Tag: AToZChallenge

Knights Templar

Knights Templar also known as the Poor Knights of Christ was a military monastic order dedicated to the crusades. Formed by nine knights in 1118 to protect pilgrims in the holy land. The order was named after its headquarters known as Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The headquarters was moved to Acre after Jerusalem fell to Saladin in 1187.

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The Templars began to amass riches in the crusader states in East and West Europe. Although the Knights Templar were involved in many disputes primarily with their rivals the Hospitallers that lead to endangering the defences of the Holy Land their bravery was unquestioned.  The siege of Damietta part of the fifth crusade in 1219 won them much admiration where they were heavily outnumbered yet the crusaders managed to take control of the city.

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In 1307 the Templars were tortured by Philip IV of France for heresy and five years later the order was dissolved and the Templars wealth split amongst the Hospitallers. The last grand master, Jaque de Molay was burned to death in 1314.

Recommended reading if you would like to know more about the Knights Templar.

Secrets of the Knights Templar: The Hidden History of the World’s Most Powerful Order

John Lackland – King John of England

John was the youngest son of Henry II was born 1167. Although John gained the nickname Lackland because he received no major fiefs from his father he remained his father’s favourite son. He joined his brother Richard I to conspire against his father. Following his father’s death in 1189 Richard became King. Richard duly bestowed upon John a number of Lordships.

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He married Isabella of Gloucester, who was sixteen years old, in 1189 and divorced her as she failed to produce any children and an heir to throne.

John fell out with Richard following him appointing Arthur the duke of Brittany as the successor to the throne. John whilst Richard was away on the third crusade plotted against him with the assistance of Philip II of France. When Richard was taken prison and held in Germany John tried to prolong his imprisonment and take the throne for himself but was denied by Eleanor and others loyal to Richard. Richard after his release eventually pardoned John and named him as his successor.

John became King in 1189 following Richard’s death and following the divorce remarried Isabella of Angouleme.

Arthur, duke of Brittany and John’s nephew, made claim to the throne and proved a danger and John won a considerable victory at Mirebeau gaining him great respect. Arthur was held prisoner and was treated cruelly and was murdered whilst imprisoned rumoured to be upon John’s orders. This created tensions with his subjects in France and he lost possession of Normandy, Maine, Anjou and others. The overall losses damaged his reputation immensely a trait of John’s.

John had further complication when the archbishop of Canterbury died and the monks elected successor was rejected by John that created great anger with the pope that placed England in interdict in 1208.

Problems arose in Ireland with the Anglo-Norman lords which John managed to temporarily overthrow. However on his return to England there was hostility from the English barons over costly expeditions to France to recovers lands that John had previously lost. John continued to try to raise revenue from the barons who refused and rose up against John eventually getting John to agree to the terms of the Magna Carta in 1215 at Runnymede. This was the  first of a series of concessions by which English monarchs lost powers in raising taxes without the agreement of the barons.

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The Magna Carta however failed to stop John behaviour as he chose simply to ignore it and waged war against the barons. This could have been the end of the Plantagenet reign if it was not for John’s death in 1216. This allowed peace and a quick agreement to install John’s son Henry III under the regent of William Marshal to continue the Plantagenet dynasty.

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If you wold like to know more about King John I would recommend the following book:

King John (The Yale English Monarchs Series)

Aquitaine – Eleanor of Aquitaine

Fortunately on my A-Z on The Plantagenet’s we conveniently start with A for Aquitaine, Eleanor of Aquitaine. The most influential women and one that is synonymous with the Plantagenet dynasty. She was born the daughter of William X, duke of Aquitaine; the exact date of her birth is unknown although believed to be circa 1122. During this period female records such as registering births were not considered an importance and a lot of Eleanor’s early life is based on speculation.  It has been suggested that her doting father provided her with an education that covered history and arithmetic that would equal an educated of a nobleman so that she would not be a submissive queen but one that would influence and rule.

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Eleanor only brother died in 1130 leaving her as heir presumptive of one of the largest domains in France. She succeeded to the duchy of Aquitaine in 1137, and the same year married Louis VII of France.

She travelled with Louis on the second crusade, in 1147 to 1149, and it was here that her marriage broke down and in 1152 the marriage was annulled.

She then married Henry Plantagenet the duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou. In 1154 Henry became King of England. Now under Plantagenet leadership were England, Normandy and the West of France. The marriage between the two was a fiery one, both were every headstrong, and with Henry’s infidelities made the relationship a strained one. She bore Henry five sons and three daughters. There was strife within the family when in 1173 she supported her sons, Henry the Young King, Richard and Geoffrey when they rebelled against King Henry. Henry defeated the rebellion and Eleanor was imprisoned for sixteen years until Henry’s death in 1189.

Richard I now became King of England and the relationship between Richard and Eleanor had always been a close and special one. In Richard’s absence from the country whilst on the Third Crusade, Eleanor ruled England as regent.

Eleanor was an able and intelligent queen was received approval and popularity from her citizens. On Richards’s death in 1199 she supported John’s claim to the throne against his nephew Arthur, duke of Brittany.

She died on 31 March 1204 and was buried in the Plantagenet funerary church at Fontevrault next to Henry II.

If you would like to find out more about Eleanor of Aquitaine I strongly recommend the books of Elizabeth Chadwick. One of my favourite authors for historical fiction.

Click here The Winter Crown (Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy)


A to Z of The Plantagenets

For each day in April 2016 I will be writing about The Plantagenets. A family that ruled over England from the 12th to the 15th century. A family powerful and feared, a English history of violence, power, betrayal and greed. This is a family like no other so be sure to join me on my quest as I research and write up the story of The Plantagenets.

The planned schedule is listed below:

A 01/04/16 Aquitaine – Eleanor of Aquitaine
B 02/04/16 Battle of Bannockburn
C 04/04/16 Crusades – Richard The Lionheart
D 05/04/16 Simon de Montfort
E 06/04/16  Evesham – Battle of Evesham
F 07/04/16 Falconry
G 08/04/16 Gory Medieval Tortures
H 09/04/16 Henry II
I 11/04/16 Isabella ‘the She-wolf’ of France
J 12/04/16 John Lackland – King John of England
K 13/04/16 Knights Templar
L 14/04/16 Longshanks – Edward I
M 15/04/16 The Marshal – William Marshal
N 16/04/16 Nuns and Infamous Military Campaign of 1379
O 18/04/16 Oxford – Provisions of Oxford
P 19/04/16 Plague – The Black Death or Bubonic Plague 1348 – 1350
Q 20/04/16  Quercy – Treaty of Paris 1259
R 21/04/16 Richard II
S 22/04/16  Stephen – King Stephen of England
T 23/04/16 Thomas Becket
U 25/04/16  Usury – Moneylending in Medieval England
V 26/04/16  Villages in Medieval England
W 27/04/16 William Wallace
X 28/04/16 X for Cross – Eleanor Cross
Y 29/04/16 Young King Henry
Z 30/04/16  Z the end of the Alphabet and the end of my story of The Plantagenets

A-Z Challenge of The Plantagenets

For this Fridays blog I have decided to reveal my A-Z Challenge subject. The question was should I choose random subjects each day or stick to a specific topic. Obviously random would have been far easier but where is the fun in that, so I have opted to do an A-Z of The Plantagenets.

The Plantagenets my favourite dynasty that ruled England for 400 year in medieval times. A family ruled by greed and power, hate and love. And, if that is not enough there is deceit and some of the bloodiest and cruelest battles in history. I am currently working on my list for each letter and will publish that soon. Subscribe so you don’t miss any and get updates when each publication is issued on this fascinating trip across medieval England.


The A-Z Challenge runs throughout April 2016 and on each day excluding Sunday I will write about a  different subject working through A to Z.