Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rediscovering the Britons: Henry II

I've had reason of late to revisit chronological events of British history. At a friend's request, I compiled an overview of British history from the Norman Invasion of 1066 to present day. This resulted in uncovering many aspects of British history that I haven't studied since my undergraduate coursework in college. It has been a fun project to rediscover people and events that I had either not known that much about or had forgotten.
So why not start at the beginning with what could be argued by some as the beginning of the English state under Henry II, who ruled 1154 to 1189.
From Anglo-Saxon England came a tradition of law-making which focused on the king as the protector of the realm. Henry ruled over a vassalage system with the king as an active and central figure of this political system. At that time that Henry ruled England (and Ireland and Scotland and Wales and Brittany and Normandy and Anjou), he viewed himself more than just by his title as King of England (and Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou), but rather as Lord of His Domain. Understanding Henry’s approach to ruling his lands elucidates his actions that lead to the reforms that changed the relationship of the King to the Church, State, and society.
Henry’s reign was not necessarily greater than that of the his Anglo-Saxon or Norman predecessors. However, these reforms under his reign brought changes to land law and judiciary practices that were vital to the creation English Common Law and toward creating an English monarchy and unified state.
For more details on Henry II's reforms, I recommend starting with this website:

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