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Instead, the profundity of the experience derives from the themes of Becket's friendship with the English King Henry II, a relationship that in its. Thomas Becket and Henry II - Church versus monarch. Theobald recommended him to King Henry II, who made him Chancellor (). When Theobald died, Henry made Becket Archbishop of Canterbury (). Thomas Becket and Henry II a king betrays a trusted friend or another Is this just another tale of a King and trusted confidantes relationship.
His subjects were reminded that they must by Law equip themselves for military service. He went on to initiate a number of legal reforms in the Assizes of Clarendon and Northampton.
Henry and Eleanor had sons, each one of which provided endless complications for the King and Queen as father and mother. They were Henry, who died in his youth; Richard known as The Lionheart who became Richard I; John known as Lackland who became John I of Robin Hood fameand Geoffrey, by far the cleverest of the three, who never became anything important. Each of these roused rebellions against his father in the period between and Henry imprisoned all three at one time or another, as well as locking up his rich wife for years, on the grounds that she was backing his sons against him, especially Richard.
The latter was a great soldier and fine strategist who married Berengaria of Spain, though as he was an active homosexual there were no fruits of the marriage. The King thought in vain that through Becket he would be able to rule the Church, but Becket did not share this good idea.
- Becket, the Church and Henry II
- Becket controversy
- Henry II and Thomas Becket
He excommunicated Beaumont and other important barons, and Henry, who had liked him very much, realised that Becket would have to go.
In his cups with his faithful lords, he suggested it might be a good idea for Becket to die. He lived to regret this, as four of the barons decided without informing the King of their intention to ride from London to Canterbury, where they entered the great church while Becket and a monk were celebrating High Mass.
They slaughtered both Becket and the monk, thus creating a martyr. Shortly afterwards the Pope, for ever ready in case he could do Britain some damage, made Becket a saint, which, if he had known it in life, would have made Thomas Becket laugh out loud.
The King died, exhausted by his work, his rebellious sons and his clever scheming wife, inaged only fifty-six. There are two excellently written, acted and directed movies which deal with the adult life of Henry II.
Being a second son, there was little else he could do but enter the church, which he did as a deacon. Henry made him Chancellor of England in He was eminently good at his job, much loved by the people of London, and renowned for his good works. He had become Archdeacon of Canterbury inand easily managed to combine being a prince of the Church with the more worldly position as Chancellor.
Henry II and Thomas a Becket
He was therefore close to the king at the time when Henry was at his most strident and uncompromising, and it was probably the memory of this which coloured Becket's actions when he became an archbishop. Everyone, Henry included, expected Becket to be a yes-man for the King. On Henry's accession inTheobald was Archbishop of Canterbury. Theobald had quite a pragmatic view of the relationship between Church and Crown. He felt that the two should co-operate through a process of sensible give-and-take; not least because this put a little distance between Canterbury and the Pope, who had recently intervened disastrously in English affairs.
Theobald had been forced to clean up the mess caused by papal interference in the election of the Archbishop of York, and the Pope had also recognised the Irish Church inmuch to Theobald's chagrin. Knowing the way Henry went about these things he once ordered Winchester to 'hold free and fair elections and elect my man Robert into the post'he undoubtedly caused bad blood. It is in this context that we must see Becket's elevation to the archbishopric.
What no one realised was that Becket would take his new role quite so seriously. He had thrown himself into the job as Henry's chancellor with gusto, now he would do the same thing with the Church.
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He gave notice of this by resigning the chancellorship, much to everyone's surprise. Top Religious wrangling The crunch came with Henry's attempts to deal with the problem of 'criminous clerks'. About one in six of the population of England were clergymen, many of whom were not ordained to the priesthood.
These lay clergy could claim the right to be tried in ecclesiastical courts like their ordained brethren, where they would invariably receive a more lenient sentence than if tried in the criminal courts of the land. For Henry, the problem was part and parcel of the need to restore order after the chaos of the tempus werre a term coined by the medieval chroniclers to describe the time of war and anarchy which marked the civil war between Stephen and Matildabut for Becket, the King's concern over criminous clerks was a question of clerical immunity from secular jurisdiction.
The problem was brought to a head by cases such as that of Philip de Brois, a canon of Bedford who was acquitted in the court of the Bishop of Lincoln of the charge of murdering a knight. For three days, the bishops refused to sign as Henry ranted and railed at them. The Sheriff of Bedford attempted to re-open the case in the Royal court, and was furiously abused by Philip. Henry angrily demanded justice on the charge of homicide and on an additional charge of contempt.
Becket attempted to solve the problem by banishing Philip, but the whole affair merely showed up the woeful inadequacy of canon law in punishing robbers and murderers. Henry sought to solve this by proposing that clergy convicted of such serious crimes in the ecclesiastical courts should be deprived of the protection of the Church and handed over to the secular authorities for punishment.
Medieval and Middle Ages History Timelines - Henry II and Thomas Becket
It was a neat compromise, but though innocuous on the face of it, it contained the central implication that a man handed over to criminal law was no longer a clerk, undermining the whole basis of clerical immunity. This was why Becket could not accept it, and in this he was unanimously supported by his bishops. In fact, it is highly likely that Theobald would not have agreed to this either. The letters of his clerk, John of Salisbury, tell of a case involving the murder of the Archbishop of York which Theobald dragged back from the criminal courts into ecclesiastical jurisdiction against Henry's will.
After several months of wrangling, both sides met at the Council of Clarendon in January to discuss the issue.
There, Henry presented the bishops with the infamous Constitutions of Clarendon, a list of 16 clauses defining the relationship between secular and canon law of which clause 3 explicitly outlines the criminous clerks proposal. It was a closely worded document drawn up by Henry's legal hot-shots and was a deliberate attempt to wrong-foot the bishops into committing to something they had not previously agreed.
Then, out of the blue, Becket told the bishops they had no choice but to give in. Why he chose this option is unclear. Becket's own letters say that he opposed the Constitutions in his name only in order to divert the King's wrath from the bishops. This is as good an explanation as any.
The king was incandescent. This, in his eyes, was the ultimate act of treachery and he was determined to exact revenge. He tried to forestall Becket's action by getting the Constitutions ratified by the pope, but the pope prevaricated. Now the dispute entered a malevolent stage in which Henry was out to get Becket any way he could. In Octoberhe had Becket condemned on trumped-up charges of contempt of court over a land dispute in Pagham, and ruled that the archbishop should forfeit all his goods.
Henry exploded and is said to have uttered the words: In another piece of theatre, Becket began the day with the quote at morning mass: Archbishop and King sat in separate rooms as the bishops and barons shuffled between them. When the Council delivered its verdict, Becket refused to hear it, maintaining that they had no right to judge him.
That night, he slipped away and fled to exile in France. We should be careful not to get the Becket dispute out of all proportion. As it dragged on with claim and counter-claim throughout the yearsHenry had many other overwhelming things on his mind.