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Henry II

The successor of William the Conqueror was Henry 1st during whose reign a first sign of reconciliation between Anglo Saxons and Normans happened (marriage between Edith and Henry 1st). Stephen was the son of Henry 1st and he was the last Norman King.
Stephen successor was Henry 2nd, the first Plantagenet-Anjou dinasty’s king.

During the years of his government the country was in a condition of semi-anarchy because both the aristocracy and the church had strengthened/ enforced their autonomy and independence from the crown. They became 3 separate powers, 3 parallel states. The first task of the King was to reduce the power of the barons and the clergy.

During his reign, Henry 2nd carried out a series of extremely important reforms. First of all he reformed the military service, secondly he reformed the justice.
The first reform was military: a royal army didn't exist so he constituted an army of his own.

In his reformation of the legal system he introduced the Common Law, which, contrary to the civil law that drew inspiration from the roman code(the king is above the law), It established the evaluation of the previous cases and therefore it was a guarantee of major objectivity (the law was above everyone and it was also above the king’s will ). The common law was also able to grant more impartiality to the individuals because the judge was obliged to take into account the previous cases and he couldn’t express a judgement arbitrarily.

The relationship with the Church

As regards his relationship with the Church he started a fierce quarrel with It because the Church had acquired such an enormous political and economic power so to become a sort of “state within the state”, a kind of parallel kingdom.
For example the Church had the power to choose/could choose among bishops and could even give them wealth of any kind. Moreover They weren’t subject to the king’s jurisdiction.
To limit the power of the Church he reached two important objectives.
First of all, he tried to reach a kind of compromise according to which He stated that the Church would have the right to appoint Bishops on condition that They accepted to be subject to the king as his vassals.
At the same time the second success reached by him was represented by the fact that he succeeded in naming one of his personal friends as Archbishop of Canterbury: Simon Becket.
However the quarrel between the Church and the crown was immediately revived by the problem of who should judge the priests guilty of crimes against the state. Of course the Church affirmed its jurisdiction and the king his own. This problem was never solved and on the contrary the clash between Church and State reached its climax with Becket’s murder. He was murdered by a group of partisans of the king in 1170.

Despite his friendship to the king Simon Becket remained faithful to the Church throughout his life so he rebelled against his friend, the king.

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