John and the loss of Normandy

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Why did War break out in 1202?

  • John's marriage to Isabella of Angloueme was very controversial - she was engaged to Hugh of Lusifnam at the time, who was outraged due to no attempt at a compromise from John
  • Lusifnam complained to Philip II, who saw the situation as an opportunity to win over French lands (John had accepted that he was Philip's vassal and that Arthur was to hold lands from him in Anjou and Brittany (in 1200))
  • As a result Arthur, Philip and Lusifnam were allies against John
  • Inititally, John was successful in the war, making the first breakthrough in 1202 at the battle of Mirebeau in which he captured Arthur and other noble prisoners
  • This led to the war turning in Philip's favour in 1203
  • By 1204 Philip had captured Normandy, most of Anjou and parts of Aquitane
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Why did John lose the war?

  • The death of many French nobles under imprisonment from John, and Arthur's death  in 1203 can be seen as a reason for the loss of loyalty from many of John's French vassals (breaking the shivalry code)
  • John's personality - suspicious of all his vassals, treating them poorly "maltread and pillaged his subjects as though in an enemy country" (Louvrecaire), erratic and unreliable e.g return to England from Aug 1203 to spring 1204
  • John's poor finance skills
  • Richard's legacy - drained Crown's coffers to fund wars with France, the crusade, and his ransom. John inherited debts and reduced revenue income
  • Troublesome succession - opposition from Arthur
  • Loss of allies such as the Holy Roman Emporer and the Count on Toulouse and Flanders who were renounced in order for Philip to grant him support of his ascension
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