Angevin Empire: Angevin Kings

The lands of the Angevin Empire extend from Scotland to the Pyrenees, and ruled by King Henry II and his sons; Richard I (the Lionheart) and John.  They were known as the Angevin Kings because Henry’s father was the Count of Anjou.  Henry acquired much of his continental lands before becoming King of England, by way of inheritance through his mother; Matilda daughter of King Henry I.  In 1150 the Duke of Normandy, and in 1151 succeeded his father as Count of Anjou, Maine, and Touraine, and in 1152 married Eleanor of Aquitaine, thus acquiring the duchy of Aquitaine along with Gascony, Poitou and Auvergne.

In 1113 Henry I conquered Brittany, and it became part of the Angevin Empire, when Geoffrey, son of Henry II, who had married the heiress of Duke Conan IV, succeeded as Duke of Brittany in 1171.  Although these lands were fiefs, held of the King of France, yet their concentration in one man’s hands was seen as a serious threat upon the French Monarchy, which itself had control of a smaller area of land.

As King of England from 1154, Henry had direct rule over England and South Wales, along with the principality of Gwynedd in northern Wales.  In 1171 Henry annexed Ireland, and took direct control of eastern lands of Ireland, retaining minimal land across Ireland.  From 1174-1189, William I, the Lion King of Scotland was captured in 1174, and was left with no choice but to accept Henry as his overlord.

Henry planned to divide the Angevin Empire amongst his sons, but this led to many quarrels and wars, whilst the French King stood back, watching and waiting.  Only Richard and John survived Henry’s death in 1189, John was confirmed as Lord of Ireland, a post that had been granted to him back in 1177.

John was subjected to Richard’s rules, as he took the title; King Richard I of England (Richard the Lionheart).  In the early part of John’s reign as King John of England, the French King, Philip II Augustus, took from him the lands of Normandy, Anjou, Maine and Touraine, and in 1259 by order of the “Treaty of Paris” the English would only retain the duchy of Guyenne (parts of Aquitaine with Gascony).

With its confiscation in 1337, and an English claim of the French throne, which duly led to the outbreak of the “Hundred Years War,” and by the end England found itself holding on to Calais in France, which it finally lost in 1558.


King Henry II:

Born:          5th March 1133 at Le Mans – France

Died:          6th July 1189 at Chinon Castle and buried at Fontevrault Abbey –

Reigned:   1154-1189

Parents:    Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and Empress Matilda

Married:   Eleanor of Aquitaine

King Richard I (The Lion Heart):

Born:          6th September 1157 at Beaumont Place, Oxford

Died:          Wounded on the 26th March at Chalus-Chabrol Castle and died on
the 7th April 1199 at Limousin and buried at Fontevrault Abbey

Reigned:   1189-1199

Parents:    King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine

Married:    Berengaria, daughter of Sancho V of Navarre

King John:

Born:          24th December 1166 at Beaumont Place, Oxford

Died:          18th October 1216 at Newark Castle and buried at Worcester Cathedral

Reigned:   1199-1216

Parents:     King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine

Married:    (1) Isabella of Gloucester

                   (2) Isabella, daughter of Count Angouleme