Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Anglo-French War (1202–1204)

Anglo-French War (1202–1204)



DECLARATION: No formal declaration

MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: England’s possession of

OUTCOME: England lost its French possessions.



TREATIES: No formal treaties

Possession of the territory of Normandy was the pretext for
almost continuous warfare between France and England in
the Middle Ages. Each new monarch inherited the animosity
initiated by William the Conqueror (1035–87) in 1066,
and with each succession the royal families became
increasingly more complex and intertwined. The Anglo-
French conflict that began in 1202 perpetuated the cyclic
behavior of the two nations and also marked the shift from
English to French rule over the disputed region.
The death of the English king Richard the Lionheart
(b. 1157) in 1199 ended a six-year war with France’s Philip
II (1165–1223). The following year the Peace of Le Goulet
(May 22) was signed between Richard’s successor, John I
(“Lackland”) (1167–1216), and Philip II. John, immediately
challenged by his cousin (or nephew) Arthur of Brittany
for the throne, made several key concessions to Philip
in order to solidify his ascension. The concessions coupled
with John’s own blunders, which included renouncing his
marriage to Isabella of Gloucester (?–1217) and a new
marriage to the fiancée of a French nobleman from Poitou,
quickly established him as one of the more unpopular
monarchs in English history. John’s refusal to answer to
Philip II—technically, his feudal overlord—for his matrimonial
misconduct provided the French king with a reason
to renew hostilities. Philip II declared all English holdings
in France void. A rebellion in Poitou followed, and in 1202
a full-scale war erupted between the two monarchs.
During the first months of the war, King John captured
his rival, Arthur, and 200 of his conspirators at
Poitiers in an impressive raid that covered 80 miles and
lasted 48 hours. Most historians believe John then murdered
his cousin in a drunken rage. However, John failed
to exploit his advances in Poitiers, thereby allowing Philip
II to gain the offensive in the surrounding Angevin territory.
Enjoining the sympathy of the local anti-English
populace, Philip II felt confident enough to lay siege on an
English military fortress built by Richard I of England
called Château Gaillard.
Located on the banks of the Seine at Les Andelys,
Château Gaillard was key to defending English holdings
in Normandy. In September 1203 Philip II’s knights surrounded
the fort, and by March of the following year this
last major English bastion fell. The door lay open for
Philip II to invade the Norman city of Rouen.
On June 24, 1204, Philip II’s knights executed a surgical
strike that captured the city. Once Rouen had capitulated,
Philip drove the English out of the whole region
north of the Loire River. Philip II conquered the English
fiefs of Anjou, Brittany, Maine, Normandy, and Touraine.
Although John maintained Gascony and some regions
south of the Loire, the overall result of the Anglo-French
War from 1202 to 1204 was England’s loss of its longcherished
Angevin territory.
The war had been relatively brief, but it was rife with
profound consequences for military history. Philip II
established for the first time in history a semipermanent
royal army through a combination of mercenaries and
indentured servants. Philip’s use of such an army in his
siege of Château Gaillard demonstrated how a wealthy
monarch could overcome the drawbacks of the purely
mercenary forces typical of the Middle Ages, including the
expense involved and the individual soldier’s lack of devotion
to a cause. In broader historical terms the war created
an all-but-permanent rift between France and England
that would endure some 500 years.

WAR, (1213–1214).

Further reading: Frank Barlow, The Feudal Kingdom
of England, 1042–1216 (London: Longman, 1972); John
Le Patourel, The Norman Empire (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1976); W. J. Warren, King John (New York: W. W.
Norton, 1961).

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