Week 7

The Plantagenets: Henry II, Richard I, John I, Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, Edward III.
The formation of the English state.
Henry II and the creation of English Common Law.
How did he do it?
Common Law vs. Continental Law (Roman)
The Rights of Englishmen.

This week we begin to study the extraordinary family to which King Henry II belonged: the Plantagenets. Henry descended on his mother's side from the kings of England, and on his father's side (Geoffrey of Anjou) from the great Norman dukes of Normandy and Anjou. The name Plantagenet came from the yellow flowery plant that Geoffrey put into his hat or helmet so that his men would know where he was in a battle. It was both courageous and challenging. His son Henry inherited Normandy, Anjou and Brittany from him, and then young Henry married Eleanor of Aquitaine and added the huge duchy of Aquitaine to his titles. Then in 1154, he was crowned King of England. Dan Jones' great book about the whole family is a good place to start if you would like to know more about these amazing people.


Dan Jones,

The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England,

Viking, 2013,

ISBN ISBN-10: 9780670026654

From Booklist
They may lack the glamour of the Tudors or the majesty of the Victorians, but in Jones’ latest book, the Plantagenets are just as essential to the foundation of modern Britain. As he chronicles the entire dynasty, beginning with Geoffrey of Anjou (commonly adorned with a sprig of Planta genista, which gave his line their moniker), familiar dramatis personae emerge. Of course, there’s the recklessly brave Lionheart and the incomparably inept John, but Jones devotes ample time to the forces at work that shaped the kingdom. The great battles against the Scots and French and the subjugation of the Welsh make for thrilling reading but so do the equally enthralling struggles over succession, the Magna Carta, and the Provisions of Oxford. Many of these early inklings toward a permanent parliament and the rule of law would find a much fuller and fraught expression under the Stewarts, but they begin here. Written with prose that keeps the reader captivated throughout accounts of the span of centuries and the not-always-glorious trials of kingship, this book is at all times approachable, academic, and entertaining. --James Orbesen

“Like the medieval chroniclers he quarries for juicy anecdotes, Jones has opted for a bold narrative approach anchored firmly upon the personalities of the monarchs themselves yet deftly marshaling a vast supporting cast of counts, dukes, and bishops. . . . Fast-paced and accessible, The Plantagenets is old-fashioned storytelling and will be particularly appreciated by those who like their history red in tooth and claw. Mr. Jones tackles his subject with obvious relish.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“Delicious . . . Jones has produced a rollicking, compelling book produced a rollicking, compelling book about a rollicking, compelling dynasty, one that makes the Tudors who followed them a century later look like ginger pussycats. . . . The Plantagenets is told with the latest historical evidence and rich in detail and scene-setting. You can almost smell the sea salt as the White Ship sinks, and hear the screams of the tortured at the execution grounds at Tyburn.”
—USA Today

“Jones has brought the Plantagenets out of the shadows, revealing them in all their epic heroism and depravity. His is an engaging and readable account—itself an accomplishment given the gaps in medieval sources and a 300-year tableau—and yet researched with the exacting standards of an academician. The result is an enjoyable, often harrowing journey through a bloody, insecure era in which many of the underpinnings of English kingship and ¬Anglo-American constitutional thinking were formed.”
—The Washington Post

“Outstanding . . . Majestic in its sweep, compelling in its storytelling, this is narrative history at its best. A thrilling dynastic history of royal intrigues, violent skullduggery, and brutal warfare across two centuries of British history.”
—Simon Sebag Montefiore, bestselling author of Jerusalem: The Biography

“This is history at its most epic and thrilling. I would defy anyone not to be right royally entertained by it.”
—Tom Holland