Profile for Thomas Becket from The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge, #1) (page 1)
Today in History: “Troublesome priest” Thomas Becket, murdered (1170)
Murder of Thomas Becket
In , Thomas Becket , the Archbishop of Canterbury was involved in a dispute over land. Henry II ordered Becket to appear before his courts. When Becket refused, the king confiscated his property. Becket denied the charge but, so that the matter could be settled quickly, he offered to repay the money. Henry refused to accept Becket's offer and insisted that the Archbishop should stand trial.
He is venerated as a saint and martyr by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He engaged in conflict with Henry II, King of England , over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral. The main sources for the life of Becket are a number of biographies written by contemporaries. A few of these documents are by unknown writers, although traditional historiography has given them names. Besides these biographies, there is also the mention of the events of Becket's life in the chroniclers of the time. Becket was born about ,  or in according to later tradition.
British Broadcasting Corporation Home. Thomas Becket was born in around , the son of a prosperous London merchant. He was well educated and quickly became an agent to Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, who sent him on several missions to Rome. Becket's talents were noticed by Henry II, who made him his chancellor and the two became close friends. When Theobald died in , Henry made Becket archbishop. Becket transformed himself from a pleasure-loving courtier into a serious, simply-dressed cleric. The king and his archbishop's friendship was put under strain when it became clear that Becket would now stand up for the church in its disagreements with the king.
Henry II and Becket may have wrestled over the power of the church, but their murderous dispute was chiefly fuelled by a clash of personalities, according to Richard Barber
south beach before and after
Thomas was born to Norman parents of the merchant class. He was educated first at the Augustinian Merton Priory, then in a London school, and finally at Paris. Deeply influenced in childhood by a devout mother who died when he was 21, Thomas entered adult life as a city clerk and accountant in the service of the sheriffs. After three years he was introduced by his father to Archbishop Theobald , a former abbot of Bec, of whose household he became a member. His contemporaries described Thomas as a tall and spare figure with dark hair and a pale face that flushed in excitement. His memory was extraordinarily tenacious and, though neither a scholar nor a stylist, he excelled in argument and repartee. He made himself agreeable to all around him, and his biographers attest that he led a chaste life—in this respect uninfluenced by the king.
When at the age of 21 Henry became king, Becket became his Chancellor. The exception to this was the Church, which had its own courts and own laws. The worst that could happen here was to be issued with a severe penance or exceptionally, expulsion defrocking from the priesthood. Much of the power in the country at that time was enjoyed and exploited by the rich bishops and abbots of the Church. And, whilst the Church swore loyalty to the king, they also insisted that their true allegiance was to God and his earthly representative, the Pope in Rome.