The Great Rebellion 1173-74 - Overview


AS - Level A Level History Revision (3.Great Rebellion 1173-4) Note on The Great Rebellion 1173-74 - Overview, created by Charlotte Peacock on 20/03/2014.
Charlotte Peacock
Note by Charlotte Peacock, updated more than 1 year ago
Charlotte Peacock
Created by Charlotte Peacock almost 10 years ago

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Rebellion lead by Henry, Richard and Geoffrey (John NOT involved, only an infant). Eleanor of Aquitaine was a key protagonist, which shocked contempories and Henry.

The revolt lasted 18 months and ended in the revolt's failure

In 1173 Young Henry had just married the daughter of Louis VII - he could potentially form an alliance against his father with the King of France. The Young King had a large retinue, but was constrained by a lack of resources. Thus, he was anxious to take control of some of his ancestral inheritances to rule in his own right.

Henry's decision to bequeath some of the territory of Anjou (bound for Henry) to his youngest son John, as part of the arrangement for John's marriage to the daughter of the Count of Maurienne. This angered Henry 

At this, Henry was encouraged by many aristocrats to rebel

His mother, Eleanor, joined the cause, along with many others who were upset by Henry's murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket 1170 - this left Henry alienated throughout Christendom.

Young Henry withdrew to the court of his father-in-law, Louis, March 1173, soon followed by his brothers Richard and Geoffrey. Eleanor tried to join them but was stopped by Henry II and held in captivity. 

Together, the young king and Louis created a wide alliance against Henry by promising land and revenues in England and Anjou to the Counts of Flanders, Boulogne and Blois. The King of Scots would have Northumberland


In effect, the Young King would seize his inheritance by breaking it apart.

The Revolt

Hostilities began in April 1173 - Counts of Flanders and Boulogne invaded Normandy from the east, Louis and YHenry from the South. The Bretons attacked from the West. Each assault failed

Williams, the King of Scots, attacks in North England also failed.

Negotiations were held between the rebels in Normandy between YH and Henry II but failed.

Earl of Leicester then raised an army of Flemish mercenaries, crossed from Normandy to England to join the other rebels - Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. They were completely defeated by English forces led by Richard de Lucy.

Fighting continued in the spring of 1174.The King of Scots brother, David, attempted to conquest Northern England. Bigod torched Norwich.  

July 8 1174 Henry returned to England, after fighting his enemies in Normandy (first he performed an act of penance for the death of Thomas Becket before attacking)

13 July 1174 the King of Scots and supporters were surprised and captured by loyalists

Henry marched through each rebel stronghold to receive surrenders, sweeping up the opposition.

With England taken care of, Henry returned to Normandy, and set about a settlement with his enemies

September 30 - YH and his brothers returned to their father and his service

Henry soon realised that threats from his son after the removal/confiscation of his castles were no sudden temper tantrums, but part of a long-planned and deeply-plotted manoeuvre. He was warned by Raymond of Toulouse - 'I advise you, King, to beware of your wife and sons' 

Aftermath: The revolt lasted 18 months, carried out across a large geographical area. Many castles and towns were destroyed, and many were killed.

When YH went to Louis' court March 1173 Henry II sent bishops across the frontier to demand his sons's return. The barons told Louis that they had been sent by the King of England. In response Louis replied ' What nonsense, the king of England is here. His father may still pose as king, but that will soon be over'. Henry soon realised that his sons and wife were also in on the rebellion. 

Geoffrey's motives: had ambitions for an independent Brittany. Also wanted to indulge his taste for plundering and looting.

Eleanor's participation was the most shocking for contempories - unwiflely behaviour. Though there have been more than 30 examples in history of sons rebelling against their fathers, but none of queens raising revolt against their kings and husbands. Furthermore, she had spent most of 1170 supporting Henry's policies.

Many ecclesiastical sanctions could be carried out against her, including excommunitcation

Although Eleanor was responsible for her sons rebelling, she was more sinned against than sinning.

Eleanor was the guiding spirit of the conspiracy.

Did Eleanor see Henry for the monster he was after the murder of Thomas Becket? Did this lead to her rebelling? (seems abit far-fetched) 

Henry II had vast financial resources and a large battle of mercenary soldiers - the role of mercenaries was crucial in medieval warfare.

Instead of coordinating a simultaneous assault on all parts of the Angevin empire, Louis and the YK inspired a three-pronged probe into eastern Normandy. Henry counter-attacked, ultimately bringing down the rebellion 

Aftermath: Henry II offered generous terms to his sons: 4 castles and half the revenues of Aquitaine for Richard, with similar proposals for Geoffrey and YH 

Eleanor was kept as Henry's prisoner for the rest of her life

William King of Scots and Louis still pursued to attempt to conquer Henry, however both were eventually defeated, finally accepting peace.

Richard, still continuing to fight, attempted to capture La Rochelle in the spring.  However, he was no match to his father, and, with Louis and YH retreating, on September 23rd Richard threw himself to his father's mercy. 

Henry gave him the kiss of peace, however he punished him by offering less generous terms than those refused at Gisors. Richard accepted half the revenues of Aquitaine but only 2 demesnes (non-castles). YH did better, accepting two castles in Normandy and £15000 anually. However, YH was forced to accept the conditions that had provoked him to rebel: grant John the disputed castles and revenues in England, Normandy and Anjou

Henry lenient towards rebels: no executions or forfeitures. Kind did not levy ransoms for those captured in battles. Henry's motives for smoothing things over were because he didn't want an endless cycle of war and civil disturbances.

King William of Scotland paid the heaviest price: had to declare himself Henry's liegeman (vassal),  make a public submission at York to surrender 5 castles in Scotland

Instead, Henry II tightened up central government, made tax evasion more difficult and took a hard line on forest laws. He made sure that men loyal to him occupied every castle in England

Richard was made regent in Aquitaine, however opposition soon rose against him. However, hence his astounding war reputation, Richard defeated many of these minor rumblings; he emerged as a military hero

Henry II and Richard were both recognised as great warriors

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