2A Royal Authority and the Angevin Kings, 1154–1216

This option provides for the study in depth of a period of turbulence in British history, during which the authority of the monarch was questioned and the relationship between Church, State and the baronage was readjusted. It develops concepts such as authority, dynastic ambition and rebellion and encourages students to reflect on issues such as territorial integrity and what makes a ‘state’.

Part one: The Reign of Henry II, 1154–1189

The Restoration of Royal Authority, 1154–1166

  • The political, economic and social condition of England in 1154; the character and aims of Henry II; the strengths and weaknesses of Henry II’s position at his accession
  • The restoration of royal authority under Henry II: the barons; royal finance; justice and the law
  • The place of religion in society: the political role of the Church; ecclesiastical courts; the importance of the Church in finance and the economy
  • Henry II and England’s overseas territories; the lordship of Ireland; Normandy, Gascony and Aquitaine; relations with France

The crisis of Royal Authority, 1166–1174

  • The conflict between Church and State: Thomas Becket and the crisis of 1170; the clash between Henry II and the Papacy
  • Henry II and Ireland: the invasions of 1169 and 1171; relations with the Irish nobility
  • The origins of the Great Rebellion: dynastic instability and Henry II’s relations with the three rebellious sons, Eleanor of Aquitaine and their supporters; the role of Louis VII of France
  • The course of the Great Rebellion: political instability; the barons; William I of Scotland; the re-establishment of Henry II’s rule

The struggle for Royal Authority, 1174–1189

  • Attempts to consolidate royal authority after the Great Rebellion: court and family tensions; the barons; the royal finances; justice and the law
  • Relations between Church and State: Henry II and his bishops; reconciliation with the Papacy
  • Social and economic developments: towns and trade, the social condition of England by 1189
  • England’s overseas territories: developments in Ireland after the 1175 Treaty of Windsor; the dynastic ambitions of Henry’s sons; relations with Philip II of France; Henry’s final military campaign; the death of the King

Part two: England under Henry II’s Successors, 1189–1216 (A-level only)

Richard I, 1189–1199 (A-level only)

  • The character and aims of King Richard: attitudes towards religion and the Church; his involvement in the Third Crusade
  • England without Richard: the absentee king; royal authority under the rule of William Longchamp, Hugh de Puiset and Walter de Coutances; the ambitions of Prince John and the later government under Hubert Walter
  • Relations with France and the conflict between Richard and Philip II; rivalries following the Third Crusade; war from 1194; the truce of 1199
  • Social and economic developments: towns and trade; persecution of Jews; the social condition of England by 1199

King John, 1199–1214 (A-level only)

  • Royal government under King John: the character and aims of the King; his relations with the barons; the royal finances; justice and the law
  • Relations with the Church: Hubert Walter as Archbishop of Canterbury; the dispute with the Papacy; the interdict of 1208
  • The loss of Normandy and war with France: the defeats of 1202–1204 and the long campaigns to regain Normandy
  • Scotland, Ireland and Wales: relations with William of Scotland and the invasion of 1209; John’s rule in Ireland and the invasion of 1210; attempts to pacify Wales

The end of John's reign, 1214–1216 (A-level only)

  • Defeat in the war with France: failure of John’s final campaign to regain Normandy; the Battle of Bouvines; the unfavourable peace with Philip II
  • Relations between King John and the barons: Robert Fitzwalter and the ‘Army of God’; negotiations leading to Magna Carta
  • The First Barons War: baronial unrest and the outbreak of the war; John’s military campaigns; the death of the King
  • King John’s legacy: the problem of the succession and role of William Marshal as Protector; the political, economic and social condition of England by 1216