The fortress of Chinon
The Loire valley is steeped in history and characters and throughout the middel ages and onwards the history of France and its relationship with the UK has ben interlinked. If you come and stay with us at Manoir de Gourin you will be able to partake in the experience. Henry of Anjou or Henry Plantagenet as he was named after the sprig of broom his father Geoffrey of Anjou wore in his hat.
Henry II (5 March 1133 – 6 July 1189), also known as Henry FitzEmpress or Henry Plantagenet, ruled as King of England (1154–89), Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled Wales, Scotland and Brittany. Henry was born to Geoffrey of Anjou and the Empress Matilda. Henry became actively involved in his mother’s efforts to claim the throne of England by the age of 14, and he was made the Duke of Normandy at 17. Henry inherited Anjou in 1151 and shortly afterwards married Eleanor of Aquitaine, the recent divorced wife of the French king Louis VII. Henry intervened in England again in 1153, leading to King Stephen agreeing peace terms in 1153 and Henry inheriting the kingdom on Stephen’s death a year later. Still quite young, Henry now controlled an empire stretching across western Europe.
Henry was an energetic and sometimes ruthless ruler, driven by a desire to restore the lands and privileges of his grandfather, Henry I. During the early years of his reign he restored the royal administration in England, re-established hegemony over Wales and gained full control over his lands in Anjou, Maine and Touraine. Henry rapidly came into conflict with Louis VII and the two rulers fought what has been termed a “Cold War” over several decades. Henry expanded his empire, often at Louis’ expense, taking Brittany, pushing east into central France and south into Toulouse. Despite numerous peace conferences and treaties no permanent peace could be agreed. Henry undertook various legal reforms in both England and Normandy, establishing the basis for the future English Common Law, and reformed the royal finances and currency. Although Henry usually worked well with the local hierarchies of the Church, his desire to control and reform the relationship between the Church in England led to conflict with his former friend, the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket. This controversy lasted for much of the 1160s and resulted in Becket’s death in 1170, for which Henry was widely blamed.
As Henry’s reign progressed he had many children with Eleanor and tensions over the future inheritance of the empire began to emerge, encouraged by first Louis VII and then Philip Augustus. In 1173 Henry’s first son, the Young Henry, rebelled in protest at his treatment by Henry; he was joined by his brothers Richard, Geoffrey and by their mother, Eleanor. France, Scotland, Flanders and Boulogne allied with the rebels against Henry. The Great Revolt spread across Henry’s lands and was only defeated by Henry’s vigorous military action and talented local commanders, many of them “new men” appointed for their loyalty and administrative skills. Henry was mostly generous in victory and appeared at the height of his powers. Young Henry and Geoffrey revolted again in 1183, however, resulting in Young Henry’s death. Despite invading Ireland to provide lands for his youngest son, John, Henry struggled to find ways to satisfy all his sons’ desires for land and immediate power. Philip successfully played on Richard’s fears that Henry would make John the King of England and a final rebellion broke out in 1189. Decisively defeated by Philip and Richard and suffering from a bleeding ulcer, Henry retreated to Anjou where he died.
If you come over and stay at Manoir de Gourin you will be able to experience Chinon and Fontevraud Abbet where Henry and his queen Eleanor are buried. Cheers.