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A New Broom ?

 

The name Plantagenet was originally spelt Plante Genest

or Plantegenest and later Plauntegenet or Plantaginet.

It originated as a nickname for Count Geoffrey of Anjou, father of King Henry II

who ascended the English throne in 1154.

This name has traditionally been taken to mean a ‘sprig of broom’,

which is an instance of a ‘hairy shoot’.

It seems that there was an earlier tradition for such symbolism.

Old Aquitanian Gods and Goddesses had the names of plants and animals.

This predated the name Plantapilosa of a famous ninth-century Aquitanian duke.

Early medieval beliefs were beginning to develop into scholastic

writings about man’s vegetable soul with its powers of nutrition, growth

and generation when the noble name Plantapilosa led on to the names Plante

Genest and de la Planta in neighbouring Anjou.

Plantapilosa means ‘hairy shoot’, which seemingly symbolised robust growth and regeneration.

The traditional explanation, dating back to 1605, for the Plantagenet name is that Geoffrey Plante Genest

wore a sprig of broom (the plantagenista) in his bonnet.

However, this tradition was broken in the second half of the twentieth century

by a claim in the Encyclopedia Britannica that the Plantagenet name ‘more likely’ arose

because Geoffrey supposedly planted broom to improve his hunting covers

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