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The lion and the lilly

For the last hundred years, France has been split between the lands of the King of France, and the lands of the King of England.  The King of England was originally Duke of Normandy, and owed fealty to France for those lands.  When he conquered England, he believed himself the equal of his liege and refused to pay homage.  France and England have been squabbling ever since, with the former trying to reassert dominance, and the latter independence.

While the Kings of England owned only Normandy, the squabble was kept at a low level.  But thirty years ago the balance of power changed, when Henry Plantagenet became King.  From his mother, he inherited England and Normandy.  From his father, he gained the counties of Maine and Anjou.  And from his wife, the powerful heiress Eleanor of Aquitaine whose heart he stole from King Louis of France, he gained the Duchies of Gascony and Aquitaine.   Together these formed a vast empire stretching from Scotland to the Pyrenees.  Henry owned more land in France than the King of France himself.  He was no longer a vassal, but a rival. 

To prevent war, Henry and Louis made a bargain: Louis' daughter Margaret married Henry's eldest son (also called Henry), who was crowned as co-king alongside his father in the French style.  Another daughter, Alais, was betrothed to Henry's second son, Richard.   Connected by bonds of marriage, peace would be secured. 

But Henry's sons were not satisfied - they wanted land and power of their own.  In 1173, they revolted over their inheritance, fleeing to the court of France and raising an army to oppose their father.  The revolt was put down, and Eleanor, who had encouraged her children to rebel, was imprisoned.  But following the revolt Henry's sons were given lands, with the Young King given part of Normandy, Richard made Duke of Aquitaine at the request of his mother, and Geoffrey gaining the Duchy of Brittany by marriage.  John, who was just a child, received nothing.  Since then, the brothers have struggled constantly against each other and their father, often allying with France to do so.

The current situation:

In 1180, King Louis of France died, and his son Phillip became King at the age of 15.  The new king is already at war against his father-in-law, the powerful Count of Flanders.  He may seek to prove himself against England as well.

King Henry's sons have continued to fight with each other and their father.  In 1183, King Henry attempted to force his younger sons to swear fealty to their older brother.  Geoffrey agreed, but Richard refused, touching off another round of conflict.  In June, while waging war against his brother Richard, the Young King died of dysentery.  The succession is now open.  In an attempt to resolve it, King Henry has summoned his family to court.   He has also invited the King of France, to get to know him better.

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