Reestablishing the seat of power: A discussion of King Henry II’s methods of regaining royal controlAfter the anarchic rule of his uncle, King Stephen of Blois, Henry II rose to the throne in a time of political turbulence which was manifested through a culture of power-grabbing among the local magnates and the factions created by the civil war which raged during his predecessor’s reign. The crown at the time had no strong mandate over the people. He felt a strong need to re-strengthen the power of the crown through redirecting the streams of power which were currently divided. Given the divisions of power, Henry was hard-pressed to regain the respect and obedience of the nobles.In governing, one of the most basic principles goes beyond setting down the law of the land (in the case of monarchs, establishing the royal decree) but more importantly, in the ruling party’s ability to enforce these laws and carry out justice. Henry II saw the wisdom of gaining full control of legislative and executive powers, but the powers of judiciary as well. As such, he returned the ultimate power to conduct trials and impose punishment to the royal courts, instead of the church and the local magnates.
At the same time, he destroyed illegal castles used strong military force to extract service from the rebellious barons.His local reforms instated the Royal courts as the supreme assessor and executor of the law and this was institutionalized through the Assize of Clarendon. The Assize set down the procedures on handling all sorts of transgressions from the pettiest thievery to serious treason and employed the use of the jury system. This jury was composed of “twelve lawful men” who took on the rule of the grand jury as stated in the contribution of Seth Seyfried to the Medieval Source Book.
This system paved the way for the social and legal reformation of England.His want to instill peace and order in the kingdom was achieved through the comprehensive set of rules in the Assize. It stated procedures on how to deal with vagrants, strangers and unknown visitors and how they are to be treated with specifications on the kind of reception they are to get. There were also guideless on how debts are to be settled and virtually, any public and private transaction that has the possibility of resulting into a social transgression if mishandled.
In conclusion, Henry ministrations restored power to the crown and reinstated political stability in the land. Although, he was not averse to the use of force as evidenced by some of his efforts to regain the nobility’s service to the king, on the whole his methods were almost democratic and concretized the power of the crown. Henry’s wisdom to come up with the Assize and his way of settling criminal and civil offenses through a jury reinstated the crown as the ultimate authority in the land in a way that the people are able to respect at the same time.