He was the first king of Plantagenet dynasty, kings of France and England.
He was the son of Matilda and Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou.
• He reduced the power of barons and wanted professional soldiers to do this.
• He introduced a tax called “scutage” for all knights who didn’t want to leave their land to take part in military campaigns (campeins).
Henry II solved some problems in the field of justice introducing three important reforms:
- The travelling judges : he sent out judges who gave royal justice travelling round the country and visited each major town every six year. They could control the feudal courts and the lords.
- The Common law : system of justice that was oral and was made up of tradition. It is composed by the law that was administrated during the travel by the judges. That was used everywhere, while in other parts of Europe legal practice was based on the Civil Law of the Roman Empire and on the Canon Law of the Church.
In fact, previously, a typical test was to put a hot iron on the tongue of a man. Whether the mark was still there three days later, the man was guilty.
• He wanted to reduce the power of the Church : he introduced the Constitution of Clarendon, according to which the king had authority in choosing the bishops. This Constitution also ruled that clergymen who committed serious crimes were to be tried by a civil court and not by an ecclesiastical.