He was born in 1118 and educated in England, France and Italy. In 1154 he was given the job of chancellor during the reign of King Henry II. He worked hard for the King and they became close friends.When the Archbishop of Canterbury died, King Henry chose his friend to take his place. Becket now had the most important religious position in England; Archbishop of Canterbury.
Becket changed his whole way of life when he became Archbishop and took his new position very seriously.After a while the king became concerned with the increase in crime and the ease at which people were being tried in the church court instead of the royal court. The church court often just handed out “spiritual punishment.” This angered the king who made a law that if you were found guilty in church court you could be punished in the royal court.
This conflict between the King and Archbishop was difficult. People didn’t know who to side with the King or the Church.Becket refused to follow this new law and left England.Becket later returned to England while King Henry was in France. Becket excommunicated several churchmen who supported the King.King Henry was furious !
Four of the King’s knights went to find Beckett. The knights arrived in Canterbury on Dec 29, 1170. They demanded Becket to give pardons to all he excommunicated. Becket refused and the knights violently killed him with their swords.
Christians were shocked to hear of Thomas Becket’s death. He became a symbol of Christian resistance to a King. There is a shrine in his honor in Canterbury
“There are two principles by whichthe world is ruled: the authority of priests and the royal power. The authority of priest is greater because God will demand an accounting of them even in regard to kings” – Becket