William the Conqueror made England a powerful state. But it became more powerful under the dynasty Plantagenet.
With the death in 1135 of King Henry I, the youngest son of William the Conqueror, the Norman dynasty ended. A fierce struggle for power broke out in England. Barons no longer obeyed the king, built their own castles and committed robbery. But the troubles in the state ceased, when in 1154 the Frenchman Henry II became the king – the founder of the Plantagenet dynasty. The new monarch, thanks to the marriage with the former wife of the French King Alienora Aquitaine, owned large lands not only in England, but also in France. No European king had as much gold and silver as Henry II.
Henry II Plantagenet worked for five. It was said about him that “he will never sit down, on his feet from morning till night.” All my life I spent in campaigns and inspections of my possessions. He was an avid hunter.
Henry II leveled the feudal castles to
the ground, punished the robbers and thieves, who had sprouted a lot during the troubled period, abolished the count’s titles given to all his sheriffs by the gods. To replenish the state treasury, he streamlined the collection of taxes.
Under Henry II, the royal court became supreme. Everyone could use his services free. Judicial fights and hordes were banned. The plaintiff was to bring with him witnesses who testified under oath. Later, the certificate under the oath gave rise to the jury trials, which decided whether the defendant was guilty or not.
The king ordered to serve in the army of almost all free citizens. From those who did not go to war, they levied a tax on these funds and hired soldiers. The mercenaries were better soldiers than the knights. This reform turned knights into ordinary landlords, absorbed in their economy.
Henry II turned the archbishops and bishops into his vassals, taxed the church lands, forbade the clergy to complain to the pope in Rome. But the head of the English church, Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, rose for the preservation of church privileges. Then the
courtiers, to please the king, killed Becket. The king was charged with involvement in this crime. He had to give up the church reforms and beg for forgiveness from the pope. This shook his authority in the state.
He did not find a common language with Henry II and his sons – Richard, whom the knight-poets called the Lionheart, and John. Sons really wanted to be independent. Richard, having conspired with the French King Philip II Augustus, almost captivated the sick Henry II. Learning that John’s younger son is also against him, Henry II died from such a blow.
After the death of Henry II, Richard the Lionheart ascended the throne. But he was anything but a monarch. England he threw to the mercy of fate, spent his entire life in wandering, even was arrested by the Austrian duke and imprisoned by the German emperor. But the system of state government created by Henry II proved to be so reliable that it worked without a king.
Richard the Lionheart was a talented warlord, a brave warrior, poet, musician. He was quick-tempered, but not touching. Although he did not forgive anybody of betrayal and deceit, he himself betrayed his own father, moreover, he also persuaded his younger brother. He was inconstant, he changed his decisions ten times a day, for which his contemporaries called him “yes and no”. He liked to seem fair and generous, in general – an ideal knight.