Britain 1215 CE

The British isles at the time of Magna Carta, when a line of French-speaking kings and their followers have established themselves as a ruling class in England, and are encroaching into Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

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What is happening in Britain in 1215CE

Anglo-Saxon rule was brought to an end when duke William of Normandy defeated the last Anglo-Saxon king, Harold, and installed himself as king of England in 1066. William and his French-speaking followers established themselves as an alien ruling class, controlling the native Anglo-Saxon population from the many castles they erected throughout the land. In subsequent generations this military caste has expanded its control into parts of Wales and Ireland. In both places it has met fierce resistance. Anglo-Norman barons have established themselves even in Scotland, where the Scottish kings have wished to curb the power of the native nobility.

In 1158 the count of Anjou, Henry Plantagenet, came to the English throne (Henry II, 1158-89). Together with his French territories, as well as his conquests in Ireland, Henry’s lands were far more extensive than those of the king of France (even within France itself).  Under Henry’s son, John, however, most of the French territories were lost. John’s unsuccessful, and expensive, efforts to win them back led him to harshly extort revenue from his barons. These have rebelled and forced him to sign an agreement guaranteeing royal respect for their rights (Magna Carta, 1215).

Next map, Britain in 1453

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