Plantagenet Period *1154 to 1485

House of Lancaster

King Henry VI of England - Medieval KIngs

The House of Lancaster was a cadet branch of the House of Plantagenet. Its origins can be traced back to the mid-13th century. Read more about the House of Lancaster >>

House of York

King Richard III of England

The House of York remained in power for a relatively brief power and its reign came to an end in less than three decades Read more about the House of York >>

Top 10 Events *Plantagenet Period

Magna Carta

Learn about the Top 10 Events of the Plantagenet Period such as the Signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 and the 100 Years War Read more about the Top 10 Events *Plantagenet Period >>



The Plantagenet Period of English history extends from 1154 to 1485. During this period, the kings from the House of Plantagenet ruled over England and brought about lasting changes that would permanently define the country.

Plantagenet-Period-Coat-of-Arms

The nobility gained power and influence during the Plantagenet Period leading to royal charters like the Magna Carta.

Plantagenet-Period-Signing-Magna-Carta-1215

King John Signs the Magna Carta 1215

At the same time, the English Parliament became a force to be reckoned with, playing a decisive role in determining the destiny of the nation. The period also marked the birth of the unique English culture balancing the monarchy with the parliament and other institutions.

Plantagenet-Parliament

Medieval King Henry III In the second part of his reign he enjoyed the full control over the government.

The Start of the Plantagenet Period (1154)

The Plantagenet Period began with the descendants of Count Geoffrey of Anjou and Empress Matilda. Their son and heir, Henry II, became a powerful monarch ruling over England, Normandy, Anjou, and Aquitaine.

Queen-Matilda-Plantagenet-Period

Henry II became the King of England in 1154, marking the formal beginning of the House of Plantagenet. Due to the Angevin origins of the house, it is also sometimes termed the House of Anjou or the Angevin dynasty.

King-Henry-II-Plantagenet-Period

After Henry II, his thirteen subsequent successors would continue to rule over England. The male line of the house was finally terminated in around 1500.

During the Plantagenet Period, England engaged in two long wars. These included the Hundred Years’ War and the War of the Roses.

Hundred-Years-War-Battle-of-Crecy-Plantagenent-Period

The Hundred Years War (1337 – 1453)

This war was fought between England and France over claims to the French throne. The war began in 1337 and came to an end in 1453, taking up more than 100 years of the Plantagenet Period.

Battle of Crécy

Edward III counting the dead on the battlefield of Crécy

From the English side, the House of Plantagenet was the main contestant to the French throne. On the French side, the House of Valois defended its claim to the throne.

The Hundred Years’ War had a lasting impact on England. The House of the Plantagenet was forced to concede many powers to the nobility. It also led to a permanent separation in the monarchies of England and France, entrenching separate and distinct national identities in both nations.


The House of Lancaster (1399 – 1471)

In 1399, the last direct descendant of the House of Plantagenet, Richard II, was deposed. He died the next year. The throne passed on to a cadet branch of the dynasty, known as the House of Lancaster.

King-Richard-II-Plantagenet-House-of-Lancaster

King Richard II

The Lancastrian branch furnished three kings of England namely Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI. These monarchs ruled over England from 1399 to 1471. The turmoil caused by the Hundred Years’ War eventually led to the downfall of the House of Lancaster.

KIng-Henry V-House-of-Lancaster-Plantagenent-Period

King Henry V

The House of York (1471 – 1485)

The House of York was another cadet branch of the Plantagenet dynasty. Once the direct Plantagenet rule ended, the House of York contested the claim to English throne with the House of Lancaster.

Wars-of-the-Roses-Plantagenet-Period

White Rose York  | *Red Rose Lancaster

This eventually culminated in many long and bloody wars known as the Wars of the Roses. The Yorkist monarchs ascended to power and retained it from 1471 until 1485. The war between the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions continued, culminating in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

Many Historians point to the Battle of Bosworth as signalling the end of the Medieval Period 

The Wars of the Roses (1455 – 1487)

The Wars of the Roses waged from 1455 to 1487. These bloody wars resulted in the death of nearly all male heirs of the Houses of York and Lancaster.

Plantagenet-Period-Wars-of-the-Roses

As a result, the claim to the English throne was championed and inherited by Henry Tudor. He defeated the final Yorkist monarch Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Medieval King Richard III is pictured in the midst of battle

Henry VII *First Tudor King

The victory led Henry Tudor to be crowned as the new king of England. He had a relatively weak claim to throne, so Henry Tudor married Elizabeth of York, the daughter of King Edward.

Henry Tudor VII

First Tudor Monarch *Henry Tudor VII Crowned  1485

This allowed his descendants to lay a sound claim to the throne, through both Lancastrian and Yorkist inheritance. He then founded the Tudor Dynasty, bringing an end to the Plantagenet Period and ushering in the Tudor Period.

Tudor Rose 


Plantagenet Period Achievements

Rise of the Nobility

The Plantagenet Period marked a rise in the power of the nobility. The powerful barons of England forced King John to limit his powers and agree to the Magna Carta in 1215. This laid the foundations for the limitation of the King’s powers in England.

Magna Carta

The Magna Carta

Despite the agreement, the conflict between the monarchy and the barons would continue. Several times during the Plantagenet Period, the nobility played a decisive role in determining who would ascend to the English throne.

Medieval Baron Oliver St John

Empowerment of the Parliament

One of the key developments during the Plantagenet Period was the establishment of the Parliament. The first Great Parliament in English history was held in 1265.

It was brought together by the rebel baron, Simon de Montfort. So it can be safely said that the Parliament was indirectly born out of the conflict between the monarchy and the nobility.

The first Great Parliament laid the foundations of consensual decision-making. In time, the Parliament grew so powerful that even the King could not flout its dictates.

However, it was also amenable to various tactics used by the rebels, barons, and the monarchs. It became a veritable precursor to the modern-day parliament and democracy.

The Birth of English Culture

The Plantagenet Period saw the birth of the unique English culture. This culture was marked by the traditions of judicial reform, parliamentary consensus, monarchical rule, and more.

At the same time, architectural developments in England saw the erection of many landmark Gothic structures such as the Salisbury Cathedral and the Westminster Abbey.

Gothic Architecture

Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire

The period also saw the ravages caused by the Black Death in 1348. The plague decimated a major section of the English population. This also had an impact on the agricultural developments, feudalism, and other aspects of the English society.

By the time the Plantagenet Period came to an end, England was almost ready to become a mercantile power with a strong and established merchant class at home.

Oxford

Oxford

Another important development was the establishment of educational centers such as Oxford and Cambridge. These centers would go on to furnish the academic foundations for England’s future.