The Plantagenet Empire 1154-1224

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9780582784390: The Plantagenet Empire 1154-1224
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The Plantagenet dynasty secured and then lost most of Western Europewithin the space of a century. In this new translation by David Crouch Martin Aurell revives the passion and politics, revolts and reversals of the Plantagenet Empire

By 1125 young Henry II found himself the head of what was to become known as the Plantagenet Empire, a disparate conglomerate of lands stretching from Scotlandto the Pyrenees, From Ireland to Limousin, founded on both civil war and family ties. Through its three generations of existence civil war and familial passions were to be both the source of sustenance and ultimate destruction of the Empire. This retelling of the drama of the era includes: the murder of Thomas Beckett, advisor to Henry II and later bishop of Canterbury; the wars of rebellion of Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland  against their father Henry II; the crusades of Richard the Lionheart culminating in his capture; and the eventual crumbling of the empire under the reign of Henry III at the hands of his father’s widow and Louis VIII. 

Aurell’s superb knowledge of the complex sources for the period uncovers a world where sophisticated decision making and modern political manoeuvring: a world where political spin and propaganda were deliberately employed by Plantagenet Kings in ideological warfare against their rivals.    

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“Professor Crouch has done an admirable service for non-Francophone historians by translating Martin Aurell's L'Empire des Plantagenet.  It is a fascinating thematic study of Angevin kingship and government, taking a very different approach from most English language works.  The publishers too must be congratulated for commissioning the translation.” John Hudson, St. Andrew's University

Within the space of a century, the Plantagenet dynasty secured and then lost much of Western Europe.  Through his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152, young Henry II, claimant to the throne of England, found himself the head of a vast territory. Stretching from Scotland in the north to the Pyrenees in the south and from Ireland in the west eastwards to Limousin, the Plantagenet Empire was founded and maintained through a combination of war and family ties. In order to maintain control, Henry II created a bureaucratic state run by intellectuals, skilled in the art of political spin and propaganda, and deliberately employed to wage ideological warfare against his Capetian rivals.

In this new translation by David Crouch, Martin Aurell revives the passion and politics, revolts and reversals of the Plantagenet Empire. Using the complex sources for the period, the author uncovers an intricate web of sophisticated decision making and political manoeuvring, and brings to life the world of the 12th-century political consultants and gurus: men capable of thinking in the sort of geo-political terms hitherto unimagined in the earlier medieval period. 

In the retelling of the drama, Aurell recounts the murder of Thomas Beckett, advisor to Henry II and later bishop of Canterbury; the implacable hatred of Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland towards their father Henry II; the crusades of Richard the Lionheart; and the eventual crumbling of the empire under Henry III.

A must read for any serious medievalist and all university students studying the twelfth and thirteenth century, David Crouch’s superb translation now allows an English-speaking audience access to this fascinating study of power at its source.

Martin Aurell is Professor of Medieval History at the Universityof Poitiers.  He is the author of several books, including Actes de la Famille Porcelet d’Arles, 972-1320 (2001) and, with Jean-Paul Boyer and Noel Coulet, La Provence au Moyen Age (2005). 

David Crouch is Professor of Medieval History at the Universityof Hull.  His publications include William Marshal (2002) and The Birth of Nobility: Constructing Aristocracy in England and France , 950-1350 (2005).

Review:

"Professor Crouch has done an admirable service for non-Francophone historians by translating Martin Aurell's L'Empire des Plantagenet.  It is a fascinating thematic study of Angevin kingship and government, taking a very different approach from most English language works.  The publishers too must be congratulated for commissioning the translation."

John Hudson, St. Andrew's University

"The Plantagenet Empire is a valuable addtion to the literature that introduces a welcome French perspective to Anglophone readers."
Michael Evans, Central Michigan University

 

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