This lesson will explore the reigns of the Angevin Plantagenet kings of England, Henry II, Richard I, and John. It will also highlight their dealings with Philip Augustus of France.
England and France
Throughout history, England and France have gone head to head in a fight for land and power. Ironically, these two countries have always been closely linked through blood, marriage, and some downright chaos. Today, we are going to explore some of these monarchs by studying the famous Angevin kings of England's Plantagenet dynasty and their dealings with France's King Philip Augustus.
Let's start with England; however, by doing so, we'll also be starting with France. Don't worry, I'll explain. Your job is just to keep in mind that England and France have a very intertwined history.
Henry II is the first Angevin king and also the first king of England's Plantagenet dynasty. We get the term Angevin from the fact that he came from a ruling family of Anjou, France. Yes, I did say France, not England. The term Plantagenet comes from the yellow flower his family held as its emblem.
Known to history as one of England's strongest kings, Henry II ruled from 1154 CE to 1189 CE. Not only did this powerhouse rule England, he married the ex-wife of the king of France. Her name was Eleanor of Aquitaine, and, when they married, Henry II neatly folded her French lands under his royal control. Not only did Henry II rule England, he also controlled Wales, Anjou, Normandy, and Gascony - basically a massive part of France. As I said, England and France have been seriously intertwined!
Ironically, Henry II ruled a huge amount of Europe's lands, but he couldn't keep his sons under control. They spent much of their time fighting over who got to govern what portion of their father's land, and even allying with the royal house of France to try to rob their father of his holdings. When Henry II finally died in 1189, his son Richard, known as the 'Lionheart,' became King Richard I.
Although Richard's rule spanned over a decade, he spent very little time in England. Instead, he occupied himself with the Crusades, or Europe's attempt to free the Holy Lands from Moslem control. When not off crusading, or being held prisoner, he was often found in, yes, you guessed it, France. In fact, some sources even go as far as to say that he, the king of England, spoke very little English.
Since Richard died without an heir, his brother John took the throne in the year 1199. Most of us know John, without even knowing we know him. How? Well, he's the ruthless prince depicted in the famous tales of Robin Hood. Besides being Robin Hood's bad guy, John is most famous for the 1215 signing of the Magna Carta. In this über famous document, which the nobles of England pretty much forced King John to sign, the first steps toward limiting the power of England's kings and protecting the rights of the nobility were taken.
Not only did King John begin giving away some of the power of the English monarchy, his reign signaled the end of the reign of Angevin kings. Perhaps even more devastating to England's future monarchies, as king, he also lost most of England's French holdings - including all of Normandy - to the French King Philip II.
This is a great place to turn our attention fully to France and its King Philip II, the very guy who robbed the Plantagenets of much of their lands.
Philip II, also known as Philip Augustus, had what could only be called an on- again, off-again relationship with the kings of England. He made an alliance with King Henry II, the first Plantagenet king, only to betray him by supporting Henry's rebellious son, Richard, later on. He and Richard then joined forces to fight the Crusades, even going as far as to swear to protect each other's lands!
Not surprisingly, this friendship broke down only a few years later. Philip betrayed Richard, who at the time was imprisoned, by allying with John, Richard's power-hungry younger brother. All stayed well and good, sort of, with these two until John finally became King. When King John took a French lady as his bride (who just so happened to own some French lands), Philip pretty much said, 'I don't think so.' He attacked John's forces, and in the end, claimed rule over much of England's landholdings in France.
For all these reasons, history gives Philip Augustus credit for stripping the Plantagenet Angevin kings of much of their wealth and power.
The Angevin kings of England began the Plantagenet dynasty of England. These three kings, Henry II, Richard I, and John are some of the most well-known of England's monarchs. However, they all shared one thorn in the flesh, King Philip Augustus of France.
Henry II was a powerful monarch. Married to Eleanor of Aquitaine, he also owned much of France. However, he had very rebellious sons, who, with the help of France's Philip Augustus, wreaked chaos and havoc during Henry's rule.
Next there was Richard the Lionheart. Famous for fighting the Crusades, Richard was perhaps more French than English. He allied himself with Philip of France to try to rob his father of his lands. The two of them then pledged their loyalty to one another as they fought in the Crusades. Unfortunately for Richard, Philip eventually found his younger brother John to be a much more advantageous ally.
However, when King John, who also signed the Magna Carta, went from being Richard's younger brother to official king of England, Philip changed his tune. When King John married a French lady with some land, Philip gave a giant, 'I don't think so.'
In the end, the mighty Angevin kings of England's Plantagenet dynasty lost their French lands to King Philip Augustus of France.
After this lesson, you'll have the ability to:
- List the three Angevin kings that ruled England that began the Plantagenet dynasty
- Highlight each of these kings' major accomplishments and failures
- Explain the relationship that each king had with King Phillip Augustus of France