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The 6th Age of Britain - 1350-1530 AD

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The Sixth Age of Britain

1350-1530 AD

The House of Plantagenet (pronounced /plænˈtædʒɨnɨt/), a branch of the Angevins, was a royal house founded by Geoffrey V of Anjou, father of Henry II of England. Plantagenet kings first ruled the Kingdom of England in the 12th century. Their paternal ancestors originated in the French province of Gâtinais and gained the County of Anjou through marriage during the 11th century. The dynasty accumulated several other holdings, building the Angevin Empire which at its peak stretched from the Pyrenees to Ireland and the border with Scotland.

In total, fifteen Plantagenet monarchs, including those belonging to cadet branches, ruled England from 1154 until 1485. The senior branch ruled from Henry II of England until the deposition of Richard II of England in 1399. After that, a junior branch, the House of Lancaster, ruled for some fifty years, before clashing with another branch, the House of York, in a civil war known as the Wars of the Roses over control of England. After three ruling Lancastrian monarchs, the crown passed to three Yorkist monarchs, the last of whom, Richard III, was killed in battle during 1485. The legitimate male line went extinct with the execution of Richard's nephew, Edward, Earl of Warwick in 1499. However an illegitimate scion, Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle, was active at the court of Henry VIII of England. Several illegitimate lines persist, including the Dukes of Beaufort, (who are today the last male line descendants of the Plantagenet House of Lancaster).

A distinctive English culture and art emerged during the Plantagenet era, encouraged by some of the monarchs who were patrons of the "father of English poetry", Geoffrey Chaucer. The Gothic architecture style was popular during the time, with buildings such as Westminster Abbey and York Minster remodelled in that style. There were also lasting developments in the social sector, such as John of England's sealing of the Magna Carta. This was influential in the development of common law and constitutional law. Political institutions such as the Parliament of England and the Model Parliament originate from the Plantagenet period, as do educational institutions including the universities of Cambridge and Oxford.

The eventful political climate of the day saw the Hundred Years' War, where the Plantagenets battled with the House of Valois for control of the Kingdom of France, as both claimed House of Capet seniority. Some of the Plantagenet kings were renowned as warriors: Henry V of England left his mark with a famous victory against larger numbers at the Battle of Agincourt, while Richard the Lionheart had earlier distinguished himself in the Third Crusade; he was later romanticised as an iconic figure in English folklore.

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