Feudal Strength!: Henry II and the Struggle for Royal Control in England

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 Feudal Strength!: Henry II and the Struggle for Royal Control in England

By Jordan Paul Carr

Honors Thesis, Eastern Michigan University, 2007

Abstract: In 1154 Henry II gained the throne of England after a long civil war between Henry and King Stephen of England. When Henry was crowned king England was in a chaotic state. The nobles had used the conflict to vastly increase their power at the expense of the king. Royal authority was at a low and the influence of the king had been greatly reduced by the war. Setting out to reassert the royal power of his grandfather Henry I of England, Henry II established massive reforms to the administration of justice and created Common Law in England. Through his contributions to the law and his military prowess, Henry was able to curb the power of the barons and regain status for the throne. In addition to this Henry clashed with the Church in matters of the law and royal jurisdiction.

Introduction: In 1154 Henry II gained the throne of England after a long civil war between Henry and King Stephen of England. When Henry was crowned king England was in a chaotic state. The nobles had used the conflict to vastly increase their power at the expense of the king. Royal authority was at a low and the influence of the king had been greatly reduced by the war. Setting out to reassert the royal power of his grandfather Henry I of England, Henry II established massive reforms to the administration of justice and created Common Law in England. Through his contributions to the law and his military prowess, Henry was able to curb the power of the barons and regain status for the throne. In addition to this Henry clashed with the Church in matters of the law and royal jurisdiction.




Henry II ruled over a vast empire that no English king before could match. Through his inheritance, military success, and political cunning he managed to wield power and influence on a level that no future medieval English monarch would. Aside from this considerable accomplishment, Henry II is fascinating for his vital contributions to English law. The establishment of Common Law would have an immeasurable effect on all future English government and administration. In reaching back to the customs founded by his grandfather, Henry I, the king created an effective and efficient royal administration that held both the nobles and the high clergymen in check.

Click here to read this thesis from Eastern Michigan University

Sharan Newman