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Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Geoffrey Plantagenet
Duke of the Normans
Count of Anjou, Maine and Mortain
Geoffrey of Anjou Monument.jpg
Enamel effigy of Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, from his tomb at Le Mans. His decorated shield suggests early origins of the three lions of the Royal Arms of England.
Count of Anjou
Reign1129 – 7 September 1151
PredecessorFulk the Younger
SuccessorHenry Curtmantle
Born24 August 1113
Died7 September 1151(1151-09-07) (aged 38)
Château-du-Loir, France
(m. 1128)
Henry II, King of England
Geoffrey, Count of Nantes
William, Viscount of Dieppe
Emma of Anjou
HousePlantagenet (founder)
FatherFulk, King of Jerusalem
MotherErmengarde, Countess of Maine

Geoffrey V (24 August 1113 – 7 September 1151), called the Handsome, the Fair (French: le Bel) or Plantagenet, was the Count of Anjou, Touraine and Maine by inheritance from 1129, and also Duke of Normandy by conquest from 1144. His marriage to the Empress Matilda, daughter and heiress of Henry I of England, produced a son, Henry Curtmantle. Henry succeeded to the English throne as King Henry II (1154–1189) and was the first of the Plantagenet dynasty to rule England for centuries. The name "Plantagenet" was taken from Geoffrey's epithet. Geoffrey's ancestral domain of Anjou gave rise to the name Angevin, and what became known as the Angevin Empire in the 12th century.


Early life

Geoffrey was the elder son of Fulk V of Anjou and Ermengarde of Maine. Geoffrey received his nickname from the yellow sprig of broom blossom (genêt is the French name for the planta genista, or broom shrub) he wore in his hat.[1]:9[2]:1[3] The chronicler John of Marmoutier described Geoffrey as handsome, red haired, jovial, and a great warrior.[4] King Henry I of England, having heard reports on Geoffrey's talents and prowess, sent legates to Anjou to negotiate a marriage between Geoffrey and his daughter, Matilda. Consent was obtained from both parties, and on 10 June 1128 the fifteen-year-old Geoffrey was knighted in Rouen by King Henry, in preparation for the wedding.


Geoffrey and Matilda's marriage took place in 1128. The marriage was meant to seal a lasting peace between England, Normandy (an English possession since William I) and Anjou. She was eleven years older than Geoffrey, and very proud of her status as dowager Empress (as opposed to being a mere countess), and which she kept for the remainder of her life. Their marriage was a stormy but happy one with frequent long separations; she bore him three sons and survived him by over 15 years.[1]:14–18

Count of Anjou

The year after the marriage Geoffrey's father left for Jerusalem (where he was to later become King of Jerusalem), leaving Geoffrey behind as count of Anjou.

When his father in law, King Henry I of England died in 1135, Geoffrey supported Matilda in entering Normandy to claim her rightful inheritance. The border districts submitted to her, but England chose her first cousin Stephen of Blois for its king, and Normandy soon followed suit. The following year, Geoffrey gave Ambrieres, Gorron, and Chatilon-sur-Colmont to Juhel de Mayenne, on condition that he help obtain the inheritance of Geoffrey's wife.[5]

In 1139 Matilda landed in England with 140 knights, where she was besieged at Arundel Castle by King Stephen. In the Anarchy which ensued, Stephen was captured at Lincoln in February 1141, and imprisoned at Bristol.[6] A legatine council of the English church held at Winchester in April 1141 declared Stephen deposed and proclaimed Matilda "Lady of the English".[6]

During 1142 and 1143, Geoffrey secured all of Normandy west and south of the Seine, and, on 14 January 1144, he crossed the Seine and entered Rouen. He assumed the title of Duke of Normandy in the summer of 1144. In 1144, he founded an Augustine priory at Château-l'Hermitage in Anjou.[7] Geoffrey held the duchy until 1149, when he and Matilda conjointly ceded it to their son, Henry, which cession was formally ratified by King Louis VII of France the following year.[8]

Geoffrey also put down three baronial rebellions in Anjou, in 1129, 1135 and 1145–1151.[9] He was often at odds with his younger brother, Elias, whom he had imprisoned until Elias died in 1151. The threat of rebellion slowed his progress in Normandy, and is one reason he could never intervene in England. Geoffrey died later the same year, aged 38, and Henry took his father’s place as head of the Plantagenet ducal house. In 1153, the Treaty of Wallingford stipulated that Stephen should remain King of England for life and that Henry, the son of Geoffrey and Matilda should succeed him, beginning the Plantagenet era in English history.[10]


North West France 1150
North West France 1150

Geoffrey died suddenly on 7 September 1151. According to John of Marmoutier, Geoffrey was returning from a royal council when he was stricken with fever. He arrived at Château-du-Loir, collapsed on a couch, made bequests of gifts and charities, and died. His wife and sons outlived him. He was buried at St Julien's Cathedral in Le Mans France, and his son Henry succeeded him as Duke of Normandy.[10]



Geoffrey and Matilda's children were:

  1. Henry II, King of England (1133–1189), succeeded his father as head of Angevin Dynasty, had 8 children with Eleanor of Aquitaine, who became rulers of the Angevin Dynasty after their father.
  2. Geoffrey, Count of Nantes (1 June 1134 Rouen – 26 July 1158 Nantes) died unmarried and was buried in Nantes
  3. William, Viscount of Dieppe (1136–1164) died unmarried

Geoffrey also had illegitimate children by an unknown mistress (or mistresses): Hamelin who married Isabel de Warenne, 4th Countess of Surrey; Emme, who married Dafydd Ab Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales; and Mary, who became a nun and Abbess of Shaftesbury and who may be the poet Marie de France.

Early heraldry

An enamel effigy (funerary plaque) commissioned by his widow to decorate the tomb of Geoffrey of Anjou is one of the earliest examples of European heraldry. Jean de Marmentier, a late-12th-century chronicler, reported that in 1128 Henry I of England knighted his son-in-law Geoffrey and granted him a badge of gold lions.[11] A gold lion may already have been Henry's own badge, and different lion motifs would later be used by many of his descendants. The enamel shows Geoffrey with a blue shield depicting gold lions, apparently the same motif later used by a grandson of Geoffrey, William Longespee.[12] In addition to being one of the first authentic representations of a coat of arms,[13] according to British historian Jim Bradbury it "suggests possible evidence for the early use of what became the English royal arms".[14]



  1. ^ a b Costain, Thomas B (1962). The Conquering Family. New York: Popular Library.
  2. ^ Jones, Dan (2013). The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England. Viking. ISBN 9780670026654.
  3. ^ J. Bernard Burke The Heraldic Register, p. 65, at Google Books
  4. ^ Norgate, Kate (1887). England Under the Angevin Kings. General Books LLC. pp. 261–262. ISBN 978-1421259840.
  5. ^ Bradbury, Jim. 1990. "Geoffrey V of Anjou, Count and Knight", in The Ideals and Practice of Medieval Knighthood III, ed. Christopher Harper-Bill and Ruth Harvey. Rochester: Boydell Press.
  6. ^ a b King, Edmund (2008). King Stephen's Reign. London: Woodbridge. pp. 58–79.
  7. ^ Dutton, Kathryn (2014). The Haskins Society Journal. London: Boydell. pp. 125–154.
  8. ^ Warren, W.L. (1977). Henry II. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-0520034945.
  9. ^ Halphen, L (ed.); Poupardin, R (ed.); Marmoutier, John of (1913). Chroniques des comtes. Paris.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  10. ^ a b Haskins, Charles H. 1912. "Normandy Under Geoffrey Plantagenet", The English Historical Review, volume 27 (July): 417–444.
  11. ^ Woodcock, Thomas and John Martin Robinson (1988), The Oxford Guide to Heraldry, Oxford University Press, pg 10.
  12. ^ Ailes, Adrian (1982). The Origins of The Royal Arms of England. Reading: Graduate Center for Medieval Studies, University of Reading. pp. 52–53.
  13. ^ Gage, John (1999), Color and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction, pg ??.
  14. ^ Bradbury, Jim (2004), The Routledge Companion to Medieval Warfare, p. 273

External links

Geoffrey Plantagenet
Born: 24 August 1113 Died: 7 September 1151
Preceded by
Count of Maine
Succeeded by
Henry Curtmantle
Preceded by
Fulk V
Count of Anjou
Preceded by
Count of Mortain
Preceded by
Duke of Normandy
This page was last edited on 22 October 2020, at 14:58
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