Henry I., King of England, youngest son of William I was born in 1068. He was carefully educated, and attained such a degree of learning as to gain the surname of Beauclerc (" fine-scholar").
Henry obtained the crown in 1100, partly by his own promptitude in seizing the royal treasure, but chiefly by the influence of the Earl of Warwick and Anselm. The absence of Robert in Palestine was also in his favour. Before his coronation he swore to maintain peace, to abolish the wrongs committed by the late king, and to deal justice with mercy, and soon afterwards he issued a charter, promising to maintain the privileges of the Church, the vassals, and the people. He then imprisoned Flambard, and invited Anselm back to England. To crown all, he married Edith, niece of Edgar AEtheling, the last of the Saxon line. Robert, on his return from the crusade, claimed the crown, but was satisfied for the time with the Cotentin and a pension. He was too troublesome, however, as a standard round which the forces of feudalism might gather, to be let alone, and, after his defeat at Tenchebrai in 1106, was deprived of the duchy of Normandy. Henry had to put down four great feudal outbreaks. In 1102 the powerful Robert de Belesme was compelled to surrender his castle at Bridgnorth and to go into banishment. In 1104 another rising took place, and that of 1118 was aided by Louis VI. of France and Count Fulk of Anjou, who made use of the claims of Robert's son William. When the final movement of 1124 had been repressed Henry was at length at peace, and the rest of his years were occupied in administrative reform and the securing of the succession to Matilda, the king's daughter, his son William having been drowned in 1130. At the beginning of the reign the Investiture question had caused a breach between Henry and Anselm, but both had statesmanship enough to agree to a compromise. [Anselm.] The most important feature of Henry's government was his formation of an official nobility, and the beginning of a regular system of royal justice by the sending round of royal officers to all parts of the country to inquire into abuses as well as to collect taxes; but a disputed succession gave feudal anarchy a last chance and interrupted the work which had been so well begun. Henry I. died in 1135.