The Kings and the Church, 1154–1217
DOI link for The Kings and the Church, 1154–1217
The Kings and the Church, 1154–1217 book
The relationship between the Angevin kings and the English Church was dominated by two quarrels: the first between Henry II and Archbishop Thomas Becket, and the second between John and Pope Innocent III. Both disputes arose in large measure from each king’s determination to govern the Church in the same ways as he thought his predecessors had done. However, they also arose because fundamental intellectual and political changes were taking place across Europe during the twelfth century, over which English kings had little if any control. As has been seen in Chapter 8, whilst the royal grip on the Church had been loosened during Stephen’s reign, this was not simply a consequence of his political weakness or incompetence. By the 1150s, ecclesiastical authorities were becoming generally more assertive in their own cause, more conscious of the need to stand apart from the lay power and more successful in so doing. These trends continued apace into the Angevin period, and so no matter how valid Henry II and John thought their arguments were about traditional royal customs and prerogatives, they could not govern their Churches, and therefore their kingdoms, effectively without acknowledging the influence and power wielded by other forces, particularly the Papacy, within their territories. Having said this, the authority exerted over the Church by Henry II, Richard and John remained extensive and, times of obvious crisis apart, there was much about their relationship with it that the Norman kings would have been happy to accept. Times had changed, therefore, but governing the Church, albeit now within more constrained limits, remained fundamental to the way the Angevin kings governed England.