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SusannaG - Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady

Just another GR refugee.  Other than that, I had a stroke in 2004, and read almost anything I can get my hands on, though I have a particular weakness for history, mystery, and historical fiction.

Currently reading

Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition
Paul Watson
Progress: 6 %
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
Ed Yong
Progress: 40 %
Wizard's First Rule
Terry Goodkind
Progress: 49 %
Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant
Tracy Borman
Progress: 14 %
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life
Helen Czerski
Progress: 20 %
The Hanover Square Affair
Ashley Gardner
Progress: 10 %
Medieval Tastes: Food, Cooking, and the Table (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)
Beth Archer Brombert, Massimo Montanari
Progress: 10 %
Scars of Independence: America's Violent Birth
Holger Hoock
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Yuval Noah Harari Dr
Progress: 9 %
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years
John Guy
Progress: 20/512 pages

Trial by Battle: Thoughts on Chapter 3: Gascony

The Hundred Years War, Volume 1: Trial by Battle - Jonathan Sumption

Chapter 3 of Trial by Battle takes us through the French territory at the heart of the animosity between the English and French crowns: Gascony.  The king of England was also Duke of Aquitaine (thanks to Eleanor of Aquitaine), and as such owed homage to the king of France.  This was always a difficult situation - in part because one king owing homage to another was an idea the feudal system didn't deal with very well, and also because the Gascon lords didn't want to be ruled by anyone at all.


The Gascons found that being ruled from afar, by a duke who remained mostly in England, was superior to having dukes at home to prevent them from doing anything they liked.  And if they couldn't get their way from the English king; well, they could always ask for their pleas to be heard at the Parlement of Paris.  (The Parlement of Paris was not a political or governing parliament like the English Parliament, but a judicial body.)  They could play the English and French crowns against each other, in order to get their own way.


A strong king, like Edward I, had managed his ducal holdings through a shrewd mixture of of diplomacy, bribery, bullying, and knowing when enough was enough, and that it was time to back off.  His son, Edward II, was a weak king, and the Gascon lords mostly got the better of him.  He was not helped by generally sending a new senechal there every year; whether they were competent or otherwise, none of them would have enough time there to become experts in the local situation.  More and more holdings slipped into the power of the French crown, and Edward II seemed completely unable to stop this process. 


It all culminated in a war the English didn't want in the 1320s, in which they were steam-rollered by the French, and the French strongly suggested that the only English ambassador who would make much ground in negotiating peace with them was Edward's "evil" out-of-favor wife, Queen Isabella (the only sister of their king, Charles IV).  Oh yes, and English nobles fed up with their weak and indecisive king, the Despensers who had given him poor advice, and the resulting humiliation at the hands of the French.