Plantagenet – first and last

The Origin of Plantagenet

Geoffrey, Count of Anjou (1113 – 1151 (38)) liked to wear a sprig of broom in his hat.  Broom is known as planta genesta in Latin, genêt in French – which was how come Geoffrey got known as Plantagenet.  He married Henry I’s daughter Matilda (c1102 – 1167 (65)) (widow of Emperor Henry V) in 1127.  She was 11 years older than Geoffrey and an (ex) Empress), and was a bit grumpy about being fobbed off onto a mere count, albeit a bit of a stud.
Matilda was Henry of England’s nominated successor, and went to the west of England to assemble an army to enforce the dead King’s wishes, but she was opposed by her cousin Stephen who after several years of conflict managed to see her off back to Anjou.
Geoffrey and Matilda parented three kids, the oldest of whom succeeded where Matilda had failed, and became Henry II of England – the first of the Plantagenet Kings of England, husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine, ruler of over half of Western Europe (see below) and father of Kings Richard and John.  Geoffrey’s tomb is supposed to be in Le Mans Cathedral, but when we went there to look for him nothing was signed and the priest we asked had never heard of him – notwithstanding this the cathedral (but not Le Mans itself) is well worth a visit.  Matilda was buried in the Abbey of Bec and later transferred to Rouen Cathedral.
The dynasty (and some others the county spawned across Europe) is also known as Angevin (as are the citizens of Angers, its medieval capital).
When you come across a large area of Broom, enjoy its honey perfume and spare a thought for Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, and the hat habit that bred one of the iconic dynastic names in medieval European history.

The Last Plantagenet

The last Plantagenet (and Yorkist) King was Richard III 1452-1483-1485 (32) who fell at the Battle of Bosworth (22 August 1485) when his army was defeated by that of Henry Tudor (Henry VII) 1457-1485-1509 (52)
On  the left is the fan vaulted ceiling of the Chantry Chapel built for (but never occupied by) Margaret, Countess of Salisbury – the Last Plantagenet – in Christchurch Priory.  She was executed, aged 67, in the Tower of London on the 27 May 1541, in one of the most paranoid acts of the paranoid Henry VIII, and buried in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower.
The cause of Henry’s antagonism was her son, Reginald Cardinal Pole, who had opposed “the divorce” but whom Henry could not get his hands on directly, being as how he had sensibly gone overseas to help run the Council of Trent.  Pole later returned to England after Henry was safely dead and buried, and was the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury – inter alia helping Queen Mary to burn Protestants.  In the end he and Mary died on the same day – 17 November 1558.  Margaret was later recognized as a martyr by the Roman Catholic Church and was beatified in 1886, but her body never got to enjoy her chantry.  Cardinal Archbishop Reggie’s unarresting tomb is in Canterbury Cathedral.

Canadian descendant of Richard III is asked to give DNA after ‘grave’ find…


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