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"The Angevins and their little Island... what was its name?" Topic


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Gorgrat22 Aug 2021 3:01 p.m. PST

YouTube link

I don't pretend to be an expert on medieval history, but, as with all right thinking people, I get the majority of my knowledge from youtube, and when I saw this, a few things clicked for me, the major one being that Henry saw himself not as an English king with holdings in France, but as a French noble who was also the king of England (near-direct quote).

All of a sudden it made sense why he, Richard I and a few others spent so much time fighting in France when they weren't busy cutting off Thomas Beckett's head.

But mo more from me at the moment, I'll just ask the cognoscenti to give voice to their wisdom.

42flanker23 Aug 2021 6:27 a.m. PST

"I don't pretend to be an expert on medieval history"

For your pass notes file, I guess you should know that Thomas a Beckett's head remained on his shoulders (most of it, anyway).

advocate23 Aug 2021 8:24 a.m. PST

It's complicated. There was a definite attachment to the ancestral lands: the eldest son would inherit these, whilst younger sons might be allocated newly conquered land – so William I was succeeded by his eldest son Robert in Normandy, but by William Rufus in England. This didn't stop Rufus or his successors thinking that they had a good claim to Normandy. But complications of succession, and a civil war, brought the Angevins to power in England, Normandy, Anjou and Aquitaine. While Henry II and his successors weren't happy about ceding any of that land (any more than the French kings liked having the Englsih monarch as a vassal for large parts of their kingdom), and fought to retain or recover it, they were also happy to extend Angevin holdings to Ireland and claim suzerainty over Scotland. Such claims could last for generations: the English kings claimed to be king of France from the mid 14th Century up to 1800.

Gorgrat23 Aug 2021 9:38 a.m. PST

42 flanker: You are right. I was getting my Henrys and their favorite nobles mixed up. Senior moment.

advocate: so you agree with this guy? That island off the coast was all well and good, but I'm Duke of Normandy, etc., first and foremost?

advocate23 Aug 2021 3:02 p.m. PST

Not exactly. , but they were all part of the family inheritance, and you don't want to be remembered for having lost some of it (Bad King John's greatest crime was losing Normandy).

Swampster24 Aug 2021 1:52 a.m. PST

A major reason for Henry, Richard and John to be fighting in France was that was where the fighting was.

England was basically peaceful after the Anarchy. There was periodic fighting in or with Scotland, Ireland and Wales but this required less royal involvement.

Gorgrat24 Aug 2021 6:11 a.m. PST

The world is full of shit-starters, I suppose, but usually wars are fought for more concrete reasons. Like, say, we don't have enough apples, so we'll take some of yours.

I take it you're being a little snarky here? You don't really mean they wandered back to France to kick over the anthill?

Swampster24 Aug 2021 3:01 p.m. PST

Not at all.

Whether to take more land or to defend what they had, they did a good deal of their fighting in France. Some of this fighting was within the family: relations between Henry II and his sons – esp. Henry the young king and then Richard – could descend to warfare.
If one of the princes had had a power base in England then some of the fighting may have happened there instead. However, the French kings were generally happen to support son against father or brother against brother in order to exact some price in return. It was harder to do this in England, although the later attempt to replace John with Louis showed that French intervention across the channel was possible. John managed to prevent this by his opportune death.
Much of Richard's fighting in France was to try to recover lands lost when he was on crusade and then held prisoner while trying to return home.

Much (most?) of their fighting was reactive to circumstances e.g. taking advantage of instability as in Brittany or defending their gains from the King of France.

Gorgrat24 Aug 2021 4:04 p.m. PST

Ah. So, if I may rephrase you a little, not so much that's where the fighting was, but that's where their armies and castles were?

May sound like a picky distinction.

Swampster25 Aug 2021 1:54 a.m. PST

Their castles were everywhere! I think that at the start of Henry's reign there were six castles in a five mile radius of where I live (plus various fortified manor houses), and this was a pretty sparsely populated area of England and quite far from potential attack. Their armies went or were raised where they were needed.
They didn't have much need to raise armies to fight in England because there wasn't a reason for conflict in England. Until there was! (mostly the 1st Barons' War).

There was conflict with Ireland, Wales and Scotland but this was generally either quickly decided or was mostly carried out by non-royal commanders. Part of Henry's reason for going to Ireland was to make sure the Anglo-Norman lords there knew that they were taking lands which would be under his suzerainty and try to avoid the legal vagueness of the Marcher Lords or, worse, establish an independent kingdom just as Normans had done in Sicily and Italy less than a century earlier. The fighting was done by others.
France was economically and politically hugely important to Henry but his claims to much of his land were disputed.
The Kings of England may have come from Normandy and Henry II was born there, but it was not a secure possession and Henry was fighting for it even before he became king. He acquired Aquitaine etc. by his marriage to Eleanor since she had been married to the French king only 8 weeks earlier, this created yet another source of tension.

Gorgrat25 Aug 2021 12:33 p.m. PST

I can imagine.

When there aren't any new youtube videos fto grant me their wisdom, I do (again like all right thinking people) get it from old movies.

The Lion In Winter seems to indicate that family was not The Brady Bunch.

Swampster25 Aug 2021 1:25 p.m. PST

There was a TV series in the late 70s called the Devil's Crown which also showed the family as a bit dysfunctional :)
I'm sure it played fast and loose with the history but a few incidents stuck in my mind.

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