Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Enter the Plantagenets

The Plantagenets acquired their surname for a really stupid reason.  Apparently Geoffrey, Matilda's DH, thunk he looked awesomely jaunty when he stuck a sprig of broom into his hatband.  This is a tall yellowish flower & its Latin genus name is planta genesta.  So there ya go.

This Henry wasn't even out of his teens yet, but he was no slouch. Not only did he have a good international rep as a smart dude, he pulled off an amazing political coup & not only ended up being King of England, but owning most of France as well.

Henry II

See, the King of France & his wife had been wed a good long time & had 2 daughters, Marie & Alix, but the French had this thing called Salic Law where girls couldn't succeed to the throne, so the Frenchies were getting concerned about their own heirs & urged him to divorce the old hag & get a new, young, nubile, fecund bride to play w/. Louis (there are 11dy6 Louis of France & Scarlet cannot keep their #s straight) preferred praying, so he wasn't all that fussed.  In fact, when Louis went on Crusade to the Holy Land & took his wife along, she'd approached the Pope about getting rid of him.  The Pope thwacked Louis upside the head & said, praying is wonderful, but you need to actually SLEEP w/ your wife to get a son, ya dolt!  Twas rumored at the time that the Queen of France was having an affair w/ Raymond of Antioch, who was her half-uncle, even.  The Pope told them to straighten up & fly right already & play nicely w/ each other.  The queen was irritated b/c the king went right back to telling his rosary beads as soon as they got to Paris & the Pope couldn't smack him no more.  The Frenchies glared at them both & but preferred to blame the foreign wench for the lack of sons, so Louis had to get rid of her & find a new bride.

So Eleanor of Aquitaine came back on the marriage market at the ripe old age of 30 & young Henry Fitz-Empress, greedy for her vast sprawl of lands, snatched her up despite her bad breeding record. Twas all queens were supposed to do, you understand. And wasn't old Louis de France's face red HA HA b/c all he got out of his next wife was 2 more girls, but Eleanor kept popping out sons for Henry like ya wouldn't believe. In an age of high infant mortality, it was astonishing that all but one of their kidlets lived to grow up, even more gobsmacking as Eleanor kept producing them well into her 40s. There was William (who demised in infancy), Henry, Matilda, Richard, Geoffrey, Eleanor, Joanna, & John.  Eleanor's DOB is a tad uncertain but they reckon 1122, which made her nigh on 46 by the time John made his appearance.  Betcha Louis watched this neverending cavalcade of Plantagenet infants & thwacked his own head LOL  8 kids in 14 yrs!  When in the same amt of time all Louis's little swimmers could manage were 2 HA HA  It wasn't until Louis demised that Eleanor was able to see her 2 elder daughters again, prolly as punishment for having spectacular eggs & making Louis look like the dork he was.

This is the start of the Plantagenet dynasty & this particular crop of kidlets was known as the Devil's Brood b/c of their bad tempers & greediness. All the boys kept pestering Dad for more more more of his vast empire the older they got. The oldest surviving son, Henry, was known as the Young King b/c he was crowned as Dad's heir in Dad's lifetime. YK also married one of Louis's girls, Marguerite, by the 2nd wife, which was practically incestuous & must've cost a fortune in papal dispensations b/c the Catholic Church just didn't hand them out like candy. YK was sent off to be raised in the household of Henry's chancellor, Thomas a Becket, b/c they got rid of their kids early on then & pawned them off on other peeps. When the old Archbishop of Canterbury died Henry had this brainfart that if Becket took Holy Orders & filled the vacancy in addition to still being chancellor, Henry could get his way in everything sans opposition. He was like that. Ya didn't say NO to Henry, or else. But the joke was on him HA HA b/c Becket got religion & resigned from the chancellorship & started sassing Henry on spiritual matters & Henry was all HUH? b/c he didn't see that coming.

Eventually Becket ticked off Henry enough for him to bellow WILL NO ONE RID ME OF THIS TURBULENT PRIEST???....
the murder of Thomas a Becket
in Canterbury Cathedral

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