The Inquest of the Sheriffs (1170)

Refers to AQA A2 History

Angevin Kings Module

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  • The Inquest of the Sheriffs ~ 1170
    • The Sheriffs
      • Were the key personnel at the heart of Henry II's financial and administrative reforms.
      • Had become too powerful by the mid-twelfth century.
      • Some Barons had acquired sheriffdoms as part of their own personal estates, both before the reign of Stephen and during the Civil War.
        • Led to too much power/ corruption
    • The Inquest
      • Henry II returned to England after a four year absence in Spring 1170 and set up a special commision to enquire into the malpractices of local government.
        • The issues with local government had come to light with the Cartae Baronum, the aid for the marriage of the King's daughter in 1168 and the royal justice.
          • The King's justices also enquired into financial payments made to bishops, abbots, earls, barons, knights, citizens, merchants, stewards and servants.
            • It was a 'miraculous inquest'
      • The King wished to ascertain the financial exploitation of England in his four year absence and since the Cartae Baronum.
    • What did the inquest reveal?
      • There was huge detail and tenacity of the enquiries made.
      • The inquest clearly shows the authority of the crown.
        • Such an investigation in France and Germany would have been unthinkable.
      • After the inquest, almost all Sheriffs were replaced.
        • Of the six that remained in office, four were members of the King's household.
      • Before 1170, Sheriffs were usually Barons, after 1170, they were mostly Civil Servants who owed their position to the King.

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