The Feudal Kingdom of England, 1042-1216

By Frank Barlow | Go to book overview

8
THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE
MONARCHY UNDER HENRY II

I

ALL contemporaries agree that Henry fitzEmpress was a restless man. And he had need to be. When at the age of twentyone he added the kingdom of England to his French fiefs only a fine physique and an unquiet and persistent curiosity could have enabled him to govern his far-flung estates by the only satisfactory means at his disposal -- constant perambulation. A bowlegged horseman, he led his retinue along all the tracks of western Europe; and if he tarried for a while it was to hunt. Yet this aggressive physical energy seldom clouded his intelligence. Schooled in warfare, he did not make soldiering his career. Even if his appetite for territorial acquisition was not completely sated when England was won, the task of maintenance became so heavy that he learned to renounce the more grandiose opportunities which came his way and to content himself with recovering his legal or pretended rights and exploiting them profitably through improvements in technique. In the turbulent years of his boyhood he had threaded the labyrinth of feudal diplomacy and had learned all the lessons of the world except patience; and that he was never to master. At quiet times he had had his tutors -- Master Matthew when he lived with his Uncle Gloucester at Bristol and William of Conches, the most famous Norman grammarian of the time, while he was with his father -- and, although not much of a scholar, he always had the air of a cultured prince. A professional to the core, Henry set a new standard for kings. He collected useful men; he could always find the right man for the job; and, since he was a clever lawyer and was never at a loss for a legal or administrative expedient, his control was both firm and

-283-

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The Feudal Kingdom of England, 1042-1216
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introductory Note v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Maps and Charts xii
  • I - England in the Reign of Edward the Confessor 1
  • 2 - The Reign of Edward the Confessor 55
  • 3 - The Norman Conquest of England 77
  • 4 - The Anglo-Norman Kingdom 100
  • 5 England and Normandy, 1066-1100 137
  • 6 - The Zenith and the Nadir of Norman Rule, 1100-1154 171
  • 7 - Social Changes in England 235
  • 8 - The Re-Establishment of the Monarchy Under Henry II 283
  • 9 - The Angevin Empire 331
  • 10 - The Angevin Despotism 375
  • Epilogue 436
  • Note on Books 442
  • Index 445
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