BBC - History - British History in depth: Becket, the Church and Henry II
His critics also feared that as Becket was a close friend of Henry II, he would not be an If a controversy arise between laymen, or between laymen and clerks. The conflict between Henry II and Thomas a Becket in British history, the full text of A History of the British Nation, by AD Innes. How a complex relationship degenerated, by Dr Mike Ibeji. At its heart lies a personal dispute between Henry II, who felt betrayed by his.
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.
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.
Becket controversy - Wikipedia
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.
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.
BBC Bitesize - KS3 History - Thomas Becket and Henry II - Revision 2
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. 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. He had thrown himself into the job as Henry's chancellor with gusto, now he would do the same thing with the Church. He gave notice of this by resigning the chancellorship, much to everyone's surprise. Top Religious wrangling The crunch came with Henry's attempts to deal with the problem of 'criminous clerks'. About one in six of the population of England were clergymen, many of whom were not ordained to the priesthood.
These lay clergy could claim the right to be tried in ecclesiastical courts like their ordained brethren, where they would invariably receive a more lenient sentence than if tried in the criminal courts of the land. For Henry, the problem was part and parcel of the need to restore order after the chaos of the tempus werre a term coined by the medieval chroniclers to describe the time of war and anarchy which marked the civil war between Stephen and Matildabut for Becket, the King's concern over criminous clerks was a question of clerical immunity from secular jurisdiction.
The problem was brought to a head by cases such as that of Philip de Brois, a canon of Bedford who was acquitted in the court of the Bishop of Lincoln of the charge of murdering a knight. For three days, the bishops refused to sign as Henry ranted and railed at them. The Sheriff of Bedford attempted to re-open the case in the Royal court, and was furiously abused by Philip.
Henry angrily demanded justice on the charge of homicide and on an additional charge of contempt. Becket attempted to solve the problem by banishing Philip, but the whole affair merely showed up the woeful inadequacy of canon law in punishing robbers and murderers.
Henry sought to solve this by proposing that clergy convicted of such serious crimes in the ecclesiastical courts should be deprived of the protection of the Church and handed over to the secular authorities for punishment. It was a neat compromise, but though innocuous on the face of it, it contained the central implication that a man handed over to criminal law was no longer a clerk, undermining the whole basis of clerical immunity. This was why Becket could not accept it, and in this he was unanimously supported by his bishops.
- Thomas Becket and Henry II
- Henry II and Thomas a Becket
- Becket, the Church and Henry II
In fact, it is highly likely that Theobald would not have agreed to this either. The letters of his clerk, John of Salisbury, tell of a case involving the murder of the Archbishop of York which Theobald dragged back from the criminal courts into ecclesiastical jurisdiction against Henry's will. After several months of wrangling, both sides met at the Council of Clarendon in January to discuss the issue.
There, Henry presented the bishops with the infamous Constitutions of Clarendon, a list of 16 clauses defining the relationship between secular and canon law of which clause 3 explicitly outlines the criminous clerks proposal. It was a closely worded document drawn up by Henry's legal hot-shots and was a deliberate attempt to wrong-foot the bishops into committing to something they had not previously agreed. Then, out of the blue, Becket told the bishops they had no choice but to give in.
The conflict between Henry II and Thomas a Becket
Why he chose this option is unclear. Becket's own letters say that he opposed the Constitutions in his name only in order to divert the King's wrath from the bishops. This is as good an explanation as any. The king was incandescent. This, in his eyes, was the ultimate act of treachery and he was determined to exact revenge. He tried to forestall Becket's action by getting the Constitutions ratified by the pope, but the pope prevaricated. Now the dispute entered a malevolent stage in which Henry was out to get Becket any way he could.
In Octoberhe had Becket condemned on trumped-up charges of contempt of court over a land dispute in Pagham, and ruled that the archbishop should forfeit all his goods.Henry II and Thomas Becket: The Murder Of Thomas Becket
Henry exploded and is said to have uttered the words: In another piece of theatre, Becket began the day with the quote at morning mass: Archbishop and King sat in separate rooms as the bishops and barons shuffled between them. When the Council delivered its verdict, Becket refused to hear it, maintaining that they had no right to judge him. That night, he slipped away and fled to exile in France. We should be careful not to get the Becket dispute out of all proportion. As it dragged on with claim and counter-claim throughout the yearsHenry had many other overwhelming things on his mind.
Yet it continued to crop up at most international summits as people tried to come up with a formula that would heal the rift between them. Becket himself was under incredible pressure to conform.
Not only was he in exile at the French court, but all his money and lands had been sequestered and at least of his dependants were thrown out of the country also. 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 the Younger himself refused to meet Becket when he arrived at Windsor.