Blood Cries Afar: The Forgotten Invasion of England, 1216
By Sean McGlynn
PhD Dissertation, University of Exeter, 2014
Introduction: The intent behind Blood Cries Afar: The Forgotten Invasion of England 1216 was to be the first book to study the French invasion of England in 1216 and the first to offer a military narrative and analysis of its events. In completing the study, a clear understanding is conveyed of the course of fragmented and frequently confusing and neglected events.
The large French expeditionary force that landed in England in May 1216 allied with baronial rebels against King John to divide the country for eighteen months. For a year the French occupied and ruled the richest one-third of England, including the capital, London (which remained in their hands for the entire duration of the occupation). At one point, as many as two-thirds of the English baronage recognised the French leader, Prince Louis (heir to the Capetian throne in France) as their monarch; King Alexander II of Scotland travelled to Dover to pay homage to him as King Louis I of England. The invasion was ended by military means, not political ones.
The neglect of this major invasion event, which came close to being a second Norman Conquest, is a telling one. In part this is due to its events unfolding over the end of King John’s reign the start of and Henry III’s (as a minor), and also because it remains in the shadow of Magna Carta from a year earlier. Thus in the few places where the invasion has been investigated, its treatment has been partial, disjointed and brief. This book shows how it was that a succession of military events led to the point that the French were able to launch a full-scale invasion and how the invasion and subsequent occupation was defeated militarily.