Angevin Rule

Angevin Rule

Establishment and Expansion

  • The Angevin Empire was established by Henry II following his accession to the English throne in 1154.
  • The empire expanded further through Henry’s marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, which brought vast territories in France under English control.

Governance and Legislation

  • Henry II is credited for his development of an early form of common law. The Assizes of Clarendon (1166) and Northampton (1176) standardised legal procedures across the country.
  • Under Angevin rule, the jury system began to evolve. The practise of using a group of local men to prescribe judgement formed the basis for this system.
  • Scutage, a form of tax substituted for military service, was established under Henry II. This allowed the king to hire mercenaries for military campaigns.

Power Relations

  • Henry II’s attempts to exert control over the Church led to conflicts, most notably with Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. This conflict represented an important episode in the power struggle between the Church and the monarchy.
  • The relationship between the king and the barons was complex and often strained under Angevin rule. The Revolt of 1173-74, led by Henry’s own sons and wife, is a prime example of such tensions.


  • The Angevin empire began to decline towards the end of Henry II’s reign and continued under his sons, Richard I (“Richard the Lionheart”) and John.
  • The loss of territories, particularly under King John, and baronial revolt culminating in the signing of Magna Carta in 1215, marked the end of Angevin rule.
  • The Magna Carta established fundamental legal principles that continue to underpin English law. These include habeas corpus (the right to be brought before a judge) and the principle that the monarchy is subject to the law.