Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Anglo-French War (1159–1189)

Anglo-French War (1159–1189)



DECLARATION: No formal declaration

MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: More a chronic state of
hostilities than a single war, the conflict resulted from
King Louis VII’s fears that his vassal Henry II of England
was becoming too powerful. Subsequently, the conflict
developed into rebellion against Henry among his French
possessions and a rebellion fomented by Henry’s sons,
Richard (later Richard I the Lionheart) and John (later
King John [“Lackland”]).

OUTCOME: Nothing definitive resulted from the phase of
the conflict between Henry II and Louis VII; the rebellion
of Henry’s sons strengthened their position, but Richard
did not become king until the death (from natural
causes) of Henry II.



TREATIES: No formal treaties

The so-called Anglo-French War of 1159–89 was really a
series of conflicts in a more or less chronic state of war.
After the 21-year-old Henry of Anjou became King Henry
II (1133–89) of England, he instituted a series of reforms
that not only rescued Britain from the chaos that followed
the death of his grandfather, Henry I (1068–1135), but
also consolidated Plantagenet lands into a coherent, wellgoverned
empire so vast that his feudal overlord, King
Louis VII (1120–80) of France, became alarmed. And with
good reason, for Louis did not command sufficient forces
to wage out-and-out war against Henry. Instead, Louis
resorted to playing a game of diplomatic intrigue designed
to keep Henry off balance. In 1159, when Henry resolved
to march on Toulouse to assert his claim there, he invaded
from Normandy, only to find himself checked by Louis’s
forces, who already occupied Toulouse. In the highly
structured world of medieval Europe, Henry declined to
attack his nominal overlord. This is precisely what Louis
had counted on. However, Henry secretly swore and plotted
The animosity between Henry and Louis increased as
the French monarch repeatedly worked to erode Henry’s
position, primarily through nurturing revolt in Englishheld
territories throughout France. In 1173 Louis
prompted Henry’s sons to rebellion (see ANGLO-NORMAN
REBELLION), even manipulating Henry’s queen, Eleanor of
Aquitaine (c. 1122–1204). Jealous of her husband’s many
and open love affairs, Eleanor readily consented to Louis’s
blandishments and urged her sons on in their revolt,
which in the end led to her imprisonment for the rest of
Henry’s life. The death of the French monarch in 1180
brought a temporary end to hostilities.
In 1183 Henry’s son Duke Richard (1157–99) of
Aquitaine—destined to be remembered by history as King
Richard I the Lionheart of England—put down a new rebellion
against his father by his older brother Henry (d. 1183).
In 1189, Richard, aided by his brother John (1167–1216),
later King John (“Lackland”) of England, and by France’s
King Philip II (1165–1223)—launched his own war against
Henry. It ended only with the death of the betrayed father
in 1189, and Richard ascended to the English throne.

See also ANGLO-FRENCH WAR (1202–1204); HENRY

Further reading: Richard W. Barber, The Devil’s Crown:
A History of Henry II and His Sons (Conshohocken, Penn.:
Combined Books, 1996); Frank Barlow, The Feudal Kingdom
of England, 1042–1216 (London: Longman, 1972);
John Le Patourel, The Norman Empire (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1976).

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