The murder of Thomas Beckett

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,055
Dispargum
#3
When Henry II was forced to acknowledge his responsibility and do penance it established the principle and precedent that the king was not above the law. As with many precedents in the English Constitution, it was not necessary stated at the time, but future generations would make that interpretation (about the king being subject to the law) in later years.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#4
I'm presuming because it is a good example of a King trying to assert his own authority over the Church?
If true. Legend has it King Henry 11 and Thomas were close friends and often went out on the tiles together. Thomas was already a consecrated bishop, or priest, I forget which. The king thought Thomas would make a spiffy Arch Bishop of Canterbury because after all, they were mates.The king thought it would be business as usual. However, Thomas went and got all religious, and started criticising the king.

Henry got royally pissed off, and is supposed to have said, in front of some knights., something like "who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" He did not mean he wanted Thomas dead.The knights misunderstood, and rode off to murder Thomas in the Cathedral. They probably expected a reward. Instead the king was once again royally pissed off and deeply distressed . He had the knights executed. He later performed penance which included self flagellation.

Who Benefited? Long term, the church because it had its power confirmed. Short term , probably King Henry;'he had a pest removed.

That's the legend. Henry's distress sounds a lot like the distress of Julius Caesar on hearing of the Egyptian murder of [ his enemy] Pompey Magnus. Perhaps some genuine sadness, but the death was also terribly convenient.

Plus, if the knights were part of Henry's court, they would be very skilled at interpreting the king's wishes, when he was less than explicit.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jan 2015
3,319
Front Lines of the Pig War
#5
When Henry II was forced to acknowledge his responsibility and do penance it established the principle and precedent that the king was not above the law. As with many precedents in the English Constitution, it was not necessary stated at the time, but future generations would make that interpretation (about the king being subject to the law) in later years.
You could also say it was an early example of "Command Responsibility "
 
Jan 2010
4,439
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#7
If true. Legend has it King Henry 11 and Thomas were close friends and often went out on the tiles together. Thomas was already a consecrated bishop, or priest, I forget which. The king thought Thomas would make a spiffy Arch Bishop of Canterbury because after all, they were mates.The king thought it would be business as usual. However, Thomas went and got all religious, and started criticising the king.

Henry got royally pissed off, and is supposed to have said, in front of some knights., something like "who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" He did not mean he wanted Thomas dead.The knights misunderstood, and rode off to murder Thomas in the Cathedral. They probably expected a reward. Instead the king was once again royally pissed off and deeply distressed . He had the knights executed. He later performed penance which included self flagellation.

Who Benefited? Long term, the church because it had its power confirmed. Short term , probably King Henry;'he had a pest removed.

That's the legend. Henry's distress sounds a lot like the distress of Julius Caesar on hearing of the Egyptian murder of [ his enemy] Pompey Magnus. Perhaps some genuine sadness, but the death was also terribly convenient.

Plus, if the knights were part of Henry's court, they would be very skilled at interpreting the king's wishes, when he was less than explicit.
You have any research to suggest this is simply a legend? If so please share.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#8
You have any research to suggest this is simply a legend? If so please share.
Sorry, no research. I used the term 'legend' loosely, because I'm writing from memory, possibly including high school history. I have nothing to hand to back up what I've written.

A quick check turned up the Wikipedia article linked below. It seems a good place to start.

Thomas Becket - Wikipedia


The second link is from BBC history.There's a lot online, including what seem to be good references to follow up


 

Similar History Discussions