king Henry II

ella waters

common law

King Henry II (1154–1189) brought consistency to England’s legal system by sending royal judges to every part of the country. In the early 1100s, court decisions were based on local customs and previous rulings. This was called common law.

influences of Henry

Several of Henry's policies, including his efforts to curb the independence of the church, brought him into conflict with Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury. In 1170, four of Henry's knights, who believed they were acting on the king's orders, murdered Becket in his cathedral.


Tabuteau, Emily Zack. "Henry II." World Book Student. World Book, 2016. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

about Henry

Henry II was born in Le Mans, France, in March 1133. His mother was Matilda, daughter of Henry I, and his father was Geoffrey of Anjou. When Henry I died in 1135, Matilda expected to become queen of England, but her cousin Stephen seized the throne. Matilda continued to press her claim until 1148, when she left England for Normandy.

"Henry II." Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2 May. 2013.

the effects

Henry II reestablished law and order after the anarchy of Stephen’s reign. He improved the military service by permitting the barons to pay “shield money,” or scutage, in place of serving in the army. With this he hired soldiers who would fight whenever and wherever he wished—an important means of maintaining control over the powerful nobles of the land.

His greatest work was the reform of the law courts. He brought the Curia Regis (King’s Court) into every part of England by sending learned judges on circuit through the land to administer the “king’s justice.” Thus, gradually, one system of law took the place of the many local customs that had been in use. He also established the grandjury. Now accusations could be brought by a body of representatives of the community against evildoers who were so powerful that no single individual dared accuse them.

"Henry II." Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2 May. 2013.