Special Sub-Topic: Those Bickering Plantagenets
|At the peak of his power, Henry II, the first Plantagenet monarch, was king of:|
England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and about half of modern France. Henry inherited the throne of England through his the family of his mother, Mathilda. She was the daughter of the last Norman king, Henry I. She was married to the Count of Anjou, who ruled vast estates in France. Before winning a lengthy civil war in England, Henry II had already inherited the French domains of Anjou and Maine; and through marriage to Eleanor, gained control of Poitou, Gascony, and Aquitaine. By the time he became king of England, Henry had authority over more than half of modern France, he later was proclaimed Lord of Ireland, and at various times controlled parts of Wales and Scotland. One source states that his empire stretched from the Solway Firth to almost the Mediterranean, and from the Tweed to the Pyrenees.
|To whom was Eleanor married before Henry II?|
Louis VII of France. Eleanor was married to Louis VII of France when she was fifteen. They were married for fifteen years, during which time she gave birth to two daughters. She married Henry when she was thirty and he was nineteen. The official word was that she was able to divorce Louis VII because of consanguinity within the fourth degree - they were too closely related. Louis and Eleanor were third cousins once removed. Rumors abounded, however; some said that she dumped Louis VII because she loved Henry, while others stated that Louis VII dumped her because he wanted sons. Regardless of the reason, there is no doubt concerning the impact Eleanor made on the history of Europe. She gave birth to a total of ten children; two sons went on to become kings of England, and one of her granddaughters married the future Louis VIII of France.
|Eleanor was Duchess of what area? |
Aquitaine. Eleanor was the oldest child of William X, Duke of Aquitaine. She became the Duchess of Aquitaine in 1137, and the most eligible heiress in Europe. (Aquitaine was a very substantial and prosperous region). Her father's will appointed King Louis VI of France as her guardian, and as such, he had control over Eleanor's land until she married. Louis VI decided to marry the heiress to his heir (and son) and bring Aquitaine under French control. Eleanor and Louis did not have a happy marriage, and even though the pope attempted to force a reconciliation, it was not to be. Custody of the two daughters was given to Louis, and Eleanor's lands were restored to her. Aquitaine was the largest and richest province of France; as Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor even led her own army.
|Why did Henry II imprison Eleanor?|
She repeatedly tried to overthrow him.. Eleanor was imprisoned in Winchester Castle, Sarum Castle and other locations in England for sixteen years. She was not able to maintain contact with her sons, but occasionally she was released for special occasions, such as Christmas.
|Who was Eleanor's favorite son?|
Richard. After the death of Henry the Young King, Eleanor and Henry quarreled over which son would inherit the throne. Richard, of course, believed the throne should come to him because he was the next oldest. Richard was handsome, athletic, and, at an early age, was noted for his chivalry and courage. He was married to Berengaria of Navarre, but produced no heirs. Shot with a crossbow by a boy who claimed revenge for the deaths of his father and brother, Richard died almost two weeks later. He bequeathed all his land to his brother, John.
|Who was Henry II's favorite son?|
John. John, who is known in history as being one of the worst kings England ever had, was his father's choice. Described as being clever, tyrannical, and cruel, John was such an unpopular king that there hasn't been one named John since. His son, the future Henry III, was named king when John died.
|Which son of Henry II and Eleanor was killed in a jousting accident?|
Geoffrey. Married to Constance of Brittany, Geoffrey was the father of two daughters and one son. He was close friends with King Philip II of France, who made him the suzerain of France, largely to annoy King Henry. According to Gerald of Wales, Geoffrey was "overflowing with words, soft as oil, possessed by his sweet and persuasive eloquence, to corrupt two kingdoms with his tongue; of tireless endeavor, a hypocrite in everything, a deceiver and a dissembler." When Geofrey died, Philip was said to have tried to jump into the coffin with him.
|Who gave Richard his title "the Lionhearted?"|
Eleanor. Richard was captured and held for ransom as he returned home from the Third Crusade. Eleanor worked very hard to raise the ransom, and convinced the English people that their king was a great hero who was worthy of being called "the Lionhearted." The ransom ended up costing the English people an estimated quarter of their annual income, and nearly bankrupted England. When Richard died in 1199, he had ruled England for ten years, but had spent fewer than six months total there. According to Victorian historian William Stubbs, "He was a bad king: his great exploits, his military skill, his splendour and extravagance, his poetical tastes, his adventurous spirit, do not serve to cloak his entire want to sympathy, or even consideration, for his people. He was no Englishman ..." British historian, Sir Steven Runciman, agrees: "He was a bad son, a bad husband, and a bad king, but a gallant and splendid soldier." The only interest he showed in England was connected to its role as a source of revenue to support his armies; he never even bothered to learn any English.
|How many children did Henry II and Eleanor have?|
8. In addition to the two daughters (Marie and Alix) with Louis VII, Eleanor gave birth to eight children with Henry. William IX never married; Henry the Young King married Marguerite of France; Matilda married Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony; Richard married Berengaria of Navarre; Geoffrey married Constance, Duchess of Brittany; Eleanor married Alfonso VIII of Castile; Joan married William II of Siciliy and Raymond VI of Toulouse; John married Isabella, Countess of Gloucester and Isabella, Countess of Angouleme.
|In the end, Henry II was overthrown by an army led by Richard.|
False. It seems that many of the sons revolted at one time or another against their father. Eleanor's imprisonment began after Henry the Young King, concerned about his lack of power, led the Revolt of 1173-74. Henry II felt she was the one who directed Richard and John to join in the rebellion. Henry the Young King tried to rebel again in 1183, and was joined by his brother Geoffrey and Philip II of France. Henry II died in 1189, days after receiving an injury in a jousting match. Eleanor died in 1204, and is buried next to her husband and Richard. She outlived all of her children except John and Eleanor.
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