Plantagenet, House of

(1154–1485)
   The name “Plantagenet” has been used by historians since the seventeenth century to refer to the English royal family that descended from Henry II (r. 1154–1189) and that in the fifteenth century split into the contending royal houses of LANCASTER and YORK. The word originated as a nickname for Henry II’s father, Geoffrey le Bel, Count of Anjou. Although the exact meaning of the name is unknown, it was suggested in the nineteenth century that it derived from Geoffrey’s habit of wearing a sprig of broom (Planta genista) in his helm or cap. Other less widely accepted explanations claim that Geoffrey had a fondness for hunting among the broom or that Geoffrey planted broom as cover to improve his hunting. The name Plantagenet was never used by Henry II or his successors or applied to them by contemporaries; it was first adopted as a surname in the late 1440s by Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, head of the Yorkist branch of the royal family. Then heir presumptive to a childless HENRY VI, third king of the Lancastrian branch of the family, York probably assumed the name to emphasize his direct descent from Henry II and so illustrate the superiority of his claim to the Crown over that of his political rival, Edmund BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset. The duke was head of the BEAUFORT FAMILY, a junior branch of the Lancastrian line. From 1189, succession in the line of Henry II had occurred with little difficulty, the Crown passing smoothly from father to son or brother to brother.However, in 1399, the deposition of Richard II (r. 1377–1399) and his replacement by his cousin Henry IV (r. 1399–1413), formerly duke of Lancaster, bypassed the legal line of succession. The Lancastrian usurpation disinherited Richard II’s heir, Edmund Mortimer, the eight-year-old earl of March (1391–1425), the great-grandson of Richard’s eldest uncle, Lionel, duke of Clarence (1338–1368). Henry IV was the son of a younger uncle, John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster (1340–1399). In the 1440s, York could claim descent from two uncles of Richard II—through his Mortimer mother from Clarence and through his (Plantagenet) father from Edmund, duke of York (1341–1402). While York’s direct descent in the paternal line was clearly inferior to the Lancastrian claim because it derived from a younger uncle, the superiority of his Mortimer claim from an elder uncle was open to question because it descended to him through a woman. In 1460, when the dangerous possibilities of civil war persuaded York to press his claim, he used his Mortimer ancestry to petition for the Crown by right of succession. With this act, he transformed the political struggles of the 1450s into the WARS OF THE ROSES, a dynastic civil war between two branches of the house of Plantagenet.
   See also Richard II, Deposition of; other entries under Plantagenet
   Further Reading: Griffiths, Ralph A.,“The Crown and the Royal Family in Later Medieval England,” in Ralph A. Griffiths and James Sherborne, eds., Kings and Nobles in the Later Middle Ages (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986), pp. 15–26; Harvey, John, The Plantagenets, 3d ed. (London: Severn House, 1976);Weir, Alison, The Wars of the Roses (New York: Ballantine Books, 1995).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Plantagenet, House of — or House of Anjou Royal house of England (1154–1485) that provided 14 kings, including six from the cadet houses of Lancaster and York. The line descended from Geoffrey, count of Anjou died 1151 , and the empress Matilda, daughter of the English… …   Universalium

  • house — n., adj. /hows/; v. /howz/, n., pl. houses /how ziz/, v., housed, housing, adj. n. 1. a building in which people live; residence for human beings. 2. a household. 3. (often cap.) a family, including ancestors and descendants: the great houses of… …   Universalium

  • House — /hows/, n. Edward Mandell /man dl/, ( Colonel House ), 1858 1938, U.S. diplomat. * * * (as used in expressions) House of Building Appomattox Court House Babenberg House of Bourbon House of Burgesses House of Commons House of house cat Guise house …   Universalium

  • House of Normandy — Country Duchy of Normandy, Kingdom of England, County of Flanders, County of Eu Titles King of England Duke of Normandy Count of Flanders Counts of Eu Founder Rollo …   Wikipedia

  • Plantagenet Palliser — Plantagenet Palliser, Duke of Omnium and Earl of Silverbridge, is a main character in the Palliser series of novels, also known as the Parliamentary Novels, by Anthony Trollope. Palliser, first introduced as a minor character in The Small House… …   Wikipedia

  • House of Wessex — Golden Wyvern of Wessex[1] Country Kingdom of Wessex, Kingdom of England Titles King of Wessex King of England …   Wikipedia

  • House of Savoy — Country Albania, Croatia, Ethiopia, France, Italy, Spain Titles Count of Savoy Duke of …   Wikipedia

  • House of Orange-Nassau — Royal Coat of arms of the Netherlands Country Netherlands, England, Scotland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Orange, Nassau …   Wikipedia

  • House of Orléans — Country France Ancestral house House of Bourbon descended from Capetian dynasty Titles …   Wikipedia

  • House of Mecklenburg — Country Mecklenburg, Titles Prince, Duke, Grand Duke, Elected Duke of United Baltic Duchy Founder Niklot …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.