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Valar Qringaomis

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

English Kings and French Homage

"The peculiar status of the English kings in the French political order dated back to the treaty of Paris of 1259. Before that treaty the dukes of Aquitaine had acknowledged no superior on earth. They had performed no homage to the kings of France since the confiscation of their continental dominions had been proclaimed by Philip Augustus at the beginning of the thirteenth century, an act which they regarded as unlawful and which they refused to recognize. It was an unsatisfactory stalemate which the parties proceeded to replace in 1259 with an even more unsatisfactory compromise. The treaty doubled the size of the duchy, suddenly extending its boundaries from the coastal plain to the steep valleys of the interior and into regions which had not known English rule for half a century. But the surrender of these great territories was hedged about by qualifications and exceptions. The English dynasty recovered certain ill-defined rights in the ‘three bishoprics’ of Limoges, Perigueux and Cahors. Subject to equally ill-defined conditions, they were also promised the return of the diocese of Agen and parts of Saintonge and Querey. There was no comprehensive territorial settlement of south-western France. All that was finally settled in Paris in 1259 was that the Duke held his lands there as the vassal of the King of France and owed him liege homage, the feudal bond to which all other loyalties yielded. On 4 December 1259 Henry III performed the act of homage in a fine ceremony in the garden of the royal palace in Paris, but what were the territories for which he was doing homage and what were his rights within them were questions which were left for his successors to argue out with increasing vehemence in the courts of successive French kings and finally on the battlefield. It was ‘a defiance of good sense’ as an Archbishop of Canterbury acidly observed twenty years later, and more than any other act it earned Henry his place in that region of Dante’s Purgatory reserved for children and negligent kings, ‘il re de la semplice vita’."

--- Hundred Years War Vol 1: Trial by Battle / Jonathan Sumption
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