Constitutions of Clarendon

(1164)

Context

The twelfth century was a tumultuous time in England. Controversies surrounding the succession to the throne threw the country into a long civil war. Henry I died in 1135, leaving one legitimate daughter and heir, Matilda, and several illegitimate children. Matilda was quickly dismissed as Henry I's successor: She was married to Geoffrey of Anjou, a region in France, whose family was regarded as traditional enemies of the Normans, who had ruled England for a hundred years, so England's relationship with the rulers of France was strained. Also, ruling queens were rare at this time. Instead, Stephen, Henry I's nephew and a descendant of William the Conqueror, was chosen to rule. Matilda, though, had a large following of supporters and was able to contest Stephen's ascendance to the throne. The result was a civil war that would eventually see Stephen recognized as the legitimate ruler. Matilda relinquished her claim to the throne on the condition that Stephen would name...