Henry II and Thomas a Becket
The Becket controversy or Becket dispute was the quarrel between Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and King Henry II of England, from to . In , Henry II, king of England, appointed Thomas Becket, as Archbishop of He also had an excellent relationship with Henry, and he did not want to spoil. Henry II and the murder of Thomas a Becket. Part of the English History guide from Britain Express.
Although Becket was not ordered back to England as the king's envoys requested, neither was the king ordered to back down. Instead, Becket went into exile at Pontigny. Afterward, the king confiscated all the benefices of the archbishop's clerks, who had accompanied him into exile. The king also ordered the exile of Becket's family and servants.
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He engaged in a series of letter exchanges with Gilbert Foliotthe Bishop of Londonwho was also the recipient of letters from the pope. Becket continued to attempt to resolve the dispute, but Alexander ordered the archbishop to refrain from provoking the king before spring Neither Foliot nor Henry had any great desire to settle with Becket quickly.
Henry ignored the initial warning letters, but Becket's position was strengthened by the grant to Becket of the status of a papal legate to England, dated on 2 May The council sent letters both to the pope and to Becket, appealing against the excommunications.
After the dispatch of these letters, letters from the archbishop were delivered to Foliot, ordering him to publicize Becket's decisions, and disallowing any appeal to the papacy against the archbishop's sentences.
Foliot and the bishops then once again sent letters to the papacy, probably from Northampton on 6 July. Although the Order did not exactly expel Becket from Potigny, a delegation of Cistercians did meet with Becket, pointing out that while they would not throw him out, they felt sure that he would not wish to bring harm to the Order.
Becket then secured aid from the king of France, who offered a sanctuary at Sens. Although later writers on both sides of the controversy claimed that there was to be no appeal from the legates' decisions, nowhere in the documents announcing their appointment was any such limitation mentioned. Alexander wrote two letters, one to each of the main combatants.
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.
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.
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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.
Thomas Becket - History Learning Site
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. 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. They enjoyed hunting, playing jokes and socialising together. Becket was known to be a lover of wine and a good horse rider. Henry II loved to ride as well but his personality was troubled by his fearsome temper. He tried to keep his temper under control by working very hard as it distracted him from things that might sparked off his temper. Henry II also controlled a lot of France at this time.
William the Conqueror had been his great-grandfather and he had inherited his French territories as a result of this. When Henry was in France sorting out problems there, he left Becket in charge of England — such was his trust in him. When the Archbishop of Canterbury died inHenry saw the chance to give his close friend even more power by appointing him Archbishop of Canterbury — the most important church position in England.
Why would Henry do this? Church courts usually gave out easier punishments to churchmen who had done wrong. Henry believed that this undermined his authority. As king, he was concerned that England was becoming too lawless — there was too much crime. He believed that Church courts did not set a good example as they were too soft on offenders. For example, a royal court would blind or cut off the hand of a thief; a Church court might send a thief on a pilgrimage.
Henry hoped that by appointing his good friend Becket, he might have more of a say in how the Church punished offenders. He hoped that Becket would do as he wished and toughen up the sentences passed out by Church courts.
Becket did not want the job. As chancellor, he was as powerful as he wished to be. He also had an excellent relationship with Henry, and he did not want to spoil this. His letter was indeed to become prophetic. The post of Archbishop changed Becket.
Becket, the Church and Henry II
He dropped his luxurious lifestyle; he ate bread and drank water, he had a luxury bed but preferred to sleep on the floor; he wore the rich clothes of an archbishop, but underneath the fine tunics he wore a horse hair shirt — very itchy and unpleasant to wear. He gave his expensive food to the poor. Inthe first sign of a split between Henry and Thomas occurred.
Henry passed a law which stated that any person found guilty in a Church court would be punished by a royal court.