My Notes from Episode 2 of ‘The Plantagenets’ Shown on BBC 24.03.2014


Henry III funeral effergy in Westminster Abbey
Henry III funeral effergy in Westminster Abbey

1219 William Marshall regent of 11 years old Henry III. King John had lost most French lands. Marshall dying.
Next 150 years – parliament born and English national identity established. New English empire.
Plantagenet ancestral homelands lost. Choice between England and France.
Henry III pious. 1245 building improvements to Westminster Abbey in French style dedicated to Edward the Confessor (only English king to be canonised). Dynastic ambition – Abbey as site of future coronations and burials. Expensive.
Pope invited Henry to buy Sicily – 3 times his annual income. Defaulting on a payment meant excommunication.
Backfired = pitted the royal family against the English barons.
Henry III filled the court with relatives from parts of France – hostile barons and national feeling.
April 1258 barons confronted the king and demanded the removal of French relatives.
Reforming legislation = committee of 24 ‘provisions of Oxford’, shared power with barons. Limitations of royal power – parliament.
King lost touch with people.
De Montfort (king’s brother-in-law) raised an army and defeated the king taking Prince Edward prisoner. Henry was king only in name.
Prince Edward was a warrior – escaped and raised an army.
Battle of Evesham = De Montfort killed. Parliament survived.
When Henry III died his body was buried in the Abbey with Edward the Confessor.

Portrait in Westminster Abbey thought to be of Edward I
Portrait in Westminster Abbey thought to be of Edward I

Edward I (Longshanks) – keep barons happy and don’t run out of money. Trade became important. Economic peak at this time.
Jews were the main source of credit. England very Christian. National feeling growing. Jews expelled. No Jews for 370 years.
Inspired by King Arthur – conquest of Wales, hard to conquer and control. Already a ruling dynasty = ap Griffith.
1277 Edward I collected an army. Welsh outnumbered, captured Anglesey. Welsh surrendered. Truce broken.
1282 Welsh leader Llwellen ap Griffith killed. Wales surrendered completely.
Repaired castles across Wales. Military architecture = from Roman / Byzantine designs i.e. Carnarvon Castle. Plantagenet dynastic claim to Wales.
Scotland came close. 1286 King of Scotland died with no male heir – his granddaughter was heir = diplomatic marriage proposed. The girl died.
Dunbar Scottish army defeated. Berwick sacked. But Scotland had its own national identity.
William Wallace – English army had to cross the river at Stirling. English army was slaughtered (around 5000). Edward shaken.
Edward riding to meet Robert Bruce when he died in 1307. Edward II defeated by Bruce at Bannockburn. Married Isabella of France.
Piers Gaviston preceded the king and queen at their coronation. Edward clearly loved him.
Suggestion of homosexuality? Gaviston compromised kingship.
Barons acted = Gaviston captured. Earl of Warwick has Gaviston killed.
Edward II then began to favour Hugh Despenser who was despised by Queen Isabella.
1324 the French invaded Gascony. Isabella’s brother was king. Isabella sued for peace. Her son, Edward, travelled to France. The family begins to split – family crisis to political disaster.
Roger Mortimer was the queen’s lover. They found support in Suffolk and the king was taken prisoner, Despenser killed.
Edward II stood down in place of his son 1327. Edward III was 14 with his mother as regent. First abdication of an English king – Edward II soon died = how?
Rumours circulated over Edward II’s death.
Edward III took action 1330 – conspirators entered the queen’s bedchamber at Nottingham Castle and Mortimer was executed.
Omens – prophecies.
‘Prophecy of the six kings’ – wild boar with the heart of a lion.
Edward III tried to unify the English barons. Royal displays.
Chivalry fused military and Christian ethics. Power used to bind people together. Lavish Arthurian tournaments staged.
St George = warrior saint. Becoming a symbol of England.

Edward III at the National Portrait Gallery, from the 16th century
Edward III at the National Portrait Gallery, from the 16th century

Wanted to win back France. French king died with no male heirs. Edward III was the French king’s nephew. 1340 announced his claim.
1346 English army landed in France. Rampaged through Normandy. Met at Cressy in a storm. English archers routed French crossbowmen. Cannons used for first time.
Edward the Black Prince fought “let him earn his spurs”.
King of Bohemia blind but fighting – rode to his death. Black Prince adopted his badge, the ostrich feather.
English army most feared in Europe.
Black Prince later died of dysentery.
After Cressy the Order of the Garter was founded to meet every year on St George’s Day = King, Prince of Wales and 24 knights.
Nobles allied with the barons for the first time.
1360 some French territories recaptured.
Statute of Pleading – languages changed from French to English. Plantagenets less French, more unity.

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