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Plantagenet Period 1154-1399

The Plantagenet Period from 1154 to 1399 is the name conventionally given to the English Royal family descended from Henry II.

DatesPlantagenets and the loss of the Angevin Empire
1128 Geoffrey PLANTAGENET (Count of Anjou, father of Henry II) marries Empress Matilda at Le Mans.
1133-89 Henry II son of Geoffrey and Matilda
1136-44 Geoffrey conquers Normandy
1152 Henry II (son of Geoffrey) married Eleanor of Aquitaine.
1153Treaty of Winchester
following the Anarchy and discord about the line of succession in England the Treaty of Winchester is negotiated with input by Henry de Blois, who was the Grandson of Norman the Conqueror, Henry II finally recognises Stephen de BLOIS , the brother of Henry de Blois as his heir.
1154-1399PLANTAGENET PERIOD 1154-1399
1154 - 1189Henry II
1156Henry II’s brother Geoffrey (namesake of his father Geoffrey Plantagenent) resigns his claims to Anjou.

1157Henry II recovers Northumbria from the King of the Scots.
1157-1165 Henry II invades Wales four times.
1159 Henry II captures Cahors during his Toulouse expedition.
1166-1168 Henry II invades Brittany and install his son Geoffrey as Count of Brittany.
1171-1172 Henry II invades Ireland.
1173-1174 Eleanor and her sons rebel again Henry II
Eleanor of Aquitaine and her sons (Henry the Young King, Geoffrey and future Richard I of Coeur de Lion fame, ) rebel against Henry II their father.
1177Henry II creates John Lackland later King John as Lord of Ireland.
1183 Henry II suffers further rebellion followed by death of Henry II’s son Henry the Young King.
1189 Henry II is defeated by Richard I and Philip II Augustus and Henry dies soon afterwards
1189 - 1199Richard I
1193-4 Philip II Augustus invades Normandy and Anjou.
1199 - 1216 John
1199Richard I killed at Chalus; John and Arthur of Brittany dispute succession. John has Arthur murdered and inherits the Crown.
1200Treaty of Le Goulet; Philip recognised John as heir to the Angevin Empire.
1201Revolt of the Lusignans (the leading aristocratic family of Poitou in the 12th century
Lusignans played an important part in the politics of the Angevin Empire. It is this revolt following John’s marriage to Hugh of Lusignan’s fiancée Iasbella that precipitated the collapse of accord and the cohesion of the Angevin Empire.
1202Philip II declares the confiscation of all fiefs held of the crown of France.
1202-1205 Philip II conquers Normandy and Anjou from the Plantagenets.
1204 Eleanor of Aquitaine mother of King John dies, Poitou recognised Philip II and Alfonso of Castile invades Gascony.
1206King John recovers Gascony and the Saintonge.
1209Richard, second son of King John was born, he becomes known as Richard of Cornwall.
1214John and his allies defeated at Rocheau-Moine and Bouvines
1215Barons Rebellions and Magna CartaMagna Carta

Magna Carta Translation 1225Translation of Magna Carta
1216-1217 Louis of France invades England (later becomes Louis VIII.) He invades at the invitation of the Rebel barons an attacks Dover Castle, He occupies the South of England. See Medieval Tunnels and underpinning foundations of the castle. King John dies in 1217.
1216 - 1272Henry III son of king John becomes King
Henry III
1224Louis VIII captures La Rochelle.
1225Third reissue of Magna Carta and expedition to Gascony under the earl of Salisbury.
1226Henry III starts to issue charters and grants in perpetuity.
1227Henry III achieves full majority.
1228Expedition to Wales.
1229Planned expedition to France cancelled.
1230Brittany campaign. Simon de Montfort comes to England.
1231Richard of Cornwall married Isabelle Marshal, daughter of William Marshal.
1231Expedition to Wales
1232Fall of Hubert de Burgh
1233Richard Marshal's rebellion
1234Death of Richard Marshal in Ireland and the fall of Peter des Rivallis
1235Robert Grosseteste becomes Bishop of Lincoln
1236Henry III's marriage to Eleanor of Provence.
1238Marriage of Simon de Montfort to the king's sister Eleanor. Opposition from Richard of Cornwall and the Great Seal is taken from Ralph Neville.
1239Birth of the future Edward I.
1240Simon de Montforte goes on crusade.
1242Taillebourg campaign: Louis IX defeats Henry III
1243Henry III returns to England.
1244The Paper constitution. November 1244 Henry petitioned his barons and prelates for a new tax on movables. The barons were disinclined to acquiesce, arguing that previous financial grants had done little to benefit the kingdom. A grant was still possible, however, if the king were willing to consider certain reforms, the surviving draft of which has come to be known as the Paper Constitution.
1245Campaign in Wales
1246Treaty with Savoy
1247Treaty of Woodstock. Subjection of Welsh princes to Henry III and Henry III invites his Poitevin half brothers to England.
1248Simon de Montfort sent to restore English authority in Gascony.
1252Simon de Montfort recalled from Gascony and put on trial.
1253Henry III goes to Gascony and Bishop Robert Grosseteste died.
1254Edward son of Henry III marries Eleanor of Castile. Two knights from each shire are summoned to parliament.
1256Richard of Cornwall elected King of the Romans.
1257Rebellion in Wales.
1258Provisions of Oxford.
1259Provisions of Westminster.Treaty of Paris signed 1259
Henry III resigns all claims to Normandy, Anjou and Poitou. Between his father King John and Henry III all the gains of the Angevin Empire have been lost and wiped out.
1260Reconciliation between Henry III and his son Edward.
1264Second Barons War civil war in England between the forces of a number of barons led by Simon de Montfort against the royalist forces of King Henry IIIBattle of of Lewes 1264Battle of Lewes
The war featured a series of massacres of Jews by Montfort's supporters.
1265Gilbert earl of Gloucester deserts Simon de Montfort and Edward escapes from captivity. Simon de Montfort defeated at Evesham in the Battle of Evesham
1266Siege and Dictum of Kenilworth.
1267Statute of Marlborough. This was a set of laws passed by King Henry III of England in 1267. It is the oldest piece of statute law in the United Kingdom that has not yet been repealed. There were twenty-nine chapters, of which four are still in force.
1270Edward goes on crusade.
1271Death of Richard of Cornwall, brother of Henry III.
1272Death of King Henry III.
1272 King Edward I succeeds his fatherEdward I
1274Return of Edward to England
1275Statute of Westminster I. Custom duty of 6s 8d on each sack of wool exported.
1276Refusal of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd to perform homage to Edward I.
1277Edward I's first Welsh war.
1278Statute of Gloucester. The statute, proclaimed at Gloucester in August 1278, was crucial to the development of English law. It is the first statute recorded in a Statute Roll.
1279Statute of Mortmain. This statute aimed at preserving the kingdom's revenues by preventing land from passing into the possession of the Church. The coinage was reformed. This involved a new, more realistic bust the obverse, a solid cross on the reverse, the removal of moneyer’s names from the
coins and the introduction of fractional coins in the form of halfpennies and farthings
1281A church synod at Lambeth included a detailed scheme for the religious instruction of the faithful.
1282Second Welsh war starts and Llwelyn ap Gruffudd died.
1283End of second Welsh war. The Statute of Merchants, or Statute of Acton Burnell. which provided that in every staple the seal of the staple should be sufficient validity for a bond of record acknowledged and witnessed before the mayor of the staple.
1284 The Statute of Rhuddlan provided the constitutional basis for the government of the Principality of North Wales
1285Statute of Westminster II, the Statute of Winchester which reformed the system of Watch and Ward (watchmen) of the Assize of Arms of 1252, and revived the jurisdiction of the local courts. and the Statute of Merchants.
1286Edward travels to Gascony.
1287Rebellion in Wales
1289Edward returns from Gascony and because of the financial mess he was in he summoned the barons..
1290Expulsion of the Jews. Edward was in a mess financially and in 1289 he summoned the barons to impose a vicious new tax. To sweeten the pill and resolve the concerns about land losses Edward offered up the expulsion of the Jews.
1291Death of Eleanor of Provence.
1292John Balliol enthroned as King of the Scots.
1293Assize circuits set up.
1294War begins with France and there are further rebellions in Wales.
1295Model parliament held. This assembly included members of the clergy and the aristocracy, as well as representatives from the various counties and boroughs. Each county returned two knights, two burgesses were elected from each borough, and each city provided two citizens.
1296First Scottish campaign, deposition of John Balliol.
1297Edward faces opposition from the earls of Hereford and Norfolk. He leaves for a campaign in Flanders. William Wallace rising in Scotland with the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
1298Campaign in Scotland with English victory at Falkirk.
1301Campaign in Scotland.
1302Marriage of Edward's daughter Elizabeth to the earl of Hereford.
1303Campaign in Scotland
1304Surrender of Stirling Castle to Edward.
1305Settlement agreed for Scotland.
1306Robert Bruce installed as king of Scots.
1307 Death of Edward I accession of Edward II. Edward II
Piers Gaveston made earl of Cornwall.
1308Coronation of Edward II. Piers Gaveston's exclusive access to the King provoked several members of the nobility and the King sent him into exile.
1309Piers Gaveston returns to England but upsets the barons even more.
1310Edward agrees to the appointment of ordainers a group of administrators commissioned in 1310 to reform the realm, numbered twenty-one prelates, earls, and barons. They were elected following the concession by Edward II on 16 March 1310 that such a body should be created to 'ordain and establish the estate of the king's household and realm'
1311Issue of the ordinances. Renewed Scottish raids into the north of England.
1312Death of Piers Gaveston who was murdered returning from exile he was hunted down and executed by a group of magnates led by Thomas of Lancaster and Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick.
1313The King reached a settlement with the murderers of Piers Gaveston.
1314Edward II defeated at Bannockburn.
1315A poor harvest led to famine throughout England. Scots under Bruce invade Ireland.
1316Another poor harvest led to famine and a great increase in the number of deaths.
1318Treaty of Leake. The reconciliation of two royal enemies, Edward II and his cousin, Thomas of Lancaster.
Robert Bruce defeated and killed at Fochart in Ireland.
1320Royal seizure of Gower in south Wales.
1321War against the Despensers in the Welsh march.
1322Defeat of Thomas of Lancaster's rebellion at Boroughbridge.
132313 year truce with Scotland agreed.
1326Isabella and Mortimer invade.
1327Edward II deposed.
1327 - 1377King Edward III A king who with his mother deposed his own father who had failed in his kingship and then suffered the outrage of his mother's lover seeking to rule by proxy. Edward III would over come these early difficulties but struggled as most monarchs have to achieve cohesion and stability in his own line of succession.
1330Coup at Nottingham. Arrest and execution of Roger Mortimer.
1334What will become the standard tax assessment is made.
1337War begins against France.
1340Battle of Sluys. Truce of Esplechin but there is a political crisis when Edward returns to England.
1341Settlement of political crisis.
1342Edward III's expedition to Brittany. Battle of Morlaix.
1344Peace negotiations at Avignon.
1345Lancaster's expedition to Gascony.
1346Battle of Crecy. Battle of Neville's Cross against the Scots.
1347Capture of Calais.
1348Black death begins. Establishment of the Order of the Garter.
1349Black death continues.
1351Statute of Provisors
1352Statute of Treason which codified and curtailed the common law offence of treason. No new offences were created by the statute.
1353English staple ports set up.
1355Black Prince's raid to Narbonne. St Scolastica's day riots at Oxford.
1356Battle of Poitiers.
1358First Treaty of London.
1359Second Treaty of London.
1377The Bad Parliament begins sitting in England. Influenced by John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, it undoes the work done by the Good Parliament, the previous year, to reduce corruption in the Royal Council. It also introduces a poll tax. The bad parliament is dissolved 2 months later.
King Richard II Last of the Plantagenet Kings or was he? son of the Black Prince and Joan of Kent he would inherit the throne as a vulnerable boy but failed to make the grade as an adult and endured his open usurpation at the mercy of his cousin Henry Bolingbroke either murdered on his orders or starved to death. There was little need for embellishment to create drama in Shakespeare's History play of the same name. Richard failed to heed the lessons of the Kings that preceded him and would be largely the master of his own downfall. Richard II
Plantagenet King son of the Black Prince and Joan of Kent, Grandson of Edward III and his Queen Philippa of Hainault.
1378John Wycliffe tries to promote his ideas for Catholic reform by laying his theses before Parliament, and making them public in a tract.
1380 Henry Bolingbroke marries Mary de Bohun at Arundel Castle.
1381 Peasants' Revolt. Rebels from Kent and Essex, led by Wat Tyler and Jack Straw, meet at Blackheath,encouraged by a sermon, by renegade priest John Ball. The rebels destroy John of Gaunt's Savoy Palace and storm the Tower of London, killing the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chancellor. Richard II meets the leaders of the revolt and agrees to reforms such as fair rents and the abolition of serfdom.
During further negotiations, Wat Tyler is murdered by the King's entourage. Noble forces subsequently overpower the rebel army. The rebel leaders are eventually captured and executed and Richard II revokes his concessions.
1382 John Wycliffe's teachings are condemned by the Synod of London.
1388Lords Appellant take over management of the Kingdom. They were five peers who convened the "Merciless Parliament" in February, 1388, and impeached the king's favourites for high treason. Among those "appealed" or accused of treason, and consequently condemned to be hanged, were Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland, and Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, they had both escaped to the continent. Execution of Sir John Beauchamp
1389 Richard turned the tables on the Lords Appellant by announcing his maturity (he had turned 21), and dismissing the council.
1394Richard’s wife, Anne, died from the plague.
1396Richard negotiated a twenty-eight year truce with Charles VI of France at Ardres. The Treaty was to be sealed by the marriage of Richard to Charles’s daughter Isabella.
1397Isabella of France was crowned Queen of England at Westminster Abbey.
1398Richard’s cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, had quarrelled with the Duke of Norfolk and they had decided to solve the matter using trial by battle. However, King Richard II intervened, forbade the fight and banished both men.
1399The year of Richard's downfall. Richard’s blatant disregard for the rights of inheritance and his perversion of justice in obtaining convictions against those who opposed him, made him increasingly unpopular among the Lords, the Commons and the Clergy. While Richard was in Ireland, his cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke landed at Ravenspur in Yorkshire. With the support of Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland and Thomas Arundel, exiled former Archbishop of Canterbury he took the throne. On his return from Ireland Richard was arrested and imprisoned in Pontefract Castle. He was forced to abdicate the throne in favour of his cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke.
1399Henry was crowned King Henry IV in Westminster Abbey when he also founded the Order of the Bath.

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.

To capture the essence of the history over a 250 year period is a tricky thing none more so than when looking at the Plantagenet period. So let us first take a brief look at the place that Britain was in the first few hundred years of the new millenium. How would the common people have fared?

The English Environment in the Plantagenet period

We are known to be a people preoccupied by the weather but with good reason. Life was tough for people in this period. The majority of people lived in very poor dwellings, exposed to whatever the weather threw at them. The weather determined how they lived, the cold and wet, the hot and dry affected the harvests which were never going to be brilliant anyway. They lived wet and cold in the winters facing terrible diseases and scant food. It was enough to simply survive. Weather mattered to the people of the British Isles. The variable nature of the seasons weather dictated what and when they could do things, when weather determines possible survival no wonder it became an obsession to the people of Britain.

The land, when it chose to, could be bountiful and this period saw the development of new towns and markets where, if there was an abundance of produce, it could be sold.

Climate change in the C13th /C14th

The obsession with the weather meant that it was often recorded by the chroniclers or courts and such accounts tell us that the early C14th century saw a marked decline in the weather. The previous decades seem to have been blessed with more moderate weather but following the great storm of 1298 which brought flooding to many parts and destroyed the harvest, the climate set itself to a colder and wetter setting bringing misery to the people of these isles.

The weather had an impact on economics, politics and war.

No less than for the people, the weather had a very obvious impact on the economy. Poor harvests meant higher grain prices and therefore bread prices. Bread was the staple of the British diet and so not unexpectedly we see popular resentment directed at the government as happened in 1258. Where poor harvests collided with huge expenditure on war then political crisis followed. It was a period of intense turmoil for the common people and King Johns reign from 1199 - 1216 was to prove calamitous, at its end civil war raged and although many sought to blame John for all the problems there is no doubt the country was suffering on many fronts but that is to get into too much detail. Let us first take a whizz around the Plantagenet monarchs as a guide to help us unravel this complex period

The Plantagenet Monarchs.

The Plantagenet Kings and their family tree is a tangled web, raising many questions the 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 sonhe 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 and 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 FRANCE and 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 did 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 waned, his son Bolingbroke would not 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. He married Mary de BOHUN co-heiress of the Earldom of Hereford. Whilst some would say he reluctantly deposed RICHARD II, ill health would hinder his own Kingship and he died aged just 46.
  • 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 at Agincourt. He married 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 was later avenged 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 when he was aged just 9 months. The last of the last of Lancastrians, 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 for 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 car 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 papist 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 papist 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 look 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