Where does the balance of power lie before Magna Carta?
1135-1154 Stephen and Matilda – the great dispute
William the Conqueror died in 1087, and was succeeded by two of his sons, William Rufus (1087-1100) and then Henry I (1100-1135) but there was already much fighting over the crown. When King Henry I died in 1135 there followed a dreadful time of Civil War. Henry’s daughter, Matilda, claimed the throne but so did Henry’s nephew, Stephen. Barons supported Stephen or Matilda. Some switched sides for their own advantage. Royal authority declined and barons became more powerful, like kings in their own lands extending their castles or building new ones and keeping their own private armies. Roger of Wendover wrote about this in his chronicle. He describes how King Stephen was forced to move around the country defeating his opponents, whilst the rebels fortified their castles against him.
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