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What was the Charter of French Liberties?

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The Charter of French Liberties was a proclamation issued by Henry I in 1100 in order to hold himself accountable to the included laws regarding the treatment of church officials and nobility, among other individuals. It is considered to have set the stage for constitutionalism. Over a century later, the document served as the model for the creation of the Magna Carta.

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Henry I was one of the sons of William the Conqueror. His father ascended to the throne of England after winning the Battle of Hastings, and he was succeeded by his son, William II. However, Henry's older brother died in a hunting accident, and Henry was crowned three days later. Shortly after he took the throne, Henry introduced the Charter of Liberties, also known as the Coronation Charter. It bound the king to the included laws and specified a number of rights granted to the church and the people.

The Charter of Liberties granted freedom from certain forms of taxation to the church. It granted widows the right to keep their land and dowry. It granted heirs the right to receive wealth and property without having to pay excessive dues to the crown. Henry also forgave most debts that were owed to his brother during his reign and all murders that occurred before he became king.

For the first six years of his rule, Henry battled his youngest brother Robert, who was supported by their mother in his attempt to claim the throne. Eventually, Henry defeated and imprisoned Robert, and he was able to secure the peace he had previously declared in the Charter of Liberties.

Henry I was considered a decisive and effective ruler. He was highly educated and credited with centralizing the government of England and Normandy.

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