The Kingdoms of France - Sarah Woodbury

The Kingdoms of France

You might ask, and reasonably so, why a blog about medieval Wales would be posting about the kingdoms of France in the Middle Ages.

France_1154_EngThe main reason is that it’s hard to understand the Norman conquest of England (and Wales and Scotland), without reference to the fact that they were Norman.  That means, they came from the Kingdom of Normandy, a region on the north coast of France.

‘France’ wasn’t ‘France’ as we know it today until after the Edwardian period. As the map dating from 1154 to the right shows, the King of France controlled a relatively small portion of the country. Edward I was the Duke of Aquitaine, whose lands are comparable in size to what the King of France held. The dispute of the control of France and these kingdoms, in fact, was one of the primary causes of the 100 Years War between Edward III of England and Philip VI of France.

The map also shows a few other relevant regions referenced in my books, most recently, The Fourth Horseman. Anjou, the region ruled by Geoffrey, Empress Maud’s husband, is in red, Blois, the region King Stephen’s family controlled, is in the south of what was then France and within the jurisdiction of the French King. It isn’t any wonder, then, that the English/Norman kings remained so focused on France, straddling the English Channel for so many years after they conquered England. Those were their ancestral lands and they wanted power in France–and to oppose the French king. This is one reason that conquering Wales fell so far down their list of things to do. Compared to the rich lands of France, their mountains and isolated land was not very appealing. Conquering Wales, until the rule of Edward I, was almost an afterthought.