King Edward’s Vineyard: Aquitaine under the Plantagenet Crown

Anthony Dent describes how this rich French province remained a royal English vineyard for a good three centuries.

‘It came wi’ a lass’, said the dying King James V of Scotland: ‘It will gang wi’ a lass.’ He was speaking of the crown of Scotland and his own family. The same prophecy might well have been made about the Plantagenet/Angevin sovereignty of Aquitaine, with a different slant of interpretation at the end. But then, the whole point about prophecies is that they can be variously interpreted.

From the accession of Robert II, the first Stuart king, by right of his mother Margery Bruce in 1371, to the death of the last Stuart monarch. Queen Anne, is a little over 340 years. The English tenure of Aquitaine, Guyenne, or Gascony as it was called at different periods, was a little shorter than that but still a good three centuries long, beginning in 1152.

The ‘lasses’ who decided the fate of Aquitaine were a more formidable pair than their British counterparts. Eleanor (Aliénor) of Aquitaine was duchess of that rich province in her own right when she married King Louis VII of France. After fifteen years of mutually tolerated infidelities and the birth of two daughters they were divorced.

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