CHAPTER XIV. CONQUEST AND REBELLION
The final step of appealing directly to armed force the young Henry did not take till the spring of 1173. A few weeks after his second coronation he was recalled to Normandy, but was allowed to go off at once to visit his father-in-law, ostensibly on a family visit. Louis was anxious to see his daughter. Apparently it was soon after his return that he made the first formal request of his father to be given an independent position in some one of the lands which had been assigned to him, urged, it was said, by the advice of the king of France and of the barons of England and Normandy. The request was refused, and he then made up his mind to rebel as soon as a proper opportunity and excuse should offer. These he found in the course of the negotiations for the marriage of his brother John about the beginning of Lent, 1173.
Marriage was the only way by which Henry could provide for his youngest son a position equal to that which he had given to the others, and this he was now planning to do by a marriage which would at the same time greatly increase his own power. The Counts of Maurienne in the kingdom of Burgundy had collected in their hands a variety of fiefs east of the Rhone extending from Geneva on the north over into the borders of Italy to Turin on the south until they commanded all the best passes of the western Alps. The reigning count, Humbert, had as yet no son. His elder daughter, a child a little younger than John, would be the heiress of his desirable lands. The situation seems naturally to have suggested to him the advantage of a close alliance with one whose influence and alliances were already so widely extended in the Rhone valley as Henry's. It needed no argument to persuade Henry of the advantage to himself of such a relationship. He undoubtedly looked forward to ruling the lands his son would acquire by the marriage as he ruled the lands of Geoffrey and of his other sons; and to command the western Alps would mean not merely a clear road into Italy if he should wish one, but also, of more immediate value, a strategic position on the east from which he might hope to cut off the king of France from any further interference in the south like that which earlier in his reign had compelled him to drop his plans against Toulouse. Belley, which would pass into his possession when this treaty was carried out, was not very far from the eastern edge of his duchy of Aquitaine. South-eastern France would be almost surrounded by his possessions, and it was not likely that anything could prevent it from passing into his actual or virtual control. Whether Henry dreamed of still wider dominion, of interference even in Italy and possibly of contending for the empire itself with Frederick Barbarossa, as some suspected at the time and as a few facts tend to show, we may leave unsettled, since the time never came when he could attempt seriously to realize such a dream.
The more probable and reasonable objects of his diplomacy seemed about to be attained at once. At Montferrand in Auvergne in February he met the Count of Maurienne, who brought his daughter with him, and there the treaty between them was drawn up and sworn to. At the same place appeared his former ally the king of Aragon and his former opponent the Count of Toulouse. Between them a few days later at Limoges peace was made; any further war would be against Henry's interests. The Count of Toulouse also frankly recognized the inevitable, and did homage and swore fealty to Henry, to the young Henry, and to his immediate lord, Richard, Duke of Aquitaine. From the moment of apparent triumph, however, dates the beginning of Henry's failure. Humbert of Maurienne, who was making so magnificent a provision for the young couple, naturally inquired what Henry proposed to do for John. He was told that three of the more important Angevin castles with their lands would be granted him. But the nominal lord of these castles was the young king, and his consent was required. This he indignantly refused, and his anger was so great that peaceable conference with him was no longer possible. He was now brought to the pitch of rebellion, and as they reached Chinon on their return to Normandy, he rode off from his father and joined the king of France. On the news Eleanor sent Richard and Geoffrey to join their brother, but was herself arrested soon after and held in custody.