158 Catastrophe at Arras

    In December 1431, Henry VIth became the only king of England crowned king of France in France. Which sounds great. But in fact it was a sign of English weaknessRead More

    107 The Death of Joan

    In 1348 a 14 year old royal princess, Joan, set out from Portsmouth to marry Pedro of Castile. Her route went by Bordeaux, and with the massive trousseau she carriedRead More

    106 Calais and Neville’s Cross

    By the end of the march across Normandy in 1346, Edward had accepted that he was not going to be able to hold French territory. But he had a clearRead More

    101 King of France and England

    Edward faced a weary time, a weary time. His allies demanded money, he had none to give them. So they refused to  fight, while the French closed in on GasconyRead More

    80 In which we Dawdle

    When Edward I arrived back in 1289 from Gascony, he was in many ways at the height of his awesomeness. A chivalric monarch, a leading statesman in Christendom, and atRead More

    79 Conqueror and Statesman

    The second Anglo Welsh war was very different in character to the first. Here was a genuinely national uprising against rule by the English. Here was a war with noRead More

    75 Nemesis

    In April 1265 Gilbert de Clare had left court in something of a huff. De Montfort was well aware that if he lost de Clare, his whole hold on powerRead More

    74 The Wheel of Fortune

     In 1264 when De Montfort set out from London he would have been conscious that this was a last throw; after losses to the Royalists in the midlands his onlyRead More

    73 Return of the Jedi

    In 1262, it looked for all the world as though the royal party was back in control and the whole struggle for reform was over. But that was before youRead More

    72 The Empire Strikes Back

     Things looked pretty good for the reformers in 1259; but at the heart of the reform movement were fault lines that weakened them, and made them vulnerable. The differing aimsRead More

    71 Enter the Leopard

    We sort of get back to the political narrative this week, but only sort of. We discuss the young prince, Edward, who will be one of England's most famous kingsRead More

    66 The Road to Revolution

    In 1258, the resentments all came together and the pot boiled over. The pope Alexander did his vassal no favours what so ever by pushing so hard that Henry hadRead More

    63 The Last Great Justiciar

    From 1227 to 1234 we are sort of in betweeners – the minority has ended, but Henry's government in still dominated by the old guard, people like Hubert de Burgh.Read More

    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 –Read More

    61 The Minority of Henry III

    The years between 1219 and 1227 saw the gradual resumption of royal power. It also saw a power struggle between Peter des Roches, the Bishop of Winchester, and Hubert deRead More

    58 Tyranny and Defeat

    From 1213 to 1214, John seemed to have got his problems more under control, and had built an alliance that looked to be capable of taking on Philip. There wasRead More

    57 The Excommunicate

    John took a detailed interest in administration, and made effective changes to the way things worked. Partly his interest was motivated by the need to raise money – as inflationRead More

    54 Fighting Back – A Bit

    John immediately launched attempts to get his lands back – and ran into the Barons. He does run up a pretty good Navy though. And we hear of Roland theRead More

    53 Torn Apart – Loss of an Empire

    After the defection of William des Roches the military situation was poor for John but not irretrievable. Unfortunately, John failed to provide the leadership needed.  He distrusted his barons; heRead More

    52 John Softsword

    As a younger man, John had been given the nickname Lackland because unlike his brothers he didn't have his own appanage. At the Treaty of Le Goulet in May 1200Read More

    51 The Fouler Presence of John?

    In 1199, Richard the Lion Heart died after being shot by a cook outside the castle of Chalus in the Limousin. The Empire was split between supporters of Arthur andRead More

    50 Defence of the Empire

    The war between Richard and Phillip went on from 1194-1198 in fits and starts ; usually there was no more than 3 months of fighting before a truce came along.Read More

    48 Richard and The Third Crusade

    Was the Third Crusade a success or a failure? While it failed to achieve its objective, it was the most successful after the First Crusade. It rescued Outremer from anRead More

    49 Travel Chaos

    Richard set off from Outremer right at the end of the sailing season – October. He knew the Duke of Austria, the Holy Roman Emperor, Count of Toulouse and KingRead More

    47 The Fall of Jerusalem

    For 50 or so years after the capture of Jerusalem, Outremer was a part of the political and military dance between Christian and Muslim states. Then in 1144, signs ofRead More

    46 Richard and the Road to Outremer

    Richard set off from Sicily probably intending to go straight to the Holy Land. But a chance storm enforced a landing at Cyprus, where the locals were not friendly. WhichRead More

    45 Packing the Bags

    Richard came into the lands of his father and was crowned at Westminster in 1189.  For the next 6 months he was packing his bags,  cleaning the fridge and gettingRead More

    44 Introducing the Lion Heart

    To most contemporaries, Richard I was a hero. Since then his reputation has suffered badly, until even Winston Churchill describes him as the worst of our Richards – which givenRead More

    43a Aelfthryth by Melisende of Outremer

    Ælfthryth was a controversial figure. Wife of King Edgar,  mother of Æthelred the Unready – and possibly murderer of her step son, Edward? Melisende of Outremer looks at the lifeRead More

    43 The Greatest of all Monarchs

    In 1173-4 Henry was faced by a revolt by his wife, children and many of his leading barons. 1183 to his death in 1189 were years where Henry was increasingly besetRead More

    42 English Justice and The Irish Invasion

    Henry's far sighted reform of justice; and Richard Strongbow and Norman invasion of Ireland So here are two completely unconnected subjects then! Henry is responsible for reforms to the processRead More

    41 Murder in the Cathedral

    After Thomas recanted from his signature of the Constitutions of Clarendon, things got really nasty. Before long, Thomas was in exile, and Henry couldn't care less. But by 1167 theRead More

    40 Bishop Trouble

    The 1160's. A time of consolidation of the Angevin Empire, still ruled by a dynamic, young and aggressive Henry. But mainly remembered for the start of the  struggle between churchRead More

    38 Born of the Devil – the Angevins

    Geniuses, devils, spoilt brats, villains, heroes; war, sex, violence, bravery, treachery, peace, reform… the Angevins that founded the Plantagenet dynasty have it all, in spades. Not so much history, asRead More

    36 Magnates and Churchmen

    After joining Henry II's household, William's rise was steady – but with the arrival of Richard the Lion Heart it really took off. By the time of his death heRead More

    34 Anarchy III – Resolution

    Stephen and Matilda fought themselves to a standstill, until the Empress tires of the struggle, and essentially leaves the stage around 1149. Many of her key supporters die – MilesRead More

    32 When Christ and his Saints Slept

    ‘…they said openly that christ and his saints slept’. This stunning phrase gives us an image of devastation hat led to the period being called ‘The Anarchy’. In this episode,Read More

    29 England in the reign of Henry I

    After the initial struggle for succession and baronial revolt, England itself was pretty peaceful during Henry’s reign. The church & state debate needed fixing. And Normandy was a constant battle,Read More