301 /




Institute of foreign Languages

Faculty Languages and Cultures


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.


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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, 1996

2. . : . .

, , 1997.

3. :

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3. Green Alice Stopford, Henry the Second. Lnd. N.Y., Macmillian 1888.


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.. , 2- , 1941. 301-302p.

10. . I, .. , ..

.. , 2- , 1941. 312-314p.

11. . I, .. , ..

.. , 2- , 1941. 3329-332p.

12. . I, .. , ..

.. , 2- , 1941. 334p.

13. :

, , 1997. 249-256p.

14. Harvey John, The Plantagenets. New York 1973.49-52p.

15. Harvey John, The Plantagenets. New York 1973. 67-68p.

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, , 1997. 123-124p.

17. The Oxford companion to British history. Edited by John Cannon. Oxford

U.P. 1997. 36p.

18. Costain Thomas B. The three Edwards. Garden City (N.Y.), Doubleday


19. Costain Thomas B. The three Edwards. Garden City (N.Y.), Doubleday

1958. 127p.

20. Costain Thomas B. The three Edwards. Garden City (N.Y.), Doubleday


21. Costain Thomas B. The three Edwards. Garden City (N.Y.), Doubleday


22. Costain Thomas B. The three Edwards. Garden City (N.Y.), Doubleday


23. Costain Thomas B. The Last Platagenets. Garden City (N.Y.), Doubleday


24. The Cambridge Illustrated dictionary of British Heritage. Edited by

Alan Isaacs and Jennifer monk. 1986. 115-123p.

25. Costain Thomas B. The three Edwards. Garden City (N.Y.), Doubleday


26. Douls Louisa Desaussure Richard II in the early chronicles. The Hague-

Paris, Mouton- 1975.77-81p.

27. Douls Louisa Desaussure Richard II in the early chronicles. The Hague-

Paris, Mouton- 1975.114-115p.

28. Douls Louisa Desaussure Richard II in the early chronicles. The Hague-

Paris, Mouton- 1975. 204-206p.

29. Douls Louisa Desaussure Richard II in the early chronicles. The Hague-

Paris, Mouton- 1975. 235-236p.

30. .. : , , . .

, 1996. 327-339p.

31. .. : , , . .

, 1996. 348-349p.

32. .. : , , . .

, 1996. 357-360p.

33. The Oxford companion to British history. Edited by John Cannon. Oxford

U.P. 1997. 40p.

34. The Oxford companion to British history. Edited by John Cannon. Oxford

U.P. 1997.41p.

35. The Oxford companion to British history. Edited by John Cannon. Oxford

U.P. 1997.41p.

36. Costain Thomas B. The magnificent century. Garden City (N.Y.),

Doubleday 1951.98-99p.

37. Costain Thomas B. The magnificent century. Garden City (N.Y.),

Doubleday 1951.104-105p.

38. Costain Thomas B. The magnificent century. Garden City (N.Y.),

Doubleday 1951.106p.


Geoffrey Plantagenet

Henry II

Richard I

John Lackland

Edward I

Henry III

Edward II

Edward III

Richard II


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