Skip to main content

The History of William Marshal on the War of 1183. Part I

The anniversary of Henry the Young King's untimely passing is fast approaching and though I have discussed the surrounding events many times here, on the blog, I have never focused solely on the version introduced by one John, the author of the History of William Marshal. If we are believe to him, this is what happened in the spring of 1183 and these are the roots of the conflict that broke out between the Angevins, the conflict in which brothers stood against each other, and sons stood against father (following the translation by Nigel Bryant):

'(...) the following Lent saw conflict between the three brothers. The Young King and his brother Count Geoffrey, lord of Brittany, angrily left their father, offended and enraged that their brother, the count of Poitiers, with their father's backing, had made so bold as to wage war on the highest nobles of that land and to treat them most unjustly. They'd complained to the Young King and declared that they would sooner serve him than their lord who wronged them so - indeed, they were his liegemen, having paid him homage, and would no longer acknowledge Count Richard of Poitiers as their lord when he wilfully mistreated them. The Young King and his brother Count Geoffrey protested to their father about the count of Poitiers's abuse of his men, but their father said: 
'What's it to do with you? I've given him the land. If any of them wage war on him I hope he takes them on and theaches them a lesson!' (Henry II saw the Poitevins as a constant cause of trouble)
The Young King replied, in short: 'They've long been my liegemen: it would be wrong of me to fail them and let them be so abused! It's only right that I go to their aid!'
'Very well!' said the father. 'Off you go and help them!'
With that they left, and a conflict started that wasn't resolved till all parties had thoroughly suffered, as everyone knows, and you'll hear exactly how in what follows...'
(pp. 93-94)

As we remember, by "They've long been my liegemen" Henry the Young King meant that he allied himself with the Poitevin barons a year before the described events, in the spring of 1182, when he visited Aquitaine. The fact that Richard's disgruntled barons approached him on the occasion served his own purposes well - the chance to win some land for his own came his way and he couldn't let it slip by. Especially that his father kept denying him independent rule and lands rightfully his.

To be continued...


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

28 February 1155: In Celebration of Henry the Young King's Birthday

On the pages of his Chronicon Geoffrey, prior of Vigeois, described in meticulous detail how young Henry packed as much repentance into his deathbed as he could before he passed away.  Geoffrey left nothing unsaid. The hair shirt, bed of ashes, halter around neck, Bernard, bishop of Agen administering the last rites, and many other men of religion … all was there to ‘draw the readers attention away from the affairs of this world to those of the next’. Of course, Geoffrey, a man of religion himself, must have seen young Henry’s untimely passing as a divine punishment. But there were other voices who disagreed with that of the prior. Thomas de Agnellis, for example, in his sermon claimed that as the Young King’s sad retinue was toiling over the jolly sunbathed hills and dales of Aquitaine, it became the focus for many miracles. The rumors of the late king’s sainthood began to circulate. The monasteries pillaged by him shortly before his death- as it happened some of the most sacred shri…

14 June 1170. Henry’s First Coronation

On 14 June 1170, Henry II had his son Henry [since then called the Young King] crowned king of England at Westminster, with Rogerof Pont-l’Eveque, Archbishop of York performing the act instead of the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. Four English bishops assisted at the ceremony. These were Hugh of Durham, Gilbert of London, Jocelyn of Salisbury and Walter of Rochester. The Norman bishops present were Henry of Bayeux and Giles of Evreux. By crowning his eldest surviving son in his own lifetime Henry II followed the continental tradition, which had worked out for French and German kings. The king wanted to avoid future disputes over the succession. The coronation enraged Thomas Becket and renewed the long-lasting dispute over primacy betweenCanterbury andYork. The Archbishop of Canterbury reminded that it was the traditional right of the archbishop ofCanterbury, and not the archbishop ofYork, to perform coronations. In his turn, Archbishop Roger evoked Pope Gregory the Gr…