King Henry II

[King Henry II] King of England, born Normandy, France, 1133; died near Saumur, 1189. He was the grandson of Henry I, married Eleanor of Aquitaine, and succeeded Stephen on the English throne in 1154. He at once took up the work of constitutional and legal reform inaugurated by his grandfather, with the assistance of Archbishop Theobald, and Chancellor Thomas Becket. He also brought a large part of France under English control. After subduing his troublesome barons he attacked the jurisdiction of the spiritual courts. Whatever abuses may have existed therein have been grossly exaggerated. Henry's course of action brought him into conflict with Thomas Becket, who in 1162 had become Archbishop of Canterbury. The dispute culminated in the assassination of Becket, for which Henry did due penance. The fact that he proceeded no farther against the Church is proof that Becket had not taken up an indefensible position. Henry's last years were embittered by the rebellion of his sons in France.

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