CHAPTER XVI. HENRY OUTGENERALLED
Affairs in France had followed their familiar course since the conference between Henry and Philip on the subject of the crusade in the spring of 1185. Immediately after that meeting Henry had proceeded with great vigour against Richard. He had Eleanor brought over to Normandy, and then commanded Richard to surrender to his mother all her inheritance under threat of invasion with a great army. Richard, whether moved by the threat or out of respect to his mother, immediately complied, and, we are told, remained at his father's court "like a well-behaved son," while Henry in person took possession of Aquitaine. In the meantime the war between Philip II and the Count of Flanders had gone steadily on, the king of England declining to interfere again. At the end of July, 1185, the count had been obliged to yield, and had ceded to Philip Amiens and most of Vermandois, a very important enlargement of territory for the French monarchy. This first great success of the young king of France was followed the next spring by the humiliation and forced submission of the Duke of Burgundy.
In all these events the king of England had taken no active share. He was a mere looker-on, or if he had interfered at all, it was rather to the advantage of Philip, while the rival monarchy in France had not merely increased the territory under its direct control, but taught the great vassals the lesson of obedience, and proclaimed to all the world that the rights of the crown would be everywhere affirmed and enforced. It was clearly the opening of a new era, yet Henry gave not the slightest evidence that he saw it or understood its meaning for himself. While it is certain that Philip had early detected the weakness of the Angevin empire, and had formed his plan for its destruction long before he was able to carry it out, we can only note with surprise that Henry made no change in his policy to meet the new danger of which he had abundant warning. He seems never to have understood that in Philip Augustus he had to deal with a different man from Louis VII. That he continued steadily under the changed circumstances his old policy of non-intervention outside his own frontiers, of preserving peace to the latest possible moment, and of devoting himself to the maintenance and perfection of a strong government wherever he had direct rule, is more creditable to the character of Henry II than to the insight of a statesman responsible for the continuance of a great empire, and offered the realization of a great possibility. To Philip Augustus it was the possibility only which was offered; the empire was still to be created: but while hardly more than a boy, he read the situation with clear insight and saw before him the goal to be reached and the way to reach it, and this he followed with untiring patience to the end of his long reign.
When Henry returned to England at the end of April, 1186, he abandoned all prospect of profiting by the opportunity which still existed, though in diminished degree, of checking in its beginning the ominous growth of Philip's power, an opportunity which we may believe his grandfather would not have overlooked or neglected. By the end of the summer all chance of this was over, and no policy of safety remained to Henry but a trial of strength to the finish with his crafty suzerain, for Philip had not merely returned successful from his Burgundian expedition, but he had almost without effort at concealment made his first moves against the Angevin power. His opening was the obvious one offered him by the dissensions in Henry's family, and his first move was as skilful as the latest he ever made. Richard was now on good terms with his father; it would even appear that he had been restored to the rule of Aquitaine; at any rate Henry's last act before his return to England in April had been to hand over to Richard a great sum of money with directions to subdue his foes. Richard took the money and made successful and cruel war on the Count of Toulouse, on what grounds we know not. Geoffrey, however, offered himself to Philip's purposes. Henry's third son seems to have been in character and conduct somewhat like his eldest brother, the young king. He had the same popular gifts and attractive manners; he enjoyed an almost equal renown for knightly accomplishments and for the knightly virtue of "largesse"; and he was, in the same way, bitterly dissatisfied with his own position. He believed that the death of his brother ought to improve his prospects, and his mind was set on having the county of Anjou added to his possessions. When Richard and his father refused him this, he turned to France and betook himself to Paris. Philip received him with open arms, and they speedily became devoted friends. Just what their immediate plans were we cannot say. They evidently had not been made public, and various rumours were in circulation. Some said that Geoffrey would hold Britanny of Philip; or he had been made seneschal of France, an office that ought to go with the county of Anjou; or he was about to invade and devastate Normandy. It is probable that some overt action would have been undertaken very shortly when suddenly, on August 19, Geoffrey died, having been mortally hurt in a tournament, or from an attack of fever, or perhaps from both causes. He was buried in Paris, Philip showing great grief and being, it is said, with difficulty restrained from throwing himself into the grave.