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Plantagenet kings


King Henry II

Henry II (1154–1189)

Henry II, the son of Geoffrey Plantagenet and Henry I's daughter Matilda, was the first in a line of 14 Plantagenet kings, ending with the death of Richard III in 1485. Henry II was possibly the most powerful monarch in Europe. His lands stretched from the borders of Scotland to the Pyrenees—and now included parts of Ireland, granted to him by Pope Adrian IV (the only English Pope). Henry introduced an efficient system of government and justice. His legal reforms, including the foundation of the jury system, led him to be regarded as the founder of English Common Law. There were quarrels with the Church, however, which became more intense following the murder of Thomas Becket. A strong king and a brilliant military commander, Henry II spent much time away from England involved in wars. Henry died in France in 1189, fighting against his son Richard, who had joined forces with King Philip II of France to attack Normandy.

The Plantagenet dynasty took its name from the common broom, a tall shrub with bright yellow flowers, whose Latin name was, at the time, Planta genista. It was the emblem of the counts of Anjou.

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