Council and Constitutions of Clarendon

(153 words)
  • Editors

Historical Context Note

At a council meeting at Clarendon Palace, Wiltshire, Henry II passed a series of measures, known as the "Constitutions of Clarendon", to rein back the powers that the Church in England had accrued during the "Anarchy" of Stephen and Matilda's reigns. They declared that once a clergyman had been tried in an ecclesiastical court and been expelled from the priesthood, he could then be tried in an ordinary court like any other member of the public. The punishments meted out by the "spiritual courts" were much lighter than those of the King's Courts, which Henry declared was unjust. These measures also, however, allowed the King to appropriate more power for the crown over Church practices, a policy he pursued throughout his reign. This was o…

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Editors. "Council and Constitutions of Clarendon". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 31 July 2012
[, accessed 30 June 2015.]