The Demon's Brood
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The Plantagenets reigned over England longer than any other family - from Henry II, to Richard III. Four kings were murdered, two came close to deposition and another was killed in a battle by rebels. Shakespeare wrote plays about six of them, further entrenching them in the National Myth.
Based on major contemporary sources and recent research, acclaimed historian Desmond Seward provides the first readable overview of the whole extraordinary dynasty, in one volume.
Odysseus.’ 21 A disputed succession England had never known such prosperity, while the Plantagenet territories in France were unusually peaceful. Yet Henry nearly destroyed it all by announcing what would happen after his death – his eldest son Henry would rule England, Normandy, Anjou and Maine; Richard Aquitaine; Geoffrey Maine; and John Ireland.22 The flaw was that each son had set his heart on inheriting everything. Henry did not expect them to rebel and the mural at Winchester Castle
Chronica Rogeri de Wendover, ii, p. 50. 25. S. Duffy, ‘John and Ireland, the Origin of England’s Irish Problem’, in King John: New Approaches, p. 242. 26. Annals of Barnwell Priory, ii, p. 203. 27. Chronica Rogeri de Wendover, ii, p. 248. 28. Painter, The Reign of King John, pp. 249–50. 29. Warren, King John, p. 191. 30. Chronica Rogeri de Wendover, ii, p. 263. 31. Holt, Magna Carta, quoted by Turner in King John: New Interpretations, p. 320. 32. Harper-Bill, ‘King John and the Church of
official in London that funds for his immediate needs were available at the Tower, he arrived there at midnight, having sailed up the Thames, so unexpectedly that the constable was away. He then sacked the chancellor, the treasurer and three senior judges, arresting leading merchants and legal officials for corruption. He also tried to send the previous chancellor, Archbishop Stratford, to Flanders as security for his debts. Stratford, who saw himself as another Becket, compared the king to the
In January 1382 he married Anne of Bohemia, daughter of the Emperor Charles IV, King of Bohemia – son of the blind king killed at Crécy. The court at Prague where she grew up was French and German speaking with Slavonic undertones, and her mother was Polish. The couple became devoted to each other, but there were no children – perhaps she was barren. (The crown Richard commissioned for her is among the most superb pieces of medieval goldsmiths’ art to survive.) From the start, she had a good
slipping out of the cloak to fly up into the air, vanishing through a church window, with two sons under her arm. Neither the demon countess nor the boys was ever seen again.3 But she left behind the other sons. This is the account given by Gerald of Wales, who was a courtier of Henry II and his son Richard I. Gerald’s friend, Walter Map, tells a similar tale in his Courtiers’ Trifles, but tactfully does not mention the Plantagenets. He describes the ‘loveliest of girls’ who captured the heart