Henry I – book review
When I first started this blog, I mostly used Baker as reference along with such sites as I found on the internet – especially Wikipedia.
However I found myself getting interested in Henry I and decided I would like to know a bit more about him. So I started looking around to see what there was in the way of biography.
Henry I by Judith Green
I decided on the book by Judith Green mainly because it was the most recently written. I don’t regret it and it was an interesting read. I certainly found out a lot about Henry.
The main problem with the book though, for me, was that the author covered not only Henrys reign as King of England but also as Duke of Normandy. That is of course wholly correct in so far as a biography of Henry is concerned – his family were Norman and his time and estates in Normandy were an important part of his life.
However I was principally using the book for research for my blog which is limited to English law. So the parts of the book on Normandy were of limited interst to me.
There was also not a huge amount about the development of the English legal system during his time. However I was interested to read Professor Green’s theories here.
Theories about Henry I
Her view is that although Henry’s reign was an important one so far as the development of the English administrative and legal systems were concerned, this was something that developed naturally and was not as a result of a new style of ‘administrative’ kingship introduced by Henry. I suspect she is probably right.
The Henry that comes off the page is a practical man, more interested in power and money than administrative theory – although I have no doubt that he was a very efficient administrator. But for the preservation of his Kingdom and his rights, not for its own sake. I suspect also that the income potential of the Kings Courts did not go unnoticed.
If you want to learn more about Henry I (an interesting Monarch) this is a good book, and quite readable for an academic study. Although when I am feeling flush I may also get the Hollinder book and see where the two differed.
You can get Judith Green’s book on Henry >> here.