Henry II the constitution of clarendon and thomas becket masterPresentation Transcript
I.M.S. “P. Virgilio Marone” Avellino A REVERSE GRAND TOUR PON C1 FSE 2010-2246 Henry II and Becket
Henry II & Becket ‘ Murder in the Cathedral’
Who was Henry II of England ?
Grandson of Henry I, son of Empress Matilda and Geoffrey of Anjou
Became King at the age of 21 in 1154, having married Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152 (she was 31, he was 19)
Was King, 1154-1189
Had five sons (William, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey, John) and three daughters (Joan, Matilda, Eleanor)
Ruler of a huge empire including England, parts of Ireland, extensive possessions in France
Angevin family & empire …
Who was Thomas Becket ?
son of a London merchant, Gilbert Beket
educated in a London grammar school and in Paris, before working as an accountant for a relative in London
junior member of Archbishop Theobald’s household
was Royal Chancellor from 1155-1162
appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, June 1162
Becket’s early career …
Upwardly mobile son of a London merchant – owed his advancement mainly to connections and kinship
Perhaps a typical example of the potential social advancement open to townspeople in Angevin England
Learned Canon Law in Bologna, was only created a deacon in 1555
Job as Chancellor did not make Becket a great man, but did bring him into regular contact with the King – he was an ambassador, diplomat and advisor
1558 visited Louis VII of France on Henry’s behalf
3 June 1562 – Becket consecrated Archbishop, the day after being ordained a priest !
Why did Henry want Becket as Archbishop ?
The most obvious candidate as Archbishop was Gilbert Foliot (Hereford), but he was difficult to get on with …
Henry, Bishop of Winchester was too old, and associated with the previous reign
Becket had the support of the now dead Theobald
Becket was well placed to serve the young Prince Henry whom Henry II wanted to have crowned as King of England
Henry believed that Becket would control the growing rights and powers of the Church – after all he owed his position as Chancellor and now Archbishop to Henry …
Basis of the Quarrel …1
By the autumn of 1163, Henry II had three main grievances he wanted sorted out …
- clerics were being protected from secular punishments
- clerics were punishing ordinary people for moral offences
- the Church was disregarding ancient customs and conventions between Crown and Church
Henry had ambitions to reform and reconstruct the legal system and Royal administration in England – he saw Becket’s opposition on the above points as a betrayal of his debt and position as both Chancellor and Archbishop
Basis of the Quarrel …2
Previous English kings – e.g. William I – had tried to set the boundaries – in the end, King and bishops worked to bolster each other’s authority, but if there was a dispute the King had the last say …
However, during Stephen’s reign, the church had encroached on royal cases – e.g. land disputes, and Henry felt many clerics were getting away with lenient punishment for secular crimes
Becket saw himself as protecting the rights of the Church against the secular power, but many Bishops distrusted his motives and competence. It may be that their basis for this was regarding him as an unsuitable leader … perhaps Becket saw he needed to separate himself from the King’s influence ?
Constitutions of Clarendon …
Henry required the Bishops and clergy to agree to the customs and privileges that Henry I had observed – Becket, under pressure from Henry II, ordered the Bishops to sign but when the 16 articles had been drawn up he himself refused to sign – why ?
Henry was trying to bring the Church under his control and turn what had previously been customs into rules and regulations – no previous king had required the clergy to sign up to customs of the realm
Many of the clergy started to leave Becket’s service when he refused to sign …
Constitutions of Clarendon …
Clause 3: any cleric accused of a felony crime had to appear in a Royal court to answer charges – the Royal Court would decide where he had to face trial. If found guilty in a bishop’s court, then the cleric would no longer be able to claim ‘benefit of clergy’ – he would be removed from Holy Orders, rearrested and sent to the King’s court for a secular penalty.
Clause 7: barons and royal officials were immune from excommunication without prior royal assent
Clause 11: all clergy who held land from the King owed the King all the usual feudal duties
Clause 12: Crown had the right to custody of vacant bishoprics and abbeys
The quarrel deepens …(1)
Oct. 1164 – Becket summoned to Northampton having failed to attend a Royal summons to answer a land dispute
When he won the land case against John Marshal, the King seemed determined to want to ruin Becket
Henry accused Becket of financial misdemeanours whilst Chancellor, and of denying the Clarendon Constitutions
The quarrel deepens …(2)
The Bishops wanted a swift end to the rift so urged Becket to submit for the good of the Church
Becket was accused of perjury and treachery
Becket left the Court amid recriminations on both sides, fleeing from Lincoln to Sandwich and on to Flanders.
He would not set foot in England again until 1170.
Becket in exile, 1164-70
Becket settled at Pontigny and began a propaganda campaign against Henry – he offered his resignation to Pope Alexander III but it was refused – clear Papal backing
Henry retaliated by attacking the clerics and families who supported Becket, seizing their lands
1166 – Becket was made Papal legate, and he excommunicated all the nobles and clerics who supported the Clarendon Constitutions
Eventually in Jan 1169 a meeting was held at Montmirail – Becket threw himself on Henry’s mercy but added the condition ‘saving the honour of God’ – the conference broke up in confusion
Becket excommunicated the bishops of London and Salisbury, and some of the King’s court
Henry retaliated with forbidding communication with Becket, and threatening imprisonment for Becket’s supporters
An outbreak of peace …?
Henry had lost patience with Becket – he ordered the Archbishop of York to crown his son Henry – a direct challenge to Becket’s primacy
Henry offered to make peace with Becket, let him return to Canterbury and allow him to re-crown his son
Becket and Henry met at Fr éteval – the kiss of peace was not insisted on by Becket, and the Constitutions not mentioned.
For now peace reigned, but for how long once Becket returned to England to confront his opponents ?
A peace broken …
Becket excommunicated the bishops of London and Salisbury, and the Archbishop of York.
The Bishops complained to Henry at his Christmas court in Normandy
They claimed Becket was travelling round the country with armed men in tow, taking revenge on his opponents
Henry exploded – He is supposed to have said, ‘Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?’ Four knights took him at his word and rushed to Canterbury to sort Becket out.
‘ Murder in the Cathedral’ … 1
Four of Henry’s knights left the court in Normandy – William de Tracy, Reginald fitzUrse, Hugh de Morville and Richard le Bret – bound for Canterbury and a confrontation with Becket.
They did not have a plan – maybe they were going to threaten Becket, take him prisoner, or bully him into reversing all the excommunications, or were they working for Henry at his command ?
‘ Murder in the Cathedral’ … 2
The 4 knights entered Canterbury cathedral at 3pm.
They were offered food but a violent argument started – the knights tried to arrest Becket but stormed out shouting threats at him.
Shortly afterwards they forced their way back into the cathedral armed … Becket refused to hide, and confronted the men.
fitzUrse seized Becket and in the struggle he was hit by a sword
Becket called fitzUrse a whoremaster, and was then struck again on the head – the eyewitness Edward Grim had his arm cut in the process
Eventually Becket’s head was split open and the knights fled the scene saying they were the King’s men.
A saint ?
Becket was not initially seen as a martyr – in the eyes of many he died as a traitor, resisting arrest for his crimes. But, when his body was being prepared for burial, the undergarments of hair shirt etc marked him out as a godly and pious man. People, particularly other clerics, began to see him in a different light.
His biographers present him as being ready for death – they say he could have fled the cathedral, shut the doors or hidden.
The cult of Becket took little time to come to light – several people claimed to have been healed through contact with his blood, and there was a flood of ‘miracles’ around Easter time. Canterbury became the target of pilgrimages.
All this led to Innocent III being petitioned to canonise Becket – he was made a saint in 1173.
Winners and losers …
Henry II was not excommunicated
The four knights were not arrested or punished
Henry had to give way on
- free elections to bishoprics
- clerical trials in the royal courts
- appropriating the income and lands of vacant church estates and abbeys
In 1174, Henry had to do penance, barefoot, at the tomb of Becket in Canterbury.
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