"Henry II" by W.L. Warren

Henry II W.L. Warren

The English Monarchs Series
Publication date:
11 Oct 2000
Yale University Press
600 pages: 235 x 156mm
20 b-w illus.


Henry II (1133-1189) was an enigma in his own time and has continued to excite widely divergent judgments ever since. His quarrel with Archbishop Becket, his troubled relationships with his sons and with his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and other dramatic incidents of his reign present rich material for historical novelists, playwrights, and filmmakers, but with no unanimity of interpretation. This masterful biography provides a comprehensive reappraisal of Henry II, the man and king. W. L. Warren explores a full range of contemporary sources to illuminate the king’s policy and personality as well as the events of his reign.

Henry II’s greatness as a king is not in doubt. From an early age he impressed his will on a turbulent realm and established new standards of law and order in seemingly ungovernable territories. He fought and won the first great war over the balance of power in western Europe, laid the foundations for the growth of English Common Law and of royal administration, and destroyed the possibility that the realm might disintegrate into feudal principalities. Warren focuses on the actions of the king and, while not underrating the importance of the famous crises of Henry’s reign, gives equal attention to incidents that are little-known but equally revealing.

The late W. L. Warren was professor of modern history and dean of theology at The Queen’s University, Belfast. Judith A. Green is professor of history at The Queen’s University, Belfast.

Winner of the Wolfson History Award