Henry I's regime was one of very powerful kingship but of limited routine royal administration. The king's power was felt primarily through his exercise of a few great rights, through his use of ad hoc measures, and through his responses to requests from tenants in chief and their subtenants. 1 Such a powerful kingship collapsed during Stephen's reign. From the end of the 1130s until as late as 1153 many areas of the realm saw a breakdown of royal authority. Circumstances forced the king to decentralize elements of his power – for example, through the creation of earldoms 2 – whilst lords also usurped royal rights and extended their own powers.