The new kingdom which Henry had added to his dominions in France might well seem to a man of less inexhaustible energy to make the task of government impossible. The imperial system of his dreams was as recklessly defiant of physical difficulties as it was heedless of all the sentiments of national tradition. In the two halves of his empire no common political interest and no common peril could arise; the histories of north and south were carried on apart, as completely as the histories of America and England when they were apparently united under one king, and were in fact utterly severed by the ocean which defined the limits of two worlds. England had little part or lot in the history of Europe. Foreign policy it had none; when its kings passed to Normandy, English chroniclers knew nothing of their doings or their wars. Some little trade was carried on with the nearest lands across the sea, - with Normandy, with Flanders, or with Scandinavia, - but the country was almost wholly agricultural. Feudal in its social structure, governed by tradition, with little movement of inner life or contact with the world about it, its people had remained jealous of strangers, and as yet distinguished from the nations of Europe by a strange immobility and want of sympathy with the intellectual and moral movements around them. Sometimes strangers visited its kings; sometimes English pilgrims made their way to Rome by a dangerous and troublesome journey. But even the connection with the Papacy was slight. A foreign legate had scarcely ever landed on its shores; hardly any appeals were carried to the Roman Curia; the Church managed its own business after a customary fashion which was in harmony with English traditions, which had grown up during centuries of undisturbed and separate life.

On the other side of the Channel Henry ruled over a straggling line of loosely compacted states equal in extent to almost half of the present France. His long line of ill-defended frontier brought him in contact with the lands of the Count of Flanders, one of the chief military powers of the day; with the kingdom of France, which, after two hundred years of insignificance, was beginning to assert its sway over the great feudal vassals, and preparing to build up a powerful monarchy; and with the Spanish kingdoms which were emerging from the first successful effort of the Christian states to throw back the power of the Moors. Normandy and Auvergne were separated only by a narrow belt of country from the Empire, which, under the greatest ruler and warrior of the age, Frederick Barbarossa, was extending its power over Burgundy, Provence, and Italy. His claims to the over-lordship of Toulouse gave Henry an interest in the affairs of the great Mediterranean power - the kingdom of Sicily; and his later attempts on the territories of the Count of Maurienne brought him into close connection with Italian politics. No ruler of his time was forced more directly than Henry into the range of such international politics as were possible in the then dim and inchoate state of European affairs. England, which in the mind of the Norman kings had taken the first place, fell into the second rank of interests with her Angevin rulers. Henry's thoughts and hopes and ambitions centred in his continental domains. Lord of Rouen, of Angers, of Bordeaux, master of the sea-coast from Flanders to the Pyrenees, he seemed to hold in his hand the feeble King of Paris and of Orleans, who was still without a son to inherit his dignities and lands. The balance of power, as of ability and military skill, lay on his side; and, long as the House of Anjou had been the bulwark of the French throne, it even seemed as if the time might come peaceably to mount it themselves. Looking from our own island at the work which Henry did, and seeing more clearly by the light of later events, we may almost forget the European ruler in the English king. But this was far from being the view of his own day. In the thirty-five years of his reign little more than thirteen years were spent in England and over twenty-one in France. Thrice only did he remain in the kingdom as much as two years at a time; for the most part his visits were but for a few months torn from the incessant tumult and toil of government abroad; and it was only after long years of battling against invincible forces that he at last recognized England as the main factor of his policy, and in great crises chose rather to act as an English king than as the creator of an empire.

The first year after Henry's coronation as King of England was spent in securing his newly-won possession. On Christmas Day, 1154, he called together the solemn assembly of prelates, barons, and wise men which had not met for fifteen years. The royal state of the court was restored; the great officers of the household returned to their posts. The Primate was again set in the place he held from early English times as the chief adviser of the crown. The nephew of Roger of Salisbury, Nigel, Bishop of Ely, was restored to the post of treasurer from which Stephen had driven him fifteen years before. Richard de Lucy and the Earl of Leicester were made justiciars. One new man was appointed among these older officers. Thomas, the son of Gilbert Becket, was born in Cheapside in 1117. His father, a Norman merchant who had settled by the Thames, had prospered in the world; he had been portreeve of London, the predecessor of the modern mayor, and visitors of all kinds gathered at his house, - London merchants and Norman nobles and learned clerks of Italy and Gaul His son was first taught by the Augustinian canons of Merton Priory, afterwards he attended schools in London, and at twenty was sent to Paris for a year's study. After his return he served in a London office, and as clerk to the sheriffs he was directly concerned during the time of the civil war with the government of the city. It was during these years that the Archbishop of Canterbury began to form his household into the most famous school of learning in England, and some of his chaplains in their visits to Cheapside had been struck by the brilliant talents of the young clerk. At Theobald's request Thomas, then twenty-four years old, entered the Primate's household, somewhat reluctantly it would seem, for he had as yet shown little zeal either for religion or for study. He was at once brought into the most brilliant circle of that day. The chancellor and secretary was John of Salisbury, the pupil of Abelard, the friend of St. Bernard and of Pope Adrian IV., the first among English men of letters, in whom all the learning of the day was summed up. With him were Roger of Pont l'Eveque, afterwards archbishop of York; John of Canterbury, later archbishop of Lyons; Ralph of Sarr, later dean of Reims; and a distinguished group of lesser men; but from the time when Thomas entered the household "there was none dearer to the archbishop than he." "Slight and pale, with dark hair, long nose, and straightly-featured face, blithe of countenance, keen of thought, winning and lovable in conversation, frank of speech, but slightly stuttering in his talk," he had a singular gift of winning affection; and even from his youth he was "a prudent son of the world." It was Theobald who had first brought the Canon law to England, and Thomas at once received his due training in it, being sent to Bologna to study under Gratian, and then to Auxerre. He was very quickly employed in important negotiations. When in 1152 Stephen sought to have his son Eustace anointed king, Thomas was sent to Rome, and by his skilful plea that the papal claims had not been duly recognized in Stephen's scheme he induced the Pope to forbid the coronation. In his first political act therefore he definitely took his place not only as an adherent of the Angevin claim, but as a resolute asserter of papal and ecclesiastical rights. At his return favours were poured out upon him. While in the lowest grade of orders, not yet a deacon, various livings and prebends fell to his lot. A fortnight before Stephen's death Theobald ordained him deacon, and gave him the archdeaconry of Canterbury, the first place in the English Church after the bishops and abbots; and he must have taken part under the Primate in the work of governing the kingdom until Henry's arrival. The archbishop was above all anxious to secure in the councils of the new king the due influence not only of the Church, but of the new school of the canon lawyers who were so profoundly modifying the Church. He saw in Thomas the fittest instrument to carryout his plans; and by his influence the archdeacon of Canterbury found himself, a week after the coronation of Henry, the king's chancellor.

Thomas was now thirty-eight; Theobald, Nigel, and Leicester were all old men, and the young king of twenty-two must have seemed a mere boy to his new counsellors. The Empress had been left in Normandy to avoid the revival of old quarrels. Hated in England for her proud contempt of the burgher, her scorn of the churchman, her insolence to her adherents, she won in Normandy a fairer fame, as "a woman of excellent disposition, kind to all, bountiful in almsgiving, the friend of religion, of honest life." The political activity of Queen Eleanor was brought to an abrupt close by her marriage. In Henry she found a master very different from Louis of France, and her enforced withdrawal from public affairs during her husband's life contrasts strangely, not only with her former career, but with the energy which, when the heavy yoke was taken off her neck, she displayed as an old woman of nearly seventy during the reign of her son. Henry, in fact, stood alone among his new people. No debt of gratitude, no ties of friendship, bound the king to the lords whose aims he had first learned to know at Wallingford. The great barons who thronged round him in his court had all been rebels; the younger among them had never known what order, government, or loyalty meant. The Church was hesitating and timorous. To the people he was an utter stranger, unable even to speak their tongue. But from the first Henry took his place as absolute master and leader. "A strict regard to justice was apparent in him, and at the very outset he bore the appearance of a great prince."

The king at once put in force the scheme of reform which had been drawn up the year before at Wallingford, and of which the provisions have comedown to us in phrases drawn from the two sources which were most familiar to the learned and the vulgar of that day, - the Bible, and the prophecies of Merlin, the seer of King Arthur. The nobles were to give up all illegal rights and estates which they had usurped. The castles built by the warring barons were to be destroyed. The king was to bring back husbandmen to the desolate fields, and to stock pastures and forests and hillsides with cattle and deer and sheep. The clergy were henceforth to live in quiet, not vexed by unaccustomed burdens. Sheriffs were to be restored to the counties, who should do justice without corruption, nor persecute any for malice; thieves and robbers were to be hanged; the armed forces were to be disbanded; the knights were to beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; the hired Flemish soldiers were to turn from the camp to the plough, from tents to workshops, there to render as servants the obedience they had once demanded as masters. The work which Stephen had failed to do was now swiftly accomplished. The Flemish mercenaries vanished "like phantoms," or "like wax before the fire," and their leader, William of Ypres, the lord of Kent, turned with weeping to a monastery in his own land. The feudal lords were forced to give up such castles and lands as they had wrongfully usurped; and the newly-created earls were deprived of titles which they had wrung from King or Empress in the civil wars.

The great nobles of both parties made a last effort at resistance. In the north the Count of Aumale ruled almost as king. He was of the House of Champagne, son of that Count Stephen who had once been set up as claimant to the English throne, and near kinsman both of Henry and of Stephen. He now refused to give up Scarborough Castle; behind him lay the armies of the Scot king, and if Aumale's rebellion were successful the whole north must be lost. A rising on the Welsh border marked the revival of the old danger of which Henry himself had had experience in the castle of his uncle, Robert of Gloucester, when the Empress and Robert, with his Welsh connections and alliances, had dominated the whole of the south-west. Hugh Mortimer, lord of Wigmore, Cleobury, and Bridgenorth, the most powerful lord on the Welsh border, and Roger, Earl of Hereford and lord of Gloucester, and connected by his mother with the royal house of Wales, prepared for war. Immediately after his crowning Henry hurried to the north, accompanied by Theobald, and forced Aumale to submission. The fear of him fell on the barons. Roger of Hereford submitted, and the earldom of Hereford and city of Gloucester were placed in Henry's hands. The whole force of the kingdom was called out against Hugh Mortimer, and Bridgenorth, fortified fifty years before by Robert of Belesme, was reduced in July. The next year William of Warenne, the son of Stephen, gave up all his castles in England and Normandy, and the power of the House of Blois in the realm was finally extinguished. Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, was deprived of his fortresses, and the eastern counties were thus secured as those of the north and west had been.

The borders of the kingdom were now safe; its worst elements of disorder were suppressed; and the bishops and barons had taken an oath of allegiance to his son William, and in case of William's death to the infant Henry, born in February 1155. When Henry was called abroad in January 1156, he could safely leave the kingdom for a year in the charge of Queen Eleanor and of the justiciars. His return was marked by a new triumph. The death of David and the succession of his grandson Malcolm, a boy of twelve years old, gave opportunity for asserting his suzerainty over Scotland, and freeing himself from his oath made in 1149 at Carlisle to grant the land beyond the Tyne to David and his heirs for ever. Malcolm was brought to do homage to him at Chester in June 1157, and Northumberland and Cumberland passed into Henry's hands. Malcolm and his successor William followed him in his wars and attended at his courts, and whatever Henry's actual authority might be, in the eyes of his English subjects at least he ruled to the farthest borders of Scotland. He next turned to the settlement of Wales. The civil war had violently interrupted the peaceful processes by which Henry I. sought to bring the Welsh under English law. The princes of Wales had practically regained their independence, while the Norman lords who had carved out estates for themselves along its borders, indignant at Stephen's desertion of them, and driven to provide for their own safety, had formed alliances by marriage with the native rulers. Henry had, in fact, to reconquer the country, and to provide safeguards against any military union between the feudal lords of the border and its hostile princes, Owen Gwynneth of the North, and Rhys ap-Gryffyth of the South. In 1157 he undertook the first of his three expeditions against Wales. His troops, however, unused to mountain warfare, had but ill success; and it was only when Henry had secured the castles of Flintshire, and gathered a fleet along the coast to stop the importation of corn that Owen was driven in August to do homage for his land. The next year he penetrated into the mountains of South Wales and took hostages from its ruler, Rhys-ap-Gryffyth; "the honour and glory and beauty and invincible strength of the knights; Rhys, the pillar and saviour of his country, the harbour and defender of the weak, the admiration and terror of his enemies, the sole pillar and hope of South Wales."

The triumph of the Angevin conqueror was now complete. The baronage lay crushed at his feet. The Church was silent. The royal authority had been pushed, at least in name, to the utmost limits of the island. The close of this first work of settlement was marked by a royal progress between September 1157 and January 1158 through the whole length of England from Malmesbury to Carlisle. It was the king's first visit to the northern shires which he had restored to the English crown; he visited and fortified the most important border castles, and then through the bitter winter months he journeyed to Yorkshire, the fastnesses of the Peak, Nottingham, and the midland and southern counties. The progress ended at Worcester on Easter Day, 1158. There the king and queen for the last time wore their crowns in solemn state before the people. A strange ceremony followed. In Worcester Cathedral stood the shrine of St. Wulfstan, the last of the English bishops, the saint who had preserved the glory of the old English Church in the days of the Confessor, and carried it on through the troubled time of the Conquest, to whose supernatural resources the Conqueror himself had been forced to yield, and who had since by ever-ready miracle defended his city of Worcester from danger. On this shrine the king and Queen now laid their crowns, with a solemn vow never again to wear them. To the people of the West such an act may perhaps have seemed a token that Henry came among them as heir of the English line of kings, and as defender of the English Church and people.

From England Henry was called away in August 1158, by the troubles of his dominions across the sea. The power of Anjou had been built up by centuries of tyranny, treason, and greed. Nantes had been robbed from Britanny, Tours had been wrested from Blois, the southern borderland from Poitou. A hundred years of feud with Maine could not lightly be forgotten. Normandy still cherished the ancient hatred of pirate and Frenchman. To the Breton, as to the Norman and the Gascon, the rule of Anjou was a foreign rule; and if they must have a foreign ruler, better the King of France than these upstart Counts. Henry held his various states too by wholly different titles, and to every one of them his right was more or less disputed. To add to the confusion, his barons in every province held under him according to different customs and laws of feudal tenure; and many of them, moreover, owed a double allegiance, and did homage for part of their estates to Henry and for part to the King of France. In the general uncertainty as to every question of succession, or title, or law, or constitution, or feudal relations, the authority which had been won by the sword could be kept only by sheer military force. The rebellious array of the feudal nobles, eager to spring to arms against the new imperial system, could count on the help of the great French vassals along the border, jealous of their own independence, and ever watching the Angevin policy with vigilant hostility. And behind these princes of France stood the French king, Henry's suzerain lord and his most determined and restless foe, from whom the Angevin count had already taken away his wife and half his dominions, a foe to whom, however, through all the perplexed and intermittent wars of thirty years, he was bound by the indissoluble tie of the feudal relation, which remained the dominant and authoritative fact of the political morality of that day. For twenty years to come the two kings, both of them hampered by overwhelming difficulties, strove to avoid war each after his own fashion: Henry by money lavishly spent, and by wary diplomacy; Louis more economically by a restless cunning, by incessant watching of his adversary's weak points, by dexterously using the arms of Henry's rebellious subjects rather than those of Frenchmen.

Henry's first care was to secure his ill-defined and ill-defended frontier, and to recover those border fortresses which had been wrested from Geoffrey by his enemies. In Normandy the Vexin, which was the true military frontier between him and France, and commanded the road to Paris, had been lost. In Anjou he had to win back the castles which had fallen to the House of Blois. His brother Geoffrey, Earl of Nantes, was dead, and he must secure his own succession to the earldom. Two rival claimants were disputing the lordship of Britanny, but Britanny must at all costs be brought into obedience to Henry. There were hostile forces in Angoumois, La Marche, Saintonge, and the Limousin, which had to be finally destroyed. And besides all this, it was necessary to enforce Eleanor's rights over Berri, and her disputed claims to supremacy over Toulouse and Auvergne. Every one of these projects was at once taken in hand. Henry's chancellor, Thomas Becket, was sent from England in 1158 at the head of a splendid embassy to the French court, and when Henry landed in France the success of this mission was declared. A marriage was arranged between his little son Henry, now three years old, and Louis' daughter Margaret, aged six months; and the Vexin was to be restored to Normandy as Margaret's dowry. The English king obtained from Louis the right to judge as lord of Anjou and seneschal of France between the claimants to Britanny; his first entry into that province was with full authority as the officer of France, and the whole army of Normandy was summoned to Avranches to enforce his judgment. Conan was made Duke of Britanny under Henry's lordship, and Nantes was given up into his hands. He secured by treaty with the House of Blois the fortresses which had fallen into their hands, and before the year was out he thus saw his inheritance in Anjou and Normandy, as he had before seen his inheritance in England, completely restored. In November he conducted the King of France on a magnificent progress through Normandy and Britanny, not now as a vassal requiring his help, but with all the pomp of an equal king.

Meanwhile Henry had been preparing an army to assert his sovereignty over Toulouse - a sovereignty which would have carried his dominions to the Mediterranean and the Rhone. The Count of St. Gilles, to whom it had been pledged by a former Duke of Aquitaine, and who had eighteen years before refused to surrender it on Eleanor's first marriage, now resisted the claims of her second husband also, and he was joined by Louis, who under the altered circumstances took a different view of the legal rights of Eleanor's husband to suzerainty. To France, indeed, the question was a matter of life and death. The success of Henry would have left her hemmed in on three sides by the Angevin dominions, cut off from the Mediterranean as from the Channel, with the lower Rhone in the hands of the powerful rival that already held the Seine, the Loire, and the Garonne. When, therefore, Henry's forces occupied the passes of the province, and in September 1159 closed round Toulouse itself, Louis threw himself into the city. Henry, profoundly influenced by the feudal code of honour of his day, inheriting the traditional loyalty of his house to the French monarchy, too sagacious lightly to incur war with France, too politic to weaken in the eyes of his own vassals the authority of feudal law, and possibly mindful of the succession to the French throne which might yet pass through Margaret to his son Henry, refused to carry on war against the person of his suzerain. He broke up the siege in spite of the urgent advice of his chancellor Thomas; and for nearly forty years the quarrel lingered on with the French monarchy, till the question was settled in 1196 by the marriage of Henry's daughter Joanna to Count Raymond VI. Thomas, who had proved himself a mighty warrior, was left in charge of the newly-conquered Cahors, while Henry returned to Normandy, and concluded in May a temporary peace with Louis. His enemies, however, were drawn together by a common fear, and France became the battle-ground of the rival ambitions of the Houses of Blois and Anjou. Louis allied himself with the three brothers of the House of Blois - the Counts of Champagne, of Sancerre, and of Blois - by a marriage with their sister only a month after the death of his own queen in September; and a joint attack was planned upon Henry. His answer was rapid and decisive. Margaret was in his keeping, and he at once married her to his son, took the Vexin into his own hands and fortified it with castles. His position in fact was so strong that the forced his enemies to a truce in June 1161.

The political complications with which Henry was surrounded were still further confused by a new question which now arose, and which was to threaten the peace of Europe for eighteen years. On the death of the English Pope, Hadrian IV., on the 1st of September 1159, two rivals, Alexander III. and Victor IV., disputed the see of Rome, and the strife between the Empire and the Papacy, now nearly one hundred years old, broke out afresh on a far greater scale than in the time of Gregory. Frederick Barbarossa asserted the imperial right of judging between the rivals, and declared Victor pope, supported by the princes of the Empire and by the kings of Hungary, Bohemia, and Denmark. Alexander claimed the aid of the French king - the traditional defender of the Church and protector of the Popes; and after the strife had raged for nearly three years, he fled in 1162 to France. In the great schism Henry joined the side of Louis in support of Alexander and of the orthodox cause; the two kings met at Chouzy, near Blois, to do honour to the Pope; they walked on either side of his horse and held his reins. The meeting marked a great triumph for Alexander; the union of the Teutonic nations against the policy of Rome was to be delayed for three centuries and a half. It marked, too, the highest point of Henry's success. He had checked the Emperor's schemes; he had won the gratitude of both Louis and the Pope; he had defeated the plots of the House of Blois, and shown how easily any alliance between France and Champagne might be broken to pieces by his military power and his astute diplomacy. He had rounded off his dominions; he had conquered the county of Cahors; he had recovered the Vexin and the border castles of Freteval and Amboise; the fiefs of William of Boulogne had passed into his hands on William's death; he was master of Nantes and Dol, and lord of Britanny; he had been appointed Protector of Flanders.

At this moment, indeed, Henry stood only second to the Emperor among the princes of Christendom, and his aim seems to have been to rival in some sort the Empire of the West, and to reign as an over-king, with sub-kings of his various provinces, and England as one of them, around him. He was connected with all the great ruling houses. His eldest son was married to the daughter of the King of France; the baby Richard, eighteen months old, was betrothed during the war of Toulouse to a daughter of the King of Aragon. He was himself a distant kinsman of the Emperor. He was head of the house of the Norman kings in Sicily. He was nearest heir of the kings of Jerusalem. Through his wife he was head of the house of Antioch, and claimed to be head of the house of Tripoli. Already in these first years of his reign the glory of the English king had been acknowledged by ambassadors from the Emperor, from the King of Jerusalem, from Norway, from Sweden, from the Moorish kings of Valencia and Murcia, bearing the gifts of an Eastern world - gold, silk, horses, and camels. England was forced out of her old isolation; her interest in the world without was suddenly awakened. English scholars thronged the foreign universities; English chroniclers questioned travellers, scholars, ambassadors, as to what was passing abroad. The influence of English learning and English statecraft made itself felt all over Europe. Never, perhaps, in all the history of England was there a time when Englishmen played so great apart abroad. English statesmen and bishops were set over the conduct of affairs in Provence, in Sicily, in Gascony, in Britanny, in Normandy. English archbishops and bishops and abbots held some of the highest posts in France, in Anjou, in Flanders, in Portugal, in Italy, in Sicily. Henry himself welcomed trained men from Normandy or Sicily or wherever he could find them, to help in his work of administration; but in England foreigners were not greatly welcomed in any place of power, and his court was, with but one or two exceptions, made up of men who, of whatever descent they might be, looked on themselves as Englishmen, and bore the impress of English training. The mass of Englishmen meanwhile looked after their own affairs and cared nothing about foreign wars fought by Brabancon mercenaries, and paid for by foreign gold. But if they had nothing to win from all these wars, they were none the less at last drawn into the political alliances and sympathies of their master. Shut out as she was by her narrow strip of sea from any real concern in the military movements of the continental peoples, England was still dragged by the policy of her Angevin rulers into all the complications of European politics. The friendships and the hatreds of her king settled who were to be the allies and who the foes of England, and practically fixed the course of her foreign policy for seven hundred years. A traditional sympathy lingered on from Henry's days with Germany, Italy, Sicily, and Spain; but the connection with Anjou forced England into a hostility with France which had no real ground in English feeling or English interests; the national hatred took a deeper character when the feudal nobles clung to the support of the French king against the English sovereign and the English people, and "generation handed on to generation an enmity whose origin had long been forgotten." From the disastrous Crusade of 1191, "from the siege of Acre," to use the words of Dr. Stubbs, "and the battle of Arsouf to the siege of Sebastopol and the battles of the Crimea, English and French armies never met again except as enemies."