Constitutions of Clarendon

(1164)

In January 1164, King Henry II of England held a council at his palace at Clarendon where he presented to his nobles and bishops a document now known as the Constitutions of Clarendon. The Constitutions of Clarendon were part of Henry II's effort to formalize and record unwritten laws that had previously been adhered to through custom and tradition alone. The Constitutions comprise sixteen clauses, or articles, that report and refine the standing laws of the kingdom with regard to judicial issues such as the jurisdiction of courts. Scholars generally agree that the Constitutions of Clarendon should not be seen as aggressive law reform. Henry hoped to clarify the jurisdictions of the church and the state by protecting the laws and customs he viewed to be his birthright as king. During the turmoil of the civil war that led up to Henry's reign, the church asserted its liberties. Henry wished to reclaim his rights and curtail some of the privileges given to the church....

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Henry II (New York Public Library)

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