henry II


Henry II was born on 5th March 1133 and died on 6th July 1189. He was the first Plantagenet king , after the British conquest by the Norman Duke William the Conqueror. Under Henry II the English institutions improved: he made very important legal reforms and rationalized the field of jurisprudence (razionalizzò la magistratura). He is remembered in particular for the struggle (lotta) against the powerful archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Becket who opposed every interference (si oppose) of the civil power in the church affairs (problem di natura ecclesiastica). Thomas was murdered by some of the king’s knights (1170), was canonized (canonizzato) in 1173 and became a martyr. Thousands of pilgrims started to visit his shrine (sepolcro) in Canterbury and his story was retold during the centuries by great writers like Geoffrey Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales (1386 – 1400) and T.S. Eliot in the verse drama Murder in the Cathedral (1935).

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