Causes of the Great Rebellion

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Henry the Young King

  • He felt he was being deprived of his rightful inheritance, for example, Henry II gave John territory in Anjou as part of the arrangements made for his marriage to the daughter of the Count of Maurienne, Alice.
  • Furthermore the six year old John was given 3 castles (Chinon, Loudon, and Mirebeau). Henry believed they were part of his rightful inheritance and Chinon in particular was “an important centre of Plantagenet power” – Jones. This stressed the young King’s lack of authority.
  • The fact that Henry the Young King promised all these lands shows how he had no “Real understanding of kingship.” - Jones
  • He had been crowned twice, in June 1170 controversially by Roger Archbishop of York and again with his wife in August 1172 in Winchester. However “his father had assigned no lands whose revenue would allow him and his queen to live in the proper state”. He also felt constrained by the lack of resources he has access to as he had many knights but no means to provide rewards or gifts.
  • “His pride was wounded” – Jones
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Henry the Young King

  • Another grievance was that Henry would not allow him unlimited access to money to fund his lavish lifestyle. As a result he had to borrow money from private sources, usually Jewish money lenders who in this era were despised as much for the sin (so defined in cannon law) of Usury as for being ‘the killers of Christ.’ To make matters worse, the moneylenders regarded Henry’s son as a bad risk, since he had no real security in his lands and processions
  • “It angered the young king that his father would give him no real power”  - McLynn
  • "The young King served as a puppet for Louis and those allies who wished to erode Plantagenet power wherever they could.” – Jones
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King Louis VII

  • Weakens the ties between the Angevin empire – Henry, Richard and Geoffrey were fighting against their father, so there wouldn’t be a united Angevin front to threaten Louis.
  • Louis lost the Vexin due to Margaret’s marriage to Henry the Young King. The Vexin was a heavily contested border between the Angevin kings of England and Capetian France. It was of particular importance because of the close proximity to Paris and the location of the route to the coastal cities of Normandy.
  • “Louis fumed ineffectually as he watched his rival monarch gain another triumph at his expense”
  • When Henry YK was crowned again in 1172, Margaret wasn’t crowned with him.
  • Defamation of Henry. Louis allowed Becket to form a court in France when in exile from England. He also harbours Henry YK and feeds him rebellious ideas.
  • ‘What nonsense’ Louis replied. ‘The King of England is here. His father may pose as king, but that will soon be over, for all the world knows he has resigned his kingdom to his son’
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The English Barons

  • The king’s restoration of a strong government after the anarchy of Stephen’s reign – barons resented the control exerted by King Henry.
  • Hugh Earl of Chester was denied lands granted to his father, Hugh Bigod’s lands were threatened by anew royal castle at Orford and Robert Earl of Leicester was made to pay scutage.
  • Baronial castles were destroyed, crown lands reclaimed and the exchequer re-established; Scarborough castles was taken from William of Aumale and Bridgenorth from Hugh Mortimer
  • Financially oppressed by Henry - Cartae Baronum (1166) allowed scutage to be raised as a form of taxation.
  • Ralph of Diceto says that most men joined the Young King “not because they regarded him as the juster cause, but because the father was trampling upon the necks of the proud.”
  • “Promises flowed: land and revenues in England and Anjou were offered to the counts of Flanders, Boulogne and Blois. William the Lion was to have his long -coveted Northumberland.” – Bartlett 
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Eleanor of Aquitaine

  • Fear that Aquitaine was being “absorbed anonymously in Henry’s Angevin empire.” – McLynn 
  • Resented the implied power pyramid that put Aquitaine below Normandy and England.
  • Homage sworn by Raymond of Toulouse to both Richard and Henry the Young King. Dukes of Aquitaine (which Eleanor had wanted Richard to be) had always claimed Toulouse.
  • Anti-Anglo feeling in Poitou where she raised a rebellion.
  • Henry giving away Aquitaine though she’s the duchess. Part of Eleanor’s (their daughter’s) marriage dowry to the king of Castile was Gascony, part of Aquitaine.
  • Led her to bring herself, Richard and Geoffrey into the rebellion.
  • “Eleanor began to feel that she had been granted the most hollow form of power. She chose to rebel in search of the real thing”-Jones
  • King Henry’s infidelity provoked Eleanor
  • True measure of her responsibility is the reaction of her husband – Henry was lenient towards the rebels, barons were pardoned and his sons were granted increased lands, whilst Eleanor was imprisoned until his death.
  • “Henry, by his treatment of her, showed that he felt her to be largely responsible for the rebellion” – Barber 
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King William I of Scotland

  • William was the grandson of David I of Scotland – whom had rebelled previously against Henry II.
  • The ‘Anarchy’ in which King Stephen reigned allowed the Scottish to acquire a great deal of Northern England, including the region of Northumbria, and William had inherited that from his father Henry in 1152, with his brother Malcolm succeeding David as King of Scotland.
  • However, Henry forced William to give up the title of Earl when he was 14. William’s main reason for revolting in 1173 was to reclaim Northumberland.
  • The responsibility of King William is shown by the harsh terms placed on Scotland in the treaty of Falaise.
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Richard and Geoffrey

  • The treatment of their mother Eleanor
  • Richard had not yet been given control of Aquitaine and was annoyed that Henry YK received homage from Raymond of ToulouseGeoffrey had ambitions for an independent Brittany, which was currently being run by Henry
  • Richard and Poitevin allies angry at meeting of great southern powers at Limoges (21st-25th Feb)
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Henry's other European rival

  • Theobald of Blois, Matthew count of Boulogne and his elder brother count Philip of Flanders pledged their support to Henry YK as Henry I was “trampling on the necks of the proud and the haughty, was dismantling and appropriating the castles of those who occupied properties which should have contributed to his treasury to be content with the with their patrimony” 
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