England: Louis of France's Claim to the Throne of England: 1216-1217 - Archontology
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England: Louis of France's Claim to the Throne of England: 1216-1217

Louis of France and the throne of England

As a result of the conflict between King John and the papacy, in 1213 Pope Innocent III authorized King Philippe II of France to invade England and deprive John of his kingdom. A great council at Soissons summoned by Philippe in April 1213 decided that the king's only son and heir, Prince Louis (afterwards King Louis VIII of France), will lead the invasion and assume the English throne. However, this plan proved to be short-lived as King John surrendered his kingdom to the pope (15 May 1213) and was finally absolved from excommunication.

In 1216 the English barons appealed to Louis to head their coalition against King John. Louis landed in England in the Isle of Thanet on 21 May 1216 and claimed the English throne by the hereditary right of his wife, Blanche of Castile, who was King John's niece, and his own right by the choice of the barons. He reached London on 2 Jun 1216, and at once received the homage of the barons and of the mayor. Although Westminster Abbey was in Louis's power, he was never crowned because the archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, who should have officiated, was abroad at the papal court, and there was not a single bishop available to perform anointing.

After the death of King John (18/19 Oct 1216), the supporters of young Prince Henry led by William Marshal arranged for the princes's coronation as King Henry III (28 Oct 1216) and continued the warfare. Initially successful, Louis suffered a number of defeats in 1217 and conceded to negotiations. On 5 Sep 1217 a formal conference was held on an island of the Thames near Kingston. On 11 Sep 1217 a definitive treaty was signed at the archbishop's house at Lambeth and ratified 20 Sep 1217. The French prince surrendered his castles, released his partisans from their oaths to him, and exhorted all his allies to lay down their arms. Thus, the Treaty of Lambeth (Kingston) put an end to Louis's pretended right to the kingship. [1]

[1] "The minority of Henry III", by D.A. Carpenter (University of California Press, Berkeley 1990).