This is a series of articles dealing with the British nobility beginning with William the Conqueror in 1066 and ending with Henry VIII circa 1530. The information within has been compiled from multiple resources and a bibliography will follow the completed work. Beginning with the Normans, the Plantagenets, the Lancasters, the Yorks, and then finally, the Tudors.
The Plantagenets – the name comes from the Personal Badge of Geoffrey, Count of Anjou. "Planta Genista," Latin, is a sprig of flowering broom.
Henry II: Acceded after the death of Stephen in 1154, Henry is widely considered one of the greatest Plantagenet kings. He greatly extended the authority of the Royal Courts by increasing the number of officially recognized offenses and pleas and allowing anyone to use the courts for civil actions ranging from land disputes to other civil problems. This had an effect of replacing “quirky” local laws with more widely accepted Common Law. Already holding lands in France, his lands in England increased his empire that remained intact well after his death.
Considered intellectually and physically superior to most, Henry is credited with limiting the Church’s power. He didn’t feel that clergy that committed crimes should get special dispensation, so in 1164, the Constitution of Claredon established that criminal clergy should be tried in Civil Court without Papal intervention. It was also during his reign that scholars exiled from Paris settled in Oxford and founded a university there. Through an on-again/of-again relationship with Thomas A Becket, Henry sought to limit the powers of the church and bring about reform. Becket particularly didn’t agree with the Constitution of Claredon. Either through a misunderstanding or an intentional order, Becket was killed on the high alter of Canterbury in 1170 by four of Henry’s knights.
In 1171, Henry receives homage from the Irish Kings and is accepted as Lord of Ireland. In 1174/75, Henry fends off unsuccessful rebellions from his sons Henry, Richard, and Geoffrey. Henry dies in 1189 at Chinon Castle in France.