301 / 

                       Institute of foreign Languages
                      Faculty  Languages and Cultures

                                COURSE PAPER

                   The Plantagenet Dynasty in the History

                              of Great Britain

                                             Student 301 a/i group
                                                        Petrova J.
                                             Scientific supervisor
                                                        Frolova I.G.



Introduction                                                  4-5

Part I. The early Plantagenets ( Angeving kings)         6-16
     1. Henry II                                        7-11
     2. Richard I Coeur de Lion                         12-13
     3. John Lackland                                   14-16
Part II. The last Plantagenets                                17-30
     1. Henry III                                             17-18
     2. Edward I                                        19-20
     3. Edward II                                             21-22
     4. Edward III                                            23-24
     5. Richard  II                                           25-30

Conclusion                                               31-33

Bibliography                                                  34-35

References                                               36-38


      The United  Kingdom  of  Great  Britain  and  Northern  Ireland  is  a
monarchy, now Parliamentary  and  once  an  absolute  one.  Thats  why  the
history  of  the  country  closely  connected  with  the  history  of  Royal
      Speaking about royal dynasties in England we should take in  mind  the
fact, that the first one appeared in the country with  the  Norman  invasion
in 1066.  In  the  ancient  time  after  Anglo-Saxon  invasion  the  country
consisted  of  small  kingdoms  each  ruled   by   its   own   king.   Their
representatives (Chieftains of the kingdoms) the  Witan    chose  king  of
England (for example Edward the Confessor). It was  William  the  Conqueror,
who began the first dynasty  House of Normandy.  William  I  the  Conqueror
Duke of Normandy (1035-1087)  invaded  England,  defeated  and  killed  his
rival Harold at the Battle of Hastings and became King of England. With  the
coronation of William the new period in history of  England  began.  England
turned into a centralizes , strong feudal  monarchy.  The  period  of  small
kingdoms ended and started the Era of Absolute Monarchy.  William  was  Duke
of Normandy and at the same time the King  of  England.  He  controlled  two
large areas: Normandy  inherited from his father and England  he  won  it.
Both areas were his personal possession. To William the only difference  was
that in France he had a King above him and he had to serve him.  In  England
he had nobody above him. Nobody could say who he was  an  Englishman  or  a
Frenchman. The Norman Conquest of England was completed  by  1072  aided  by
the establishment of feudalism under which his followers were  granted  land
in return for pledges of service and loyalty. As King William was noted  for
his efficient  harsh rule. His administration relied upon Norman  and  other
foreign personnel especially Lanfranc  Archbishop  of  Canterbury.  In  1085
started Domesday Book. In  this  book  there  was  the  reflection  of  what
happened to England.
      The next kings were kings of Plantagenets dynasty.
      I have chosen the history of this dynasty as a subject for  my  course
paper because, on the one hand, being a student of the  English  language  I
cant but be interested in the history of this country, and,  on  the  other
hand, not so much is written about  the  Plantagenets  kings,  among  which
there were such world-known  persons  as  Richard-the-Lion  Heart  and  John

               Part I. The early Plantagenets (Angeving kings)

      House of  Plantagenet.
      The Plantagenet dynasty took  its  name  form  the  planta  Genesta
(Latine), or  broom,  traditionally  an  emblem  of  the  counts  of  Anjou.
Geoffrey  is the only true Plantagenet so-called, because he wore  a  spring
of broom-genet in his cap. It was  a  personal  nickname,  such  as  Henrys
Curt-manted. Soon this nick-name habit was  to  die,  to  be  replaced  by
names taken from ones birthplace.  Members  of  this  dynasty  ruled   over
England from 1154  till 1399. However, in conventional  historical  usage  ,
Henry II (son of Count Geoffrey of Anjou) and his sons Richard  I  and  John
are Normandy termed the Angeving kings, and their successors, up to  Richard
II, the Plantagenets. The term Plantagenet was not used  until  about  1450,
when Richard, Duke of York, called himself by it in order to  emphasize  his
royal descent from Edward IIIs fifth son, Edmund of Langley.(1)

                           Henry II (1154-1189 AD)

      Henry II, the first  Plantagenet,  born  in  1133,  was  the  son  of
Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count Of Anjou, and Matilda, the daughter of Henry  I.
 Henry II, the first and the greatest of three  Angevin  kings  of  England,
succeeded Stephen in 1154. Aged 21, he already possessed  a  reputation  for
restless energy and decisive actions. He  was  to  inherit  vast  lands.  As
their heir to his mother and his father he  held  Anjou  (hence  Angevin)  ,
Maine, and Touraine; as  the  heir  to  his  brother  Geoffrey  he  obtained
Brittany; as the husband of Eleanor, the  divorced  wife  of  Louis  VII  of
France,  he  held  Aquitaine,  the  major  part  of   southwestern   France.
Altogether his holdings in France were far larger than those of  the  French
king. They have become known as the Angevin empire, although Henry II  never
in fact claimed any imperial rights or used the title of the  emperor.  (2)
From the beginning Henry showed himself determined to  assert  and  maintain
his rights in all his lands.
      In the first decade of his reign Henry II was largely  concerned  with
continental affairs, though  he  made  sure  that  the  forged   castles  in
England were destroyed. Many of the  earldoms  created  in  the  anarchy  of
Stephens reign were allowed to lapse. Major change in England began in  the
mid 1160s. The Assize of Clarendon of 1166. , and that Northampton 10  years
later, promoted public order. Juries were used to provide evidence  of  what
crimes had been committed and to  bring  accusations.  New  forms  of  legal
actions were introduced , notably the so-called prossessory  assizes,  which
determined who had the right to immediate possession of land,  not  who  had
the best fundamental right. That could be decided by the  grand  assize,  by
means of which a jury of 12 knights  would  decide  the  case.  The  use  of
standardized forms of  edict  greatly  simplified  judicial  administration.
Returnable edicts, which had to be sent back by the head  to  the  central
administration, enabled  the  crown  to  check  that  its  instruction  were
obeyed. An increasing number of cases came before royal  court  rather  than
private feudal courts. Henry Is practice of sending out itinerant  justices
was  extended  and  systematized.  In  1170  a  major  inquiry  into   local
administration, the Inquest of Sheriffs, was held, and  many  sheriffs  were
            There were important changes to the military system. In 1166 the
tenants in chief commandment to disclose the number of knights enfeoffed  on
their lands so that Henry could take proper financial advantage  of  changes
that had taken place  since  his  grandfathers  days.  Scutage  (tax  which
dismissed of military service) was an important source of funds,  and  Henry
preferred scutage to service because mercenaries were  more  efficient  than
feudal contingents. In the Assize of Arms of 1181 Henry determined the  arms
and equipment appropriate to every free man, based on his income from  land.
This measure, which could be seen as a revival  of  the  principles  of  the
Anglo-Saxon fyrd, was intended to provide for a local militia,  which  could
be used against invasion, rebellion, or for peacekeeping.
      Henry attempted to restore the close relationship between Church  and
State that had existed under the  Norman  kings.  His  first  move  was  the
appointment in 1162 of Thomas Becket  as  archbishop  of  Canterbury.  Henry
assumed that Becket, who had served efficiently  as  chancellor  since  1155
and been a close companion to him, would continue to do  so  as  archbishop.
Becket, however, disappointed him. Once appointed archbishop,  he  became  a
militant defender of Church against royal encroachment  and  a  champion  of
the papal ideology of ecclesiastical  supremacy  over  the  lay  world.  The
struggle between Henry and  Becket  reached  a  crisis  at  the  Council  of
Clarendon in 1164. In the constitution of Clarendon Henry tried to set  down
in writing the ancient customs of the land.  The  most  controversial  issue
proved to be that of jurisdiction over criminous clerks (clerics  who  had
committed crimes); the king demanded that such men should , after  trial  in
church courts, be sent for punishment in royal courts. (3)
            Becket initially accepted the Constitution but  would  not  set
his seal to it. Shortly  thereafter,  however,  he  suspended  himself  from
office for the sin of yielding  to the royal will in  the  matter.  Although
he failed to  obtain  full  papal  support  at  this  stage,  Alexander  III
ultimately came to his aid over the Constitutions. Later in 1164 Becket  was
charged with peculation of royal funds when  chancellor.  After  Becket  had
taken flight for France, the king confiscated the revenues of his  province,
exiled his friends, and confiscated their revenues. In 1170  Henry  had  his
eldest son crowned king by the archbishop of York, not  Canterbury,  as  was
traditional. Becket, in exile,  appealed  to  Rome  and  excommunicated  the
clergy who had taken part in the ceremony. A reconciliation  between  Becket
and Henry at the end of the same year settled none of the points at  issue.
(4) When Becket returned to England, he took further  measures  against  the
clergy who had taken part in the coronation. In Normandy the  enraged  king,
hearing the news, burst out with the fateful words that incited four of  his
knights to  take ship for England and murder the  archbishop  of  Canterbury
      Almost overnight the martyred Thomas became a saint  in  the  eyes  of
the people. Henry repudiated responsibility for the  murder  and  reconciled
himself with the church. But  despite  various  royal  promises  to  abolish
customs injurious to the church, royal control of  the  church  was   little
affected. Henceforth criminous clerks were to be  tried  in  church  courts,
save for offenses against the  forest  laws.  Disputes  over  ecclesiastical
patronage and church lands that were held on the same terms as  lay  estates
were, however, to come under royal jurisdiction. Finally Henry  did  penance
at Canterbury, allowing the monks to scourge him. But  with  Becket  out  of
the way, it proved possible  to  negotiate  most  of  the  points  at  issue
between church and state. The martyred archbishop, however, was to  prove  a
potent example for future prelates.

Rebellion of Henrys sons and Eleanor  of Aquitaine.
Henrys sons, urged on by their  mother   and  by  a  coalition  of  Henrys
enemies, raised a rebellion throughout his domains in 1173. King  William  I
the Lion of Scotland joined the rebel coalition and  invaded  the  north  of
England. Lack of cooperation among the rebels,  however,  enabled  Henry  to
defeat them one at a time with a  mercenary  army.  The  Scottish  king  was
taken prisoner at Alnwick. Queen Eleanor was retired to polite  imprisonment
for the rest of Henrys life. The kings sons and the baronial  rebels  were
treated with leniency, but many baronial castles  were  destroyed  following
the rising. A brief period of amity  between  Henry  and  Louis  of  France
followed, and the years between 1175 and 1182 marked  the zenith of  Henrys
prestige and power. (5) In 1183 the younger Henry again tried  to  organize
opposition to his father, but he died in June of the year. Henry  spent  the
last years of his life locked in combat with the new French king, Philip  II
Augustus, with whom his son Richard  had entered into an alliance. Even  his
youngest son, John, deserted him in the end. In 1189  Henry  died  a  broken
man, disappointed and defeated by his sons and by the French king.

                    RICHARD I, COEUR de LION (1189-99 AD)

      Henry II was succeeded by his son Richard I, nicknamed the Lion Heart.
Richard was born in 1157, and spent much of his youth in his mothers  court
at  Poitiers.   Richard,  a  renowned  and  skillful  warrior,  was   manly
interested in the Crusade to  recover  Jerusalem  and  in  the  struggle  to
maintain his French holdings against Philip Augustus.  (6)  He  spent  only
about six mouths in England during his reign. During his frequent  absences
he left  a  committee  in  charge  of  the  realm.  The  chancellor  William
Longchamp, bishop of Ely, dominated  the  early  part  of  the  reign  until
forced into exile  by baronial  rebellion  in  1191.  Walter  of  Coutances,
archbishop of Rouen, succeeded Longchamp, but the most important  and  abled
of  Richards  ministers  was  Hubert  Walter,  archbishop  of   Canterbury,
justicial from 1193 to 1198, and chancellor from  1199  to  1205.  With  the
king's mother , Eleanor, he put down a revolt by Richards brother  John  in
1193 with strong and effective measures.  But  when  Richard  returned  from
abroad, he forgave John and promised him the succession. (7)
      This reign saw some important  innovations in taxation  and  military
organization. Warfare was expensive, and in addition  Richard  was  captured
on his return from the Crusade by Leopold V of Austria and held for  a  high
ransom of 150 000 marks. Various methods of raising  money  were  tried:  an
aid or scutage;  tax on plow lands; a general tax of a  fourth  of  revenues
and chattels (this was a development of the so-called Saladin  Tithe  raised
earlier for the Crusade); and a seizure of the wool crop of  Cistercian  and
Gilbertine  houses.  The  ransom,  although  never  paid  in  full,   caused
Richards government to become highly unpopular.  (8)  Richard  also  faced
some unwillingness on the part of his English subjects to serve  in  France.
A plan to raise a force of 300 knights who would serve for a whole year  met
with opposition led by the bishops of Lincoln and  Salisbury.  Richard  was,
however, remarkably successful in mastering  the  resources,  financial  and
human, of his kingdom in support of his wars. It can also  be  argued   that
his demands on England weakened that realm unduly and that Richard left  his
successor a very difficult legacy.

                        John Lackland (1199-1216 AD)

      Richard, mortally wounded at a siege in France in 1199, was  succeeded
by his brother John, one of the most detested of  English  kings.  John  was
born on Christmas Eve 1167,  Henry  IIs  youngest  son.  Johns  reign  was
characterized by failure. Yet, while he must  bear  a  heavy  responsibility
for his misfortunes, it is only fair to  recognize  that  he  inherited  the
resentment that had  built up against his brother  and  father.  Also  while
his reign ended  in disaster, some of his financial  and  military  measures
anticipated positive development in Edward Is reign.
      Loss of French possessions.
 John had nothing like the military ability or reputation of  his  brother.
He could win a battle in a fit of energy, only to lose his  advantage  in  a
spell  of  indolence.   After  repudiating  his  first  wife,  Isabella   of
Gloucestor,  John married the fiance of Hugh IX the Brown of  the  Lusignan
family, one of his vassals in Poitou. For this offense he was  summoned   to
answer to Philip II , his feudal ovelord for his holdings  in  France.  When
John refused to attend , his land in France were declared forfeit.  (9)  In
the subsequent war he succeeded in capturing his nephew Arthur of  Brittany,
whom many in Anjou and elsewhere regarded  as  Richard  Is  rightful  heir.
Arthur died under mysterious and  suspicious  circumstances.  But  once  the
great castle of Chateau Gaillard, Richard Is pride and joy, had  fallen  in
March 1204, the collapse of Normandy followed swiftly.  By  1206  all  that
was left  of the inheritance of the Norman kings was  the  Channel  Islands.
John, however, was determined to recover his losses.(10)
      Revolt of the barons and Magna Carta.
For 200 years of ruling of Norman kings the country was ruled over  on  such
principles: King took money from barons,  especially  for  wars.  Those  who
refused to pay were arrested and kept in prison and they  could  not  defend
themselves. Their children or their relatives had to pay for them.  The  end
of such situation came at reign of John  Lackland.  He  was  very  unpopular
with his barons. In 1215 John called on for his barons to fight for  him  in
the war against Normandy and  pay  money  for  it.  The  barons,  no  longer
trusting John refused to pay and there began a revolt. Barons gazed much  to
London and were joined by London merchants.
      On June 15, 1215 the rebellion barons met John at  Rennemede  on  the
Themes. The King was presented with a document known as the Articles of  the
Barons, on the basis of which Magna Carta was drawn up. Magna  Carta  became
the symbol of political freedom. It promised two main things:
1. All free man protection of his officials
2. The right to afair and legal trial
   It was the first official document when this principle was written  down.
It was very important for England. Magna Carta was always used by barons  to
protect themselves from a powerful king. (11)
   But we should say that Magna Carta gave no real  freedom to the  majority
of people in England (only 1/3 of population were free men). Nobles did  not
allow John and his successors to forget this  charter.  Every  king  had  to
recognize the Magna Carta. This document was the beginning of  limiting  the
prerogatives of crown and on the other hand by limiting kings  power  Magna
Carta restricted arbitrary action  of  barons  towards  the  knights.  Magna
Carta marked a clear stage in the collapse of the English feudalism.
   After kings signing the document barons established a committee  of  24
barons to make sure that John   kept  his  promise.  This  committee  was  a
beginning of English Parliament.(12)
   From the very beginning Magna Carta was a failure, for  it  was  no  more
than a stage in ineffective negotiations to  prevent  civil  war.  John  was
released by the pope from  his  obligations  under  it.  The  document  was,
however, reissued with some changes under Johns son, with  papal  approval.
John himself  died  in  October  1216,  with  the  civil  war  still  at  an
inconclusive stage.
   Summing up the events of the  late  12th  century  and  the  early  13th
century historians describe as  Plantagenet  spring  after  a  grim  Norman
winter. The symbol of this spring is the century of new Gothic  Style.  One
of the best example of Gothic architecture is Salisbury Cathedral.  Also  it
is a century of forming Parliament. The century of  growing  literacy  which
is closely connected with 12th century cultural movement,  which  is  called
Renaissance. In England Renaissance was a revolution in thoughts, ideas  and
learning. In England there began grammar schools. But  all  of  them  taught
Latin. In the end of the 12th century in England  appeared  two  schools  of
higher learning  Oxford and Cambridge. By  1220  this  universities  became
the intellectual leaders of the century.(13)

                       Part II. The last Plantagenets

                          HENRY III (1216-1272 AD)

Henry III was the first son of John and Isabella of Angouleme. Was born  in
1207.  At the age of nine when he was crowned, Henrys early reign  featured
two regents: William the Marshall governed until  his  death  in  1219,  and
Hugh de Burgh until Henry came to the throne  in  1232.  His  education  was
provided by Peter  des  Roche,  Bishop  of  Winchester.  Henry  III  married
Eleanor of Province in 1236, who bore him  four  sons  and  two  daughters.
      Henry inherited a troubled kingdom: London and most of the  southeast
was in the hands of the French Dauphin Louis and the northern  regions  were
under control of rebellious barons  only the  midland  and  southwest  were
loyal  to the boy king. The barons, however, soon sided  with  Henry  (their
quarrel was with his father, not him), and the  old  Marshall  expelled  the
French Dauphin from English soil by 1217. (15)
      Henry was a cultivated man, but a lousy  politician.  His  court  was
inundated by Frenchmen and Italians who  came  at  the  behest  of  Eleanor,
whose relations were handed important Church and state position. His  father
and uncle left him an impoverished kingdom. Henry financed costly  fruitless
wars with extortionate taxation. Inept diplomacy and failed  war  led  Henry
to sell his hereditary claims to all the Angevin possessions in France,  but
to save Gascony (which  was  held  as  a  fief  of  the  French  crown)  and
Calais.(16) Henrys failures incited hostilities among a group  of  barons
led by his brother in law , Simon de Montfort. Henry was forced to agree  to
a wide ranging plan of reforms, the so called Provisions  of  Oxford.  His
later papal absolution from adhering to the Provisions prompted  a  baronial
revolt in 1263, and Henry was summoned to the first Parliament,  in  1265  
Parliament (from the French word parleman  meeting  for  discussion)  was
summoned with Commons represented in it  two knights  from  a  shire  and
two merchants of a town and it turned out to have been a real  beginning  of
the English parlamentarism.(17) Here we should note, the  main  peculiarity
of English Parliament, distinguishing it from most others:  it  was  created
as a means of opposition. Not to help the king, but to limit his  power  and
control him.
   Parliament insisted that a council be imposed on the king  to  advise  on
policy decisions. He was prone  to  the  infamous  Plantagenet  temper,  but
could also be  sensitive  and  quite  pious    ecclesiastical  architecture
reached its apex in Henrys reign.
      The old king, after an extremely long reign  of fifty-six years,  died
in 1272. He found no success in war, but opened up English  culture  to  the
cosmopolitanism of  the  continent.  Although  viewed  as  a  failure  as  a
politician, his reign defined the English  monarchical  position  until  the
end of the fifteenth century: kingship limited by law    the  repercussions
of which influenced the English Civil War in the reign  of  Charles  I,  and
extended into the nineteenth century queenship of Victoria.

                      Edward I, Longshanks (1272-1307)

      Edward I, the  oldest  surviving  son  of  Henry  II  and  Eleanor  of
Provence, was born in 1239. He was nicknamed Longshanks  due  to  his  great
height and stature. Edward married Eleanor of Castille  in  1254,  who  bore
him sixteen children ( seven of whom survived  into  adulthood)  before  her
death in 1290. Edward reached a peace settlement with Philip  IV  of  France
that resulted in his marriage to the French kings  daughter  Margaret,  who
bore him three more children.
      Edward I was a capable statesman,  adding  much  to  the  institution
initiated by Henry II. It 1295,  his  Model  Parliament  brought  together
representatives from the  nobility,  clergy,  knights  of  the  shires,  and
burgesses of the cities  the first gathering of Lords and  Commons.  Feudal
revenues proved inadequate in financing  the  burgeoning  royal  courts  and
administrative  institutions.  Summoning  national  Parliament  became   the
accepted forum of gaining revenue and conducting public  business.  Judicial
reform included the expansion of such courts as  the  Kings  Bench,  Common
Pleas, Exchequer and the Chancery Court was  established to give redress  in
circumstances where other courts provided on  solution.  Edward  was  pious,
but resisted any increase of papal authority  in  England.  Conservators  of
the Peace, the forerunners of Justices of the Peace, were  also  established
as an institution.(18)
      Foreign policy, namely the unification of the islands other  nations,
occupied much of Edwards time. A major  campaign  to  control  Llywelyn  ap
Gruffydd of Wales began in 1277, and lasted until Liywelyns death in  1282.
In 1301, the kings eldest son was created Prince of Wales,  a  title  still
held by  all  mail  heirs  to  the  crown.  Margaret,  Maid  of  Norway  and
legitimate heir to the Scottish crown, died  in  1290,  leaving  a  disputed
succession in Scotland. Edward was  asked   to  arbitrate  between  thirteen
different claimants. John Baliol, Edwards first choice, was unpopular,  his
next choice, William Wallace, rebelled against  England  until  his  capture
and execution in 1305. Robert Bruce seized  the  Scottish  throne  in  1306,
later to become a source of consternation to Edward II.
      Edward died en rout to yet another  Scottish  campaign  in  1307.  His
character found accurate evaluation by Sir Richard Baker, in A Chronicle  of
the kings of England: He had in him the two wisdoms,  not  often  found  in
any, single. Both together, seldom or never:  an  ability  of  judgement  in
himself, and  a readiness to hear the judgment of others. He was not  easily
provoked into passion, but once in passion , not  easily  appeared,  as  was
seen by his dealing  with  the  Scots;  towards  whom  he  showed  at  first
patience, and at last severity. If he was censured for his  many  taxations,
he may be justified by his well bestowing them; for never  prince  laid  out
his money to more honour  of  himself  ,  or  good  of  his  kingdom.  (19)

                          Edward II (1307-1327 AD)

      Edward II the son of Eleanor of Castille and Edward  I,  was  born  in
1284. He married Isabella,  daughter  of  Philip  IV  of  France,  in  1308.
Eleanor bore him two sons and two daughters.
      Edward was as much of a failure  as  a  king  as  his  father  was  a
success. He loved money and other rewards upon his mail favourites,  raising
the  ire  of  the  nobility.  The  most  notable  was  Piers  Gaveston,  his
homosexual lover. On the day  of  Edwards  marriage  to  Isabella,  Edward
preferred the couch of Gaveston to  that  of  his  new  wife.  Gaveston  was
exiled and  eventually  murdered  by  Edwards  father  for  his  licentious
conduct with the king. Edwards means of maintaining power was based on  the
noose and the block  28 knights and  barons  were  executed  for  rebelling
against the decadent king. (20)
      Edward faired no better as a solder.  The  rebellions  of  the  barons
opened the way for Robert Bruce to grasp much of Scotland.  Bruces  victory
over English forces at the battle of Bannockburn, in 1314, ensured  Scottish
independence until the union of England and Scotland in 1707.
      In 1324 the war broke  out  with  France,  prompting  Edward  to  sent
Isabella and their son Edward (later  became Edward III) to  negotiate  with
her brother and French  king,  Charles  IV.  Isabella  fell  into  an  open
romance with Roger Mortimer, one of the  Edwards  disaffected  barons.  The
rebellious  couple  invaded  England  in  1327,  capturing  and  imprisoning
Edward.  The king was deposed, replaced by his son, Edward III.(21)
      Edward II was murdered in September 1327 at Berkley castle, by a  red-
hot iron inserted through his  sphincter  into  his  bowels.  Comparison  of
Edward I and Edward II was beautifully described by Sir  Richard  Baker,  in
reference to Edward I in A Chronicle of the  Kings  of  England  His  great
unfortunate  was in his greatest blessing, for four of  his  sons  which  he
had by his Queen Eleanor, three of them died in his own lifetime,  who  were
worthy to have outlived him, and the fourth outlived  him,  who  was  worthy
never to have been born. ( 22 )  A strong indictment of a weak king.  (23)

                           Edward III (1327-1377)

      Edward III, the eldest son of Edward II and Isabella  of  France,  was
born in 1312. His youth was spent in his  mothers  court  ,  until  he  was
crowned at the age of 14, in 1327. Edward was dominated by  his  mother  and
her lover, Roger  Mortimer,  until  1330,  wen  Mortimer  was  executed  and
Isabella was exiled from court. Philippa of Hainault married Edward in  1328
and bore him many children.
      The Hundred Years War occupied the largest part  of  Edwards  reign.
It began in 1338-1453. The war was carried during the  reign  of  5  English
kings. Edward III and Edward Baliol  defeated  David  II  of  Scotland,  and
drove him into exile in 1333. The French cooperation with the Scots,  French
aggression in Gascony, and Edwards claim to the throne of  France  (through
his mother Isabella, who was the sister of the king; the  Capetiance  failed
to produce a mail heir) led to the outbreak  of  War.  The  sea  battle  of
Sluys (1340) gave England control  of  the  Channel,  and  battle  at  Crecy
(1346), Calais (1347), and Poitiers (1356)  demonstrated  English  supremacy
on the land. Edward,  the  Black  Prince  and  eldest  son  of  Edward  III,
excelled during this first phase of the war.(24)
      Throughout 1348-1350 the epidemic of a plague  so  called  The  Black
Death swept across England and northern Europe, removing as  much  as  half
the population. This plague reached every part of England. Few than  one  of
ten who caught the plague could survive it. If in Europe 1/3 of   population
died within a century , in England 1/3 of population died during two  years.
The whole villages disappeared. This  plague  continued  till  it  died  out
itself. English military strength weakened considerably  after  the  plague,
gradually lost so much ground that by 1375, Edward agreed to the  Treaty  of
Bruges, which only left England Calais, Bordeaux, and Bayonne.
       Domestically,  England  saw  many  changes  during  Edwards   reign.
Parliament was divided into two  Houses    Lords  and  Commons    and  met
regularly to finance the war. Treason was defined by statute for  the  first
time (1352). In 1361 the  office  of  Justice  of  the  Peace  was  created.
Philippa died in 1369 and the last years  of  Edwards  reign  mirrored  the
first; he was once again dominated by a woman, his mistress, Alice  Perrers.
Alice preferred one of Edwards other sons, John of Gaunt,  over  the  Black
Prince, which caused political conflict in Edwards last years.
      Edward the Black Prince  died  one  year  before  his  father.  Rafael
Holinshed intimated that Edward spent his last year in  grief  and  remorse,
believing the death of his son was a punishment for  usurping  his  fathers
crown. In Chronicles of England, Holinshed wrote:  But  finally  the  thing
that most grieved him, was the loss of that most noble gentleman,  his  dear
son Prince Edward. But this and other mishaps that chanced to  him  now  in
his old years, might seem to come to pass for a revenge of his  disobedience
showed to his in usurping against him. (25)
      There is one more point about Edwards reign, concerning  the  English
language. Edward had forbidden speaking French in his army, and by  the  end
of the 14th century English once again began being used  instead  of  French
by ruling literate class.

                            Richard II (1377-99)

      Richard IIs reign was  fraught  with  crisis    economic  ,  social,
political, and constitutional. He was 10  years  old  when  his  grandfather
died, and the first problem the country faced was having to  deal  with  his
monitoring. A constitutional council was set up to govern  the  king  and
his kingdom. Although John of Gaunt was still the dominant  figure  in  the
royal family, neither he no his brothers were included.
The peasants revolt.
(1381) Financing the  increasingly  expensive  and  unsuccessful  war  with
France was a major preoccupation. At the end of Edward  IIIs  reign  a  new
device, a poll tax of four pence a head, had been introduced. A similar  but
graduated tax followed in 1379, and in 1380 another set at  one  shilling  a
head was granted. It  proved  inequitable  and  impractical,  and  when  the
government tried to speed up  collection in the spring  of  1381  a  popular
rebellion  the Peasants Revolt  ensued. Although the  pool  tax  was  the
spark that set it off, there were also deeper causes related to  changes  in
the  economy  and  to  political  developments.(26)   The   government   in
practical, engendered hostility to the  legal  system  by  its  policies  of
expanding the power of the justices of the peace at  the  expense  of  local
and monorail courts. In addition, popular poor preachers  spread  subversive
ideas with slogans such as : When Adam delved and Eve span/  Who  was  then
the  gentleman?  (27)  The  Peasants  revolt  began  in  Essex  and  Kent.
Widespread outbreaks occurred the southeast of England, taking the  form  of
assault on tax collectors, attacks on  landlords  and  their  manor  houses,
destruction of documentary  evidence  of  villein  status,  and  attacks  on
lawyers. Attacks on religious houses, such  as  that  at  St.  Albans,  were
particularly  severe,  perhaps  because  they  had  been  among   the   most
conservative of landlords in commuting labour services.
      The men of Essex and  Kent  moved  to  London  to  attack  the  kings
councilors. Admitted to the city by  sympathizers,  they  attacked  John  of
Gaunts place of the Savoy as well as the  Fleet  prison.  On  June  14  the
young king made them various promises at Mile End;  on  the  same  day  they
broke into  the  Tower  and  killed  Sudbury,  the  chancellor,  Hales,  the
treasure and other officials. On the next day Richard met the  rebels  again
at Smithfield, and their main leader, Wat Tyler,  presented  their  demands.
But during the negotiations Tyler was attacked and slain  by  the  mayor  of
London. The young king rode forward and reassured the  rebels,  asking  them
to follow him to Clerkenwell. This proved to be a  turning  point,  and  the
rebels, their suppliers exhausted, began to make their  way  home.  Richard
went back on his  promises  he  had  made  saying,  Villeins  you  are  and
villeins you shall remain.(28) In October Parliament confirmed  the  kings
revocation  of  charters  but  demanded  amnesty  save  for  a  few  special
      The events of the Peasants Revolt may have given Richard an  exalted
idea of his own powers and  prerogative  as  a  result  of  his  success  at
Smithfield, but for the rebels the gains of the rising amounted to  no  more
than the abolition  of  the  poll  taxes.(29)  Improvement  in  the  social
position of the peasantry did occur, but not so mach  as  a  consequence  of
the revolt as of changes in the economy that would have occurred anyhow.

      John Wycliffe.
 Religious unrest was another  subversive factor under Richard II.  England
had been virtually free from heresy until John Wycliffe,  a  priest  and  an
Oxford scholar, began his career as a religious reformer with  two  treaties
in 1375  76. He argued that the exercise of   lordship  depended  on  grace
and that therefore, a sinful man had no right to authority. Priest had  even
the pope himself , Wycliffe went on to argue, might not  necessarily  be  in
state of grace and thus would lack authority.  Such  doctrines  appealed  to
anticlerical sentiments and brought Wycliffe into direct conflict  with  the
church hierarchy, although he received protection from John  of  Gaunt.  The
beginning of the Great Schism in 1378 gave Wycliffe fresh  opportunities  to
attack the papacy, and in a treaties of 1379  on  the  Eucharist  he  openly
denied the doctrine  of  transubstantiation.  He  was  ordered   before  the
church court at Lambeth in 1378. In 1380  his  views  were  condemned  by  a
commission of theologians  at  Oxford,  and  he  was  forced  to  leave  the
university. At Lutterworth he continued  to  write  voluminously  until  his
      Political struggles and Richards desposition.
Soon after putting down the Peasants Revolt, Richard began to  build  up  a
court party, partly in opposition to Gaunt. A  crisis  was  precipitated  in
1386 when the king asked Parliament for a grant to meet  the  French  treat.
Parliament responded by demanding the dismissal  of  the  kings  favorites,
but Richard insisted that he would not dismiss so much as a scullion in  the
kitchen at the request of Parliament. In  the  end  he  was  forced  by  the
impeachment of  the  chancellor,   Michel  de  la  Pole,  to  agree  to  the
appointment of a reforming commission.  Richard  withdrew  from  London  and
went on a gyration of the country. He called  his  judges  before  him  at
Shrewsbury and asked them to pronounce the actions  of  Parliament  illegal.
An engagement at Radcot Bridge,  at  which  Richards  favorite,  Robert  de
Vere, 9th Earl of Oxford was defeated settled the matter of  ascendancy.  In
the Merciless Parliament of 1388 five lords accused the  kings  friends  of
treason under an expansive definition of the crime.
      Richard was chastened, but he  began  to  recover  his  authority  as
early as the autumn of 1388 at the Cambridge Parliament.  Declaring  himself
to be of age  in  1389,  Richard  anounced  that  he  was  taking  over  the
government. He pardoned the Lords Appellant and ruled with  some  moderation
until 1394, when his queen Ann of Bohemia, died.(31) After putting  down  a
rebellion in Ireland, he was , for a  time,  almost  popular.  He  began  to
implement his personal policy once more and rebuilt a royal party  with  the
help of a group of young nobles. He made a 28- years truce with  France  and
married the French kings seven-year-old daughter. He built up  a  household
of faithful servants, including the notorious Sir John  Bushy,  Sir  William
Bagot, and Sir Henry Green. He enlisted household troops and built  a  wide
network of kings  knight  in  the  counties,  distributing  to  them  his
personal budge, the White Hart.(32)
      The first sign  of  renewed  crisis  emerged  in  January  1397,  when
complaints were put forward in Parliament and their  author,  Thomas  Haxey,
was adjudged a traitor. Richards rule, based on fear rather then  consent,
became increasingly tyrannical.(33) Three of the Lords  Appellant  of  1388
were arrested in July and tried in  Parliament.  The  Earl  of  Arundel  was
executed and  Warwick  exiled.  Gloucester,  whose  death  was  reported  to
Parliament, had probably been murdered. The act of the 1388  Parliament  was
repealed. Richard was granted the customs of  revenues  for  life,  and  the
power of parliament was delegated to a  committee  after  the  assembly  was
dissolved. Richard also built up a power base in Cheshire.
      Events leading to Richards downfall followed  quickly.  The  Duke  of
Norfolk and Henry Bolingbroke, John of Gaunts son, accused  each  other  of
treason and were banished, the former for life, the  latter  for  10  years.
Hen Gaunt himself died  early  in  1399,  Richard  confiscated  his  estates
instead of allowing his son to claim them. Richard  seemingly  secure,  went
off to Ireland. Henry, however landed at Ravenspur in  Yorkshire  to  claim,
as  he said, his  fathers  estate  and  the   hereditary  stewardship.  The
Percys, the chief lord of the  north,  welcomed  him.  Popular  support  was
widespread, and when Richard returned from Ireland his cause was lost.
      The precise course of events is hard  to  reconstruct.,  in  view  of
subsequent alteration to the records. A Parliament was called  in  Richards
name, but before it was  fully  assembled  at  the  end  of  September,  its
members were presented with Richards alleged abdication and  Henrys  claim
to the throne as legitimate descendant of Henry III as well as by  right  of
conquest.(34) Thirty-tree articles of deposition  were  set  forth  against
Richard, and his abdication and deposition were duly accepted. Richard  died
at Pontefract Castle, either  of  self-starvation  or  by  smothering.  Thus
ended the last attempt of a  medieval  king  to  exercise  arbitrary  power.
Whether or not Richard had been motivated by new theories about the  nature
of monarchy, as some have claimed, he had failed in the  practical  measures
necessary to sustain his power. He  had  tried  to  rule  through  fear  and
mistrust in his final years, but he had neither  gained  sufficient  support
among the magnates by means of patronage nor  created  a  popular  basis  of
support in the shires and in 1399 Richard was disposed and he  abdicated  to
the  favour  of  Henry  Lancaster  and  so  the  dynasty  of   Plantagenets


Summing up the events of Plantagenets rule and their role in the history  of
England, we should mark the following.
      11th  - 12th centuries (the first  Plantagenets)  were  the  years  of
constitutional progress and territorial expansion.
      The 13th century is described as a Plantagenet spring after  a  grim
Norman winter. The symbol of this spring  is  the  century  of  new  Gothic
Style.  One  of  the  best  example  of  Gothic  architecture  is  Salisbury
Cathedral. Also it is  a  century  of  growing  literacy  which  is  closely
connected with 12th century cultural movement, which is called  Renaissance.
In England Renaissance was a revolution in  thoughts,  ideas  and  learning,
foundation of universities, the  development  of  the  Common  Law  and  the
Parliament, and emergence of English as the language of the nation.(36)
      The 14th century brought the  disasters  of  the  Hundred  Years'  War
(1337 -1453),  the  Peasants  revolt  (1381),  the  extermination  of  the
population by the Black Death (1348  1349). Although the  outbreak  of  the
Black Death in 1348 dominated the economy of the 14th century, a  member  of
adversities had already occurred in the preceding decades. Severe  rains  in
1315 and 1316 caused famine, which lead to the  spread  of  disease.  Animal
epidemic in succeeding of currency in the 1330s. Economic  expansion,  which
had been characteristic of the 13th century,  had  slowed  to  a  halt.  The
Black Death, possibly  a  combination  of  bubonic  and  pneumonic  plagues,
carried off from one-third to one half of the population. In  some  respects
it took time for its effects to become detrimental to the economy, but  with
subsequent outbreaks, as in 1361 and 1369, the population declined  further,
causing a severe labor shortage. By the 1370 wages  had  risen  dramatically
and prices of foodstuffs fallen. Hired  laborers,  being  fewer,  asked  for
higher wages and better food, and peasant tenants,  also  fewer,  asked  for
better  conditions  of  tenure  when  they  took  up  land.  Some  landlords
responded  by  trying  to  reassert  labor  services  where  they  had  been
commuted.  The Ordinance(1349) and Statute (1351) of Laborers tried to  set
maximum wages at the  levels  of  the  pre-Black  Death  years,  but  strict
enforcement proved impossible. The Peasants Revolt of 1381 was  one  result
of the social tension caused by the adjustment needed  after  the  epidemic.
Great landlords saw their revenues fall as a  result  of  the  Black  Death,
although probably by only about 10 percent, whereas for the lower orders  of
society real wages rose sharply by the last  quarter  of  the  14th  century
because of low grain prices and high wages.(37)
      Edward III ruined the major Italian banking companies  in  England  by
failing to repay loans early  in  the  Hundred  Years  War.  This  provided
opening for English Merchants, who were given  monopolies  of  wool  exports
by the crown in return for their support. The most notable  was  William  de
la Pole of Hull, whose family rose to noble status. Heavy taxation  of  wool
exports was one reason for the  growth  of  the  cloth  industry  and  cloth
exports  in  the  14th  century.  The  wine  trade  from  Gascony  was  also
important. In contrast to the 13th century, no new towns were  founded,  but
London is particular continued to prosper despite the ravage of plague.
      In cultural terms, a striking change in  the  14th  century  was  the
increasing use of English. Although an attempt to make the  use  of  English
mandatory in the law courts failed because lawyers claimed that  they  could
not plead accurately in the language, the vernacular  began  to  creep  into
public documents and records. Henry of Lancaster even used English  when  he
claimed the throne in 1399. Chaucer wrote in both French  and  English,  but
his important poetry is in  the  latter.  The  early  14th  century  was  an
impressive age for manuscript illumination in England,  with  the  so-called
East Anglian school, of which the celebrated Luttrell Psalter  represents  a
late  example.  In  ecclesiastical  architecture  the  development  of   the
Perpendicular style, largely in the second half of  the  14th  century,  was
particularly notable.(38)

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                            Geoffrey Plantagenet

                                  Henry II

                                  Richard I

John Lackland

                                  Edward I

                                  Henry III

                                  Edward II

                                 Edward III

                                 Richard II

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