Henry II. (11331189)

Henry II., king of England from 1154 to 1189, first of the Plantagenet line; was the son of Matilda, daughter of Henry I., and her second husband Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, born at Le Mans; when he came to the throne as Stephen's successor he was already in possession, mainly through his marriage with Eleanor, the divorced wife of Louis VII., of more than half of France; he set himself with all the vigour of his energetic nature to reform the abuses which had become rampant under Stephen, and Thomas à Becket was his zealous Chancellor; the Great Council was frequently summoned to deliberate on national affairs; the Curia Regis was strengthened, the itinerant judgeships revived, while the oppression and immorality of the nobles was sternly suppressed by the demolition of the “adulterine castles”; a blow was aimed at the privileges and licentiousness of the clergy by the Constitutions of Clarendon, but their enactment brought about a rupture between the king and Becket, now Archbishop of Canterbury, which subsequently ended in the murder of Becket; in 1171 Ireland was invaded and annexed, and three years later William the Lion of Scotland was forced to declare his kingdom a fief to the English throne; some time previously the Welsh princes had done him homage; the last years of his reign were embittered by quarrels and strife with his ungrateful sons; he was a man of many kingly qualities, perhaps the best, taken all in all, that England ever had, and his reign marks an epoch in the development of constitutional law and liberty (11331189).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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Henderson, Thomas
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