chapter  X
Pages 10

IN spite of the power of the family to give support to its members or impose restraints upon them, it would be a grave error to picture its internal life in uniformly idyllic colours. The fact that the family groups engaged readily in blood-feuds did not always prevent the most atrocious intestine quarrels. Though Beaumanoir finds wars between kinsmen distressing, he obviously does not regard them as exceptional or even, except when waged between full brothers, as actually unlawful. To understand the prevailing attitude it is enough to consult the history of the princely houses. If, for example, we were to follow from generation to generation the destiny of the Angevins, the true Atrides of the Middle Ages, we should read of the ‘more than civil’ war which for seven years embroiled the count Fulk Nerra with his son Geoffrey Martel; of how Fulk le Réchin, after having dispossessed his brother, threw him into prison-to release him only as a madman, at the end of eighteen years; of the furious hatred of the sons of Henry II for their father; and finally of the assassination of Arthur by his uncle, King John.