The re-united kingdom : Henry I Beauclerc

Henry I : King of England and Duke of Normandy

Drawing of a silver penny of Henry I [Yorkshire Museum, York]Henry I was a strong and ruthless king who faced a number of military challenges, principally in Normandy. This may have prompted a change in the relationship with the barons established by his father as Henry did not so much need military service from them as money to pay mercenaries. Henry’s older brother Robert’s attempt to reclaim Normandy came to an end in 1105-6 when Henry invaded Normandy and defeated and captured Robert at the battle of Tinchebrai. Robert was then imprisoned in Cardiff castle for the remaining 28 years of his life.

Bone seal matrix of Snarrus the tax collector - 11th -12th century [York Archaeological Trust]Henry’s search for money led to a great increase in the amount of government business and this required the creation of new officials including the Chief Justiciar, the king’s deputy when he was abroad. During Henry’s reign royal accounts were, for the first time, written down on a ‘pipe’, two sheepskins sewn end to end, which was then rolled up to make what is known as a Pipe Roll.

Mid 12th century pipe roll [Public Record Office]At the beginning of Henry’s reign there was friction between the crown and the English church led by Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury. The church opposed the right claimed by the king to grant bishoprics and make other church appointments without reference to church authorities. Resolution of the problem did not, however, distract the church from a continuing programme of building and many of the finest examples of English Romanesque belong to Henry I’s reign.

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