Monday, 23 November 2015

Some References to Becket's Murder and the Murderers

Archbishop Becket said 

"Lord forbid that we should turn the Church of God into a castle".
"By obedience to holy authority I order that the doors shall be opened without delay, for we ought not to make a castle out of the house of God."

William of Canterbury's account
An Annotated Translation of the Life of Saint Thomas, the Archbishop of Canterbury
by William, a Monk of Canterbury; trans. Mary Annette Bocke (1946)
Loyola University, Chicago
pp. 82-
(35) The  crossing  of  the  four  conspirators.
(36) Description  of  the  conspirators.
(37) The  conversation  of  the  Primate  and  the  conspirators.
(38) The  invasion  of  the  Primate's  house  and  the  entrance  of  the  swordsmen.
(39) The Primate's vision at night.
(40)  The  Primate's  march  to  the  monastery
(41) The  invasion  of  the  conspirators  into  the  monastery.
(42) The  dispersion  of  the  monks
(43) Concerning  the  clerk  who  was  wounded  and  the  monk  who  was  struck.
(44) Concerning  the  death  of  the  Blessed  martyr  Thomas.

Herbert of Bosham's account
An Annotated Translation of the Life of St. Thomas. Becket--Books 5-7.
trans Irene T. Pearse. (1944)
Loyola University Chicago.
pp. 39-
Chapters or  the  Sixth  Volume:
1.  The  knights  collect  in  an  armed  cohort  and  pour  into  the  palace;  the  Champion  of  Christ  enters  the  church;  the  words  of  the  executioners.
2.  The  meeting  of  the  Champion  of  Christ  with  the  executioners;  the  point  he  drives  home  in  speaking  to  them.
3.  The  disciple,  who  wrote  these  things,  gives  his  reason  for  his  moroseness  in  describing  the  'contest  of  so  mighty  a  Champion.
4.  The  martyrdom  and  how  it  was  carried  out;  a  mention  of  a  certain  cleric  who  thrust  his  arm  between  the  on-coming  sword  and  the  head  of  the  Champion.
5.· The  Champion's  powerful  invective under  threat  of  anathema  lest  the  executioners  harm  any  of  his  people;  the  great  and  glorious  announcement  of  his  martyrdom.
6.  The  disciple  again  offers  excuses  for  his  prolixity  in  des- cribing  the  martyrdom.
7.  The  disciple's  reason  for  willingly  approaching  the  descrip- tion  of  the  final  end  of  the  martyrdom,  even  though  against  his  will.
8.  The  final  moments  of  Becket;  the  number  or  soldiers  who  took  part  in  the  execution.
9.  Becket's  wonderful  virtue  of  patience  and  the  unprecedented  barbarism  of  the  crime.
10. The  spoils  and  garments  of  the  priest  divided  among  the  soldiers;  the  hero's  hair-shirts  found  and  cast  aside;  some  strike  their  breasts  silently  repeating  to  one  another,  Indeed,  this  was  a  just  man.  
11. Within  fifteen  days  from  his  death,  the  martyrdom  is  known  throughout  the  Holy  Land  of  Jerusalem;  how  the  news  is  made  known.
12. A brief  treatment  on  the  harmony  between  the  death  of  Our  Lord  and  that  of  the  anointed  of  the  Lord, the  assurance  that  this  harmony  will  be  treated  more  fully  and  with  more  attention  at  the  end  of  this  historical  treatise.
13.  The  author  takes  up  happenings  after  the  martyrdom.
14.  The  appearance  and  preservation  of  the  dead  body  after  the  martyrdom.
15.  What  took  place  on  the  day  following  the  martyrdom  while  the  body  was  still  not  entombed;  how  the  monks  in  order  to  wash  his  body,  as  was  the  custom,  took  off  his  garments  and  found  his  whole  body  covered  with  hair-shirts;  facts  about  the  tomb,  the  manner  and  place  of  burial,  and  the  year  of  his  age  reckoned  from  the  Incarnation  of  Our  Lord.

William FitzStephen's account
An Annotated Translation of the Life of St. Thomas Becket (Part Two)
by William Fitzstephen trans. Mary Aelred Sinclair (1944)
Loyola University Chicago
pp. 76-

Edward Grim's account

Benedict of Peterborough's account
The Murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 29 December 1170

Guernes' (de Pont-Sainte-Maxence) or Garnier's account

La vie de Saint Thomas le martyr; poème historique du 12e siècle (1172-1174) Publié par E. Walberg (1922)
Lines 4951 -5855
Verse 991-1171

Lines 4951 -5855
Verse 991-1171

Roger of Pontigny's account [in Latin]

Chapter 46 De passionis ejus Causa et Modo

(PL 190 0307B) XLVI.De Passionis Eius Causa et Modo

General References

Natalie Fryde; Dirk Reitz (2003). Bischofsmord im MittelalterMartin Aurell: Le Meurtre de Thomas Becket - Les Gestes d'un Martyre Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. pp. 187–. ISBN 978-3-525-35189-5.

Natalie Fryde; Dirk Reitz (2003). Bischofsmord im Mittelalter. Nicholas Vincent: The Murderers of Thomas Becket: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. pp. 211–. ISBN 978-3-525-35189-5.

The Murderers of St. Thomas Becket in Popular Tradition
Tancred Borenius
Vol. 43, No. 2 (Jun. 30, 1932), pp. 175-192
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of Folklore Enterprises, Ltd.

The Effect of Becket's Murder on Papal Authority in England
Z. N. Brooke
The Cambridge Historical Journal
Vol. 2, No. 3 (1928), pp. 213-228
Published by: Cambridge University Press
Canterbury Cathedral Waterworks Plan 1165

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Table of Contents

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The Constitutions of Clarendon was a formal document, a set of laws which king Henry II of England had drawn up and set down in writing in January 1164. Henry tried to force Thomas Becket archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops of the English Church to give recognition to his legal programme and their consent to the items in the document by affixing their seals to the parchment on which the laws were written. 

The document contained a list of Henry's so-called 'Customs of the Kingdom', the royal and legal rights which he claimed over the Church in England, which he asserted as having been in force during and from his grandfather's time (Henry I). All Henry maintained what he was doing was setting these down in writing, as a kind of constitutional statute [per assisam regni], so that there would or could be no doubt as to exactly what they were. Many of the clauses, however, contradicted and conflicted with the Catholic Church's own Canon Law. As a consequence Becket refused to affix his seal to the parchment until after he had a chance which to consult with the Pope, and only reluctantly, after considerable pressure, gave his consent and endorsement to them verbally, which he later retracted, and for which later the Pope was to absolve him of his obligations to the Church regarding this. This made king Henry furious, and effectively had him declared as a traitor later on that same year.

Some have seen the Constitutions of Clarendon as the most important document of its time as providing a foundation for the separation of church and state, as the most important legislative enactment by the most important king in English constitutional history. Herbert of Bosham, one of Becket's contemporary hagiographers/biographers, describes  them as the full cause of the dissension between King Henry II and Becket and the reason for Becket's exile and subsequent martyrdom. The Constitutions brought to the front deep questions about the evolving nature of judicial authority in England, Church [ecclesiastical] versus State [royal] power, and the formalization of the relationship between the two sovereignties. More specifically they were part of Henry II's intended reform of government in England following  the long anarchy of King Stephen's reign, and reflect his personal will to assume and reclaim  power for the throne.

An  examination of Henry I's motives for issuing the Constitutions of Clarendon which were part of his reform of legal system n England might include the following:

a) Centralisation of the justice system in England under his authority, namely the beginning of a programme to bring reform to the legal system in the country, bringing it more fully under his control. For there to be one single and uniform system of justice and judicial procedures and their administration in the land, one system of law common to all people throughout the kingdom. For there to be one last and final court of appeal in England, namely himself.

b) Reduction of the power of the barons by enforcing his authority over the justice system in England, and reducing their rights to hold courts and decide cases.

c) Increasing royal revenues by ensuring that the fines and income from the royal courts came to the royal exchequer.

d)  To establish his right to do this claiming that all he was doing was assuming his rights based on the customs of his grandfather's (Henry I's) time and by extension those of his predecessor kings of England, principally Edward the Confessor and King Cnut.

e) To establish his authority over the Church in England, and to reduce the authority and influence of the Pope in ecclesiastical affairs in England. 

The principal customs which Henry regarded as belonging to him, but which were contentious, were: his right to collect monies from the Church's vacant sees and abbacies, control over the right of appeal of churchmen to the Pope in Rome, control over the right of the Church to excommunicate the king's barons and other servants of the crown, and his right to have ecclesiastics who had committed felonies to be tried in his own royal courts.

Indeed Henry's whole reign might be seen as one of his wanting obsessively to assert his claims and rights as king of England or lands and rights in France. His mother, the Empress Mathilda, had lost her right to rule England to her cousin Stephen of Blois, who had usurped the kingdom. When she eventually won the civil war that ensued, after defeating Stephen, it was Henry who was to inherit the kingdom instead of her. But she was always in the background. Perhaps it was her who was pushing him. She was an extremely strong-willed woman.

Others, Hume in particular, have argued that Henry had made a very poor choice in selecting Becket for Archbishop of Canterbury. He should have realised, that Becket, who had been an excellent Chancellor, the best possible from the king's point of view, would use his new position as head of the Church in England, that is his ambition would drive him to want to increase the power of the church, the moment he became its leader.

Some have seen the Constitutions of Clarendon as one among a series of steps in an undisclosed plan or programme of Henry II's to unite Church and State in England, in which his very first step was to appoint his favourite, his chancellor, Thomas Becket, as archbishop of Canterbury. Henry perhaps wanted to make Becket a junior partner in the management of his kingdom, where Henry was to manage the temporal and Becket the ecclesiastical. Should Becket have been grateful for this great honour? Or was his ingratitude treacherous? This was a programme which Henry ultimately failed to bring about. Or did he? Perhaps Becket knew or understood Henry's real intentions beforehand, and decided to resist them once he became archbishop. Or did Becket stand his ground because the king's so-called customs were an attempt to take away more rights from the Church than either Henry I or any previous king of England had hitherto claimed as theirs. Becket feared that acceptance of these Constitutions might eventually come to mean that England would end up having totally secular clergy appointed by the king or a Church wholly under his control. Did Becket really protect the Liberty of the Church or did his intransigence ultimately destroy it?

This blog is the story of the Becket Controversy and the events which led to the Council of Clarendon in January 1164, at which the Constitutions were announced. It is about Becket's subsequent trial as a traitor at Northampton in October 1164, and his ensuing escape into exile to France, after which there followed many years of negotiation between Henry and Becket, involving the Pope and the king of France among others, before he was able to return to England. It is the story of Becket's return and his ensuing murder (martyrdom) in his own cathedral at Canterbury in December 1170. This story has all the dramatic features of a classical Greek tragedy: the politics, the interacting dialogue between a protagonist and an antagonist, the chorus of bishops, and the Pope as deus ex machina. It is the story of Becket's murder (martyrdom) and his subsequent elevation to sainthood. It is about the cult of Becket that followed, and the pilgrimages to Canterbury made famous by Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Becket was perhaps the most famous personage of his time and about whom a huge number of Lives (hagiographies) and biographies have been written.

The Becket Dispute also involved his relationship with his fellow bishops in England, and the issue concerning the primacy of Canterbury in the kingdom, or whether the archepiscopacy of York was independent from that of Canterbury.

It is one in the many stories of the power struggles between Church and State which took place during the 11th, 12th and subsequent centuries. It is about the rise in the power of the Pope. It is set in the context of the large empires under powerful monarchs who ruled over vast tracts of Western Europe. The period also marks the beginning of centuries of struggle between the kingdoms of France and England. It coincides with the emergence of the formulation of the Common Law in England. Indeed many of the clauses of the Constitions of Clarendon deal with the limits of the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts relative to the king's own courts.  It takes place at a time between, but largely unaffected by either of, the second and third crusades, except perhaps the requirement conceived at the Reconciliation of Avranches in 1172, that Henry provide 200 knights for a year [of the monetary equivalent] for the defence of Jerusalem as purgation for his part in the murder of Becket.

Indeed, St. Thomas Becket is still honoured today by the Catholic Church, as the example par excellence of the necessity of every member of the church to show obedience to Rome, to the Pope and the principles of the Catholic Church, its fathers and the canon laws, and its very being, its organisation, its methods, rights to control the faith centrally, its hierarchy and authority, and so forth. Becket honoured the central authority that the Catholic Church asserted it had, and still has, and the Church, in turn, honoured him with the title of Saint following his murder in his cathedral. Becket gave his life for the principles laid down in the Reform of the Church as instigated by Pope Gregory VII. Once he had decided that he would do that it became clear that he could not serve two masters. In the end this decision cost him his life and quite possibly changed the course of English history.

The Constitutions of Clarendon

a) In Latin

b) In English

Constitutions of Clarendon in English : Joseph Berington (1790)
Albert Beebe White translation
Constitutions of Clarendon from the Medieval Sourcebook
The Constitutions: Hutton's Translation and Commentary
Roger of Wendover's version of the Constitutions: ...
James Tyrrell's Translation of the Constitutions 1700.
The Avalon Project : Constitutions of Clarendon. 1164.

Notes and Miscellaneous
Central Issue behind the Constitutions of Clarendon
The Constitutions documented as a compromise

Lyttleton's Comments: Constitutions Clause 1
Lyttleton's Comments: Constitutions Clause 4
Lyttleton's Comments: Constitutions Clause 5
Lyttleton's Comments: Constitutions Clause 7
Lyttleton's Comments: Constitutions Clause 8
Lyttleton's Comments: Constitutions Clause 11
Lyttleton's Comments: Constitutions Clause 12
Lyttleton's Comments: Constitutions Clause 15
Lyttleton's Comments: Constitutions Clause 16

Historical notes on Clause 2: Advowsons of the King's Fee

Clause 3 and The Law Against Double Jeopardy

Historical Notes on Clause 4: Restrictions on Travel Abroad for Clerics

Historical Notes on Clause 5. Excommunicated Persons and Bail

Historical Notes on Clause 6: Procedure in the Ecclesiatical Court

Historical Notes on Clause 7: Excommunication and Interdict without king's consent

Historical Notes on Clause 8: Appeals to the Pope

Historical Notes on Clause 9: Juries and the Assize Utrum.

Historical Notes on Clause 10: Persons cited for Excommunication

Historical Notes on Clause 11: On the Estate of the Clergy

Historical Notes on Clause 14: The Goods and Chattels of Felons on Church Lands

Historical Notes of Clause 15: Breach of Faith -King's Justice or Church Court

Historical Notes on Clause 16: Requirement of Rustics to have their Lord's Consent

Clauses of the Constitutions of Clarendon Allowed/Tolerated or Condemned by the Pope.
Thomas Saga: Customs of the King Condemned By The Pope

Concordat of London 1107 and Clause 12 of the Constitutions

Rustics and Clause 16

Clause X of the Assizes of King Roger II (1130-54)..

Garnier: Content of the Constitutions of Clarendon in Norman French.

Comparing the Preamble to Magna Carta

Imperium in imperio

Henry II's Decrees against the Pope and Becket, 1169

The British Magazine (1833-4): Froude's Articles on Henry II's Plan to Unite Church and State


On the origins of the Doctrine of Papal Supremacy
Conflict of Investitures
Canonical Decretals which empower the Pope
Dictatus Papae, A.D. 1075
Papal Supremacy
Papal Authority
Libertas Ecclesiae
Canon Law and The Canonical System
Decretum Gratiani

Donation of Constantine
Priveligium Fori - "Privilege of the forum"
The Disputed Papal Election of 1159


Canterbury - York Controversy
From Bocland to Feodum, and the Great Semicolon in...
Ordinance Establishing Spiritual Courts in England.
Written versus Unwritten Law
Ecclesiastical Courts



Anselm of Canterbury
Richard de Lucy
John of Oxford
John of Canterbury
Richard of Ilchester
Arnulf of Lisieux
Philippe, abbé de l'Aumône
Gilbert Foliot, bishop of London
Henry of Blois, bishop of Winchester
Hilary, bishop of Chichester
Peter of Blois
Reginald Fitz Jocelin
Pope Alexander III
Pope Alexander III (b)
Louis VII of France [Louis le Jeune]
Catalogue of the Learned Men in the Court of the Archbishop
Becket's Spy Ring
The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church
Roger, bishop of Worcester (d. 1179)
Pont l'Évêque, Roger de (c.1115–1181),
The Four Enemies of the Martyr
William, Archbishop of Sens
John Cumin
Prior Odo of Christ Church Canterbury
Eleanor of Aquitaine

Becket as Chancellor

Disputes up till Council of Westminster

Council of Westminster October 1163
The Council of Clarendon, January 1164

The State Trial of Becket at Northampton, October 1164

Flight into Exile

Another Stained Glass Window from Canterbury Cathedral.
Wooden Carving of Becket in Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral: Tomb of Henry IV - Martyrdom of Thomas Becket
Martydom Painting
St Thomas Archbishop, Alcobaca Monastery Portugal
Mosaic of St. Thomas Monreale Sicily
The Baptismal Font at Lyngsjö Church in Skåne, Sweden...
Romanesque or Norman Architecture
The Becket Leaves

Crown Wearing Ceremonies
Becket Pilgrim Medallions and Badges

Seal of the City of London
Ritual, Behaviour and Symbolic Communication
Becket and the Templars
Inquest of Sheriffs, 1170