The Angevin Empire 1150–1214

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Map Code: Ax01886

For the Angevin Empire inheritance and marriage were the primary means of acquiring territory. Before becoming king of England, Henry II (r. 1154–89) acquired Normandy through his mother and Brittany through his father. Marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine (1152) brought the duchy of Aquitaine, as well as Poitou, Gascony and Auvergne. Technically, these territories were enfeoffed to Louis VI, King of France, and Eleanor’s ex-husband. Concerned about Angevin encroachment, Louis and his successor Philip II took every opportunity to sow discord amongst Henry’s potential successors. Louis supported the Great Revolt (1173–74), in which Eleanor and her sons combined against Henry. Henry’s vigorous response retained his French possessions, subdued the rebellious north of England, and brought suzerainty over Scotland, whose king had allied with the upstarts. Henry’s invasion of Ireland (1171) cemented Norman control in eastern Ireland, but his Welsh expeditions (1157, 1165) resulted in two humiliating defeats. Henry’s youngest son, John ‘Lackland’ (1199–1216) would oversee the loss of most of his French Empire.

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