62 The Minority Abroad

Harmony with Scotland, the career of Llewellyn the Great, the loss of Poitou. During the minority of Henry, English prestige and power was at something of a low point – with the one exception of Gascony, where a supreme effort brought one success. And meanwhile in Southern France, the Cathars burned.


62 Henry and the Minority abroad


Llewellyn the Great 

Llewelly was both a warrior and consummate politician. He had a vision for a Wales united under one ruler (himself, in case you were wondering). And although Henry manged to hang on to the principle that other rulers of Wales should pay him homage, Llewellyn pretty much achieved the fact of a united Wales. After his death in 1240, historians point to the lack of  lasting legacy, but for 40 years Llewellyn dominated Welsh politics and more than held the English at bay. 

The loss of Poitou

Hubert de Burgh knew that the English were in a perilously weak position in Poitou - no cash, no power. But for a while they managed to get Phillip Augustus to renew the truces. Meanwhile they had to keep the powerful Lusignan clan happy in La Marche, going to the extent of betrothing little 10 year old Joan, daughter of John, to Hugh de Lusignan. 

Isabella of Angouleme left England and her son for her homeland; and then in 1220 dropped a bombshell. She stuck her palm in her daughter's face, pushed hard, and married Hugh de Lusignan herself, son of the man she had been betrothed to before John had come along. 

Then in 1224, Louis the new king of France did not renew the truce, and made alliance with Hugh and Isabella. By 1225 it was all over, Poitou was gone, and it looked like Gascony would go the same way – only Dax, Bayonne and Bordeaux held out. 

Gascony Saved

Medieval GasconyLouis left hugh to mop up – after all there were only 3 major towns holding out. But in fact the Gascons were determined to stay with England – afterall, that's where all their trade went. So they maintained and army in the field, and Henry managed to raise a tax.

So in 1225 William of Salisbury and Richard of Cornwall came over, and soon Hugh found himself pushed back to a few areas, including the town of La Reole. Louis tried to come back and help, but was ambushed trying to cross the Dordogne, and therefore unable to link up with Hugh., 

By the end of 1225, therefore, Gascony had been saved for the English crown for 200 years more.

10 thoughts on “62 The Minority Abroad

  1. can you please post a map of wales including where the marcher lords where. are any of the=m stil around today in the same family or notg. also a family tree for the plantagents

  2. What about Churchill’s histories make historians wince? I found them to be a pretty good overview of history, without delving deep into any single event.

  3. Hi Brian
    Yes, I agree – I love them. They are not taken seriously by historians (and I imagine I am being a bit sweeping here – there may be plenty of historians who love them for the same reason you and I do) for three reason I think; firstly simply because they are as you say pretty general; but secondly becuase though they tell the story well, they don’t really add anything new to the debate. And finally becuase they are very whiggish, and that approach with it’s story of an inevitable climb to democracy and international greatness is no longer very popular.
    Very happy to be corrected by a proper historian though!

  4. Although it is whiggish, Churchill’s History of Marborough is a cracker, and his research assistant was Maurice Ashley (I think), and there seems to be original research / analysis. Its as good as Trevellyan’s History of Queen Anne, though I guess you would say they are whigs of the same feather. But I’m no historian.
    Great podcast by the way.

  5. Yes, I remember reading the History of Marlborough – quite lengthy, but yes I remeber loving it. Though specifically the only thing I can remember is Churchill complaining about how Marlborough spelled the word ‘descent’. Odd what sticks in your mind isn’t it?
    And yes I think Trevellyan and Churchill are definately tarred with the same brush. I remember quoting Trevellyan in an essay once. Got hammered. Royally.

  6. My question is complicated and probably requires more than a short post but I’m curious about it so I’ll post anyway. When you explained the nature of warfare during the Norman England period, I was shocked by how few men were involved in battles, relative to other empires that I’ve learned about. The Romans, even during the time that they were confined to the Italian Peninsula, such as during the Punic Wars, supposedly fielded armies of tens of thousands. The Mongols during this period fielded massive, well trained armies that seemed to operate completely differently than the Normans’. I have a few hypotheses for this discrepancy: the combined population of Norman England was not large enough; the social stratification that created a warrior class necessarily excluded the average townsperson from participating. My favorite thought, however, is that the nature of warfare was such that war wasn’t a question of existence. You mentioned wasting, but the concept of “total war” doesn’t seem to exist at this time and location as it has during previous times and modern, i.e. WWII. The wars sound rather like a game of thrones to a noninvasive central power (by modern standards) that didn’t actually affect the life of the average townsperson. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue.
    Thank you, and I truly enjoy listening to your podcast.

  7. Hi Michael… yes, its a massive change isn’t it? There is some cause for uncertainty of course; one of the things is that a knight might be supported by several men at arms, and this ‘lance’ of the knight and his men at arms is by no means always a standard size; and given that the chroniclers didn’t really hold the common man to much account, they rarely got mentioned. So the armies could have been bigger. But I think your analysis is right; war was a matter for local feudal lords, rather than a large scale state like the Roman or Carthaginian empires; or a folk movement like the Mongols. It’s generally accepted that the population had fallen, but not in proportion to the size of the armies. War was a pastime of the Aristocracy by this time – amost a game. The thing that always struck me was the number of aristocrats who died – very small indeed.

  8. I came to this fantastic and informative podcast quite late via The History of the Roman and so I have only listened from 1066 and all that. I would love to listen from the beginning. How do I do this? I love your laid back style by the way and you really bring the whole thing to life for me and you keep it simple and so interesting. Thank you.
    Chris Kennedy,
    Aged 46,

  9. Hello,
    I am currently binge-listening to your wonderful podcast and I have one question. Could you tell me where you I could find the qoute about medieval skepticism? 24:12 “There are many people who do not believe God exists…” Which prior said that? Could you provide a link to the quote?
    Thank you and keep up the great work. It might take you centuries to finish it, but it only took me days to get to this episode. I guess binging is the best compliment.

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