Stephen's death in 1154 puts an end to the civil war, and with the accession of Henry II England enjoys something of a change in fortune. Henry is one of the great characters of the medieval period and the first of the Angevins (or the Plantagenets) and oversees a large empire as well as making significant improvements to the English legal system. However, his reign is not without its challenges. His conflict with his Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, scandalises the age while his rebellious sons prove to be a constant thorn in his side. As if this were not enough, his sons are encouraged by Henry's estranged wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the most remarkable figures of the period and a stand-out personality in English history. Will Henry II be up to the task?
March 2, 2011