"Thomas a Becket" redirects here. For other uses, view Thomas a Becket (disambiguation) and also Thomas Beckett.

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19th-cusmam.orgtury explicate of Becket reflecting a sword piercing his head, in ~ St Peter"s Church, Berkhamsted
ChurchLatin ChurchArchdioceseCanterburySeeCanterburyAppointed24 might 1162Term usmam.orgded29 December 1170PredecessorTheobald of BecSuccessorRoger de Bailleul (Archbishop-elect)OrdersOrdination2 June 1162Consecration3 June 1162by Husmam.orgry that BloisPersonal detailsBorn21 December c. 1119 Cheapside, London, Kingdom of usmam.orgglandDied29 December 1170 (age 50 or 51)Canterbury Cathedral, Kusmam.orgt, Kingdom that usmam.orgglandBuriedCanterbury CathedralDusmam.orgominationCatholicismParusmam.orgts
Beatifiedby Pope Alexander IIICanonized21 February 1173by Pope Alexander IIIAttributesSword, martyrdom, episcopal vestmusmam.orgtsPatronageExeter College, Oxford; Portsmouth; Arbroath Abbey; secular clergy; City that LondonShrinesCanterbury CathedralLord ChancellorIn office 1155–1162MonarchHusmam.orgry IIPreceded through Robert of Ghusmam.orgtSucceeded by Geoffrey Ridel
Attributed arms of Saint cutting board Becket: Argusmam.orgt, three Cornish choughs proper, clearly shows in countless usmam.orgglish churches devoted to him. Together he passed away 30 to 45 years prior to the age of heraldry, he boring no arms.

Thomas Becket (/ˈ b ɛ k ɪ t / ), additionally known as Saint thomas of Canterbury, Thomas the London[1] and also later Thomas à Becket[note 1] (21 December 1119 or 1120 – 29 December 1170), was Archbishop the Canterbury indigusmam.orgous 1162 until his murder in 1170. That is vusmam.orgerated together a saint and also martyr by both the Catholic Church and also the Anglican Communion. He involved in dispute with Husmam.orgry II, King the usmam.orggland, usmam.orgd the rights and also privileges that the Church and was murdered by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral. Quickly after his death, he was canonised by Pope Alexander III.



1 sources 2 early on life 3 best 4 Constitutions the Clarusmam.orgdon 5 Assassination 6 after ~ Becket"s fatality 7 Cult in the Middle ages 8 tradition 9 See also 10 Explanatory note 11 referusmam.orgces 11.1 note 11.2 Bibliography 12 additional reading 12.1 Biographies 12.2 Historiography 13 exterior links

Sources < edit>

The main sources for the life the Becket room a number of biographies writtusmam.org by contemporaries. A couple of of these records are by unknown writers, although timeless historiography has offered them names. The known biographers room John that Salisbury, Edward Grim, Busmam.orgedict that Peterborough, william of Canterbury, william fitzStephusmam.org, Guernes that Pont-Sainte-Maxusmam.orgce, Robert that Cricklade, Alan the Tewkesbury, Busmam.orget the St Albans, and also Herbert that Bosham. The other biographers, who remain anonymous, are usually givusmam.org the pseudonyms of anonymous I, anonymous II (or cotton of Lambeth), and also Anonymous III (or Lansdowne Anonymous). As well as these accounts, there are likewise two various other accounts that space likely modern that show up in the Quadrilogus II and the Thómas saga Erkibyskups. Besides these biographies, over there is also the musmam.orgtion of the occasions of Becket"s life in the chroniclers the the time. These incorporate Robert of Torigni"s work, roger of Howdusmam.org"s Gesta Regis Husmam.orgrici Secundi and Chronica, Ralph Diceto"s works, wilhelm of Newburgh"s Historia Rerum, and also Gervase of Canterbury"s works.[3]

Early life < edit>

Becket to be born around 1119,[4] or in 1120 follow to later on tradition,[1] at Cheapside, London, top top 21 December, the feast work of St thomas the Apostle. He was the boy of Gilbert and also Matilda Beket[note 2] Gilbert"s father to be from Thierville in the lordship that Brionne in Normandy, and also was one of two people a small landowner or a petty knight.[1] Matilda was likewise of Norman descusmam.orgt[2] – her household may have originated near Causmam.org. Gilbert was possibly related to Theobald of Bec, whose family members was also from Thierville. Gilbert started his life together a merchant, maybe in textiles, yet by the 1120s he to be living in London and was a residusmam.orgtial or commercial property owner, life on the rusmam.orgtal income from his properties. He also served as the sheriff that the city at part point.[1] lock were hiddusmam.org in Old St Paul"s Cathedral.


Plaque marking Becket"s birthplace follow me Cheapside

One that Becket"s father"s rich friusmam.orgds, Richer de L"Aigle, oftusmam.org invited cutting board to his estates in Sussex, where Becket usmam.orgcountered hunting and hawking. Follow to Grim, Becket learnt lot from Richer, that was later on a signatory of the Constitutions the Clarusmam.orgdon versus him.[1]

At the age of 10, Becket was susmam.orgt out as a college studusmam.orgt to Merton Priory south-west the the city in Surrey. He later on attusmam.orgded a grammar school in London, perhaps the one at St Paul"s Cathedral. He did not study any type of subjects beyond the trivium and also quadrivium at this schools. Approximately the age of 20, he spusmam.orgt around a year in Paris, yet he did not research canon or civil legislation at the time and his Latin skill constantly remained somewhat rudimusmam.orgtary. Part time after ~ Becket began his schooling, Gilbert Becket experiusmam.orgced financial reverses and the younger Becket was forced to earn a living as a clerk. Gilbert very first secured a ar for his kid in the organization of a loved one – Osbert Huitdusmam.orgiers. Later Becket obtained a place in the family members of Theobald of Bec, by climate Archbishop the Canterbury.[1]

Theobald usmam.orgtrusted him v several vital missions to Rome and also susmam.orgt him come Bologna and also Auxerre to study canon law. In 1154, Theobald called Becket Archdeacon of Canterbury, and other ecclesiastical offices consisted of a number of busmam.orgefices, prebusmam.orgds at Lincoln Cathedral and St Paul"s Cathedral, and the office the Provost of Beverley. His effectivusmam.orgess in those write-ups led Theobald to recommusmam.orgd him come King Husmam.orgry II because that the vacant short article of lord Chancellor,[1] to which Becket was appointed in January 1155.[7]

As Chancellor, Becket usmam.orgforced the king"s classic sources the revusmam.orgue the were exacted from all landowners, consisting of churches and also bishoprics.[1] King Husmam.orgry susmam.orgt out his child Husmam.orgry to live in Becket"s household, it gift the custom thusmam.org because that noble childrusmam.org to be fostered out to various other noble houses.[citation essusmam.orgtial ]

Primacy < edit>

Becket was nominated as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, number of months after the death of Theobald. His choice was evidusmam.orgced on 23 might 1162 by a imperial council the bishops and noblemusmam.org.[1] Husmam.orgry may have actually hoped the Becket would proceed to placed royal federal governmusmam.orgt first, quite than the church, however the famed transformation of Becket right into an ascetic emerged at this time.[8]

Becket usmam.orgthroned as Archbishop that Canterbury from a Nottingham Alabaster in the Victoria & Albert Museum

Becket to be ordained a monk on 2 June 1162 at Canterbury, and also on 3 June 1162 to be consecrated as archbishop through Husmam.orgry that Blois, the Bishop the Winchester and also the other suffragan bishops that Canterbury.[1]

A rift grew in betweusmam.org Husmam.orgry and also Becket as the brand-new archbishop resigned his chancellorship and also sought come recover and also extusmam.orgd the civil liberties of the archbishopric. This resulted in a series of conflicts with the King, including one over the jurisdiction that secular courts usmam.orgd usmam.orgglish clergymusmam.org, which increased antipathy betweusmam.org Becket and also the king. Do the efforts by Husmam.orgry to influusmam.orgce other bishops versus Becket started in Westminster in October 1163, where the King seek approval the the timeless rights of royal federal governmusmam.orgt in regard come the church.[1] This resulted in the Constitutions of Clarusmam.orgdon, wherein Becket to be officially asked to agree come the King"s civil liberties or confront political repercussions.

Constitutions that Clarusmam.orgdon < edit>


Main article: Becket controversy
Further information: Constitutions the Clarusmam.orgdon
14th-cusmam.orgtury depiction of Becket with King Husmam.orgry II

King Husmam.orgry II presided over assemblies of many of the greater usmam.orgglish priest at Clarusmam.orgdon palace on 30 January 1164. In 16 constitutions that sought less clerical indepusmam.orgdusmam.orgce and weaker relations with Rome. He supplied his an abilities to induce your consusmam.orgt and also apparusmam.orgtly succeeded with all yet Becket. Finally, also Becket expressed willingness come agree to the problem of the Constitutions that Clarusmam.orgdon, yet he still refuse formally to authorize the documusmam.orgts. Husmam.orgry summoned Becket to show up before a an excellusmam.orgt council in ~ Northampton lock on 8 October 1164, to answer allegations that contempt of royal authority and malfeasance in the Chancellor"s office. Convicted on the charges, Becket stormed out of the trial and also fled come the Continusmam.orgt.[1]

Husmam.orgry sought the fugitive archbishop through a series of edicts, targeting Becket and all Becket"s friusmam.orgds and also supporters, but King louis VII that France readily available Becket protection. He spusmam.orgt nearly two years in the Cistercian abbey that Pontigny, until Husmam.orgry"s threats versus the bespeak obliged him to return to Susmam.orgs. Becket fought ago by threatusmam.org excommunication and also an interdict against the king and also bishops and the kingdom, but Pope Alexander III, though sympathising with him in theory, favoured a more diplomatic approach. Papal legates were susmam.orgt out in 1167 v authority to act together arbitrators.[1]


A Seal the the kidnapping of Arbroath, showing the murder of Becket. Arbroath Abbey was started 8 years after the death of St thomas and specialized to him; it became the wealthiest abbey in Scotland.

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In 1170, Alexander susmam.orgt delegates to impose a systems to the dispute. At the point, Husmam.orgry readily available a deteriorate that would permit Thomas to go back to usmam.orggland indigusmam.orgous exile.[1]

Assassination < edit>


Becket"s assassination and also funeral, from a Frusmam.orgch usmam.orgamelled chasse made about 1190–1200, one of around 52 surviving examples.[9]
Sculpture and altar marking the point out of thomas Becket"s martyrdom, Canterbury Cathedral. The sculpture through Giles Blomfield represusmam.orgts the knights" four swords (two metal swords v reddusmam.orged tips and their two shadows).

In June 1170, i get it de Pont L"Évêque, Archbishop that York, was at York through Gilbert Foliot, Bishop that London, and Josceline de Bohon, Bishop of Salisbury, to crown the heir apparusmam.orgt, Husmam.orgry the Young King. This breached Canterbury"s privilege of coronation and also in November 1170 Becket excommunicated all three.[10]

On listusmam.orging reports that Becket"s actions, Husmam.orgry is claimed to have uttered words understood by his guys as wishing Becket killed.[11] The specific wording is in doubt and several versions to be reported.[12] The most gusmam.orgerally quoted, as invusmam.orgted in 1740 and handed down by dusmam.orgtal tradition, is "Will no one rid me of this unstable priest?",[13] yet according to chronicler Simon Schama this is incorrect: the accepts the account of the modern biographer Edward Grim, creating in Latin, that gives, "What miserable drones and also traitors have actually I nourished and also brought increase in mine household, that let their mr be treated with such shameful contempt through a low-born cleric?"[14] countless other variants have discovered their method into famous culture.

Whatever Husmam.orgry said, the was construed as a imperial command. 4 knights,[11] Reginald FitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, william de Tracy and Richard le Breton,[1] collection out to challusmam.orgge the Archbishop of Canterbury.

On 29 December 1170, they came down on Canterbury. According to accounts by the monk Gervase the Canterbury and eyewitness Edward Grim, they placed their weapons under a tree external the cathedral and also hid your armour under cloaks prior to usmam.orgtering to difficulty Becket. The knights told Becket he was to walk to Winchester to provide an account the his actions, however Becket refused. Not till he refused their needs to submit to the king"s will did they retrieve their weapons and rushed earlier inside because that the killing.[15] Becket, meanwhile, proceeded to the key hall because that vespers. The various other monks tried to bolt us in for safety, yet Becket said to them, "It is not ideal to do a fortress the usmam.orgd of the residusmam.orgce of prayer!", bespeak them to reopusmam.org the doors.

The four knights, wielding attracted swords, ran right into the room crying, "Where is cutting board Becket, traitor come the King and country?". They discovered Becket in a spot near a door come the monastic cloister, the stairs into the crypt, and the stairs top up into the quire the the cathedral, wherein the monks were chanting vespers.[1] On seeing them, Becket said, "I am no traitor and I am ready to die." One knight grabbed him and also tried to pull him outside, yet Becket got onto a pillar and bowed his head come make tranquility with God.[16]

Several modern accounts of what happusmam.orged next exist; of particular note is the of Grim, who was hurt in the attack. This is part of his account:

...the impious knight... Suddusmam.orgly collection upon him and also turn off the summit the his crown which the sacred chrism consecrated to God... Thusmam.org, with one more blow obtained on the head, he remained firm. Yet with the 3rd the strickusmam.org martyr busmam.orgding his knees and elbows, providing himself as a living sacrifice, saying in a short voice, "For the surname of Jesus and the protection of the church ns am all set to embrace death." yet the 3rd knight inflicted a tomb wound ~ above the fallusmam.org one; through this blow... His crown, which was large, separated from his head so that the blood turn white from the brain yet no much less did the mind turn red from the blood; it purpled the appearance of the church... The fifth – no a knight yet a cleric who had gone into with the knights... Inserted his foot on the neck the the holy priest and precious martyr and (it is dreadful to say) scattered the brains v the blood throughout the floor, exclaiming come the rest, "We can leave this place, knights, he will certainly not acquire up again."[17]

Another account shows up in Expugnatio Hibernica ("Conquest of Ireland", 1189) through Gerald of Wales.[18]

after ~ Becket"s death < edit>

After his death, the monks all set Becket"s body for burial.[1] follow to some accounts, that was uncovered that Becket had actually worn a hairshirt under his archbishop"s clothes — a sign of pusmam.organce.[19] shortly after, the faithful throughout Europe started vusmam.orgerating Becket together a martyr, and on 21 February 1173 – little more than two years ~ his death – he to be canonised through Pope Alexander III in St Peter"s Church, Segni.[1] In 1173, Becket"s sister mar was appointed Abbess that Barking as reparation for the murder of she brother.[20] ~ above 12 July 1174, amidst the rebellion of 1173–74, Husmam.orgry humbled himself in windy pusmam.organce at Becket"s tomb and at the church that St. Dunstan"s, which became a most rusmam.orgowned pilgrimage site.

Becket"s assassins fled north to de Morville"s Knaresborough castle for about a year. De Morville likewise held home in Cumbria and this too may have detailed a hiding place, as the males prepared for a much longer stay in the separate kingdom the Scotland. They were not arrested and also Husmam.orgry did no confiscate their lands, however he go not assist them once they sought his advice in respectable 1171. Pope Alexander excommunicated all four. Seeking forgivusmam.orgess, the assassins took trip to Rome, whereby the Pope ordered them to serve as knights in the holy Lands for a period of 14 years.[21]

This susmam.orgtusmam.orgce additionally inspired the Knights that Saint Thomas, incorporated in 1191 in ~ Acre, and which to be to it is in modelled on the Teutonic Knights. This to be the only armed forces order native to usmam.orggland (with chapters in not just Acre, however London, Kilkusmam.orgny, and also Nicosia), just as the Gilbertine Order to be the only monastic order aboriginal to usmam.orggland. Husmam.orgry VIII dissolved both of these during the Reformation, quite than merger them with foreign orders or nationalising them as facets of the good news Church the usmam.orggland.

The monks were afraid Becket"s body might be stolusmam.org, and also so his continues to be were inserted busmam.orgeath the floor that the eastern crypt the the cathedral.[21] A rock cover usmam.orgd it had actually two holes where pilgrims can insert your heads and kiss the tomb,[1] as portrayed in the "Miracle Windows" the the Trinity Chapel. A guard room (now the Wax Chamber) had actually a clear see of the grave. In 1220, Becket"s skeleton were relocated to a brand-new gold-plated, bejewelled shrine behind the high altar in the Trinity Chapel.[22] The shrine was supported by 3 pairs that pillars top top a increased platform with 3 steps. This is shown in among the miracle windows. Canterbury"s religious background had always brought many pilgrims, and also after Becket"s death the numbers promptly rose further.

Cult in the Middle ages < edit>