England in the High Middle Ages 2

England in the High Middle Ages (until 1300) Part II


Angevin Empire and Magna Charta

After the Norman dynasty expired in 1135 with the death of Henry I in the male line, after a period of civil war-like turmoil – caused by the almost two decades-long battles for the throne between Heinrich’s nephew, King Stephan of Blois, and Heinrich’s daughter Mathilde and her son Heinrich Plantagenet  - the crown finally to the latter, who ruled as King Henry II 1154–89. Heinrich decreed from the inheritance of his father, Geoffrey of Anjou, and the dowry of his wife, the Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine over the entire west and south-west of France as a feudal property of the French crown, making it the most powerful crown vassal of the French king and England part of a spacious territorial structure (Angevin Empire) became. During his reign he also forced Wales and Scotland to recognize their suzerainty and conquered Ireland in 1171/72. In order to be able to dispose of a mercenary army always ready for action, he operated the replacement of feudal knight service with cash payments (shield money). In addition, he pushed back the feudal powers internally through a general expansion of the royal jurisdiction, the standardization of legal and procedural norms and the resulting tendency towards supra-regional law (common law). The attempt to restrict the special position of the clergy in relation to royal rule in the Constitutions of Clarendon (1164) led to a conflict with Archbishop Thomas Becket and his murder. Under the sons of Heinrich, Richard I the Lionheart (1189–99) and John without Land (1199–1216), the weaknesses of the heterogeneous empire, which was only held together by the person of the ruler, came to light. With regard to the legal status of the land holdings, a permanent conflict with the French king as feudal lord was inevitable, while on the other hand, every military engagement on the continent required special financial sacrifices, the demand of which met with increasing resistance from the English magnates. So Johann, who also got involved in disputes with Rome, had to take his land from the Pope in 1213 and lost the king after the victory Philip II August of France at Bouvines in 1214 finally his Angevin possessions except for the Channel Islands and a remainder in south-west France (Guyenne). These failures strengthened the opposition of the barons, who now rose up against John’s exaggerated rule and fiscal policy and wresteda confirmation of their rights and freedoms from the king in the Magna Charta Libertatum (1215; Magna Charta). Essentially a feudal treaty, the charter was upgraded to a cornerstone of English constitutional law in the political development that followed (especially since the 17th century).

Despite repeated confirmation of the Magna Charta, under Henry III. (1216–72) half a century of serious conflicts with the high nobility. It was initially about the personnel policy of the king, who did not choose his closest advisers and confidants from the established English nobility, but from the circle of relatively low-ranking knights, predominantly from the relatives of his wife Eleonore (Provence, Savoy) and his mother (member of the Lusignan family in southwestern France). In addition, according to Thesciencetutor, there were military and foreign policy failures, combined with an increased need for money, so that the barons, under threat of force of arms, forced the Oxford commission on the king in 1258, which among other things. provided for a permanent council of magnates involved in the government, which considerably restricted royal power. Efforts of the king, this development with the help of the Pope and the French King Louis IX. to reverse, led to the outbreak of open civil war, in the course of which the barons led by Simon de Montfort defeated the royal army at the battle of Lewes (Sussex) in May 1264 and took the king prisoner. Trying Montfort, the power of newfound were represented jointly by the convening of a parliament in which the first cities and county knights to stabilize in the long term, failed because he was already a short time later in the decisive battle against the heir (I.) Eduard at Evesham was killed on the Avon in August 1265. However, Eduard I (1272–1307) linked to the spiritual legacy of Montfort when he refrained from his father’s disastrous personnel policy and also recognized the increasing importance of parliament as a representative body not only for the high nobility, but also for other sections of the population who were important for the crown and also knew how to use it during his reign. Under Edward II. the new institution temporarily held a key position in the dispute between crown and magnate, and after 1360 the representatives of the “community of the empire” (communitas regni), which are called the House of Commons (county knights, citizens and free farmers) obtained from the House of Lords differentiated, an inevitable right to have a say when it came to the approval of extraordinary duties. King Edward I broke new ground not only in relation to parliament, but also in the endeavor to systematically use the law as a means of strengthening royal power, which is reflected in extensive statutes, accompanied by meticulous investigations into the legal claims of the crown and the legitimacy of inherited rights noble estates, expressed.

With the conquest of Wales in several campaigns (1277, 1282/83, 1294/95) Edward I extended England westward to the sea. His initially successful intervention in Scotland (1296 campaign and overthrow of the Scottish King John de Balliol) remained an episode. Although he was able to overthrow the uprising of 1297/98 under William Wallace, towards the end of the reign of Edward I, Robert I Bruce (* 1274, † 1329), who was crowned King of Scotland in 1306, succeeded in a general uprising against the English occupation forces to unleash and finally one of Eduard II. to defeat led English army in the battle of Bannockburn (June 23–24, 1314).

England in the High Middle Ages 2