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Henry II od Engleske i Thomas Becket, St. David's

Henry II od Engleske i Thomas Becket, St. David's


St. Thomas Becket

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St. Thomas Becket, takođe zvan Thomas à Becket ili Thomas iz Londona, (rođen oko 1118, Cheapside, London, Engleska - umro 29. decembra 1170, Canterbury, Kent je proglasio 1173 praznik 29. decembra), engleski kancelar (1155–62) i nadbiskup Canterburyja (1162–70) tokom vladavine kralja Henrika II. Njegovu karijeru obilježila je duga svađa s Henryjem koja je završila Becketovim ubistvom u katedrali u Canterburyju. On se štuje kao svetac i mučenik u Rimokatoličkoj crkvi i u anglikanskoj zajednici. Zaštitnik je svjetovnog svećenstva (svećenici i đakoni koji pastoralno služe u parohijama).


Becket postaje nadbiskup

Canterbury katedrala © Becket je vjerovatno bila vrlo uticajna tokom ranog dijela Henrijeve vladavine. Bio je ambasador i glavni pregovarač u Henrijevim prvim odnosima s francuskim kraljem Lujem VII., A odigrao je i istaknutu ulogu u nesrećnoj ekspediciji u Toulouse 1159. Stoga je bio blizak s kraljem u vrijeme kada je Henry bio najviše oštar i beskompromisan, a vjerovatno je sjećanje na to obojilo Becketove postupke kada je postao nadbiskup.

Svi, uključujući i Henryja, očekivali su da će Becket biti potvrdan kralj.

Henrijevim pristupom 1154. godine, Theobald je bio nadbiskup Canterburyja. Teobald je imao prilično pragmatičan pogled na odnos između Crkve i Krune. Smatrao je da bi njih dvoje trebali surađivati ​​kroz proces razumnog davanja i uzimanja, ne samo zato što je to učinilo malu distancu između Canterburyja i Pape, koji se nedavno katastrofalno umiješao u engleske poslove. Theobald je bio prisiljen očistiti nered uzrokovan papinskim miješanjem u izbor nadbiskupa York, a Papa je također priznao Irsku crkvu 1152. godine, na Teobaldovu žalost.

Katedrala u Canterburyju © Kada je Theobald umro 1161, Henry je manevrirao Becketa na upražnjeno mjesto. Poznavajući način na koji je Henry postupio u tim stvarima (jednom je naredio Winchesteru da 'održi slobodne i poštene izbore i izabere mog čovjeka Roberta na tu poziciju'), nesumnjivo je izazvao zlu krv. U tom kontekstu moramo vidjeti Becketovo uzdizanje do nadbiskupije. Svi, uključujući i Henryja, očekivali su da će Becket biti potvrdan kralj. Niko nije shvatio da će Becket svoju novu ulogu shvatiti tako ozbiljno. On se s guštom bacio na posao Henrijevog kancelara, a sada bi isto učinio s Crkvom. On je to obavijestio podnoseći ostavku na mjesto kancelara, na veliko iznenađenje svih.


St Davids iz 12. stoljeća predstavljen na izložbi Britanskog muzeja: Thomas Becket. Ubistvo i stvaranje sveca

Vrlo ugledna dr Sarah Rowand Jones, dekanica katedrale sv Davids, s crozierom izložena u riznici katedrale. © Katedrala Svetog Davida

Katedrala Svetog Davidsa u zapadnom Walesu pozajmljuje jedan od svojih croziera iz 12. stoljeća Britanskom muzeju za njegovu veliku ljetnu izložbu. ‘Thomas Becket: Ubistvo i stvaranje sveca’ trajat će u Londonu od 20. maja 2021. do 22. avgusta 2021. godine.

Crozier je jedan od nekoliko srednjovjekovnih artefakata otkrivenih 1865. godine tokom restauratorskih radova arhitekte Georgea Gilberta Scotta za podršku krhke kule katedrale. Croziers, kao i prstenovi i kaleži, pronađeni su u grobnicama biskupa Richarda de Carew, biskupa St Davids 1256-1280, i biskupa Thomasa Becka, biskupa St Davids 1280-1293.

Thomas Becket: ubistvo i stvaranje sveca prva je velika britanska izložba o životu, smrti i naslijeđu Thomasa Becketa, čije je brutalno ubistvo u katedrali u Canterburyju 1170. potreslo srednji vijek. Nacrtat će 500 godina povijesti od Becketovog izuzetnog uspona od običnih početaka do postanka jedne od najmoćnijih figura u normanskoj Engleskoj, pa sve do njegovog trajnog, ali podijeljenog naslijeđa u stoljećima nakon njegove smrti. Priča će biti ispričana kroz niz od preko 100 zapanjujućih objekata koji su prvi put okupljeni, uključujući rijetke zajmove iz cijele Velike Britanije i Evrope. Luknjača koju je pozajmio sveti David, datirana u 12. stoljeće, posjetiteljima će izložbe pokazati primjer onoga što je crkva koristila za života Becketa.

Thomas Becket bio je nadbiskup Canterburyja od 1162. do 29. decembra 1170. godine, kada su ga ubili vojnici kralja Henrika II za vrijeme večernje večeri u katedrali u Canterburyju - Becket je bio u sporu s kraljem oko ovlasti koje je monarh imao nad crkvom. Takođe je Henrik II blokirao imenovanje za biskupa svetog Davida iz kimro-normanskog učenjaka Geralda de Barrija (poznatog i kao Gerald Velšanin, Gerallt Cymro ili Geraldus Cambrensis). Na njegovo mjesto, Henry je postavio normanskog monaha Petra de Leia, koji je postao odgovoran za obnovu katedrale 1181. godine u obliku koji danas uvelike poznajemo. Kralj Henry također se, uglavnom neuspješno, borio protiv Arglwydd Rhys ap Gryffudd (Lord Rhys), princa Deheubartha i južnog Walesa. Gerallt Cymro i Arglwydd Rhys su sahranjeni u katedrali sv. Davidsa.

Mari James, službenik za razvoj katedralne biblioteke, prilikom postavljanja kroziera na postav Britanskog muzeja. © Povjerenici Britanskog muzeja

U roku od godinu dana od ubistva Thomasa Becketa, Henry II je hodočastio u svetište svetog Davida 29. septembra 1171. godine. koji je zabilježen u srednjovjekovnim velškim ljetopisima, Brutu y Tywysogionu ili Chronicles of the Prince. 850. godišnjica ove posjete obilježit će se u katedrali sv. Davidsa u rujnu 2021. Sveti David je bio značajno hodočasničko odredište nakon što je papa Kalikst II 1123. potvrdio da su dva hodočašća svetom Davidu ekvivalentna jednom u Rim. Gerald je zabilježio da je kralj sljedeće godine, 1. aprila 1172. godine, hodočastio na drugo hodočašće. Katedrala ima kapelu posvećenu Svetom Tomi Beketu, koja je možda sagrađena na mjestu kraljeve posjete starijoj zgradi.

Vrlo ugledna dr Sarah Rowland Jones, dekanica St. Davidsa, rekla je: „12. stoljeće bilo je važno razdoblje u istoriji Velsa, vidjevši prijelaz od vladavine domorodačkih prinčeva od Walesa do vladavine Normanske i Engleske monarhije. Oduševljeni smo što možemo podijeliti istoriju naše katedrale u srednjem vijeku, pozajmljujući jedno od naših blaga Britanskom muzeju na nekoliko mjeseci. Zadovoljstvo mi je pridonijeti ovoj izuzetnoj izložbi o životu, ubojstvu i stalnom utjecaju svetog Thomasa Becketa. '

Crozier će se vratiti u katedralu St Davids nakon zatvaranja izložbe, a zatim će ponovo biti javno izložen u riznici katedrale.


Henry II od Engleske i Thomas Becket, St. David's - Historija

Ubistvo Thomasa Becketa u katedrali u Canterburyju 29. decembra 1170. promijenilo je tok istorije. Becket je bio jedna od najmoćnijih figura svog vremena, služio je kao kraljevski kancelar, a kasnije kao nadbiskup Canterburyja. U početku bliski prijatelj kralja Henrika II, njih dvojica su se upustili u ogorčen spor koji je kulminirao šokantnim Beketovim ubojstvom vitezova s ​​bliskim vezama s kraljem. To je priča o izdaji, o uočenoj zloupotrebi moći i onima koji nasjedaju da stanu na put Kruni. Ovdje istražujemo Becketov uspon i pad i otkrivamo događaje koji su doveli do ubistva koje je potreslo srednji vijek ...

Ko je bio Thomas Becket?

Becket je bio druga generacija francuskog imigranta, rođen oko 1120. godine u Cheapsideu, u Londonu, od Gilberta i Matilde, koji su napustili Normandiju nakon osvajanja Normana. Njegov otac je bio dobro povezan trgovac, ali porodica nije bila pretjerano bogata niti moćna. Becket je poslan u školu u Merton Priory, a nakon nekoliko godina studija u Parizu, na kraju se zaposlio preko jednog od očevih prijatelja kao službenik za Theobalda, tadašnjeg nadbiskupa Canterburyja. Njegovi su savremenici Becketa opisivali kao inteligentnog, šarmantnog i autoritativnog, a 1155. godine dobio je najveći predah. Prepoznajući njegove talente, Theobald je predložio da Henry II imenuje Becketa za kancelara Engleske. On i kralj brzo su postali bliski prijatelji, lovili, kockali se i zajedno putovali po Engleskoj. Becket je prihvatio život na kraljevskom dvoru: njegovi savremeni biografi kažu da je uživao u ogromnom bogatstvu, priređivao raskošne zabave, ukrašavajući svoje rezidencije prelijepim namještajem i na vlastita broda putovao u Francusku.

Uspon i pad

Kada je mjesto nadbiskupa Canterburyja upražnjeno, Becket je predložen. S obzirom na njegov način života i ugled, bio je malo vjerojatan kandidat, ali kralj je imao druge ideje. Henry je želio imenovati svog bliskog prijatelja za tu ulogu, ali je najvažnije da je želio da nastavi kao kancelar. S Becketom na oba položaja, Henry je vidio priliku da ostvari veću vlast nad Crkvom, kao i nad državom. Becket je imenovan nadbiskupom 23. maja 1162. godine, a posvećen (zvanično blagoslovljen) 3. juna. Međutim, u nekom trenutku tokom ostatka te godine, i protiv kraljeve želje, Becket je dao ostavku na mjesto kancelara. Njegovi postupci zabili su klin između njega i kralja koji se nikada neće popraviti. Od tog trenutka Becketov odnos s Henryjem počeo se pogoršavati. Uslijedio je niz sporova u vezi s podjelom vlasti između Krune i Crkve. Do 1164. godine napetosti su bile najveće i u oktobru je Becket pozvan da se pojavi pred kraljevim vijećem i naredio mu da oduzme svu njegovu ličnu imovinu. Odbio je prihvatiti uslove svoje kazne i, plašeći se daljnjih posljedica kralja, pobjegao je u Francusku.

Život u egzilu

Becket je ostao u egzilu u Francuskoj šest godina. Za to vrijeme Henry je ojačao svoju moć u Engleskoj. Njegov najočigledniji prigovor autoriteta starog prijatelja bila je njegova odluka da svog sina, Henrika mladog kralja, okruni u junu 1170. od Becketovog dugogodišnjeg neprijatelja, nadbiskupa Yorka. Becket se obratio Papi i, pod značajnim pritiskom, Henry je pristao na ponovno otvaranje pregovora. Nakon toga, nadbiskup i kralj razgovarali su privatno prvi put nakon 1164. godine, a Henry je obećao da će vratiti Becketova prava kao nadbiskupa Canterburyja. Becket je bio uvjeren da bi se bilo sigurno vratiti u Englesku. Međutim, njegov posljednji čin bio je kazniti one koji su umiješani u neovlašteno krunidbu. Prije nego što je napustio Francusku, Becket je izdao tri pisma kojima je proterao (ekskomunicirao) nadbiskupa Yorka i dva biskupa iz Crkve. Ovaj čin imao je razorne posljedice po povratku u Englesku.

Trag do ubistva

Becket se vratio iz egzila 1. decembra 1170. Savremeni izvještaji bilježe da ga je na povratku u katedralu dočekalo bodrenje gomile i radosni monasi, ali se suočio sa sve većim neprijateljstvom od strane vlasti lojalnih kralju. U međuvremenu, nadbiskup York i biskupi Londona i Salisburyja, bijesni što su izopćeni, otputovali su na Henrikov kraljevski dvor u Normandiji gdje su prenijeli Becketove postupke kralju. Henry je bio ogorčen i, iako nije jasno je li ikada posebno naredio odmazdu za Becketove postupke, njegov bijesni ispad natjerao je četiri viteza - Reginalda FitzUrsea, Williama de Tracyja, Hugha de Morvillea i Richarda le Breta - da otputuju u Canterbury u potrazi za Becketom. Jedan od Becketovih biografa bilježi Henryjeve riječi kao:

Kakve sam jadne bespilotne letjelice i izdajnike njegovao i promicao u svom domaćinstvu koji su dopustili da njihov gospodar sa tako sramnim prijezirom postupi od strane niskog službenika!

Frank Barlow, Thomas Becket (Kalifornija: University of California Press, 1986.), str. 235.

Mesto zločina

Imamo sreću da imamo pet priča očevidaca o Becketovom ubistvu, a svi se u velikoj meri slažu oko detalja o tome šta se dogodilo. Jedan ključni izvještaj napisao je čovjek po imenu Edward Grim, koji je bio toliko blizu Becketa tokom okršaja da ga je ranio jedan od vitezovih mačeva. Grim nam govori da je, kada su četiri viteza stigla u katedralu u Canterburyju, Becket bio u Nadbiskupskoj palati. Pokušali su da ga uhapse, ali je on to odbio. Monasi su naveli Becketa da se skloni u crkvu, ali su ga vitezovi progonili, upali u katedralu sa isukanim mačevima, zastrašujući one unutra vičući:

“Gdje je Thomas Becket, izdajica kralja i kraljevstva? " vitezovi su tada pohrlili na njega ... grubo rukovali i vukli ga, namjeravajući ga ubiti izvan crkve ili odnijeti u lancima.

Životi Thomasa Becketa, ur. i trans. Michael Staunton (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), str. 201.

Kako Grim prepričava, Becket se čvrsto držao za jedan od stubova katedrale kako bi spriječio da ga uhvate, i u tom je trenutku jedan od vitezova prvi put podigao mač, spustivši ga na Becketa, odsjekavši mu krunu glava. Dva druga viteza tada su počela napadati Becketa, a većina monaha je pobjegla. Treći udarac doveo je nadbiskupov život do kraja. Nažalost, do kraja napada, Becketova kruna je imala:

"Odvojena od glave tako da je krv postala bijela od mozga, a mozak podjednako crven od krvi."

Životi Thomasa Becketa, ur. i trans. Michael Staunton (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), str. 203.

Ubojite vitezove pratio je službenik, koji je zbog svog angažmana postao poznat kao "Mauclerk" ili "zli službenik". Nakon napada, ovaj Mauclerk:

stavio nogu na vrat svetog svećenika i dragocjenog mučenika i, užasno reći, razbacao mozak s krvlju po pločniku. „Pustite nas, vitezovi“, doviknuo je ostalima, „ovaj momak više neće ustati.

Životi Thomasa Becketa, ur. i trans. Michael Staunton (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), str. 203.

Posljedice

Nakon ubistva je nastao haos, a niko od prisutnih nije znao šta dalje, tijelo je nekoliko sati ostalo na mjestu gdje je palo. Neki su pojedinci umočili dijelove odjeće u njegovu prolivenu krv ili je sakupili u male posude kako bi je odnijeli u očekivanju Becketove buduće svetosti. Nakon što je prenoćio na velikom oltaru katedrale, monasi su ga sutradan sahranili u kripti. Odmah su se proširili izvještaji o čudesnim iscjeljenjima povezanim s Becketom. Suočeni sa sve većim pritiskom ljudi iz Canterburyja, monasi su otvorili kriptu katedrale kako bi hodočasnici mogli posjetiti njegovu grobnicu. Zabilježen je izvanredan val čuda i, priznajući ovo, Becketa je Papa 21. februara 1173. proglasio svecem (proglasio svetim). To je bila jedna od najbržih kanonizacija u povijesti. Beketova reputacija sveca čudotvorca brzo se proširila i ljudi iz cijele Evrope počeli su hrliti u Canterbury u nadi da će ozdraviti. Osim posjete grobnici, hodočasnici su mogli kupiti i mješavinu njegove krvi i vode, zvanu Voda svetog Tome, koju su oportunistički monasi flaširali i prodavali u malim olovnim posudama zvanim ampula. Henrik II, u javnom pokajanju zbog svog učešća u ubistvu, posjetio je grobnicu 1174. godine, dajući kraljevsko odobrenje Becketovom kultu.

Becketova smrt i kasnija čuda pretvorili su katedralu u Canterburyju u jedno od najvažnijih hodočasničkih odredišta u Europi. Njegovo tijelo je 1220. godine premješteno iz kripte u svjetlucavo novo svetište u namjenski izgrađenoj kapeli na katu u katedrali. Geoffrey Chaucer je slavno zabilježio nešto iz atmosfere hodočašća u ovo svetište u svom Canterbury Tales. U smrti, Becket je ostao figura protivnika neobuzdane moći i postao je viđen kao suštinski branitelj prava Crkve. U tu svrhu možete pronaći slike njegovog ubistva u crkvama širom latinskog kršćanstva, od Njemačke i Španije, do Italije i Norveške. Becket je bio i ostao istinski evropski svetac. Njegove relikvije u Canterburyju posjećivali su ljudi sa cijelog kontinenta do 1538. godine, kada ga je Henrik VIII označio kao izdajnika, naredio uništenje njegovog svetišta i pokušao ga potpuno izbrisati iz povijesti. To je, međutim, priča za drugi put.

Thomas Becket: ubistvo i stvaranje sveca otvoren je 20. maja – 22. avgusta 2021. Više o izložbi i rezervirajte karte ovdje.

Kupite bogato ilustrirani katalog koji prati izložbu.

Podržano od:

Dobrotvorna fondacija porodice Hintze

Ruddock fondacija za umjetnost

Jack Ryan i Zemen Paulos


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Prvi udarac ranio je Thomasa u glavu, a zatim, dok mu je krv tekla niz lice, jedan od vitezova, Richard Brito, "udario ga je takvom snagom da mu je mač slomljen u glavu", a cijela mu je kruna glava je odsečena. Jedan od vitezovih sljedbenika upotrijebio je oštricu mača da izvadi nadbiskupov mozak kroz ranu.

Bio je to užasan zločin sam po sebi. No, s obzirom na status žrtve i svetost mjesta, to je bilo sablazan izvan razumijevanja.

Zašto je Thomas Becket ubijen?

Napad je bio zaključak duge borbe između kralja i nadbiskupa, borbe koja je gotovo od početka obilježena sukobom ličnosti. Veliki problemi su bili u pitanju. Henrik II je bio izvanredan i inteligentan vladar, koji je imao viziju zemlje u kojoj bi pravda trebala biti dostupna svima i svi bi trebali biti jednaki prema kraljevskim zakonima. Kao mladić, bio je svjedok katastrofalne borbe za prijestolje (poznate kao Anarhija) između njegovog rođaka Stephena i njegove majke, Matilde, i bio je odlučan da treba uspostaviti dobru vladu.

Toma je imao svoju viziju, vjerujući da bi u svim stvarima autoritet crkve trebao biti vrhovan, te da bi kralj trebao vladati kao predstavnik crkve u sekularnom svijetu. Kraljevsko miješanje u crkvene poslove trebalo bi prekinuti, osporio je on, nakon stoljeća u kojima je kralj mogao nadmašiti one koji su izabrali crkvene vođe, čak i kardinale koji su sami izabrali papu.

Obojica su strastveno verovali u zakone: Henrik u zakone carstva, Toma u crkvene - kanonsko pravo - koji su nedavno sastavljeni i uređeni na univerzitetu u Bolonji.

Jesu li Thomas Becket i Henry II bili prijatelji?

Ova zloglasna borba između dva moćna čoveka započela je u harmoniji i prijateljstvu. Henrik II postao je kralj krajem 1154. godine, kada je imao samo 21 godinu, nakon iznenadne Stefanove smrti. Njegov glavni savjetnik na početku svoje vladavine bio je Theobald, nadbiskup Canterburyja, a upravo je Theobald dogovorio imenovanje 35-godišnjeg službenika u njegovu službu za kraljevog kancelara, zapravo njegovog glavnog službenika. To je bio Thomas Becket, sin umjereno bogatog Londončanina, koji se pridružio Theobaldovom domaćinstvu 12 godina ranije kao prvi korak u crkvenoj karijeri. Postao je Teobaldov miljenik i poslan je u Bolonju i Auxerre na studij kanonskog prava, prije nego što je postao arhidjakon Canterburyja. Thomas je bio šarmantan, brzoplet i odan sluga.

Nakon što je svoje prve godine proveo u vrlo svjetovnom okruženju londonskih trgovačkih porodica, Thomas se lako prebacio na kraljevsku službu i kraljevski dvor. Ali ono što nitko nije mogao predvidjeti je izvanredno prijateljstvo koje je nastalo između Henryja i kancelara, te način na koji je Thomas svoju prilično prozaičnu poziciju - barem prema vanjskom izgledu - pretvorio u najveću dužnost pod krunom.

Henry nikada nije uživao u veličanstvenosti, pa je čak i u svečanim ili svečanim prilikama preferirao da se obuče što jednostavnije. Kad je trebalo pregovarati o savezu s Francuskom - da bi bio zapečaćen zarukom Henrijevog najstarijeg sina, koji se također zove Henry, s Margaret, kćerkom Luja VII - kralj je poslao Thomasa da se pozabavi poslovnim aspektima saveza.

S obzirom na potrebu da impresionira Francuze, kralj ga je takođe ohrabrio da postavi veličanstven prikaz. Reći da je Thomas bio na visini zadatka je nešto potcjenjivanje. Za početak je uzeo 24 presvlačenja, mnogo svilenih odjevnih predmeta (koje je poklonio), sve vrste krzna, ogrtače i bogate tepihe. Kad je ušao u Francusku, prethodilo mu je 250 pješaka, koji su pjevali dok su marširali. Uslijedilo je osam vagona s njegovim namirnicama i namještajem za njegovu kapelu, odaju, spavaću sobu i kuhinju.

Thomasovo blago-zlatni i srebrni tanjir, novac i knjige-prevoženo je na 12 tovarnih konja. Majmuni su jahali na stražnjoj strani nosača. Iza toga su došli štitonoše sa štitovima svojih gospodara i predvodnici ratnih konja, sokolovi s jastrebovima na zglobovima i članovi kancelara.

Konačno, prethodivši vitezovima i sveštenicima, pojavio se sam kancelar u pratnji bliskih prijatelja. "Kakav veličanstven čovjek mora biti engleski kralj", trebali su uzviknuti Francuzi, "ako njegov kancelar putuje u tako velikoj državi!" Kako se ispostavilo, Henry je došao skromno odjeven i u pratnji samo šačice vitezova.

Kralj je često zadirkivao Thomasa zbog njegove radosti u bogatoj odjeći. Dok su se jednog dana vozili kroz London, Henry je ugledao starca u iskrzanom kaputu i predložio svom kancelaru da bi mu bilo dobročinstvo dati mu ogrtač. "Da", rekao je Thomas, "ti bi se kao kralj trebao pobrinuti za to." Na to je Henry uhvatio Thomasov sjajni ogrtač i nakon kratke tučnjave ga povukao i dao ga siromahu.

Sveštenik William Fitzstephen napisao je da bi se "kada se riješilo svakodnevno poslovanje, kralj i Toma zajedno igrali, poput dječaka istih godina, u dvorani, u crkvi i na zajedničkom jahanju". On također opisuje Thomasovu zabavu: "Jedva da je večerao bez društva raznih grofova i baruna ... Njegova je daska bila blistava zlatnim i srebrnim posudama i obiluje finim jelima i dragocjenim vinima." I sam Henry bi došao: "Ponekad je kralj, sa poklonom u ruci dok se vraćao iz lova ili je trebao krenuti, jahao na konju u hodnik gdje je kancelar sjedio za stolom ... ponekad bi preskočio stol i sjeo da jede sa njim. Nikada u čitavoj kršćanskoj eri dva čovjeka nisu bila istog uma ili bolji prijatelji. ”

A kad su Englezi napali okrug Toulouse u jesen 1159, čini se da je Thomas zapovijedao vojskom nakon što je Henry otišao da se bori s Francuzima u Normandiji. „Obukavši hauberk i kacigu, kancelar se stavio na čelo jake sile i upao u tri zamka, koji su bili snažno utvrđeni i neosvojivi. Zatim je sa svojim trupama prešao Garonu u potrazi za neprijateljem i nakon što je potvrdio cijelu pokrajinu u vjernosti kralju, vratio se u veliku naklonost i čast. ” Po svemu sudeći, Thomas je uživao u ulozi velikog svjetovnog magnata.

Kako je Becket postao nadbiskup Canterburyja?

Šest godina nakon što je Thomas postao kancelar, umro je njegov stari gospodar, nadbiskup Theobald. Do sada su Henryjevi planovi za uspostavljanje kraljevske moći i pravde bili već u tijeku i, budući da je Thomas vjerojatno pomogao u njihovom razvoju, činilo se da je on očigledan izbor da zamijeni Theobalda. Vrlo je vjerojatno da je Henry osigurao blagoslov pape, Aleksandra III, prije nego je Thomasu rekao za imenovanje.

I s tim počinje tragedija. Toma je uredno izabran u maju 1162. Prema riječima modernog istoričara, "on je odbacio laika i postao potpuni nadbiskup". Početkom lipnja podnio je ostavku na mjesto kancelara, očito po savjetu najviših engleskih biskupa, Henryja od Bloisa, biskupa u Winchesteru, a moguće je da je njegov odnos s kraljem već bio na izmaku. Kasnije je rečeno da je Thomas već upozorio Henryja da će njegovo imenovanje za nadbiskupa biti kobno za njihovu vezu. U tome se pokazao spektakularno pronicljiv.

Ali čak i ako su detalji pretjerani, Thomasova iznenadna promjena od velikog državnog časnika s odgovarajućom svjetovnom pompom do asketskog nadbiskupa od tada zbunjuje povjesničare. Je li doživio obraćenje poput onog svetog Pavla na putu za Damask? Očigledan kontrast između Tome kao kancelara i Tome kao nadbiskupa oštar je kao i između Saula progonitelja kršćana i svetog Pavla kao oca crkve.

Još je zagonetniji njegov neumoljivi stav u pogledu programa pravde koji je pomogao Henriku da započne u tim prvim godinama kraljeve vladavine. Kao netko obučen u kanonskom pravu i iskusan u engleskom kraljevskom pravu, Thomas je morao znati da postoje mnoge točke u kojima će ga Henrijeve namjere dovesti u sukob s crkvom. Međutim, od početka postoji svaki znak da je odlučio da ne pregovara ili da ustukne, već da svom snagom brani crkvene privilegije.

Nakon što je postao nadbiskup, Thomas je pokušao obnoviti zemljišta oduzeta od crkve u Canterburyju za vrijeme Stefanove vladavine. Čini se da je imao kraljevo dopuštenje za to, ali naišao je na probleme. Strateški važan dvorac na Tonbridžu sada je bio u posjedu Rogera de Clarea, grofa od Hertforda, jednog od najutjecajnijih Henryjevih baruna. Thomas je ekskomunicirao drugog važnog gospodara, Williama od Eynsforda, zbog potraživanja crkve u Eynsfordu, ali Henry je prisilio nadbiskupa da otpusti Williama.

Poznavajući Henryjevu inteligenciju i odlučnost, Thomas se možda bojao da će, ako popusti u bilo kojoj tački spora, Henry samo dodatno pritisnuti njega. No, u srpnju 1163., na saboru održanom u palači Woodstock, Thomas je napao Henryjev prijedlog koji je u suštini bio reforma oporezivanja s malo, ako nimalo sukoba s crkvenim pravom. Učinio je to na temelju toga što se radilo o neviđenoj i proizvoljnoj inovaciji, kao da je postao branitelj drevnih kraljevskih običaja Engleske. Prošle su dvije godine otkad je prvi put saznao da će biti nadbiskup - i za to vrijeme se od pristalice Henryjevih planova pomaknuo u potpuno protivljenje.

Oko čega su se posvađali Thomas Becket i Henry II?

Ovaj neraspoloženi pristup prožima nadbiskupove odnose s kraljem do kraja života-a Henry, poznat po svojoj nasilnoj naravi, odgovorio je na to. Kraljevi postupci, međutim, mirišu na hladnu i odlučnu odlučnost da ponizi nadbiskupa. Thomas je inzistirao na onome što danas nazivamo 'dobrobit svećenstva', pravu bilo koga u svetim redovima da mu se sudi na crkvenom sudu, i to samo na crkvenom. Takve ‘kriminalne činovnike’, kako su ih zvali, kralj nije mogao zatvoriti niti usmrtiti. Kao odgovor, Henry je lično napao Thomasa. Kralj je uložio potraživanja protiv njega iz vremena dok je bio kancelar, tražeći od njega ogromne iznose koje nadbiskup nije mogao platiti.

Ovo je bio Henryjev najslabiji trenutak na mnogo načina: on je ličnim napadom na Tomu odgovarao na pitanje koje je pogodilo srž razlika između novih crkvenih ambicija i kraljevske agende. Kao da je htio dokazati da se čak i nadbiskup može suditi na kraljevskom sudu.

Ove tvrdnje protiv Thomasa i argumenti o tome može li se za njih suditi na svjetovnom sudu došli su do izražaja na vijeću u Northamptonu 1164. Thomas je u kraljevim očima pogoršao svoje prekršaje suprotstavljajući se odredbama dokumenta pisano izlažući drevne običaje Engleske koje je Henry predstavio na jednom ranijem saboru u Clarendonu u januaru 1164. Sada su u Northamptonu ove tenzije izbile u otvoreni sukob. I nije samo kralj imao sjekiru koju je trebao samljeti s Thomasom: veliki magnati, koji nikada nisu imali mnogo ljubavi prema sinu trgovca, izvikivali su ga uvrede kad je izjavio da baroni nemaju ovlaštenja suditi na njega. Thomas, međutim, nije održao dostojanstvenu šutnju, već je vratio zlostavljanje.

Ista loša narav bila je evidentna kada je Thomas, plašeći se za svoju sigurnost, pobjegao u Flandriju. Tamo ga je posjetio sudac (glavni sudac) Richard de Lucy, koji ga je zamolio da se vrati u Englesku. Thomas je to odbio, a susret je završio nasilnom svađom tokom koje je de Lucy povukla počast koju je svojedobno odala nadbiskupu.

Obje strane apelovale su na papu Aleksandra III, a on bi vjerovatno najradije podržao Tomu do drške - da nije bilo činjenice da je on jedan od dvojice papa. Car Svetog Rima, Frederick Barbarossa, upravo je priznao Aleksandrova rivala, Victor IV, za pontifikata - i, plašeći se da bi Henry II mogao učiniti isto, Aleksandar je želio postići kompromis.

U ljeto 1165. naredio je Tomi da ni na koji način ne provocira kralja prije Uskrsa 1166., pa je bio zabrinut zbog očuvanja Henrijeve dobre volje. Nakon što je zabrana istekla, Thomas je - potezom koji je iznenadio čak i njegove najbliže savjetnike - pokrenuo razornu seriju ekskomunikacija protiv engleskih biskupa i baruna, štedeći samo samog kralja. Budući da su se žrtve odmah obratile papi, činilo se da je nagodba rjeđa nego ikad.

No trebalo je pronaći rješenje i papa je započeo beskonačne pregovore za Tomin povratak. Sastanci s legatima koje je papa poslao razbuktali su se, ali bilo je rijetkih trenutaka kada su se Thomas i Henry sreli i činilo se da obnavljaju svoje staro prijateljstvo - i kao rezultat toga na kraju su postignuti mirovni uvjeti. Međutim, antanta se uskoro trebala slomiti u spektakularnom stilu.

Nasuprot tradiciji - ali ne i crkvenom zakonu - najstarijeg Henrijevog sina, koji se također zvao Henry, nadbiskup York -a i biskupi Londona i Salisburyja okrunili su za kralja početkom godine, kako bi osigurali da naslijedi svog oca. Henry je dobio papina pisma od prije nekoliko godina u kojima se daje dopuštenje za ceremoniju. Toma je uzvratio u naturi upotrebom pisama o izopćenju koja je papa izdao, takođe nešto ranije.

Bio je to čin čovjeka sklonog osveti, a ne nekoga ko će pomirbom i strpljivim pregovorima povratiti svoju poziciju. Dovodeći u pitanje valjanost krunidbe, Thomas je udario u srce jedne od Henrijevih najdražih shema. Tokom godina izgnanstva činilo se da je nadbiskup izgubio sud o stvarima i da se povukao u čeličnu gorčinu.

U tome nije bio sam: Henrijev bijes na Thomasa kad je čuo vijesti u Francuskoj također ga je doveo do gubitka kontrole. Što god da je rekao okupljenim dvorjanima - a mi imamo samo izvještaj o Tominom biografu, koji nije bio prisutan - njegov bijes nadahnuo je četiri viteza da odjašu do obale, otplove brodom za Englesku i suoče se s nadbiskupom. Ovom prilikom nepopustljivost i bijes proizveli su krvavo ubistvo.

Due to a lack of eyewitness evidence or personal letters, it can be difficult for historians to trace the moods and motives of the people about whom they write. But in this case we have abundant evidence, mostly from the biographers of Thomas in the years following his death – and from his own letters. There is rather less on Henry’s side, but even those who knew him well do not attempt to conceal his fierce temper and stubbornness. Only the extreme scenes of his rolling on the floor chewing the rushes and tearing his clothes when in a rage come under suspicion, as they appear rather too close to medical descriptions of madness.

It is easy to portray Henry as the villain of the piece, as some historians have done, describing a king surrounded by “slippery” advisors, “feeling utterly humiliated” and “bawling insults”. This is not in the sources, even the most hostile.

I personally see Henry as a cool and calculating man, prone to occasional disastrous outbursts of temper. Thomas, meanwhile, comes across as determined but resolutely undiplomatic, genuinely spiritual in his exile but ultimately unsure of himself – a man who relied on the advice of his followers at critical moments.

Of course there were high principles and deep politics involved in the quarrel between Henry and Thomas, and there’s no doubt that the issue of both royal and papal authority proved an insoluble problem. But the outcome was exacerbated by the two protagonists. Thomas, despite his sainthood and undeserved martyrdom, is as much at fault as Henry. Indeed, the Norman poet who, in 1169, described Henry as blameless and Thomas as iniquitous, may have more of a point than we know. What should have been an argument – however hotly disputed – conducted between the highest representatives of church and state had become fatally enmeshed in a clash of personalities.

Richard Barber is a historian who has written several books on medieval England, including Edward III i trijumf Engleske (Allen Lane, 2013)


The conflict between Henry II and Thomas a Becket

In the chaos of Stephen's reign there had been little hope of obtaining Justice from any except ecclesiastical courts, which, as a natural consequence, en­croached upon the jurisdiction of the lay courts.

King Henry found that in all cases in which any person was concerned who belonged to the ranks of the clergy, including what was practically the lay fringe of that body, the Church claimed exclusive jurisdiction, and inflicted on clerics penalties which, from the lay point of view, were grotesquely inadequate. Royal expostulations were met by archepiscopal denunciations. The quarrel waxed hot.

The king was determined that the clergy should not be exempted from the due reward of their misdoings. In the Constitutions of Clarendon he propounded a scheme which he professed to regard as expressing the true customs of the kingdom. Becket was induced to promise to accept the customs but not without justification he repudiated the king's view of what those customs were.

Criminous clerks
The clauses in the Constitutions which forbade carrying appeals to Rome and required the higher clergy to obtain a royal licence to leave the kingdom were hardly disputable. But the case for the "customs" broke down when the king claimed that criminous clerks should be handed over to the secular arm for further judgment after the Church had indicted its own penalties.

Becket, however, chose to resist the demand on the ground that a cleric as such was exempt from secular punishment in virtue of his office.

Becket in exile
The barons took the king's side and threatened violence. Becket yielded avowedly to force and nothing else. Having done so he obtained a papal dispensation annulling his promise. The king's indignation was obvious and justifiable. Becket persuaded himself that his life was in danger, as it really may have been and he fled from the country to appeal to the Pope and the king of France.

In the course of the quarrel both sides had committed palpable breaches of the law. Now, with Becket out of the country, diplomacy at Rome, coupled with the logic of facts in England, might have secured the king complete victory but he was tempted to a blunder. He had his eldest son Henry crowned as his successor.

Coronation was a prerogative of the Archbishop of Canterbury the young prince was crowned without him. The Pope threatened to suspend the bishops who had performed the ceremony and to lay the king's continental territories under an interdict. Henry was alarmed and sought a reconciliation with Becket. At a formal meeting in France the quarrel was so far composed that Becket was invited to return in peace to Canterbury.

Becket's Death
He returned, but not in peace. He had hardly landed in England when he excommunicated the bishops who had participated in the coronation ceremony. The news was carried to the king, who was then in the neighbourhood of Bayeux. He burst into a fit of ungovernable rage.

Four knights caught at the words which he uttered in his frenzy, slipped from the court, posted to the sea, and took ship for England, where they at once made for Canterbury. They broke into the archbishop's house and charged him with treason. He flung the charge in their teeth. They withdrew, but only to arm themselves.

The archbishop's chaplains forced him into the cathedral where the vesper service was beginning. As he passed up into the choir the knights burst in with drawn, swords crying,"Where is the traitor? Where is the archbishop?" He turned and advanced to meet them.

"I," he said, "am the servant of Christ whom ye seek." One of them laid hands on him the archbishop flung him off with words of scorn. They cut him down and scattered his brains on the pavement. Then they took horse and departed.

The murder of Becket gave him the victory which otherwise would hardly have been his. Henry's repentance was abject and sincere. Nearly eighteen months passed before he finally came to terms with the Pope he evaded the extremity of submission, making a pretext for delay out of the expedition to Ireland, of which we shall presently speak further.

When he did come to terms he was able to maintain those claims for the independence of the English Crown which had been asserted by his predecessors. But he had to surrender on the question of the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts and no encroachment was made upon those privileges called "Benefit of Clergy" until the dawn of the Reformation.

A History of Britain

This article is excerpted from the book, 'A History of the British Nation', by AD Innes, published in 1912 by TC & EC Jack, London. I picked up this delightful tome at a second-hand bookstore in Calgary, Canada, some years ago. Since it is now more than 70 years since Mr Innes's death in 1938, we are able to share the complete text of this book with Britain Express readers. Some of the author's views may be controversial by modern standards, particularly his attitudes towards other cultures and races, but it is worth reading as a period piece of British attitudes at the time of writing.


New biography of St. Thomas Becket dispels myths with serious scholarship

A review of Fr. John Hogan’s Thomas Becket: Defender of the Church, published by Our Sunday Visitor.

Perhaps the second best-known martyrdom in the history of the Anglophone world is St. Thomas Becket, killed in Canterbury Cathedral during Vespers at the hands of four knights motivated by King Henry II of England’s ranting that the archbishop was a traitor whom he wished to be rid of. That Becket and the king had once been close friends, that Henry wished for one of his allies to become primate of England and that the future martyr’s elevation to that position was followed by his transition to a holier mode of life and by a staunch defense of the Church against royal power are also matters of common knowledge.

Those who have done even cursory research into the topic will be aware that popular perceptions of it include a high proportion of myth, much of it derived from the Jean Anouilh play that bears the martyr’s name and served as the script for the movie starring Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole. But those reading Father John Hogan’s Thomas Becket: Defender of the Church will, unless they have already made a more serious study of that saint’s life, be surprised by the full extent to which the Becket legend is filled with misunderstandings and misrepresentations.

Among the most egregious errors corrected in this book is the one claiming that Becket, despite being a deacon, was sunk in a life of immorality before his selection for the episcopate inspired a dramatic conversion. In reality, the worldliness of Becket’s early life concerned matters of perfection and prudential judgments rather than intrinsically grave sin. His love of luxury and ostentatious magnificence was joined to strict chastity and financial charity for the poor that could be as lavish as his own lifestyle. The real change he underwent after being selected as archbishop was the rejection of minimalism in favor of a seriously devout life. Although, his devout life was grounded in the spiritual formation he had received from his mother during childhood and a basic commitment to Catholicism that had never left him.

Even one of the early Becket’s very real flaws, his willingness to assist encroachment on the autonomy of the Church, is open to exaggeration. The best known conflict between chancellor Becket and England’s Catholic hierarchy concerned a tax that was not new and that did not directly target the Church. What Beckett did do was enforce a neglected law in which landholding knights legally liable to military service could pay a fee for hiring professional substitutes, changed a graduated scale of fees to a flat rate that hit the lesser knights hard and applied the law to lands in the hands of clergymen. Another notable case was grounded in a conflict of jurisdiction between a diocese and an abbey, Becket working on behalf of the latter in obedience to a king intent upon using the issue to weaken episcopal authority.

But even during the years when Becket was most closely cooperating with Henry he was still willing to stand up to him over ecclesial issues. At one point the king, wishing to gain control of Blois, insisted upon a marriage between his cousin and the heiress of the land’s recently deceased ruler—an heiress who was also an abbess entirely opposed to asking for a dispensation from her religious vows and to leaving her convent. When Henry decided to have her kidnapped, Becket condemned him to his face with all the vigor he later showed as primate.

Becket later intervened on behalf of the secretary of John of Salisbury (at the time secretary to Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury) whom Henry had decided to charge with treason. Salisbury was saved, becoming one of the more prominent thinkers of the age, a member of Archbishop Becket’s inner circle and author of one of the martyr’s first biographies. Salisbury’s biography of Becket stressed that the chancellor was commonly at odds with his royal master and concerned about the latter’s more tyrannical tendencies well before there was any question of elevation to the see of Canterbury. True as it is that the Becket chosen to replace Archbishop Theobald was still something of a king’s man, he was hardly the king’s lackey. He also had a background closer to that of men commonly chosen for the episcopate in his day than is usually realized.

The seminary system as we now know it (with precisely delimited courses of studies followed by priestly ordination) was a creation of the reform movements associated with the Council of Trent. In the twelfth century men simply became members of the diocesan clergy, being admitted to the non-sacramental minor orders and then rising based on their education, sanctity, demonstrated abilities and the needs of their dioceses rather than in accordance with any set program.

Both before and during his years as the king’s chancellor, Becket also held the office of archdeacon of Canterbury—a senior diocesan administrative post. Archdeacons often knowing more about running a diocese than many parish clergymen, it was unremarkable for them to be chosen as bishops despite never having been priests. That, his experience as chancellor, and the fact that he was an expert canon lawyer rendered Becket highly qualified for the primate’s duties as an administrator. This role made him responsible for the Church throughout England. His lack of advanced theological training (for which he quickly made up) and his mode of life (which he quickly reformed) meant that he seemed set to be a bureaucratic archbishop rather than either a spiritually zealous or a scandalous one.

Of course, Henry II got a very different new primate than the one he had expected. While telling the true story of their conflict generally involved only the addition of fuller details rather than revising the broad picture, a brief mention of the real roles of Pope Alexander III and King Louis VII of France is in order. The latter did not use Becket as a political pawn but was sincerely sympathetic both to his stand for the Church and to him personally as a man, though he did sometimes compromise his inclinations for political reasons. The former was a reforming pontiff loyal to the program of the great Pope St. Gregory VII, one whose occasional vacillation was motivated by a desire to avoid Henry II dragging England into schism in alliance with the notorious Frederick Barbarossa—who supported a series of anti-popes, periodically conquered parts of Italy and forced Alexander to spend much of his pontificate in exile.

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Henry II of England & Thomas Becket, St. David's - History

The image of Becket’s bloody demise at the hands of four knights from the king’s entourage has been depicted countless times in sculpture, wall painting, stained glass, manuscript illumination and metalwork. In the exhibition you see the shocking scene on flasks sold to pilgrims, on brightly enamelled caskets made to hold Becket’s relics, and even on a stone font made for a parish church as far away as Sweden.

The archbishop’s murder by Reginald Fitzurse, Hugh de Morville, Richard Brito and William de Tracy caused outrage across Europe and continues to fascinate people today. What is astonishing, for an event which took place 850 years ago, is our ability to recount in detail what happened on the day of the crime. In this blog, we track down Becket’s murderers and explore who they were and the mysterious circumstances of their deaths.

How do we know what we know?

Within 20 years of Becket’s death, at least 13 biographies had been written about him. These ‘Lives of St Thomas’ were all composed by men who either knew Becket personally or had close associations with the Church. Five were written by eye-witnesses to the murder, including one by a man named Edward Grim, the only person who came to Becket’s defence when the knights attacked. For his valiant effort to protect the archbishop, he received a sword in the arm during the fracas.

Given their backgrounds and ties to the Church, it is unsurprising that the biographers, on the whole, paint the archbishop in a positive light, while Henry and his knights are the villains of the story. As a younger man, Becket had lived a secular lifestyle enjoying the pursuit of hunting, playing chess, and even on occasion fighting in battles. But despite this, he is routinely presented in the biographies as a model of virtue who was always destined for future saintly glory. In contrast, the four knights are lambasted as ‘men of Belial [the devil]’ and ‘ruffians’, ‘madmen’ and ‘butchers.’

The earliest description of the crime was written by John of Salisbury, an eyewitness and one of the archbishop’s closest advisors. In early 1171, John wrote a letter to his friend, the Bishop of Poitiers, in which he recounted the gory details of the murder and the astonishing miracles taking place at Becket’s tomb. Copies of the letter circulated widely, and John later expanded it into a full biography which was presented to the Pope as part of a campaign to have the archbishop canonised. This took place in February 1173 when Pope Alexander III officially made Becket a saint, one of the fastest canonisations at the time. A copy of John’s eyewitness account can be found in a collection of correspondence related to Becket and Henry’s dispute complied in the wake of the crime, on loan from the British Library. One of the earliest known images of Becket’s murder immediately precedes John’s description in this manuscript. It is a lively and dramatic scene, remarkable for the illuminator’s attention to detail.

In the upper part, Becket is interrupted at dinner by the knights’ arrival at his palace in Canterbury. They wait outside the door while a servant announces them. Below, to the left, having pursued the archbishop into the cathedral, the knights strike him down. Kneeling before his attackers, Becket is hit on the top of his head by the knight carrying a red shield while Edward Grim, who stands behind holding a cross-shaped staff, receives a blow to his arm. Between Becket and the knights, a piece of the archbishop’s bloody severed skull and a fragment from the tip of the murder weapon fall to the ground. This detail of the broken sword can be found in a number of the eyewitness accounts, as Grim states, ‘With this blow, the sword itself was dashed on the pavement.’ Medieval pilgrims to Canterbury were offered the relic of the swordpoint to kiss, in a chapel located on the site of the murder called the Martyrdom.

Who were the murderers?

As news of Becket’s murder spread throughout Europe so too did the notoriety of the four knights. The names Fitzurse, Morville, Brito and Tracy became infamous and they were almost as frequently depicted as Becket himself. All of the knights came from high-standing and land-owning families with close ties to the Crown. Their decision to arrest Becket was no doubt part of a plan to curry favour with the king. When they made their way to Canterbury they did little to conceal their identities or hide in darkness. The archbishop even knew some of the knights personally, greeting Morville by name.

In representations of the event, the numbers of knights present and the way they were depicted varied considerably, but occasionally one of them was marked out. In the illumination above, the red shield of the second knight is decorated with the head of an animal, a visual clue to the man’s identity. The bear’s head is an allusion to the surname of Reginald Fitzurse, which translates as ‘son of the bear’. According to some of Becket’s biographers, Fitzurse was the unofficial leader of the group and the bear’s head was frequently used to single him out. Fitzurse’s prominent role was widely known and medieval pilgrims to Canterbury could even buy and take home a badge in the form of his murder weapon. A surviving scabbard for a souvenir like this includes a small shield embossed with four tiny bears’ heads.

Another pilgrim souvenir names Fitzurse and describes his involvement in the crime. It is a tin-alloy flask made to hold a liquid called St Thomas’s Water, a mixture of Becket’s blood and water, which was dispensed by the Canterbury monks. Front and back are decorated with two scenes, one of Becket enthroned and another of the murder. Around the frame is a Latin inscription that translates as ‘Reginald Fitzurse brought to pass the martyrdom of Thomas.’

A myth debunked

What spurred the knights to action? For many, Becket’s death will forever be linked to the famous phrase supposedly uttered in a rage by Henry II, ‘Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?’. The knights, within earshot of the king, interpreted Henry to be fed up with the archbishop and conspired to deal with Becket once and for all. Taking it upon themselves they hatched a plan, made their way to Canterbury, and the rest is history.

But, while these events are broadly true, the exact words Henry said will never be known for certain his famous phrase can only be traced back as far as the 1700s. Becket’s early biographers attributed a few different phrases to the king and although their accounts differ, the meaning remains clear. Henry, overwhelmed by his anger with Becket, wanted the entire court to hear of his displeasure. Whether or not he wanted anyone to murder the archbishop is impossible to say!

Garnier of Pont-Sainte-Maxence, a French biographer of Becket who travelled to Canterbury to investigate the facts and even interviewed the archbishop’s sister, wrote that Henry said:

A man… who has eaten my bread, who came to my court poor, and I have raised him high – now he draws up his heel to kick me in the teeth! He has shamed my kin, shamed my realm the grief goes to my heart, and no one has avenged me!

Trans Michael Staunton, The Lives of Thomas Becket, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001, p. 189

Although Henry later distanced himself from the knights’ actions, many blamed him for Becket’s death. One of the objects on loan to the exhibition is a font from the parish church of Lyngsjö in southern Sweden. It shows how, in the aftermath of the crime, Henry was seen as its instigator. Made around 1191, the upper half of the bowl shows a scene of Becket’s murder. To the left, the king sits enthroned, named by a scroll reading ‘REX:HRICVS’ (King Henry). He points to a knight, ordering him to join in with the others who have already begun attacking the archbishop.

Crime and punishment

Henry’s appearance on the Lyngsjö font raises the question of what punishment he and the murderers faced for Becket’s death. Following the crime, the knights trashed and looted the archbishop’s palace, probably in search of incriminating evidence which they could use against him. They then made their way to Saltwood Castle, located 15 miles south of Canterbury. From there, they travelled to Knaresborough Castle in Yorkshire, where they stayed for about a year. Surprisingly, the knights faced little initial backlash from the king and appear to have been left in peace during their time in Knaresborough. Behind the scenes however, Henry barred their male heirs from inheriting property – a serious blow.

To absolve themselves, the knights made their way to the Pope in Rome, who commanded them to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. All four are believed to have died either in Jerusalem or on their way there. William de Tracy left us with a final clue to his whereabouts, a surviving charter dating from 1173 to 1174, now in the library and archive of Canterbury Cathedral, issued by him in the Italian city of Cosenza. Desiring forgiveness for his involvement in the murder, he grants gifts to the monks of Canterbury and asks that they pray for his soul.

As for the king, his punishment was light. Two years after Becket’s death, he performed a public penance in the Norman towns of Avranches and Caen. Afterwards, the Pope absolved Henry of any wrongdoing. But the king’s public demonstrations did not end there. In July 1174 he was facing the greatest challenge to his authority yet, a civil war brought about by his sons and their mother, his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. In the midst of this war, he finally visited Canterbury and the resting place of his old adversary. In an astonishing public humiliation, the king walked barefoot through the city and knelt before Becket’s tomb in the Cathedral crypt. He acknowledged his involvement in the crime and was punished by monks. The next day, Henry’s fortunes changed. His men won a decisive battle and his success was widely attributed to the intervention of Saint Thomas of Canterbury.

From then on, Henry adopted Becket as his protector. He made numerous gifts to the cathedral and visited it regularly on pilgrimage. In a royal charter, on loan to the exhibition from Canterbury Cathedral, Henry promises to protect the rights of the Canterbury monks in perpetuity. It came endorsed by his great seal, a magnificent wax image of the king enthroned with sword in one hand and orb in the other.

Despite Henry’s penance and personal endorsement of Becket’s burgeoning cult, he could never escape his association with the murder. A later genealogy of English kings, on loan from the British Library, shows both men locked in a heated argument. Enthroned on the left, Henry presses a finger emphatically into his open palm while the Archbishop raises a hand in disagreement.

Their dispute became the defining feature of the king’s reign, whereas Becket would be raised up as a champion among those who sought a model of opposition to royal tyranny and a defender of the rights of the Church.

Thomas Becket: murder and the making of a saint is open 20 May – 22 August 2021. To find out more about the exhibition and to book tickets visit britishmuseum.org/becket

To find out more about Becket’s life and legacy, read Thomas Becket: the murder that shook the Middle Ages

Buy the richly illustrated catalogue accompanying the exhibition.


The Cult of Thomas Becket: History and Historiography through Eight Centuries

Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury (1120–70) is one of the iconic figures in British history – a man who most people have not only heard of, but also have an opinion on. Yet, despite the brutality of his murder, such opinions are not always positive. In fact, this medieval archbishop is an unusually divisive figure, and always has been. In the 12th century, he was both revered as a saint and dismissed (by his fellow bishop Gilbert Foliot) with the famous line ‘[he] always was a fool and always will be’. More recently, he has been included in lists of both the greatest and the worst Britons of all time. Notably, in 2005, he was runner-up to Jack the Ripper in a BBC History Magazine poll – above King John and Oswald Mosley. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the strength of feeling he is capable of provoking, he has also been the subject of vast quantities of writing in the eight centuries since his death.

Several recent historians, including Anne Duggan and Nicholas Vincent, have produced surveys of this substantial body of literature, but Kay Brainerd Slocum’s The Cult of Thomas Becket: History and Hagiography through Eight Centuries is the first book-length study to focus solely on the myth rather than the man.[i] Her emphasis is on strictly historical texts, and cultural representations (such as T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral) are dealt with in a few brief pages. The strange history of people who have compared themselves to Becket is similarly addressed only in passing – although former FBI director James Comey does earn a mention. Slocum approaches her subject chronologically, beginning with Becket’s murder and continuing through to the present day.

Thus the opening section of the book, ‘Saint and cult’, covers the copious hagiographical, liturgical and iconographical material which was produced in the three centuries after Becket’s murder. Chapter one (‘The creation of St Thomas of Canterbury’) provides brief summaries of the early Becket lives: more than a dozen such biographies were produced between 1171 and 1213, and it is on these writings that most subsequent work about Becket has been based. Chapter two (‘Thirteenth-century translations’) explores slightly later attempts to spread Becket’s cult by translating these biographies into the vernacular, and by stressing aspects of the archbishop’s life which gave him wider appeal – for example, his close relationship with his mother, and his great concern for the poor. The growth of the cult is further examined in chapter three (‘Holy blisful martir: the development of the Becket cult’), which begins with the earliest recorded miracles. Many of these involved the ‘water of St Thomas’ (a mix of water and the martyr’s blood which could be drunk by the sufferer), which was potent, but also controversial, since it echoed the Eucharist a little too closely for comfort. Nevertheless, devotion to the dead archbishop spread rapidly across Europe, aided by the continental marriages of Henry II’s daughters and the efforts of Cistercian monks. Slocum highlights how, even at this early stage, people were prone to find what they needed in the Becket story. He was, for example, particularly appealing to bishops facing their own church-state battles, in countries as far apart as Poland and Iceland.

Chapter four (‘Liturgies, sermons and the translation of 1220’) focuses on the author’s particular speciality: the medieval liturgies dedicated to Thomas Becket, of which over 300 survive.[ii] Drawing heavily on the existing lives, these texts were designed to further develop Becket’s sanctity, by highlighting his key roles: he was a pastor, a defender of the church, a martyr, and an intercessor. Slocum identifies a gradual shift in tone (the earliest liturgies contained more violence, whereas those written for and after the 1220 translation emphasised reconciliation), and argues for the importance of liturgy in spreading the cult. Sermons were also important, allowing oral dissemination of Becket’s saintly and episcopal virtues. Chapter five (‘Becket and iconography’) highlights the wealth of material remains (manuscript illumination, Limoges reliquaries, pilgrim badges and ampullae, seals, and stained glass), and draws attention to recent interdisciplinary studies which draw on these sources.[iii]

Becket’s cult thrived for three centuries after his death. Then came the Reformation, the impact of which is unravelled in chapters six (‘Henry VIII and the spectre of Becket’) and seven (‘Becket as a symbol for the Catholic opposition’). Inevitably, there had been some pre-Reformation criticism of Becket’s cult, notably from 15th-century Lollards. In the early years of the 16th century Erasmus commented unfavourably on the immense wealth of the shrine, and William Tyndale made unfavourable comparisons between Becket and his namesake Cardinal Wolsey. By the 1530s, the archbishop had developed into a major problem for the Henrician Reformation, since he was not only a saint but also a symbol of effective ecclesiastical resistance against the crown. Consequently, destroying the Canterbury shrine and burning Becket’s bones was not enough: the archbishop had to be transformed from saint to traitor, and this was achieved in part by rewriting the story of his death. In this new version of events, Becket was a troublemaker, justly killed after a jurisdictional dispute between Canterbury and York led to a riot. Despite efforts to revive his cult during the brief reign of Mary I (1553–8), the Tudor Becket was (to quote John Foxe’s Knjiga mučenika) ‘not a Martyr, but a stubborn man against his King.’

For Protestants like Foxe, Becket’s popish tendencies and opposition to Henry II made him a traitor, but for early modern English Catholics these were positive attributes. Devotion to the saint survived in recusant communities throughout the period, and he was often linked to more recent martyrs such as Thomas More and Edmund Campion. His experiences as an exile and his willingness to die for his faith enhanced his appeal to Catholic exiles from Reformation England, and in particular to priests trained for missionary work at the English Catholic colleges on the continent. In these institutions, Becket was the subject of artwork, plays, and spiritual exercises, and an inspiration for seminarians who believed that their destiny was to follow in the footsteps of this English martyr.

18th-century interpretations of Becket were less focused on religion, as Slocum outlines in chapter eight (‘Rationalism and the Canterbury martyr’). Most Enlightenment historians saw Henry II as an effective monarch striving to establish good government in an age of superstition, and his actions during the Becket dispute as necessary attempts to maintain order in his kingdom. The archbishop, on the other hand, was a man with many flaws, not least overweening ambition. David Hume (1711–76) wrote disapprovingly of Becket’s ‘violent spirit’, and claimed that his triumphant final return to Canterbury was effectively a declaration of war. In this version of events, the murder in the cathedral was not a martyrdom, but a necessary step towards English freedom from superstition and foreign rule.

Opposition to foreign rule also played an important role in the histories considered in chapter nine (‘Victorian biographers and antiquarians’). During the 19th century, a growing interest in national histories led to a new focus on the question of Becket’s identity: was he a Saxon or a Norman? Some Victorian historians went so far as to reconfigure the Becket dispute as a conflict between an oppressive Norman king and a Saxon priest who wanted only to preserve the rights of the native people. Others argued that Becket must have been on the side of the oppressors, since his penitential practices (particularly his penchant for hair undergarments) were decidedly un-English. Once again, the Protestant-Catholic divide reared its head, as Becket was adopted as one of the figureheads of the Oxford Movement, whilst historians concerned by the rise of Anglo-Catholicism produced strident attacks on the saint. Of the latter group, James Froude (1818–94) was one of the most forthright: his Becket was ‘overbearing, violent, ambitious [and] unscrupulous’, and the church which he defended was ‘saturated with venality’. A less dramatic, but perhaps ultimately more significant, Becket-related enterprise of this period was the production of new editions of the key texts, including the seven-volume Rolls Series edition of the lives and letters.

In the final section of the book, Slocum focuses on ‘Becket in the modern and postmodern world’, and begins by turning her attention to ‘Becket in legal and intellectual history’ (chapter 10). In the late 19th century, the reign of Henry II began to be seen as a key period in English legal history, and consequently the Becket dispute began to be studied in legal terms. This approach survived well into the 20th century, favoured by historians including Z. N. Brooke, C. R. Cheney and Charles Duggan- who reached very different conclusions about whose legal case was stronger. At around the same time, historians such as Beryl Smalley[iv] and Benedicta Ward[v] placed the archbishop in his intellectual context, the former by looking at the influence of the Schools and the latter by focusing on medieval understandings of the miracles.

Recent decades have also seen the publication of numerous biographies of Becket, and Slocum surveys these in chapter 11 (‘Biographies of the Canterbury martyr in the twentieth and twenty-first century’). In broad terms, she sees the first half of the 20th century as a period of continuing nationalism, when Becket was either an English Christian hero, or a vain and ambitious man who overreacted in the face of Henry II’s moderate demands. Since the 1950s, there has been a turn towards ‘psychological interpretation’, with biographers such as David Knowles, Anne Duggan and John Guy paying increasing attention to Becket’s personality and its impact on the dispute. The last few decades have seen yet more new approaches, as summarised in chapter 12 (‘Becket scholarship in the postmodern world and beyond’): contemporary historians have approached the man and the dispute through prisms including gender and sexuality, anger and conflict studies, friendship, and medievalism. In doing so, they have addressed topics ranging from Becket’s sex life (or lack thereof) to his horses.

Ultimately, the Becket who emerges from these pages is, in Slocum’s words, ‘a kaleidoscopic personality’, a man who has been constantly reconfigured into new shapes to suit the beliefs and agendas of those who have written about him. Indeed, one of the greatest strengths of this book is that it highlights just how malleable a figure Becket is, and how it is possible to project almost anything onto him- a quality which both explains the enduring interest in his story, and raises interesting questions about the ways medieval history has been used for modern purposes. For those who are familiar with the medieval Becket, but who know little about the ways in which his story has subsequently been adapted and exploited, this is an eye-opening read.

The other enigma in this volume is the author: what Slocum thinks about this material, and the questions it raises, is not entirely clear. Which of the interpretations she describes does she find credible, and/or worth further investigation? If all (or at least most) of these theories have emerged from the same set of 12th-century biographies, what does that tell us about that original set of texts? She shows that the medieval cult of Becket was Europe-wide, but also states that (prominent exceptions such as Raymonde Foreville notwithstanding) the historiography is primarily in English: if interest in Becket was so widespread in the middle ages, when and why did it shrink? And where will Becket studies go next? Even allowing for the fact that this is a historiographical survey, it would be useful to have a stronger sense of why Slocum thinks this material matters, perhaps in a more substantial conclusion.

Overall, however, this a clear and wide-ranging survey of a vast number of texts. With a study of this kind, it is perhaps inevitable that some readers will wish that there had been room for other things: a summary of the non-English historiography, perhaps, or more detailed consideration of the work of a particular author. Nevertheless, this is a valuable addition to the ever-growing literature on Thomas Becket, and a very useful introduction to that literature. With the 850 th anniversary of his martyrdom coming up in 2020, there will undoubtedly be a further flurry of publications about Becket in the next few years, and it will be interesting to see what new forms the martyr takes. Based on what Slocum tells us about past histories, one thing seems certain: these new interpretations will tell us as much about twenty-first century priorities and interests as they do about the man himself.

[i] Anne Duggan, Thomas Becket (London, 2004), pp. 224-52 Nicholas Vincent, ‘Thomas Becket’ in G. Atkins (ed.), Making and Remaking Saints in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Manchester, 2011), pp. 92-111

[ii] See Kay Brainerd Slocum, Liturgies in Honour of Thomas Becket (Toronto, 2004).

[iii] Especially Paul Binski, Becket’s Crown: Art and Imagination in Gothic England, 1170-1300 (New Haven, CT, 2004) and the work of Rachel Koopmans, including her Wonderful to Relate: Miracles Stories and Miracle Collecting in the High Middle Ages (Philadelphia, PA, 2011).

[iv] Beryl Smalley, The Becket Conflict and the Schools: A Study of Intellectuals in Politics (Oxford, 1973)

[v] Benedicta Ward, Miracles and the Medieval Mind: Theory, Record and Event, 1000-1215 (Philadelphia, PA,1982), pp. 89-109


Constitutions of Clarendon

The Pope in Rome was horrified when they heard the news that Henry had destroyed St. Thomas Becket's Shrine. On 17 December 1538, the Pope excommunicated Henry VIII from the Catholic church.

In 1539 the Corporation of the City of London changed its Common Seal. It used to bear on its reverse side an image of Thomas Becket. This was removed: from then on this became a shield of the City Arms.

It has been estimated that bullion, plate and other treasures worth over ٟ million, including spoils from the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury, were sent to the Mint [Tower of London] between 1536 and 1540 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, to be melted down.

It had been suggested that, as long as the name of St. Thomas of Canterbury should remain in the calendar, men would be stimulated by his example to brave the ecclesiastical authority of their sovereign. The king's attorney was therefore instructed to exhibit an information against him and "Thomas Becket, some time archbishop of Canterbury," was formally cited to appear in court and answer to the charge.

The Nineteenth Century and After. Volume 60. Henricus R versus Thomas Becket by E. Taunton: Leonard Scott Publishing Company. 1906. p. 1003.

Ethelred Luke Taunton (1906). Henricus R. Versus Thomas Becket. Periodical: The Nineteenth Century and After (Volume 60). pp. 1003–.

Christopher Morgan and Andrew Alderson wrote an article published in the Sunday Times (UK) on June 22nd 1997 entitled "Becket's bones kept secretly at Canterbury for 450 years".

Benedictine martyrs of Reformation (d. 1539) (blessed)
This is a group of three English Benedictine abbots with several other monks who were executed for resisting Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries. They were Richard Whiting, abbot of Glastonbury, Hugh Faringdon of Reading, and John Beche of Colchester. Among the 'incriminating' documents Whiting possessed was a life of Thomas Becket he was hanged, drawn and quartered on Glastonbury Tor, along with his treasurer and sacristan. The other two were also executed. They were beatified as martyrs in 1895. It is interesting, though, to note that none of them rejected the Oath of Supremacy they seem to have been fighting to keep their monasteries rather than out of opposition to Henry's rejection of papal supremacy.

Conjectured pictures of Becket's Shrine



By J. Cole

Dudley (?) - Watercolour - "Reconstruction of the Shrine of St. Thomas Becket, Canterbury Cathedral", 10ins x 7.75ins, indistinct signed and dated 1969, with inscription to reverse indicating "The Original Drawing for Christian Canterbury City of Pilgrims", in gilt moulded frame and glazed


Pogledajte video: Why Henry II Murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket. Britains Bloodiest Dynasty. Timeline (Januar 2022).