Henry II (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Beginning his reign after a time of civil war, Henry II began a period of reconstruction. After the reestablishment of order in the realm, Henry sought to build further reforms on those of his grandfather, Henry I; these would include general administration as well as specific reforms in fiscal and judicial affairs. An ardent reader and student, Henry fostered the study of the laws of England and encouraged the study of constitutional law.
Henry II was the eldest child of Matilda, daughter of Henry I, by her second husband, Geoffrey, Count of Anjou. After the death of William, the only legitimate son of Henry I, in 1120, Henry I was obliged to rebuild his shattered succession plan around Matilda. He forced his major barons and prelates to swear their allegiance to her. Although many had serious misgivings about having a woman ruler, their fear of the king caused them to accede to his wishes. Upon the death of Henry I, however, Stephen of Blois, his nephew, moved quickly to secure the throne and to acquire the support of the barons and prelates. Although he had acquired the throne with surprising ease, Stephen found it much more difficult to hold it. As neither Matilda nor Stephen proved to be an effective leader, the struggle did not reach a decisive point until Henry, Matilda’s son, appeared as a major figure.
The dynastic fight would be settled with the Treaty of Winchester...
(The entire section is 1968 words.)
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Henry II (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Henry II reestablished control over the northern counties of England after defeating the Scots, then invaded and conquered Ireland.
Head of a new Plantagenet dynasty known as the Angevins, Henry II became duke of Anjou before ascending to the English throne. He married Eleanor of Aquitaine, the former wife of the French king Louis VII. Their combined holdings along the coast of France stretched from Spain to the banks of the Seine. After Henry became king of England, his empire included Scotland, Ireland, and England as well. The French monarch, threatened by the power of his greatest vassal, began expelling all Englishmen from France, an act that eventually led to the Hundred Years’ War.
In the Anglo-Scottish War of 1157-1158, Henry II regained the northern English counties from Malcolm of Scotland. He gained territory in Ireland through the Anglo-Norman Invasion of Ireland in 1171. Henry’s sons rebelled against him after his affair with a mistress became public and their mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, urged them to revolt. Henry put down the rebellion in 1173 and imprisoned Eleanor, but his sons continued their resistance until his death.
Barber, Richard. The Devil’s Crown: Henry II, Richard I, John Lackland. London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1978.
Schlight, John. Henry Plantagenet. New York:...
(The entire section is 225 words.)
Henry II of England, (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
King Henry II was born March 5, 1133, in Le Mans, France. He reigned from 1154 to 1189 and founded the Plantagenet dynasty of English rulers. Henry's many innovations in civil and CRIMINAL PROCEDURE had a lasting effect upon ENGLISH LAW and his expansion of the royal
court system made royal justice available throughout England.
Building upon the earlier tradition of the inquest, Henry issued several assizes, or ordinances, that introduced the procedures that eventually developed into the GRAND JURY. He also developed a number of writs to bring cases from the feudal courts of the barons into the royal courts. In addition, Henry sent itinerant justices on regular circuits through the kingdom to make royal justice more easily obtainable.
Henry's expansion of royal justice did, however, bring him into conflict with THOMAS BECKET, the archbishop of Canterbury, who opposed the king's efforts to punish members of the clergy who had been convicted of crimes in ecclesiastical courts and removed from their clerical...
(The entire section is 202 words.)