Learn Something New: Plantagenet

It doesn’t matter how old you get, there is always something new to learn. Sometimes these new things are words or concepts you have heard all your life, but perhaps you never understood. Learn Something New is a series that will highlight some of the things I learn, big and small in the coming days. — Douglas


While I have been familiar with the Plantagenet Kings of England from the 12th Century — Henry, his wife Eleanor and his 4 sons, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey and John. I actually did some research into the family when I was performing as Prince John in “A Lion in Winter” during my college theater days.

henry-ii plantagenet-arms

Tonight, while watching the BBC Documentary “The Plantagenets”, I learned for the first time (or perhaps reminded myself) that the name comes from Plante Genest, the latin name of the ubiquitous plant, broom, that grows wild all over Europe. I know of Genesta, as it is a non-native growing wild here in the hills of Southern California, but also is a signature plant growing on and around Mount Etna in Sicily, where our Italian family lives. Due to these more recent experience with broom, I am not sure how I missed this little naming fact about such a famous historical family, but it only goes to show how bits and pieces of information can fall through the cracks in our memory.

Genestra (Eng: Broom) - native plant of the hills of Etna

It is these types of tiny facts that keep me reading and watching books and shows on history, science, nature and literature. No matter how much I learn, I know there is always something new out there to learn. I think this is a big part of what keeps life interesting and exciting.

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