Plantagenet Period 1154-1399
Plantagenet Period from 1154 to 1399 is the name conventionally given to the English Royal family descended from Henry II.
In the 12th century, ‘Plantagenet’ was no more than a nickname given to Henry II’s father Geoffrey le Bel, Count of Anjou, arbitrarily believed to have been derived from ‘Planista genista’ a sprig of which Geoffrey is said to have frequently worn in his cap. It has been adopted to mark one of the most powerful dynasties in the Medieval world.
The Plantagenet Monarchs.
The Plantagenet Kings and their family tree, has, is a tangled web, raising questions over centuries and has quite recently raised its head in the courts of England in the citations for the finding of a Monarch Richard of III of York, hundreds of years after his death to prove his lineage via DNA. So just who were they and why was this dynasty to prove to be quite so enduring in our modern minds?
Noteworthy members of the Plantagenet Dynasty include:-
- Geoffrey Plantagenet and Empress Matilda: the founders of the Angevin and Plantagenet Empire
- 1133-89 Henry II son of Geoffrey and Matilda:
- Henry II King 1154-1189 was the eldest son of Geoffrey PLANTAGENET and Empress Matilda.
- 1157-1199 Richard I, King of England 1189-1199 The Lionheart: 3rd son of Eleanor of Acquitaine and King Henry II, also known as the legendary ‘Coeur de Lion’ He is buried at Fontveraud Abbey in France with his Mother.
- 1167-1216 JOHN King of England 1199-1216: youngest son of Henry II and Eleanor. John would prove to be a poor King but one that produced a good outcome with the instigation,following disputes with the Barons over excessive taxation, of the first version of Magna Carta translation click here. and its importance as the enshrinement of the principles of common law which would shape the future of English law, the ‘Law of the Land.’
- Henry III son of John and Isabella of Angouleme, the eldest son: he came to the throne at only 9 years old but following the debacles of John’s reign and the Barons War which had led to Magna Carta, his early government was well and wisely governed by William ‘The Marshal’ , Peter des Roches and Hubert de Burgh. They were all hugely able men of the time and coped admirably with the immense military, financial and political problems that were facing the crown. But they were also in the winter of their lives and more troubles lay ahead with the 2nd Barons War and the fervent rebellion of the Montfortians. Henry would end his reign as King in name only , his greatest legacy arguably being his work on the mighty Westminster Abbey. His energetic son Price Edward would need to overcome the Montfortians and this would further impact on the ‘law of the land’ in his reign as Edward I.
- 1239-1307 Edward I King 1258-1265: he became known due to his law making as the ‘English Justinian’ and went on to conquer Wales and establish it as royal principality for his son. He defeated the Montfortians. led by Simon de Montfort, when he forced the first version of the House of Commons. Arguably building on the commonly held beliefs and aims/intentions of Magna Carta and ‘No Tax without Representation’, it was a rebellion lost at Lewes but decisively won at Evesham. Edward I left an enduring imprint on our history but died heavily in debt, as a result of the huge cost of being at war on three fronts Wales, France and Scotland. He had 17 children (a large number would die young) from two wives Eleanor of CASTILLE and Margaret of FRANCEand was succeeded by Eleanor’s last born son, crowned King Edward II after King Edward I died on route north to invade Scotland.
- 1284-1327 Edward II King between (1307-1327): he was born at Caernarfon, England’s first Prince of Wales. He was a king obsessed by his own personal relationships and favourites namely Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser. His appalling lack of ability as a king would lead to his own wife and son agreeing to and promoting his deposition. He became the first English king to be deposed and the first to lead an army in war against Scotland and be defeated.
- 1312-77 Edward III was King (1327-1377): he deposed his own father and came to the throne aged just seventeen years old having grappled control back from his own mother, executed her lover, deposed his own father and possibly had a hand in his murder.
- 1330-1376 Edward the Black Prince, Edward III’s eldest son. His early promise after his military success and exploits in France was brought to an end by ill health. He died young and not inherit his birthright to be king but his son Richard would, how will he manage?
- 1367-1400 Richard II King 1377- 1399 son of Edward The Black Prince and Joan of Kent: a royal grandson to inherit the throne in strict line of descendancy. Given his father’s exploits, what chance did Richard II have to rule as monarch?
- The crisis of his poor kingship would see a huge fracture and division across the tattered threads of a Plantagement empire and inheritance with no obvious solution, would the hard won Plantagenet domination of the English crown and France completely fall away? John of Gaunt, one of the most powerful men in England and brother to Edward’s father helps him hold the throne but as Gaunt’s life wanes, his son Bolingbroke will no be martialled by his father much longer. Another usurpation or is it an abdication? Find out and follow how Richard’s life shapes-up and his impact on his kingdom. Is Richard II the Last of the Plantagenets?
Challenging for the Crown
- 1366 – 1413 Henry IV of BOLINGBROKE, heir to John of Gaunt’s(his father) estate, the illegitimate son of Edward had a deep and close claim to the throne. Married Mary de BOHUN co-heiress of the earldom of Hereford. Whilst he some would say reluctantly deposed RICHARD II ill health would hinder his own Kingship and died aged just 46. His son Henry V would
- 1387-1422 Henry V son of Henry Bolingbroke was King 1413-22 and despite Shakespeares recokoning of his mis-spent youth would be an effective King
- 1411-1460 Richard of YORK : he became 3rd Duke of York aged just 4 when his uncle Edward was killed in Agincourt. Married to Cecily NEVILLE. He went on to challenge the LANCASTRIAN hold on the crown but was killed by execution (his head spiked with a paper crown) and later avenged subsequently by two sons Edward IV and Richard III who would briefly hold the crown for the Yorkists.
- Henry VI 1421-1471 King two periods 1422-61 and 1470-1471.his first reign was due to the untimely early death of his father at just 9 months. The last of the last of Lancastrian’s he failed to restore their supremacy. His son was killed at Twekesbury and despite temporary restoration when Edward IV fled to Holland with no heir he was subject to Edward IV’s decision that he had to be finally removed as a threat with no son to inherit. He was murdered in 1471. Remembered most for his inertia he has been criticised for allowing the country to slip into the War of the Roses.
- 1442-1483 Edward IV King (1461-1483) propelled to the throne during the tumultuous War of the Roses at the age of just 18;
- After his father’s death he became the Yorkist heir to the throne in 1460 and after successes at both the battles of MORTIMER’s CROSS and TOWNTON was proclaimed King. His one weakness perhaps was marrying the WHITE QUEEN, Elizabeth Woodville for love and this led to a perpetual battle to retain control over his brother and Warwick. He ruled effectively and perhaps was able to do so as he balanced Kingship and its responsibilities with a rich enjoyment of life with a promiscuous lifestyle that led to his untimely death.
- 1452-1485 Richard III was King just 2 years 1483-1485; 4th son of Richard of York, made Duke of Gloucester 1461 soon after his brother Edward IV became King. This is the King who was recently rediscovered following a dig in Leicester carp park and being re-interred in that city as opposed to York. The case has been taken to the high court hundreds of years after his death. Thanks to the Richard III Society, he will finally receive a fitting burial. Much maligned by Shakespeare as a reflection of the political times in which he was writing, the truth about Richard III is still hotly debated. An extraordinary outcome given he was king for just two years.
- c 1480-1452 Arthur Plantagenet, 6th Viscount of Lisle, illegitimate son of Edward IV
- served Henry VII and VIII and gained title after marriage to Elizabeth Grey in 1523, later imprisoned and accused of a papalist plot, found innocent he became known by way of his correspondence known as the Lisle Letters. He died it is recounted at the excitement of being found innocent of the supposed papal plot.
Plantagenets, Lancastrians and Yorkists how does a large extended family go to war with itself?
When you look at the family tree of these ruling families it is disturbing how brutal and savagely they sever relationships and close familial ties. Essentially all related, the blundering feuds and dynastic battles would almost seal their own oblivion. How do we end-up with the relative chaos of the period of events collectively known as the War of the Roses? Find out more via our related themes, centuries and family trees. The next steps, take a loo a the specifics of the Lancastrian and Yorkist branches of this tangled web of shoots from the main Plantagenet roots. Find out some more about the Angevin and Plantagenet Empire here