Late medieval historians seized on the accounts of selected chroniclers regarding Henry's education and gave him the title of Henry "Beauclerc", a theme echoed in the analysis of Victorian and Edwardian historians such as Francis Palgrave and Henry Davis. The Historian Charles David dismissed this argument in 1929, showing the more extreme claims for Henry's education to be without foundation. Modern histories of Henry commenced with Richard Southern's work in the early 1960s, followed by extensive research during the rest of the 20th century into a wide number of themes from his reign in England, and a much more limited number of studies of his rule in Normandy. Only two major, modern biographies of Henry have been produced, Warren Hollister's posthumous volume in 2001, and Judith Green's 2006 work.
Henry ruled through the various barons and lords in England and Normandy, whom he manipulated skilfully for political effect. Political friendships, termed amicitia in Latin, were important during the 12th century, and Henry maintained a wide range of these, mediating between his friends in various factions across his realm when necessary, and rewarding those who were loyal to him. Henry also had a reputation for punishing those barons who stood against him, and he maintained an effective network of informers and spies who reported to him on events. Henry was a harsh, firm ruler, but not excessively so by the standards of the day. Over time, he increased the degree of his control over the barons, removing his enemies and bolstering his friends until the "reconstructed baronage", as Historian Warren Hollister describes it, was predominantly loyal and dependent on the King.
With william dead, Henry's alliance with Anjou – which had been based on his son marrying Fulk's daughter – began to disintegrate. Fulk returned from the Levant and demanded that Henry return Matilda and her dowry, a range of estates and fortifications in Maine. Matilda left for Anjou, but Henry argued that the dowry had in fact originally belonged to him before it came into the possession of Fulk, and so declined to hand the estates back to Anjou. Fulk married his daughter Sibylla to william Clito, and granted them Maine. Once again, conflict broke out, as Amaury de Montfort allied himself with Fulk and led a revolt along the Norman-Anjou border in 1123. Amaury was joined by several other Norman barons, headed by Waleran de Beaumont, one of the sons of Henry's old ally, Robert of Meulan.
Henry's burial at Reading Abbey is marked by a local cross, but Reading Abbey was slowly demolished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century. The exact location is uncertain, but the most likely location of the tomb itself is now in a built-up area of central Reading, on the site of the former abbey choir. A plan to locate his remains was announced in March 2015, with support from English Heritage and Philippa Langley, who aided with the successful exhumation of Richard III.