Plantagenet King: John

1199 John had previously acted as King during his brother’s absence, during the Third Crusade and fighting in France, and when King Richard I, died in 1199, he had been named his successor.

On the 6th April he ascended to the English throne, and on the 25th April he was invested as the Duke of Normandy at Rouen, and crowned King of England on the 27th May at Westminster Abbey.

With John’s rise to King of England, he received the support of nobility in England and Normandy, along with Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Little did they know that his actions during his reign would send the Plantagenet dominion on a course for collapse?

Arthur, the son of John’s brother; Count Geoffrey of Brittany, became a rival claimant to the Plantagenet lands after Richard’s death.

John’s marriage to his first wife; Isabella of Gloucester was annulled.

1200 Louis, the son of the King of France married Blanche of Castile, the daughter of the King of Spain and the niece of King John.  John’s wedding gift, were the lands of Berry and Auvergne, along with castles.

Peace reigned between England and France.

John married Isabella, the daughter of Audemar, the Count of Angouleme, and they had two sons and three daughters.

1201 Hugh the Brown, formerly engaged to Isabella had his lands seized by John along with those of his brother Ralph.

1202 John failed to attend the French court hearing, in response to the seized lands.

John’s French fiefs (land granted by a lord in return for military service) were confiscated and given to Arthur, the Count of Breton, who married Mary, the daughter of the King of France.

War with France commenced again.

1204 After two years of fighting with France, John had lost Normandy and most of his other possessions to Philip II, the King of France.

1205 England was gripped by a famine; rivers froze, and crops were destroyed by the cold.

On the 12th July, Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury died.  His death initiated a dispute which would last for years between the King and monks of Canterbury, as to who should be the rightful successor.

1206 The pope intervenes, in this ongoing dispute, between King and Monks, always on the side of the church.  John refused to accept the elected replacement, Stephen Langton as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

1207 On the 17th June Stephen Langton was consecrated as the new Archbishop of Canterbury in Rome.

John felt betrayed by the Monks of Canterbury and expelled them from England.

John’s male heir had been born; Henry, his successor to the English throne.

1208 Pope Innocent III issues a ban against England and its people.  No church services were permitted except baptisms and funerals.

1209 Pope Innocent III excommunicates John for his confiscation of church possessions.

Social tensions and riots between the townspeople and scholars, resulted in the move from Oxford to Cambridge, where a new university was born.

1212 Pope Innocent III declares that in his eyes, John is no longer the King of England.

King John believed he himself was the only ruler of his land, but he hadn’t counted on the power of the church and Rome.

John was forced to accept the authority of the Pope in England, otherwise he faced a war with France backed by the Pope… to remove him as King.

1214 Ten years of fighting with France, in an attempt to regain his lost lands, saw King John defeated by Philip Augustus at the Battle of Bouvines.

John returned to England to face the nobles, and explain to them how he had lost their lands.

1215 Rebellion between England’s barons and bishops, led to the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede on the River Thames.  For the first time, a document had been produced which defined limitations to royal rights, feudal obligations of its barons, liberties of the church, the granting of all freemen and their heirs… as written down in English Law.

The Pope intervened on the side of King John, making this document illegal, and so Civil War breaks out.

1216 The Magna Carta did not bring peace the barons had hoped for, and John did not abide by the terms of the document.  So the barons turned to France for assistance, and in May, Prince Louis of France, landed in England, with the support of Alexander II of Scotland, supporting from the north.

King John fled to the north, and died on the 19th October at Newark Castle from fever, and is buried before the altar of St.Wulfstan an 11th century English Bishop at Worcester Cathedral.

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

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