St. Thomas Becket - Turbulent
- Thomas Becket was the son of a
rich London landlord. He was born in Cheapside in London in 1118.
- Thomas went to school at Merton
Priory and probably the school at St.
- Becket got a job working for the
Archbishop of Canterbury. He was a good administrator (organising
& managing things, especially money). He was appointed to lots of
important jobs like being an Archdeacon.
- In 1155, King Henry
II made him Lord Chancellor of England. This was like being Prime
Minister. He helped the King run the country. The two were good
- In 1162, Becket was appointed
Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Roman Catholic Church in
England. Becket was not really a churchman & had to be ordained a
priest first. The King thought he would help increase Royal power over
- King Henry was wrong. Becket
took his new duties very seriously. The two argued a lot about who was
in charge in different situations.
- In 1164, Henry tried to restrict
the power of the Church in England by getting all the bishops to sign
the 'Constitutions of Clarendon'. Becket refused & was convicted
of not obeying the King.
- The Archbishop fled to France
where he lived for 6 years. Eventually the Pope persuaded Henry to let
him come back.
- However, in 1170, Henry got 3
bishops to crown his son as the future king. The Archbishop of
Canterbury should have done this. So Becket excommunicated them (threw
them out of the Church).
- King Henry ranted & raved
about Becket. He shouted, "Who will rid me of this turbulent
- He was overheard by three
knights. They rode off to Canterbury and sliced through the
Archbishop's skull in the Cathedral. Becket died immediately.
- He was canonised (made a saint)
only 2 years later. His Shrine at Canterbury became the most popular
pilgrim destination in the Country, especially with London pilgrims.
The 'Canterbury Tales' were written about them.
- The house where Becket was born
was built upon by the Hospital of St. Thomas of Acon. Acon is Acre in
the Holy Land. The city was captured in the Crusades by Christian
soldiers when they prayed to him. The chapel there was also popular
with pilgrims. It is now the site of the Mercers' Hall.
- St. Thomas also had a chapel
dedicated to him on London Bridge. Travellers & pilgrims often
stopped there when leaving the City. They prayed for a safe journey.