His family on both sides was of Poitevin descent.
The earliest known French romance of Alexander, by Alberic of Besancon (or more properly Briancon), was, until the discovery of a fragment of ioq lines at Florence in 1852, known only through the German adaptation by Lamprecht the preacher, who wrote towards the end of the 12th century, and by the version made by a Poitevin poet named Simon in decasyllabic lines.
Both father and mother were of Poitevin extraction, but the Arouets had been for two generations established in Paris, the grandfather being a prosperous tradesman.
He was opposed by the legate Pandulf (1218-1221), who claimed the guardianship of the kingdom for the Holy See; by the Poitevin Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, who was the young king's tutor; by the foreign mercenaries of John, among whom Falkes de Breaute took the lead; and by the feudal party under the earls of Chester and Albemarle.
But the title of regent was given by the loyal barons to William Marshal, the aged earl of Pembroke; and Peter des Roches, the Poitevin bishop of Winchester, received the charge of the king's person.
In 1182 he and his younger brother Geoffrey took up arms, on the side of the Poitevin rebels, against Richard Coeur de Lion; apparently from resentment at the favour which Henry II.
But John soon alienated the Poitevin barons, and William des Roches signed a treaty with Philip on the 22nd of March 1203.
On the 19th of June he laid siege to La Roche-aux-Moines, the fortress which defended Angers and commanded the Loire valley; but on the approach of a royal army under Prince Louis on the 2nd of July his Poitevin barons refused to risk a pitched battle, and he fled hastily to La Rochelle.