The Magna Carta Project

John’s success in France

by Professor Nicholas Vincent

7 February 1214 - 14 June 1214


7-9 Feb 1214

Yarmouth, Isle of Wight

RC, 200, 206b; RLC, i, 163b; RLP, 110b-111; CAR, ii, no.362

15-20 Feb 1214

La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime)

RLP, 110b-111; RLC, i, 163b; Foedera, 118

20 Feb 1214

Mervent (Vendée) (Maravut)

RLC, i, 163b

22 Feb 1214

La Grace-Dieu (Charente-Maritime, com. Benon)

RLP, 111

Hardy ('Itinerary') locates the King at La Grace-Dieu on 21 February, source untraced.

25 Feb 1214

Niort (Deux-Sèvres)

RLP, 111

Hardy ('Itinerary') locates the King at Niort on 26 February, source untraced.

1 Mar 1214

Bouhet (Charente-Maritime)

RLP, 111b

4-6 Mar 1214

Millescu (Charente-Maritime, com. Gué-d'Alleré)

RLP, 111, 111b; RLC, i, 141b

Hardy ('Itinerary') locates the King at Milescu on 1 March, source untraced.

6-8 Mar 1214

La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime)

RLP, 111b-112; RLC, i, 141b, 143b; Foedera, 118

9 Mar 1214

Tonnay-Charente (Charente-Maritime)

RLC, i, 141b

12 Mar 1214

Châteauneuf-sur-Charente (Charente)

RLP, 112

13-15 Mar 1214

Angoulême (Charente)

RC, 196-196b; RLP, 112; RLC, i, 141b-142

17 Mar 1214

Saint-Junien (Haute-Vienne)

RLC, i, 142

21-22 Mar 1214

Aixe-sur-Vienne (Haute-Vienne)

RLP, 112-112b; RLC, i, 142

Hardy ('Itinerary') locates the King at Aixe on 23 March, source untraced.

23 Mar 1214

Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat (Haute-Vienne)

RLP, 112b

25 Mar 1214

Saint-Vaury (Creuse) (Sanctum Valericum)

RLC, i, 142

1-2 Apr 1214

Grandmont (Haute-Vienne, com. St-Sylvestre)

RLP, 113; RLC, i, 142

3 Apr 1214

Limoges (Haute-Vienne)

RLP, 113; RLC, i, 142

4 Apr 1214

Montbron (Charente) (Montem Berulf )

RLP, 113; RLC, i, 142b

5-6 Apr 1214

Angoulême (Charente)

RLP, 113

7 Apr 1214

Cognac (Charente)

RLP, 113; RLC, i, 142-142b

8 Apr 1214

Saintes (Charente-Maritime)

RLP, 113; RLC, i, 142b

9 Apr 1214

Pons (Charente)

RLC, i, 142b

11 Apr 1214


RLP, 113

13, 15 Apr 1214

La Réole (Gironde)

RLP, 113b-114

16 Apr 1214


RLP, 114

18 Apr 1214

?Montlieu (Charente-Maritime) (Montem Leon’)

RLC, i, 142b

Now Montlieu-la-Garde, Charente-Maritime

22-23 Apr 1214

La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime)

RLP, 113b; RLC, i, 142b-143

23 Apr 1214

Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon (Deux-Sèvres) (Mansy’)

RLC, i, 142b, 164; RC, 196b

25-26 Apr 1214

Niort (Deux-Sèvres)

RLP, 113b; RLC, i, 142b-143, 164

27-28, 30 Apr, 2 May 1214

Fontenay-le-Comte (Vendée)

RLP, 113b-114; RLC, i, 143; RC, 196

2-3 May 1214

Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon (Deux-Sèvres) (Mansy’)

RLP, 114-114b; RLC, i, 143, 164

3, 5-6 May 1214

Niort (Deux-Sèvres)

RC, 196b-197; RLP, 114b

6-8 May 1214

Saint-Liguaire (Deux-Sèvres) (Saint-Leodegar’)

RC, 199b, 206b; RLP, 114b-115; RLC, i, 166b

10 May 1214

Niort (Deux-Sèvres)

RLC, i, 166b

12 May 1214

Champdeniers (Deux-Sèvres) (Chauden)

RLP, 115b

14 May 1214

Parthenay (Deux-Sèvres)

RLP, 115b

16-17 May 1214

Mervent (Vendée) (Maravut)

RLC, i, 166b; Paris, CM, ii, 573, whence Foedera, 123

18-20, 22-23 May 1214

Vouvant (Vendée) (Nouent)

RC, 197b, 198b; RLP, 115b, 139b; Paris, CM, ii, 573, whence Foedera, 123

25-28 May 1214

Parthenay (Deux-Sèvres)

RC, 198b, 208b; RLP, 115b-116; RLC, i, 166b; Paris, CM, ii, 573, whence Foedera, 123

29 May 1214

Chiché (Deux-Sèvres)

RLC, i, 167

circa early Jun 1214

Siege of Nantes

Paris, CM, ii, 577

2-4 Jun 1214

?L'Épine (Loire-Atlantique, com. La Chapelle-Bas-Mer (Spinam)

RLP, 116b; RLC, i, 167, 201

There are many places that might fit this identification, including L'Épine, com. Bouaye or com. Saint-Mars-de-Coutais, or L'Épinais com. Le Bignon, or L'Épinaie com. Clisson, lying south of the Loire, on the route from Chiché to Nantes.  Cf. H. Quilgars, Dictionnaire topographique du département de la Loire-Inférieure (Paris 1906), 98.  However, in light of the fact that the King seems to have revisited Spinam on 11 June, having travelled eastwards up the Loire, the most likely identification is with L'Épine alias L'Épine-Gaudin (Loire-Atlantique, cant. Loroux-Bottereau, com. La Chapelle-Bas-Mer), approximately 18km north-east of Nantes, on the south bank of the Loire, site of a castle later attached to the marquisate of Goulaine.

5-6 Jun 1214

Pirmil (Loire-Atlantique, com. Nantes) (Milep’/Pilemin)

RC, 199; RLP, 116b; RLC, i, 167

Cf. Quilgars, Dictionnaire Loire-Inférieure, 213 (Piremil/Pilemil), the site of a bridge on the south bank of the Loire, at the junction between the Loire and the Sèvre Nantaise, just to the south of the island that separates the south bank of the Loire from the city of Nantes on its northern bank.

7 Jun 1214

Champtoceaux (Maine-et-Loire) (Chastecell’)

RLP, 116b; RLC, 201

11 Jun 1214

?L'Épine (Loire-Atlantique, com. La Chapelle-Bas-Mer (Spinam)

RLP, 116b

Hardy ('Itinerary') locates the King at Spinam on 10 June, source untraced. For the identification, see above sub 2-4 June.

11-12 Jun 1214

Ancenis (Loire-Atlantique)

RLC, i, 167

12 Jun 1214

Saint-Florent-le-Vieil (Maine-et-Loire)

Also Rochefort (Maine-et-Loire), (RLP, 117)

12 Jun 1214

Rochefort (Maine-et-Loire)

RLP, 117

14-15 Jun 1214

Blaison (Maine-et-Loire) (Blatun’)

RLP, 117; RLC, i, 167b

Hardy ('Itinerary') locates the King at Ancenis (?Loire-Atlantique) on 15 June, source untraced.

We begin this account of the year leading up to the issue of Magna Carta, with King John riding high in June 1214.  Having waited nearly eight years to launch a campaign to reconquer his ancestral lands in France, John had at last assembled the requisite army and, in February 1214, crossed from England to La Rochelle.  His campaign went well.  In March and April, he had reimposed his authority over the region between the rivers Loire and Garonne, asserting his lordship over the lands of his wife (Isabella of Angoulême) on the Charente, and his late mother (Eleanor of Aquitaine) in Limoges and the high country of the Creuse.  In April, he had gone south, to Saintes and the Saintonge, reaching as far south as La Réole on the Garonne.  His priority thereafter was to reassert his authority over the regions east of La Rochelle.  This was a traditional centre of Plantagenet revenue collection and demesne.  It was also a region where John's long-term rivals, the Lusignan family, had stepped in to the vacuum created by John's expulsion from France after 1204. Looking eastwards from La Rochelle towards Poitou, Poitiers was the only major Plantagenet city south of the Loire that remained under French control.  The Lusignans themselves harbored grievances that stretched back to John's earliest years as King, to his marriage to Isabella of Angoulême (once promised as a Lusignan bride) and to the capture and imprisonment of members of the Lusignan clan following John's defeat of his rebellious nephew, Arthur of Brittany, at the siege of Mirebeau in 1202.  Here again, all went well.  Lusignan castles in the Vendée, at Mervent and Vouvant, were besieged and captured in May 1214.  The Lusignans themselves were bought off with a settlement that promised marriage to Joan, the King's daughter, and the lordships of Saintes and Oléron pending a major assignment of reconquered land in Poitou, Anjou or the Touraine.  By early June, the King was ready to press home his attack against the real centres of French royal influence, north of the Loire.  In early June, he laid siege to the city of Nantes.  Nantes itself remained impregnable, but John took valuable prisoners there.

For those following this diary in the year 2014, it is worth pointing out that like 2014, 1214 was a year beginning on a Wednesday, so that the days of the month exactly mirror those 800 years later.

King John's Diary & Itinerary