Welcome back to another segment of our Sunday British history! Last week, we learned about William the Conqueror‘s son William II, who inherited the throne from him and was perhaps not-so-much feeling the brotherly love when he took over Normandy from his older brother, Robert, and was *possibly* assassinated under the command of his younger brother, Henry. That’s just a theory; all we know for certain is that someone pulled a Dick Cheney during a hunting trip and fatally shot dear William Rufus with an arrow.
So we’ve all heard of Henry VIII—you know, that real ladies’ man who his wives really lost their heads over (oh dear, don’t let me pun…ever, ever again.), but what do we know about King Henry I? He is crowned in the year 1100 within days of his brother’s death—why not Robert, you may wonder? Well, Robert is on a crusade at this time, so can’t be bothered…or so Henry likely alleged to take advantage of the fortuitous timing. Nonetheless, the barons that rose against William II still have Robert’s back, so to build a little more support, Henry I grants all sorts of favors and makes important concessions of power in his Charter of Liberties, which sets the precedent for the 13th-century Magna Carta (the original of which you can see at the British Library) and parliamentary law in general. He further secures England’s northern boundaries through his marriage to the King of Scotland’s sister.
But hold up. Turns out Robert is bothered! He invades England in 1101, but he and Henry ultimately settle the matter amicably thanks to the support that the King built around himself; basically, Henry gets to keep England, but he returns Normandy to Robert and pays him an annuity. Robert, however, eventually makes a shambles of his rule, so Henry invades Normandy, captures Robert in 1106, and imprisons him for life.
Like his father, William I, Henry I must delegate responsibility within England locally due to frequent absence, which paves the way toward the nation shifting more toward bureaucratic governance versus monarchical rule. The exchequer (i.e., treasury), for example, is established to manage royal revenues, with royal justices traveling around the country to administer local regulation.