Assize of Clarendon (Illustrated with Original Commentary)by Henry II
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Henry II (5 March 1133 – 6 July 1189) ruled as King of England from 1154 until his death, and he is known for helping consolidate the empire while being the first to refer to himself as the King of England, rather than simply King of the English. Henry was the great-grandson of William the Conqueror and the first of the House of Plantagenet to rule England. In France, he was also known as Henry Curtmantle, or Curtmantel, and Henry Fitz-Empress.
Among the accomplishments achieved during his reign, Henry II was instrumental in reforming the judicial system in England, working to make it fairer. Trial by ordeal and trial by combat were still common in the 12th century until the Assize of Clarendon in 1166, Trial by ordeal was when a person's innocence was tested by putting them in a dangerous position, making them prove their innocence by swallowing poison and living, or pulling an object from boiling oil.
The Assize implemented the precursor to a trial by jury. In the 12th century though, this group of "twelve lawful men," as the Assize commonly refers to it, provided a service more similar to a grand jury, alerting court officials to matters suitable for prosecution. Despite these reforms, trial by ordeal continued until the Fourth Council of the Lateran forbade the participation of the clergy in 1215 and trial by combat was still legal in England until 1819, albeit only rarely resorted to after the twelfth century. Nevertheless, Henry's support of juries was a great contribution to the country's social history and allowed for a smoother transition from ordeal to jury than was managed in other European nations where trial by inquisition and even torture became commonplace.
This edition of the Assize of Clarendon is specially formatted with a Table of Contents and includes images of King Henry II and depictions of the period.
- Charles River Editors
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