Page images



the effect produced by the contemporary preachers Fulk of Neuilly and abbot Eustace of Flay, 1 may be directly connected with the gloomy records of war and bad harvests. 2

There was little hesitation as to Richard's successor. Even if the principles of primogeniture had been established more exactly than they were, the case of succession to the duchy would naturally have been regarded as unique. The earliest custumal notices that King Richard had set aside the ordinary rules of female succession in Normandy on account of the war; 3 in a critical turn of public affairs the great men of Normandy would have had no duty to be too scrupulous in their acknowledgment of Richard's successor. But, as a matter of fact, English law was in a transitional stage,4 and Norman law was inclined to favour the uncle at the expense of the nephew. Indeed, Arthur as a stranger to Normandy had claims

1. Howden, iv, 76, 123, 167-9, 172. Some saw in Fulk the forerunner of Anti-Christ; Annals of Winchester in Ann. Mon.. ii, 67–8. For Fulk of Neuilly, see the passages referred to by Cartellieri, iii, 183 note.

2. See especially the Annals of Anchin in Historiens de France, xviii, 549–50. The Norman facts are brought together by Delisle, Etudes sur la condition de la classe agricole, pp, 624–5.

3. Tardif, I, i, 13.

4. See especially Hist. Eng. Law, ii, 284–5. The casus regius, as the succession of the younger brother instead of the nephew was called, caused hesitation among lawyers until the reign of Edward I. To the English mind, the weak point about John's succession seems to have been the judgment against him after Richard's return from captivity. Cf. Annals of Margam in Ann. Mon., i, 24. The legal argument is used later (Wykes in Ann. Mon., iv, 51) and was of course influenced by the civil war at the end of John's reign. It should be remembered, however, that Arthur seems to have been regarded by many as Richard's heir from the first. See Howden, iii, 63, 65; Diceto, ii, 85, 86. For Longchamp's view of the succession, see Round, Commune of London,

P 216.


inferior to those of a count of Mortain.1 An interesting conversation between the archbishop of Canterbury and William the Marshal reveals a very exact picture of the difficult situation. Before his death King Richard had instructed the Marshal to take custody of the keep at Rouen and the royal treasure. The messenger arrived on the 7th May, and was followed by another, three days later, with the news of Richard's death. It was late at night, and the Marshal was going to bed. He dressed immediately, and went to the priory of Notre Dame-duPré, on the other side of the river, where the archbishop was staying. The archbishop, seeing the late hour of the visit, guessed its cause.

“The king is dead,” he cried. “What hope remains to us now? There is none, for, after him, I can see no successor able to defend the kingdom. The French will overrun us, and there will be no one to resist them.”

“We must choose his successor at once," said the Marshal.

“In my opinion we should choose Arthur."

“Ah, sire, that would be a bad thing,” replied the Marshal; “Arthur has bad councillors, and he is proud and passionate. If we put him at our head he will cause trouble, for he has no love for the English. There is Count John; he is the next heir to the lands of his father and brother."

“ Marshal,” replied the archbishop,“ do you really mean this?"

1. “Si voro contingerit patrem vel matrem filios vel filias habere quorum primus vel secundus uxorem duxerit et filios habeat et nullam terre habuerit portionem vivente patre et matre, et ita maritus obeirit filii ejus non habebunt herditatem avi; sed avunculi eam habebunt quamvis postgeniti; propinquiores enim sunt filii hereditatis patris quam nepotis." This is the Vatican MS. of the earliest custumal (ch. xxxii, 2; see Viollet, in Hist. Litt. de la France, xxxiii, 62). The rights of the son of the elder were admitted in an exchequer judgment of 1224, but the Grand Coutumier still speaks of contrary customs which pervert the sound law (Ibid, p. 130).

“Yes, sire. It is right; the son is nearer the land of his father than the nephew is.” 1

“ Marshal, it shall be as you wish. But I warn you that you will never repent of anything as you will repent of this."

“So be it; it is my view all the same.” 2

John had not waited for the support of the Normans. Richard had declared him his heir, and the count, who was staying, curiously enough, with Arthur in Brittany, hastened to secure the Angevin treasure 3 at Chinon. He was invested as duke of Normandy at Rouen on 25th April after a characteristic display of vigour, cruelty and frivolity, in which the machinery of government had been seized, Le Mans burnt, and the Church flouted. 4

The key to the situation, as John had seen, was the control of the Loire. The barons of the Angevin counties, Anjou and Touraine, and also of Maine, which bordered on Brittany, seem to have welcomed the opportunity of asserting their independence; while John secured Normandy they accepted Arthur as their lord. 5 It was fortunate for John that Robert of Turnham had surren

1. See preceding note. It has not been observed that the Marshal is quoting a Norman law book.

2. Guillaume le Maréchal, ii, 159–60.

3. Howden, iv, 86; Coggeshall, 99. Richard, according to Howden (p. 83), left three-fourths of his treasure to John; according to the Stanley continuator of William of Newburgh, to Otto (Howlett, Chronicles of Stephen, etc., ii, 503; see also iv, 116. Cf. Annals of Winchester in Ann. Mon., ii, 73).

4. See the Life of St. Hugh, pp. 287–94, for a vivid description of John. Cf. Howden, iv, 87, for his movements. It is possible, as has been suggested, that Le Mans was not burnt at this time, but later in the year (Richard, Comtes de Poitou, ii, 363 note).

5. The various sections of the empire fell apart. Aquitaine was held by Eleanor, who wisely did homage for the duchy to Philip (Rigord, i, 146), and later transferred it to John (Rot. Chart., 30b; Richard, ii, 353). The Angevins, on the other hand, accepted Arthur on legal grounds, just as the Normans accepted John (Howden, iv, 86).


dered Chinon, Saumur and the other castles in his custody, 1 and that Mercadier had put his troop of mercenaries at the count's disposal.2 As it was, Arthur received the support of Le Mans, Angers, Tours and most of the country. 3 King Philip concentrated his efforts in the same quarter. Although, as soon as he heard of Richard's death, he occupied the city and county of Evreux, 4 and later in the year took Conches, 5 the Norman border was hardly affected. Constance of Brittany used the opportunity of a French alliance without hesitation. For three years she had been powerless to resist Richard's influence in Brittany; now at Tours she gave her son into Philip's keeping, and allowed French garrisons to be placed in the towns and fortresses which had declared against John.6

During this time the new duke of Normandy was in England, where he was received as king. The contest in western France resolved itself into a duel between Constance and the old queen Eleanor. On the one hand, the cause of Arthur was maintained by the judicious purchase of the great men of Maine and Touraine: Juhel of Mayenne was established as a marcher baron in Gorron and Ambrières to watch the Norman frontier;7 William des Roches was made seneschal of Anjou and Maine. 8 On the other hand, Eleanor, as duchess, made a grand tour through Poitou and the Bordelais. All interests, of barons, clergy and towns, were secured. The great barons

1. Wendover, i, 286; Coggeshall, 99; Howden, iv, 86.

2. Howden, iv, 88, refers to Mercadier's ravages in Anjou “eo quod Arturum receperunt.”

3. Howden iv, 86–7.

4. Rigord, i, 145, who says that he ravaged the country as far as Le Mans; Howden iv, 85.

5. Howden, iv, 96.

6. Philip "saisivit in manu sua civitates, castella et munitiones quae Arturi erant, et custodibus suis tradidit custodienda” (Howden, iv, 87). Arthur was taken to Paris (Rigord, i, 146; Howden, iv, 87), but probably not until the end of the year; cf. below, pp. 199, 205 note, 206.

7. Confirmation by Philip, in May, at Montlandon (Actes, no. 561). 8. Confirmation by Philip (Actes, no. 562).

of Poitou, Aimeri of Thouars, Hugh of La Marche, Geoffrey of Lusignan, rallied round her. On May 23rd they attacked Tours where Arthur was still staying, and succeeded in capturing that part of the city, the Châteauneuf, in which lay the abbey of St. Martin. They retreated on the approach of French reinforcements; but the prompt action of Eleanor had shown that the supporters of Arthur, if they wished to avoid invasion from both north and south, would be forced to choose between the support of Philip and submission to John.

About the same time, Eleanor, on her way to Normandy, did homage for the duchy of Aquitaine at Tours. 3 Relations between the king of France and the various sections of the Angevin empire outside Normandy had thus been established, and Philip could hope to force John to a compromise. A truce was arranged after John's return from England, to last until August 16th, and on that day a conference was opened in the usual meeting place between Boutavant and Le Goulet. After the royal agents had conferred for two days, the kings talked face to face for an hour on August 18th. There seemed to be no reason why the war should commence again after the death of Richard, so long as John was prepared to treat. Philip had been the aggressor; from the Seine to the Loire he had seized the advantage given to him by the disaster at Chalus. He now insisted upon his rights as overlord, and began the long feudal lawsuit, whose various pleadings lasted as long as John lived. He knew his man of old. John, unlike his father and brother, had no legal sense, and was fond of legal quibbling. He had received the duchy of Normandy and had made no effort to secure the approval of his lord to a somewhat

1. Eleanor's actions and itinerary have been worked out from the Charter Rolls and other sources by Richard, Comtes de Poitou, ii, 332 seqq. See also above.

2. Salmon, Chron. de Touraine, p, 145.

3. Rigord, i, 146. Richard, Comtes de Poitou, ii, 353 note, fixes the date 15—20 July.

« PreviousContinue »