternal inheritances while he needed the resources to overcome Stephen, and left instructions that his body would not be buried until Henry swore an oath that once England and Normandy were secured the younger Geoffrey would have Anjou.[18] Henry's brother Geoffrey died in 1154, too soon to receive Anjou, but not before being installed count in Nantes after Henry aided a rebellion by its citizens against their previous lord.[19]

The unity of Henry's assemblage of domains was largely dependent on the ruling family, influencing the opinion of most historians that this instability made it unlikely to endure. The French custom of partible inheritance at the time would lead to political fragmentation. Indeed, if Henry II's sons Henry the Young King and Geoffrey of Brittany had not died young, the inheritance of 1189 would have been fundamentally altered. Henry and Richard both planned for partition on their deaths while attempting to provide overriding sovereignty to hold the lands together. For example, in 1173 and 1183 Henry tried to force Richard to acknowledge allegiance to his older brother for the duchy of Aquitaine and later Richard would confiscate Ireland from John. This was complicated by the Angevins' being subjects of the kings of France, who felt these feudal rights of homage and the right of allegiance more legally belonged to them. This was particularly true when the wardship of Geoffrey's son Arthur and lordship of Brittany was contended between 1202 and 1204. On the Young King's death in 1183, Richard became heir in chief, but refused to give up Aquitaine to give John an inheritance. More by accident than design this meant that, while Richard inherited the patrimony, John would become lord of Ireland and Arthur would be duke of Brittany. By the mid-thirteenth century there was a clear unified patrimony and Plantagenet empire but this cannot be called an Angevin Empire as by this date Anjou and most of the continental lands had been lost.[20]

Arrival in England

France 1154-en
Henry's continental holdings in 1154, showing the lands known as the Angevin Empire in shades of red.

Henry I of England named his daughter Matilda heir; but when he died in 1135 Matilda was far from England in Anjou or Maine, while her cousin Stephen was closer in Boulogne, giving him the advantage he needed to race to England and have himself crowned and anointed king of England.[21] Matilda's husband Geoffrey, though he had little interest in England, commenced a long struggle for the duchy of Normandy.[22] To create a second front Matilda landed in England during 1139 to challenge Stephen, instigating the civil war known as the Anarchy. In 1141 she captured Stephen at the battle of Lincoln, prompting the collapse of his support. While Geoffrey pushed on with the conquest of Normandy over the next four years, Matilda threw away her position through arrogance and inability to be magnanimous in victory. She was even forced to release Stephen in a hostage exchange for her half-brother Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester, allowing Stephen to resume control of much of England. Geoffrey never visited England to offer practical assistance but instead sent Henry as a male figurehead—beginning in 1142 when Henry was only 9—with a view that if England was conquered it would be Henry that would become king. In 1150 Geoffrey also transferred the title of Duke of Normandy to Henry but retained the dominant role in governance.[23] Three fortuitous events allowed Henry to finally bring the conflict to a successful conclusion:

  • In 1151 Count Geoffrey died before having time to complete his plan to divide his inheritance between his sons Henry and Geoffrey, who would have received England and Anjou respectively.
  • Louis VII of France divorced Eleanor of Aquitaine whom Henry quickly married, greatly increasing his resources and power with the acquisition of Duchy of Aquitaine.
  • In 1153 Stephen's son Eustace died. The disheartened Stephen, who had also recently been widowed, gave up the fight and, with the Treaty of Wallingford, repeated the peace offer that Matilda had rejected in 1142: Stephen would be king for life, Henry his successor, preserving Stephen's second son William's rights to his family estates. Stephen did not live long and so Henry inherited in late 1154.[24]

Henry faced many challenges to secure possession of his father's and grandfathers’ lands that required the reassertion and extension of old suzerainties.[25] In 1162 Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, died, and Henry saw an opportunity to re-establish what he saw as his rights over the church in England by appointing his friend Thomas Becket to succeed him. Instead, Becket proved to be an inept politician whose defiance alienated the king and his counsellors. Henry and Becket clashed repeatedly: over church tenures, Henry's brother's marriage and taxation. Henry reacted by getting Becket, and other members of the English episcopate, to recognise sixteen ancient customs—governing relations between the king, his courts, and the church—in writing for the first time in the Constitutions of Clarendon. When Becket tried to leave the country without permission, Henry attempted to ruin him by laying a number of suits relating to Becket's time as chancellor. In response Becket fled into exile for five years. Relations later improved, allowing Becket's return, but soured again when Becket saw the coronation of Henry's son as coregent by the Archbishop of York as a challenge to his authority and excommunicated those who had offended him. When he heard the news, Henry said: "What miserable drones and traitors have I nurtured and promoted in my household who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born clerk." Three of Henry's men killed Becket in Canterbury Cathedral after Becket resisted a botched attempt to arrest him. Within Christian Europe Henry was widely considered complicit in Becket's death. The opinion of this transgression against the church made Henry a pariah, so in penance he walked barefoot into Canterbury Cathedral where he was scourged by monks.[26]

In 1171 Henry invaded Ireland to assert his overlordship following alarm at the success of knights he had allowed to recruit soldiers in England and Wales who had assumed the role of colonisers and accrued autonomous power, including Strongbow. Pope Adrian IV had given Henry a papal blessing to expand his power into Ireland to reform the Irish church.[27] Originally this would have allowed some territory to be granted to Henry's brother, William, but other matters had distracted Henry and William was now dead. Instead Henry's designs were made plain when he gave the lordship of Ireland to his youngest son, John.[28]

In 1172 Henry II tried to give his landless youngest son John a wedding gift of the three castles of Chinon, Loudun and Mirebeau. This angered the 18-year-old Young King who had yet to receive any lands from his father and prompted a rebellion by Henry II's wife and three eldest sons. Louis VII supported the rebellion to destabilise Henry II. William the Lion and other subjects of Henry II also joined the revolt and it took 18 months for Henry to force the rebels to submit to his authority.[29] In Le Mans in 1182, Henry II gathered his children to plan a partible inheritance in which his eldest son (also called Henry) would inherit England, Normandy and Anjou; Richard the Duchy of Aquitaine; Geoffrey Brittany, and John Ireland. This degenerated into further conflict. The younger Henry rebelled again before he died of dysentery and, in 1186, Geoffrey died after a tournament accident. In 1189 Richard and Philip II of France took advantage of Henry's failing health and forced him to accept humiliating peace terms, including naming Richard as his sole heir.[30] Two days later the old king died, defeated and miserable in the knowledge that even his favoured son John had rebelled. This fate was seen as the price he paid for the murder of Beckett.[31]


Seal - Richard I of England
King Richard I's Great Seal of 1189. Exhibited in History Museum of Vendee.

On the day of Richard's English coronation there was a mass slaughter of Jews, described by Richard of Devizes as a "holocaust".[32] After his coronation, Richard put the Angevin Empire's affairs in order before joining the Third Crusade to the Middle East in early 1190. Opinions of Richard by his contemporaries varied. He had rejected and humiliated the king of France's sister; deposed the king of Cyprus and sold the island; insulted and refused to give spoils from the Third Crusade to Leopold V, Duke of Austria, and allegedly arranged the assassination of Conrad of Montferrat. His cruelty was exemplified by the massacre of 2,600 prisoners in Acre.[33] However, Richard was respected for his military leadership and courtly manners. Despite victories in the Third Crusade he failed to capture Jerusalem, retreating from the Holy Land with a small band of followers.[34]

Richard was captured by Leopold on his return journey. He was transferred to Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor, and a 25-percent tax on goods and income was required to pay his 150,000-mark ransom.[35][36] Philip II of France had overrun Normandy, while John of England controlled much of Richard's remaining lands.[37] However, when Richard returned to England he forgave John and re-established his control.[38] Leaving England permanently in 1194, Richard fought Philip for five years for the return of holdings seized during his incarceration.[39] On the brink of victory, he was wounded by an arrow during the siege of Château de Châlus-Chabrol and died ten days later.[40]

His failure to produce an heir caused a succession crisis. Anjou, Brittany, Maine and Touraine chose Richard's nephew Arthur as heir, while John succeeded in England and Normandy. Philip II of France again destabilised the Plantagenet territories on the European mainland, supporting his vassal Arthur's claim to the English crown. Eleanor supported her son John, who was victorious at the Battle of Mirebeau and captured the rebel leadership.[41]

Arthur was murdered (allegedly by John), and his sister Eleanor would spend the rest of her life in captivity. John's behaviour drove a number of French barons to side with Philip, and the resulting rebellions by Norman and Angevin barons ended John's control of his continental possessions—the de facto end of the Angevin Empire, although Henry III would maintain his claim until 1259.[42]

After re-establishing his authority in England, John planned to retake Normandy and Anjou by drawing the French from Paris while another army (under Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor) attacked from the north. However, his allies were defeated at the Battle of Bouvines in one of the most decisive battles in French history.[43][44] John's nephew Otto retreated and was soon overthrown, with John agreeing to a five-year truce. Philip's victory was crucial to the political order in England and France, and the battle was instrumental in establishing absolute monarchy in France.[45]

Magna Carta (British Library Cotton MS Augustus II.106)
One of only four surviving exemplifications of the 1215 text of the Magna Carta

John's French defeats weakened his position in England. The rebellion of his English vassals resulted in the Magna Carta, which limited royal power and established common law. This would form the basis of every constitutional battle of the 13th and 14th centuries.[46] The barons and the crown failed to abide by the Magna Carta, leading to the First Barons' War when rebel barons provoked an invasion by Prince Louis. Many historians use John's death and William Marshall's appointment as protector of nine-year-old Henry III to mark the end of the Angevin period and the beginning of the Plantagenet dynasty.[1] Marshall won the war with victories at Lincoln and Dover in 1217, leading to the Treaty of Lambeth in which Louis renounced his claims.[47] In victory, the Marshal Protectorate reissued the Magna Carta as the basis of future government.[48]


House of Plantagenet

Historians use the period of Prince Louis's invasion to mark the end of the Angevin period and the beginning of the Plantagenet dynasty. The outcome of the military situation was uncertain at John's death; William Marshall saved the dynasty, forcing Louis to renounce his claim with a military victory.[47] However, Philip had captured all the Angevin possessions in France except Gascony. This collapse had several causes, including long-term changes in economic power, growing cultural differences between England and Normandy and (in particular) the fragile, familial nature of Henry's empire.[49] Henry III continued his attempts to reclaim Normandy and Anjou until 1259, but John's continental losses and the consequent growth of Capetian power during the 13th century marked a "turning point in European history".[50]

Richard of York adopted "Plantagenet" as a family name for himself and his descendants during the 15th century. Plantegenest (or Plante Genest) was Geoffrey's nickname, and his emblem may have been the common broom (planta genista in medieval Latin).[51] It is uncertain why Richard chose the name, but it emphasised Richard's hierarchal status as Geoffrey's (and six English kings') patrilineal descendant during the Wars of the Roses. The retrospective use of the name for Geoffrey's male descendants was popular during the Tudor period, perhaps encouraged by the added legitimacy it gave Richard's great-grandson Henry VIII of England.[52]


Through John, descent from the Angevins (legitimate and illegitimate) is widespread and includes all subsequent monarchs of England and the United Kingdom. He had five legitimate children with Isabella:

John also had illegitimate children with a number of mistresses, including nine sons—Richard, Oliver, John, Geoffrey, Henry, Osbert Gifford, Eudes, Bartholomew and (probably) Philip—and three daughters—Joan, Maud and (probably) Isabel.[57] Of these Joan was the best known, since she married Prince Llywelyn the Great of Wales.[58]

Contemporary opinion

The chronicler Gerald of Wales borrowed elements of the Melusine legend to give the Angevins a demonic origin, and the kings were said to tell jokes about the stories.[59]

Tomb of Henry and Eleanor in Fontevraud Abbey

Henry was an unpopular king, and few grieved his death;[60] William of Newburgh wrote during the 1190s, "In his own time he was hated by almost everyone". He was widely criticised by contemporaries, even in his own court.[61][62] Henry's son Richard's contemporary image was more nuanced, since he was the first king who was also a knight.[63] Known as a valiant, competent and generous military leader, he was criticised by chroniclers for taxing the clergy for the Crusade and his ransom; clergy were usually exempt from taxes.[64]

Chroniclers Richard of Devizes, William of Newburgh, Roger of Hoveden and Ralph de Diceto were generally unsympathetic to John's behaviour under Richard, but more tolerant of the earliest years of John's reign.[65] Accounts of the middle and later years of his reign are limited to Gervase of Canterbury and Ralph of Coggeshall, neither of whom were satisfied with John's performance as king.[66][67] His later negative reputation was established by two chroniclers writing after the king's death: Roger of Wendover and Matthew Paris. The latter claimed that John attempted to convert to Islam, but this is not believed by modern historians.[68]

Constitutional impact

Many of the changes Henry introduced during his rule had long-term consequences. His legal innovations form part of the basis for English law, with the Exchequer of Pleas a forerunner of the Common Bench at Westminster.[69] Henry's itinerant justices also influenced his contemporaries' legal reforms: Philip Augustus' creation of itinerant bailli, for example, drew on Henry's model.[70] Henry's intervention in Brittany, Wales and Scotland had a significant long-term impact on the development of their societies and governments.[71] John's reign, despite its flaws, and his signing of the Magna Carta were seen by Whig historians as positive steps in the constitutional development of England and part of a progressive and universalist course of political and economic development in medieval England.[72] Winston Churchill said, "[W]hen the long tally is added, it will be seen that the British nation and the English-speaking world owe far more to the vices of John than to the labours of virtuous sovereigns".[73] The Magna Carta was reissued by the Marshal Protectorate and later as a foundation of future government.[48]

Architecture, language and literature

Tomb of Richard I of England and Isabella of Angoulême (at back)

There was no distinct Angevin or Plantagenet culture that would distinguish or set them apart from their neighbours in this period. Robert of Torigni recorded that Henry built or renovated castles throughout his domain in Normandy, England, Aquitaine, Anjou, Maine and Torraine. However this patronage had no distinctive style except in the use of circular or octagonal kitchens of the Fontevraud type. Similarly amongst the multiple vernaculars—French, English and Occitan—there was not a unifying literature. French was the lingua franca of the secular elite and Latin or the church.[74]

The Angevins were closely associated with the Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou. Henry's aunt was Abbess, Eleanor retired there to be a nun and the abbey was originally the site of his grave and those of Eleanor, Richard, his daughter Joan, grandson Raymond VII of Toulouse and John's wife—Isabella of Angoulême.[75] Henry III visited the abbey in 1254 to reorder these tombs and requested his heart be buried with them.[76]


Foxe's Book of Martyrs title page
John Foxe's Book of Martyrs (official title Acts and Monuments) viewed John's reign positively.

According to historian John Gillingham, Henry and his reign have attracted historians for many years and Richard (whose reputation has "fluctuated wildly")[77] is remembered largely because of his military exploits. Steven Runciman, in the third volume of the History of the Crusades, wrote: "He was a bad son, a bad husband, and a bad king, but a gallant and splendid soldier." [78] Eighteenth-century historian David Hume wrote that the Angevins were pivotal in creating a genuinely English monarchy and, ultimately, a unified Britain.[65] Interpretations of the Magna Carta and the role of the rebel barons in 1215 have been revised; although the charter's symbolic, constitutional value for later generations is unquestionable, for most historians it is a failed peace agreement between factions.[79] John's opposition to the papacy and his promotion of royal rights and prerogatives won favour from 16th-century Tudors. John Foxe, William Tyndale and Robert Barnes viewed John as an early Protestant hero, and Foxe included the king in his Book of Martyrs.[80] John Speed's 1632 Historie of Great Britaine praised John's "great renown" as king, blaming biased medieval chroniclers for the king's poor reputation.[81] Similarly, later Protestant historians view Henry's role in Thomas Becket's death and his disputes with the French as worthy of praise.[82] Similarly, increased access to contemporary records during the late Victorian era led to a recognition of Henry's contributions to the evolution of English law and the exchequer.[83] William Stubbs called Henry a "legislator king" because of his responsibility for major, long-term reforms in England; in contrast, Richard was "a bad son, a bad husband, a selfish ruler, and a vicious man".[83][84]

The growth of the British Empire led historian Kate Norgate to begin detailed research into Henry's continental possessions and create the term "Angevin Empire" during the 1880s.[86][87] However, 20th-century historians challenged many of these conclusions. During the 1950s, Jacques Boussard, John Jolliffe and others focused on the nature of Henry's "empire"; French scholars, in particular, analysed the mechanics of royal power during this period.[88] Anglocentric aspects of many histories of Henry's reign were challenged beginning in the 1980s, with efforts to unite British and French historical analyses of the period.[19] Detailed study of Henry's written records has cast doubt on earlier interpretations; Robert Eyton's 1878 volume (tracing Henry's itinerary by deductions from pipe rolls), for example, has been criticised for not acknowledging uncertainty.[89] Although many of Henry's royal charters have been identified, their interpretation, the financial information in the pipe rolls and broad economic data from his reign has proven more challenging than once thought.[90][91] Significant gaps in the historical analysis of Henry remain, particularly about his rule in Anjou and the south of France.[92]

Interest in the morality of historical figures and scholars waxed during the Victorian period, leading to increased criticism of Henry's behaviour and Becket's death.[93] Historians relied on the judgement of chroniclers to focus on John's ethos. Norgate wrote that John's downfall was due not to his military failures but his "almost superhuman wickedness", and James Ramsay blamed John's family background and innate cruelty for his downfall.[94][95]

Richard's sexuality has been controversial since the 1940s, when John Harvey challenged what he saw as "the conspiracy of silence" surrounding the king's homosexuality with chronicles of Richard's behaviour, two public confessions, penances and childless marriage.[96] Opinion remains divided, with Gillingham arguing against Richard's homosexuality[96] and Jean Flori acknowledging its possibility.[96][97]

According to recent biographers Ralph Turner and Lewis Warren, although John was an unsuccessful monarch his failings were exaggerated by 12th- and 13th-century chroniclers.[98] Jim Bradbury echoes the contemporary consensus that John was a "hard-working administrator, an able man, an able general" with, as Turner suggests, "distasteful, even dangerous personality traits".[99] John Gillingham (author of a biography of Richard I) agrees and judges John to be a less-effective general than Turner and Warren do. Bradbury takes a middle view, suggesting that modern historians have been overly lenient in evaluating John's flaws.[100] Popular historian Frank McLynn wrote that the king's modern reputation amongst historians is "bizarre" and, as a monarch, John "fails almost all those [tests] that can be legitimately set".[101]

In popular culture

Matthew Paris, a historian during John's early reign

Henry II appears as a fictionalised character in several modern plays and films. The king is a central character in James Goldman's play The Lion in Winter (1966), depicting an imaginary encounter between Henry's family and Philip Augustus over Christmas 1183 at Chinon. Philip's strong character contrasts with John, an "effete weakling".[102] In the 1968 film, Henry is a sacrilegious, fiery and determined king.[103][104] Henry also appears in Jean Anouilh's play Becket, which was filmed in 1964.[105] The Becket conflict is the basis for T. S. Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral, an exploration of Becket's death and Eliot's religious interpretation of it.[106]

During the Tudor period, popular representations of John emerged.[80] He appeared as a "proto-Protestant martyr" in the anonymous play The Troublesome Reign of King John and John Bale's morality play Kynge Johan, in which John attempts to save England from the "evil agents of the Roman Church".[107] Shakespeare's anti-Catholic King John draws on The Troublesome Reign, offering a "balanced, dual view of a complex monarch as both a proto-Protestant victim of Rome's machinations and as a weak, selfishly motivated ruler".[108][109] Anthony Munday's plays The Downfall and The Death of Robert Earl of Huntington demonstrate many of John's negative traits, but approve of the king's stand against the Roman Catholic Church.[110]

Richard is the subject of two operas: in 1719 George Frideric Handel used Richard's invasion of Cyprus as the plot for Riccardo Primo and in 1784 André Grétry wrote Richard Coeur-de-lion.

Robin Hood

The earliest ballads of Robin Hood such as those compiled in A Gest of Robyn Hode associated the character with a king named "Edward" and the setting is usually attributed by scholars to either the 13th or the 14th century.[111] As the historian J.C. Holt notes at some time around the 16th century, tales of Robin Hood started to mention him as a contemporary and supporter of Richard, Robin being driven to outlawry during John's misrule, while in the narratives Richard was largely absent, away at the Third Crusade.[112] Plays such as Robert Davenport's King John and Matilda further developed the Elizabethan works in the mid-17th century, focussing on John's tyranny and transferring the role of Protestant champion to the barons.[113] Graham Tulloch noted that unfavourable 19th-century fictionalised depictions of John were influenced by Sir Walter Scott's historical romance Ivanhoe. They, in turn, influenced the children's author Howard Pyle's The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (1883) which cast John as the principal villain of the Robin Hood narrative. During the 20th century, John also appeared in fictional books and films with Robin Hood. Sam De Grasse's John, in the 1922 film version, commits atrocities and acts of torture.[114] Claude Rains' John, in the 1938 version with Errol Flynn, began a cinematic trend in which John was an "effeminate ... arrogant and cowardly stay-at-home".[90][115] John's character highlights Richard's virtues and contrasts with Guy of Gisbourne, the "swashbuckling villain" opposing Robin. In the Disney cartoon version, John (voiced by Peter Ustinov) is a "cowardly, thumbsucking lion".[116]

In medieval folklore

During the 13th century, a folktale developed in which Richard's minstrel Blondel roamed (singing a song known only to him and Richard) to find Richard's prison.[117] This story was the foundation of André Ernest Modeste Grétry's opera Richard Coeur-de-Lion, and inspired the opening of Richard Thorpe's film version of Ivanhoe. Sixteenth-century tales of Robin Hood began describing him as a contemporary (and supporter) of Richard the Lionheart; Robin became an outlaw during the reign of Richard's evil brother, John, while Richard was fighting in the Third Crusade.[112]

See also


  1. ^ a b "The Angevins". The Official Website of The British Monarchy.
  2. ^ Gillingham 2001, p. 1
  3. ^ Turner & Heiser 2000, p. 71
  4. ^ Harvey 1948, p. 58.
  5. ^ Blockmans & Hoppenbrouwers 2014, p. 173
  6. ^ Aurell 2003
  7. ^ Gillingham 2007, pp. 15–23
  8. ^ Power 2007, pp. 85–86
  9. ^ Warren 1991, pp. 228–229
  10. ^ "Angevin". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  11. ^ Gillingham 2001, pp. 2–5
  12. ^ Davies 1997, p. 190
  13. ^ Vauchez 2000, p. 65
  14. ^ Gillingham 2001, p. 7
  15. ^ Davies 1999, p. 309
  16. ^ Gillingham 2007, pp. 7–8
  17. ^ Gillingham 2007, pp. 10–12
  18. ^ Gillingham 2007, p. 18
  19. ^ a b Gillingham 2007, p. 21
  20. ^ Gillingham 2007, pp. 119–121
  21. ^ Gillingham 1994, p. 13
  22. ^ Grant 2005, p. 7.
  23. ^ Gillingham 1994, pp. 15–18
  24. ^ Gillingham 1994, pp. 19–20
  25. ^ Gillingham 1994, p. 23
  26. ^ Schama 2000, p. 142
  27. ^ Jones 2012, p. 53.
  28. ^ Gillingham 1994, pp. 28–29
  29. ^ Jones 2012, pp. 82–92
  30. ^ Jones 2012, p. 109
  31. ^ Gillingham 1994, p. 40
  32. ^ Ackroyd 2000, p. 54
  33. ^ Jones 2012, p. 128
  34. ^ Carlton 2003, p. 42
  35. ^ Jones 2012, p. 133
  36. ^ Davies 1999, p. 351
  37. ^ Jones 2012, p. 139
  38. ^ Jones 2012, pp. 140–141
  39. ^ Jones 2012, p. 145
  40. ^ Jones 2012, p. 146
  41. ^ Turner 1994, pp. 100
  42. ^ Jones 2012, pp. 161–169
  43. ^ Favier 1993, p. 176
  44. ^ Contramine 1992, p. 83
  45. ^ Smedley 1836, p. 72
  46. ^ Jones 2012, p. 217
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  48. ^ a b Danziger & Gillingham 2003, p. 271
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Year 1212 (MCCXII) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.


Angevin or House of Anjou may refer to:

Anjou, a historic province in western France

Angevin (language), the traditional langue d'oïl spoken in Anjou

House of Ingelger, a Frankish noble family who were counts of Anjou between the 10th and 12th centuries

Angevin kings of England, members of the House of Anjou who occupied the English throne in the 12th and early 13th centuries

Angevin Empire, the assemblage of territories in Britain and France ruled by the Angevin kings of England

Angevin Kings of Jerusalem, members of the House of Anjou who occupied the throne of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the 12th century, relatives of the Angevin kings of England

Capetian House of Anjou, a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty of France, members of which became kings of Sicily, Naples, Hungary and Poland from the 13th to the 15th century

House of Valois-Anjou, a cadet branch of the French house of Valois, which ruled Naples and held territories such as Anjou, Maine, Piedmont and Provence in the 14th and 15th centuries

Angevin Empire

The Angevin Empire (; French: Empire Plantagenêt) describes the possessions of the Angevin kings of England who held lands in England and France during the 12th and 13th centuries. Its rulers were Henry II (ruled 1154–1189), Richard I (r. 1189–1199), and John (r. 1199–1216). The Angevin Empire is an early example of a composite state.The Angevins of the House of Plantagenet ruled over an area covering roughly half of France, all of England, and parts of Ireland and Wales, and had further influence over much of the remaining British Isles. The empire was established by Henry II, as King of England, Duke of Normandy, and Count of Anjou (from which the Angevins derive their name), as well as Duke of Aquitaine by right of his wife. Although their title of highest rank came from the Kingdom of England, the Angevins held court primarily at Angers and Chinon in Anjou.

The influence and power of the House of Anjou brought them into conflict with the kings of France of the House of Capet, to whom they also owed feudal homage to their French possessions, bringing in a period of rivalry between both dynasties. Despite the extent of Angevin rule, Henry's son, John, was defeated in the Anglo-French War (1213–1214) by Philip II of France following the Battle of Bouvines. John lost control of most of his continental possessions, apart from Gascony in southern Aquitaine. This defeat set the scene for further conflicts between England and France, leading up to the Hundred Years' War.


Angoumois (French pronunciation: ​[ɑ̃ɡumwa]), historically the County of Angoulême, was a county and province of France, originally inferior to the parent duchy of Aquitaine, similar to the Périgord to its east but lower and generally less forested, equally with occasional vineyards throughout. Its capital was Angoulême with its citadel and castle above the River Charente.

It almost corresponds to the Charente Department which also takes in the east of the coastal comté de Saintonge.

Counts and dukes of Anjou

The Count of Anjou was the ruler of the county of Anjou, first granted by Charles the Bald in the 9th century to Robert the Strong. Ingelger and his son were viscounts of Angers until Ingelger's son Fulk the Red assumed the title of Count of Anjou. The Robertians and their Capetian successors were distracted by wars with the Vikings and other concerns and were unable to recover the county until the reign of Philip II Augustus, more than 270 years later.

Ingelger's male line ended with Geoffrey II, Count of Anjou. Subsequent counts of Anjou were descended from Geoffrey's sister Ermengarde of Anjou and Geoffrey II, Count of Gâtinais. Their agnatic descendants, who included the Angevin kings of England, continued to hold these titles and property until the French monarchy gained control of the area. Thereafter the titles Count of Anjou and, after 1360, Duke of Anjou were granted several times, usually to members of the French ruling houses of Valois and Bourbon.

Similar to the title of Duke of York in England, none of those who received the title Duke of Anjou (except the first creation), were able to transmit it; they either died without a male heir, returned it to the royal domain, or succeeded to the throne.

The title was held by Philippe, a grandson of King Louis XIV, until he ascended the Spanish throne as Philip V of Spain in 1700. Since then, some Spanish legitimist claimants to the French throne have borne the title even to the present day, as does a nephew of the Orléanist pretender.

Duchy of Aquitaine

The Duchy of Aquitaine (Occitan: Ducat d'Aquitània, IPA: [dyˈkad dakiˈtaɲɔ]; French: Duché d'Aquitaine, IPA: [dyʃe dakitɛn]) was a historical fiefdom in western, central and southern areas of present-day France to the south of the Loire River, although its extent, as well as its name, fluctuated greatly over the centuries, at times comprising much of what is now southwestern France (Gascony) and central France.

It originated in the 7th century as a duchy of Francia, ultimately a recreation of the Roman provinces of Aquitania Prima and Secunda. As a duchy, it broke up after the conquest of the independent Aquitanian duchy of Waiofar, going on to become a sub-kingdom within the Carolingian Empire, eventually subsumed in West Francia after the 843 partition of Verdun. It reappeared as a duchy, and in the High Middle Ages, an enlarged Aquitaine pledged loyalty to the Angevin kings of England. Their claims in France triggered the Hundred Years' War, in which the kingdom of France emerged victorious in the 1450s, with many incorporated areas coming to be ruled directly by the French kings.

Homage (feudal)

Homage in the Middle Ages was the ceremony in which a feudal tenant or vassal pledged reverence and submission to his feudal lord, receiving in exchange the symbolic title to his new position (investiture). It was a symbolic acknowledgement to the lord that the vassal was, literally, his man (homme). The oath known as "fealty" implied lesser obligations than did "homage". Further, one could swear "fealty" to many different overlords with respect to different land holdings, but "homage" could only be performed to a single liege, as one could not be "his man" (i.e., committed to military service) to more than one "liege lord". A similar concept is the bay'ah, a type of oath in Islam.

There have been some conflicts about obligations of homage in history. For example, the Angevin monarchs of England were sovereign in England, i.e., they had no duty of homage regarding those holdings; but they were not sovereign regarding their French holdings. So Henry II was king of England, but he was merely Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Anjou. The Capetian kings in Paris, though weak militarily, claimed a right of homage. The usual oath was therefore modified by Henry to add the qualification "for the lands I hold overseas." The implication was that no "knights service" was owed for the conquered English lands.

After King John was forced to surrender Normandy to France in 1204, English magnates with holdings on both sides of the Channel were faced with conflict. John still expected to recover his ancestral lands, and those English lords who held lands in Normandy would have to choose sides. Many were forced to abandon their continental holdings. Two of the most powerful magnates, Robert de Beaumont, 4th Earl of Leicester and William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, negotiated an arrangement with the French king that if John had not recovered Normandy in a year-and-a-day, they would do homage to Philip. At first that seemed to satisfy John, but eventually, as a price for making peace with the French king to keep his lands, the Earl Marshall fell out of favour with John.The conflict between the French monarchs and the Angevin kings of England continued through the 13th century. When Edward I was asked to provide military service to Philip III in his war with Aragon in 1285, Edward made preparations to provide service from Gascony (but not England – he had not done "homage", and thus owed no service to France for the English lands). Edward's Gascon subjects did not want to go to war with their southern neighbours on behalf of France, and they undoubtedly appealed to Edward that as a sovereign, he owed the French King no service at all. A truce was arranged, however, before Edward had to decide what to do. But when Phillip III died, and his son Philip IV ascended the French throne in 1286, Edward dutifully but reluctantly performed "homage" for the sake of peace. In doing so, Edward added yet another qualification – that the duty owed was "according to the terms of the peace made between our ancestors".

House of Ingelger

The House of Ingelger (French: Ingelgeriens) was the first dynasty in Anjou. It was founded by Ingelger (died 886), Viscount of Angers, whose son Fulk the Red made himself count of Anjou. By inheritance, the family came into the possession of the county of Vendôme.

The family died out in the male line in 1060 with Geoffrey II of Anjou. He was succeeded in Anjou by his sororal nephew, Geoffrey the Bearded, son of the Count of Gâtinais.

Jeanne des Roches

Jeanne des Roches, Dame de Sablé (c. 1195 – 28 September 1238) was a French noble heiress, ruler of de baronies of La Suze, de Briollay, de Mayet, de Loupeland, de Chateauneuf-sur-Sarte, de Genneteil, de Precigné, de Agon, and de Craon; and the suo jure seneschal of Anjou, from 1222. The seneschalship passed to her husband, Amaury I, Sire de Craon, as well as the vast Sablè barony.

Marguerite de Sablé

Marguerite de Sablé, Dame de Sablé (c.1179 – after June 1238), was a French noblewoman and one of the wealthiest heiresses in the counties of Anjou and Maine. She was the eldest daughter of Robert de Sablé, and the wife of William des Roches, Seneschal of Anjou, who two years after his marriage to Marguerite became one of the greatest barons in Anjou and Maine, her considerable inheritance having passed to him upon her father's death in 1193.

Matilda of Anjou

Matilda of Anjou, also known as Mahaut (c. 1106 – 1154) was married in 1119 to William Adelin, son and heir apparent of Henry I of England.

Peter de Preaux

Peter de Preaux, known in his time in the Old French language as Pierre de Préaux, (died 1212) was a Norman knight in the service of the Angevin kings of England. Osbert, Peter's father, was a minor Norman baron in the Roumois (the neighborhood of Rouen, the capital of Normandy). He held the tower and ville of Preaux as well as land at Darnétal. Osbert also owned a scattering of manors in England. Peter, as the second son of the sire de Preaux, had few prospects for a landed estate. He, along with his brothers John, William, and Enguerrand were part of the royal household from a very early age. Peter would serve in succession, Henry II, Richard I, and John of England. Peter and William were known throughout the tournament circuit of the day as fierce warriors and competent knights. Sometime prior to 1189 CE, Osbert had died. John, the eldest son succeeded him to the family barony.

Royal family

A royal family is the immediate family of a king or queen regnant, and sometimes his or her extended family. The term imperial family appropriately describes the family of an emperor or empress, and the term papal family describes the family of a pope, while the terms baronial family, comital family, ducal family, archducal family, grand ducal family, or princely family are more appropriate to describe, respectively, the relatives of a reigning baron, count, duke, archduke, grand duke, or prince. However, in common parlance members of any family which reigns by hereditary right are often referred to as royalty or "royals." It is also customary in some circles to refer to the extended relations of a deposed monarch and his or her descendants as a royal family. A dynasty is sometimes referred to as "the House of ...". As of July 2013, there are 26 active sovereign monarchies in the world who rule or reign over 43 countries in all.

Royal justice

Royal justices were an innovation in the law reforms of the Angevin kings of England. Royal justices were roving officials of the king, sent to seek out notorious robbers and murderers and bring them to justice.

Seneschal of Anjou

A seneschal (siniscallus, Vulgar or old Frankish Latin, also dapifer) was an officer of an aristocratic household assigned to manage the domestic affairs of the lord. During the course of the twelfth century, the seneschalship also became an office of military command.

Sussex in the High Middle Ages

Sussex in the High Middle Ages includes the history of Sussex from the Norman Conquest in 1066 until the death of King John, considered by some to be the last of the Angevin kings of England, in 1216. It was during the Norman period that Sussex achieved its greatest importance in comparison with other English counties. Throughout the High Middle Ages, Sussex was on the main route between England and Normandy, and the lands of the Anglo-Norman nobility in what is now western France. The growth in Sussex's population, the importance of its ports and the increased colonisation of the Weald were all part of changes as significant to Sussex as those brought by the neolithic period, by the Romans and the Saxons. Sussex was also experienced the most radical and thorough reorganisation of land in England, as the Normans divided the county into five (later six) tracts of lands called rapes. Although Sussex may have been divided into rapes earlier in its history, under the Normans they were clearly administrative and fiscal units. Before the Norman Conquest Sussex had the greatest concentration of lands belonging to the family of Earl Godwin. To protect against rebellion or invasion, the scattered Saxon estates in Sussex were consolidated into the rapes as part of William the Conqueror's 'Channel march'.

Treaty of Louviers

The Treaty of Louviers was a peace agreement signed between King Richard I of England and King Philip II of France in the early part of January 1196 concerning, among other things, the manors of Andeli and Louviers that at the time were parcels of land of significance in Normandy. It aimed to settle the claims the Angevin kings of England had on French lands and, at least temporarily, to end the quarreling over the Duchy of Normandy.


Vexin (French pronunciation: ​[vɛksɛ̃]) is a historical county of northwestern France. It covers a verdant plateau on the right bank (north) of the Seine running roughly east to west between Pontoise and Romilly-sur-Andelle (about 20 km from Rouen), and north to south between Auneuil and the Seine near Vernon. The plateau is crossed by the Epte and the Andelle river valleys.

William des Roches

William des Roches (died 1222) (in French Guillaume des Roches) was a French knight and crusader who acted as Seneschal of Anjou, of Maine and of Touraine. After serving the Angevin kings of England, in 1202 he changed his loyalty to King Philip II of France and became a leading member of his government.

Royal houses of Europe


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