The murder of Thomas Beckett

paranoid marvin

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
Although there were disputes and wars between countries, there was another war for dominance between the church and the monarchy. Often the church had more money and land than the king did; and the threat of ex-communication and the prospect of an eternity in Hell was far greater than that of being punished or executed by your king.

Henry and Thomas had been close friends; Henry would not have rewarded Thomas with high positions of state otherwise. He assumed that having friends in high places in the Church would make life easier for him, but it turned out that given a position of such power and immunity from punishment by Henry, the power went to his head; or perhaps he truly did find God.

I'm sure that Henry was both shocked and delighted in equal measure by the murder of Thomas; the Angevins were pretty nasty kings, quick to anger and quite vengeful. He would have been happy that the thorn in his side had been removed, but also concerned about the backlash from the Pooe; I'm sure that not for one minute he was sorry that Thomas was dead. If he had been then the guiltt knights who had carried out the deed would have been declared traitors and executed.

So Henry had made his point that if you were a major troublemaker you would be dealt with, regardless of your position and if you were a member of the Church. And the Pope made his point by ensuring that a King sought forgiveness by going on pilgrimage to Canterbury and going on his knees whilst being 'whipped' to Beckett's shrine.


Of course this was all blown out of the water years later when Henry VIII totlally dismantled the Englush Catholic church and destroyed Beckett's shrine in the process.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
"So Henry had made his point that if you were a major troublemaker you would be dealt with, regardless of your position and if you were a member of the Church. And the Pope made his point by ensuring that a King sought forgiveness by going on pilgrimage to Canterbury and going on his knees whilst being 'whipped' to Beckett's shrine."

Becket's murder was in 1270. Only a bit over 50 years after Magna Carta, which had already reduced the king's power. I suspect he would get really peeved at anyone trying to tell him what to do.Coming from a friend, he would have felt betrayed. I think Henry's behaviour was perfectly reasonable under the circumstances. As was the habit of the powerful Catholic church at the time, Thomas got a bit up himself. What else could Henry have done to achieve even similar results?

Is it likely Henry's precedent would have effected kings down the line, in England and Europe.? I was thinking of Henry V111. A highly intelligent and educated man, he would certainly have been aware of Becket's fate,. AND of the long term fall out for the crown. Plus of course Thomas was a saint, murdered in Canterbury Cathedral, a major pilgrimage site. His fate at the hands of the king would have been common knowledge. Probably still is in certainEnglish circles.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,030
Sydney
royals had been humbled by the popes before
in 1077 the pope Hildebrand had the Holy Emperor Frederick II on his knees , in the snow , in his courtyard , humbly awaiting to be allowed to make penance

the Church made a big deal out of it because they made a big deal of money from the pilgrimage to Canterbury
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
royals had been humbled by the popes before
in 1077 the pope Hildebrand had the Holy Emperor Frederick II on his knees , in the snow , in his courtyard , humbly awaiting to be allowed to make penance

the Church made a big deal out of it because they made a big deal of money from the pilgrimage to Canterbury
Not much pilgrimage money went back to Rome ,if any. The Church as an institution did not and does not own individual churches/cathedrals outside of the Vatican.

The big deal I think was about the power of the Church, which at the time was arguably the greatest power in the western world. This power continued up to the reformation.

EG' no member of the clergy could be tried for any crime whatsoever by a civil court. They could only be tried by an an ecclesiastical court, which tended to be headed by a local bishop.Punishments tendered to be far less severe. This is possibly the genesis of the Church attitude which led to the protection of pedophile priests--- For centuries; corruption of Catholic clergy is a VERY old tradition.,

The Church's refusal to give Henry V111 a divorce from Catherine or Aragon was about power and politics. I very much doubt the Pope at the time realised just far Henry V111 would go, Had he realised just how much was at stake, I suspect Henry could have had as many annulments as he wanted. There would have been no spousal executions and England might still be Catholic. That means English colonies would also have been Catholic.

A pope also encouraged the murder of Elizabeth 1, absolving any potential assassin of murder.
 

paranoid marvin

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
The Pope was effectively the prisoner of the Holy Roman Emperor, who also happened to be related tl Henry's wife Catherine. Under normal circumstances Henry would have been granted his divorce, but this was never going to happen in the current political climate.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
Some minor correction: Beckett was murdered in the 1170s; Magna Carta was in 1215.

Oh fluck! I know that, what a stupid error to make!

.I have a great book "1215: The Year Of Magna Carta", so I'm pretty familiar with Magna Carta.

The Pope was effectively the prisoner of the Holy Roman Emperor, who also happened to be related tl Henry's wife Catherine. Under normal circumstances Henry would have been granted his divorce, but this was never going to happen in the current political climate.
Ah, thanks.. Oh well, still shows politics as a major motivator of papal behaviour.
 

David Vagamundo

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,439
Atlanta, Georgia USA
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



Some people on this forum (not you) use the term “legend” when referring to something they don’t believe.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
Some people on this forum (not you) use the term “legend” when referring to something they don’t believe.
Below is a dictionary definition. As you can see, 'legend' can have a variety of meanings. In this instance I used 1a "popularly regarded as historical although not verifiable". I wasn't sure, because I lacked a specific, credible source .

Definition of legend



1a : a story coming down from the past especially : one popularly regarded as historical although not verifiable the legend of a lost continent Arthurian legends

b : a body of such stories a place in the legend of the frontier

c : a popular myth of recent origin the legend of the Loch Ness monster

d : a person or thing that inspires legends a baseball legend

e : the subject of a legend its violence was legend even in its own time— William Broyles Jr.