The Loire Valley, the garden of France, once graced by the French royalty of a past age.
Many monuments still stand impressively tall along the banks of the Loire. There is one however which doesn’t look over the last wild river of Europe but instead guards the medieval town of Chinon overlooking the Vienne. It is not a Château but a mighty Fortresse, a powerful reminder of a King that ruled from there in the 12th Century. Henry ll, Henry Plantagenet, who created an interesting and intriguing conjoined history between England and what is now known as Western France which, at the time, came to be known as the Angevin Empire.
Henry was born in Le Mans in 1133 and died in 1189 during that time he created the great kingdom of Angevin due to his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, the former wife of Louis VII, and by rightfully claiming all the land that belonged to her.
The France that we see on the map today is very different from the 12th Century. The area of land being controlled by the French King was much smaller and mostly east of Blois to include Paris. Further areas were dominated by the Duchies of Brittany, Normandy, Gascony and Toulouse while King Henry reined over his Angevin Empire.
After his illustrious reign Henry was buried at Fontevraud-L’Abbaye, not far from Chinon, along with his wife Eleanor and later by Richard the Lion heart, their son and successor to his throne, here you can still see their sarcophagus in the Abbey.
Very many years later as we look up from the cobbled streets in Chinon to the Fortresse the history of this powerful King evokes many images from where and when he reigned and we can see for ourselves the remains of his dynasty that is so romantically remember to this day.