Henry II and Thomas a Becket
Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, is probably best known in history for did not help matters that both Henry II and Becket had such strong, the turbulence of Henry II and Becket's relationship was unprecedented. How a complex relationship degenerated, by Dr Mike Ibeji. Thomas Becket in stained glass at Canterbury Cathedral The murder of Thomas Becket and his subsequent martyrdom has so overshadowed the reign of Henry II that it is often . He bullied and cajoled, he even threatened to support the Holy. Start studying Why did the relationship between Henry II and Thomas Becket Becket expelled a bishop without permission and agrees to support the king.
Yet Henry could not resolve the dispute in his own favour either. He bullied and cajoled, he even threatened to support the Holy Roman Emperor's anti-pope if Pope Alexander III did not decide in his favour, but Becket had a large international network of friends to support him, and he was essentially the 'good guy' in the dispute. Throughout, one phrase keeps on recurring - at each of the attempts to reconcile the two, Becket would find himself faced with a formula that would not quite get him off the hook and took refuge in the get-out clause: In this way, he constantly avoided tying the Church to any formula the King's men could come up with.
It was not a popular reconciliation.
Henry II and Thomas a Becket
Henry the Younger himself refused to meet Becket when he arrived at Windsor. Becket himself was now in a delicate position. He needed to recover his authority in England and avoid becoming a yes-man of the king.
On his arrival in England, he immediately excommunicated his old ecclesiastical enemies, including the Archbishop of York who had crowned Henry the Younger. When this news was brought to him in his Christmas court at Bures in Normandy, Henry exploded and is said to have uttered the words: Led by one Reginald fitz Urse, they slipped across the Channel to Canterbury, where they tried to force Becket to return with them and face the King's wrath.
He refused and they retired to bed. Next morning, while he was leading morning mass, they attempted to drag him out of the cathedral, and he resisted. It was during this struggle that he received a blow on the head which seems to have tipped the whole thing over into violence and the four knights fell on him with their swords. He died later that afternoon on 29 December His enemies clamoured for Henry's excommunication and the outrage against the murder almost precipitated a war.
The murder of Thomas Becket lost Henry the main argument.
Becket became an instant martyr, and the international opprobrium poured upon Henry's head may well have been one reason why he chose to cross to Ireland in though the Irish crisis was in itself a very real incentive. Contemporary chroniclers label Henry a murderer, his enemies clamoured for the King's excommunication and the outrage against the murder almost precipitated a war. Through all of this, Pope Alexander negotiated a very measured path, excommunicating the four knights involved and prohibiting Henry from taking mass until he had made reparation for his sin.
He also sent two papal legates over to England to negotiate these reparations. It was a canny move. With Becket out of the way, the Pope recognised that there was an opportunity for proper reconciliation between King and Church, and was careful not to overexploit the advantage which Henry's contrition provided him. It is indicative of the maturity of Alexander's policy that he did not insist upon a repudiation of the Constitutions of Clarendon before allowing Henry to purge himself of the murder.
Instead, they agreed on a formula which allowed Henry to renounce the Constitutions without seeming to. On Sunday 21 MayHenry performed a ceremony of public penance at Avranches cathedral, where he swore: On the face of it, Henry lost little by this compromise.
He could still appoint bishops, he was unlikely ever to interfere in ecclesiastical appeals to the Pope, and he was also able to tie the clergy to Forest Law. But like the Constitutions themselves, the implications of his agreement were enormous in principle.
BBC Bitesize - KS3 History - Thomas Becket and Henry II - Revision 2
The letter to the king stressed that the pope had forbidden the archbishop from escalating the dispute until the legates had decided the issues, and that the legates were to absolve the excommunicated once they arrived in England.
The letter to the archbishop, however, stressed that the pope had begged the king to restore Becket to Canterbury, and instead of commanding Becket to refrain from further escalation, merely advised the archbishop to restrain himself from hostile moves. Meanwhile, John of Oxford had returned to England from a mission to Rome, and was proclaiming that the legates were to depose Becket, and supposedly showed papal letters confirming this to Foliot.
The pope wrote to the papal legates complaining that John of Oxford's actions had harmed the pope's reputation, but never claimed that John of Oxford was lying.
BBC - History - British History in depth: Becket, the Church and Henry II
Neither Becket nor Henry were disposed to settle, and the pope needed Henry's support too much to rule against him, as the pope was engaged in a protracted dispute with the German emperor, and needed English support. After some discussion and argument, Henry appears to have agreed that the legates could judge both the king's case against Becket as well as the bishops' case. Henry also offered a compromise on the subject of the Constitutions of Clarendon, that the legates accepted.
As the legates had no mandate to compel Becket to accept them as judges, the negotiations came to an end with the king and bishops still appealing to the papacy. Becket Leaves, folio 2r. Becket did this even though none of them had been warned, and despite the fact that the pope had asked that Becket not make any such sentences until after a pending embassy to King Henry had ended.
Foliot then prepared to appeal his sentence to the pope in person, and travelled to Normandy in late June or early July, where he met the king, but proceeded no further towards Rome, as the papacy was attempting once more to secure a negotiated settlement. The only requirement of this absolution was that Foliot accept a penance to be imposed by the pope.
Becket and his supporters pointed out that there were some situations in which it was possible to excommunicate without warning,  but Foliot claimed that the present situation was not one of them.
According to Foliot, Becket's habit was "to condemn first, judge second". Coronation of Prince Henry, and the grand banquet that followed. Becket Leaves, folio 3r. Becket returns to England. He is welcomed by the ordinary people, but the king's men threaten him. Becket Leaves, folio 4v. Included among those royal clerks were some of Becket's most bitter foes during his exile.
Roger persuaded the other two to appeal to the king, then in Normandy.CATHOLIC CHURCH - Exemplary Excommunication / From the film Becket
When they did so, the royal anger at the timing of the excommunications was such that it led to Henry uttering the question often attributed to him: It was only in that new bishops were finally appointed. He also agreed to eliminate all customs to which the Church objected. In return, the king managed to secure good relations with the papacy at a time when he faced rebellions from his sons.
The king then offered gifts to Becket's shrine and spent a vigil at Becket's tomb. Becket Henry's carousing chum and chief administrator was a cleric by the name of Thomas a Becket. When the See of Canterbury fell empty in Henry convinced a very reluctant Becket to become the new Archbishop. Henry II and Thomas a Becket Henry, of course, assumed that his friend would be sympathetic to the royal cause in the escalating battle between church and state.
Thomas underwent a change of character as Archbishop. He was ostentatiously severe and strict in his observance of church law. He wore a penitential hair shirt under his vestments, and had his underlings flog him frequently.
More importantly, he opposed Henry over the question of the supremacy of ecclesiastical courts. See The Constitutions of Clarendon Criminous Clerks At that time anyone in orders could only be tried in church courts. In practice, the number of clerics was huge, including several levels of lay priests and clerks.
Henry, anxious to assert the power of royal justice, claimed that the "criminous clerks" should be tried in royal courts. To his surprise, Becket refused to agree. They eventually were reconciled with the aid of the pope, and Becket returned.