How did Henry I developed a strong, centralized monarchy?

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saintfester | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Henry I rose to power after defeating his most powerful rival, his brother Robert, at the Battle of Tinchebray. He then moved quickly to consolidate power. To achieve this, he introduced several reforms and decrees which greatly increased the power of the English Monarchy.

One such reform, the Charter of Liberties, was drafted to help appease angry nobles. This charter limited the power of the king in certain areas, such as taxation and abusing the sanctity of the church. These reforms were welcomed by Henry’s barons, whom became more loyal as a result. This document is also considered to be the forerunner of the Magna Carta

Another issue he had was that the Anglo-Saxon population of England did not recognize him as their rightful king. Henry dealt with this by marrying Queen Edith, who the Anglo-Saxon’s viewed as one of their own. This won Henry almost instant approval from their camp and helped further unify England’s population.

Henry also had to deal with problems involving the church. To help ameliorate these issues, he penned the Concordat of London in 1107, which acknowledged that the king was in control of the country by right of conquest, but he had to give up some measure of control of their lands.

Henry also instituted a financial system called the “tally stick” which eventually led to more advanced record keeping and general financial strength in England.

Henry was absent from England frequently, and as a result power began to transfer from the king himself to the bureaucracy of the monarchy itself. To check up on the shires and make sure taxes were being paided properly the office of exchequer was created and empowered as the official collection agent of the king.


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