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‘Ad Partes Transmarinas’: The Reconfiguration of Plantagenet Power in Gascony, 1242–1243

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2020

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Summary

From the reign of Henry III to the end of the Hundred Years War, Gascony remained the apple of English (royal) eyes. The province had a strategic geographical location, being a passing point between northern and southern Europe, and offering substantial resources, starting with the wine. But Gascony had not always been of such vital importance to English interests, which had traditionally centred on Normandy, Anjou, and Poitou. According to French historians Martin Aurell and Frédéric Boutoulle, it was the successive losses of these lands to the Capetians that bolstered Plantagenet interest in their southern territories. In 1259, the treaty sealed in Paris between Louis IX and Henry III further anchored Gascony at the heart of Anglo-French relations, by providing that Henry renounced his claims over all his northern lands, in exchange for being recognised as lord of a reconfigured and reduced Aquitaine by Louis, to whom he performed liege homage. Aquitaine in 1259 meant the land that stretched from the Pyrenees to Bordeaux, to which was added a cluster of satellite lands comprising the Agenais, the Saintonge, the Quercy, and the ‘three dioceses’ of Limoges, Cahors and Périgueux – essentially, a trimmed-down version of the great twelfth-century Aquitaine. Since then, the infamous treaty has dominated accounts of Anglo-French relations in the sources and in the historiography.

This paper shifts the focus away from Paris and to the decades preceding 1259, as Plantagenet continental interests were being dramatically reshuffled. In 1242, on the banks of the River Charente, King Henry III suffered a heavy military defeat at the hands of Louis IX. The king of England, who then retreated to Bordeaux, went on to spend a full year in Gascony, only sailing back to England in September 1243. During this time, he actively engaged in the administration of his province, issuing mandates on a daily basis and intervening, or – from a Gascon perspective – interfering in the affairs of the duchy as never before. The following study builds on the reconfiguration of the ‘Angevin’ empire between the loss of Poitou in 1224 and the Treaty of Paris examined by Robin Studd. The focus is narrowed to the aftermath of 1242, to see how, in Studd's words, Henry's sojourn there ‘speeded up’ the reconfiguration process.

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Thirteenth Century England XVII
Proceedings of the Cambridge Conference, 2017
, pp. 65 - 88
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2021

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