Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Salerna of Ifield Miracle Story

Salerna of Ifield, accused by her mother of stealing cheese, and threatened with being whipped to death unless she confessed her guilt, threw herself in a deep well, calling upon St. Thomas as she did so. The saint heard her prayer, and supported her in the well, placing her feet upon some kind of staff until help came and she was drawn out .
St. Thomas of Canterbury, his death and miracles #777 Story of Salerna of Ifield

Materials vol 1 p. 258-

Materials vol. 2 p. 263

Joseph Fontenrose (1971). The Ritual Theory of Myth. University of California Press. pp. 15–. ISBN 978-0-520-01924-9.

Rachel Koopmans (29 November 2011). Wonderful to Relate: Miracle Stories and Miracle Collecting in High Medieval England. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 139–. ISBN 0-8122-0699-1.

Ifield as place on Canterbury pilgrim's route
Francis Watt (1917). Canterbury Pilgrims and Their Ways. Methuen & Company, Limited. pp. 104–.

Monday, 28 September 2015

The Legend of Becket's Mother as the Daughter of a Saracen Emir

Baptism of Becket's Mother
Marriage of Gilbert Becket and Becket's Mother
Birth of Thomas Becket

Emir is the Islamic equivalent of a Prince or Grand Duke.
Emir - Wikipedia
Saracen - Wikipedia

Giles reprinted in his second volume the legend of Thomas Becket's ‘Saracen’ mother. This legend occurs, in almost exactly the same words, in some late manuscripts of the life by Grim (from one of which it is printed in Robertson's Materials, vol. ii.), in the chronicle known as John Bromton's (Twysden's Decem Scriptores, cols. 1052–5), and in British Library Harleian MS. 978, of which Mr. C. L. Kingsford has given a full account in the introduction to his edition of the Song of Lewes (Clarendon Press Ser. 1890).'


Thomas Keightley (1841). The History of England: In two volumes. Longman. pp. 103–.

James Craigie Robertson (1859). Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Chapter II Early Life. pp. 10–.

Henry Hart Milman (1860). Life of Thomas à Becket. Sheldon & company. pp. 9–.

Sketches and Anecdotes Illustrative of Female Character. Russell, Odiorne & Company. 1833. pp. 189–.

(Patrologia Latina Tomus 190 Col 0346B) CAPITULUM II. DE ORTU MIRABILI BEATI THOMAE.
Edward Grim

Michael Staunton (2001). The Lives of Thomas Becket. Manchester University Press. pp. 40–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5455-6.

Simon (Dunelmensis); Roger Twysden (1652). Historiae Anglicanae scriptores decem. Johannis Bromton 1052-5: Bee

Henry Hart Milman (1860). Life of Thomas à Becket. Sheldon & company. pp. 9–.

Helen Deeming; Elizabeth Eva Leach (28 May 2015). Manuscripts and Medieval Song. BL Harley 978: Cambridge University Press. pp. 116–. ISBN 978-1-107-06263-4.

The Song of Lewes by Charles Lethbridge Kingsford

Friday, 25 September 2015

Reliquaries/Châsses of St. Thomas Becket

Some of the numerous extant Becket reliquary châsses made at Limoges in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries:

Musée National du Moyen Âge [formerly Musée de Cluny], Paris

Musée Municipal de l'Évêché, Limoges

Châsse de Thomas Becket Vers 1200. H : 12,9 ; La : 12,5 ; Pr : 6,6. Limoges, musée municipal de l'Evêché [inv. 90.458] Achat, 1990 (B. Blondeel et P. Carlier).

thomas1 archived

Musée des Beaux-Arts, Guéret (Creuse)

Châsse de Thomas Becket Vers 1205-1215. H. 13 ; L. 12,3 ; La 6,7. Guéret, musée des Beaux-Arts [Inv. OA 4] Lieu de provenance inconnu.

thomas2 archived

Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon

Musée du Louvre, Paris
N° d’Inventaire OA11333
Châsse : Assassinat et Ensevelissement de saint Thomas Becket
N° d’Inventaire OA 7745

Musée d'art Roger-Quilliot, Clermont-Ferrand

Cathédrale de Sens

Le Vigéan, AuvergneChâsse de Thomas Becket


Agnani Cathedral Museum
Reliquary of Thomas Becket. Copper and enamel, 13th century. Museo della Cattedrale di Anagni, Anagni, Italy


Museo della Cattedrale di Lucca 


Museum Schnütgen (St. Cäcilien), Köln:


Martyrdom of Thomas Becket on reliquary in Trönö new church, Hälsingland
[Rescued from a major fire]

Trönö Reliquary

United Kingdom

Burrell Collection Glasgow

CHASSE DEPICTING THE MURDER OF THOMAS BECKET French. Limoges, c. 1200-1210 Copper with champleve ... Hunt; 1934, bt William Burrell, £125; given by Sir William and Constance, Lady Burrell to Glasgow Corporation in 1944

Victoria and Albert Museum,

British Museum

Loaned from Society of Antiquaries, London

One of the numerous Becket reliquary châsses made at Limoges in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries on loan from the Society of Antiquaries for London.

British Museum number 1878,1101.3 - Archived  


Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College

87 North Main Street, Oberlin OH 44074
Glencairn Museum Pennsylvania


The Dormeuil Collection Auction in Paris, 19th Nov 2007

Lot 9: Limoges, Circa 1200-1210 A Gilt Copper Champleve Chasse With The Martyrdom Of St. Thomas Becket.
Sculptures, Works of Art
by Sotheby's London, July 9, 2002

A gilt copper champleve enamel châsse with the martyrdom of st. thomas becket, Limoges, circa 1200-1210 lot Sotheby's

Mr Thomas Astles Reliquary - from Vetusta Monumenta 1789

The Front View of Mr Thomas Astles Reliquary/ 1789

The Back View of Mr Astles Reliquary/ 1789

From an early owner of the Becket casket present location not known.
Antique engraving from Vetusta Monumenta a series of illustrated antiquarian papers on ancient buildings, sites, and artefacts, mostly of Britain, published at irregular intervals between 1718 and 1906 by the Society of Antiquaries of London. Folio sized papers, usually authored by members of the society, published individually, then later in volumes, Drawn by Jacob Schnebbelie (1760–1792) an English draughtsman, specialising in monuments and historical subjects. Schnebbelie was born in Duke's Court, St. Martin's Lane, London, on 30 Aug. 1760 Through Lord Leicester, the president, Schnebbelie obtained appointment as draughtsman to the Society of Antiquaries of London; the majority of the second and third volumes of Vetusta Monumenta were drawn by him.. These prints were engraved by James Basire. This was also engraved by J carter Images 45 x 30 cm Single page E arly and accurate architectural studies at affordable prices £95 PAIR post inclusive ( rolled as too large to send flat unless a number are needed)


Chasses de saint Thomas Becket - Wikipédia

Bits of Becket - Paradox Place

Émail de Limoges - Wikipédia

Narrative Art - PhD Thesis

Musée du Louvre; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.) (1996). Enamels of Limoges: 1100-1350. Metropolitan Museum of Art. pp. 162–. ISBN 978-0-87099-758-7.

Les châsses reliquaires de Thomas Becket émaillées à Limoges: leur géographie historique. Societe archeologique et historique du Limousin. 1993.

Cathedrals of southern France p. 111 

S. Caudron, "Les châsses reliquaires de Thomas Becket émaillées à Limoges", dans Bulletin de la Société archéologique et historique du Limousin, CXXI, 1993

Actes Du Colloque International de Sedieres. Editions Beauchesne. pp. 233–.

Britt-Marie Andersson (1980). Emaux limousins en Suède: les châsses, les croix. Almqvist & Wiksell.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Becket Images

A selection of images illustrating the story of Becket and his dispute with king Henry II.

1. The Becket Leaves (c.1220-1240) - British Library Loan MS 88

Janet Backhouse; Christopher De Hamel (January 1988). The Becket Leaves. British Library. ISBN 978-0-7123-0141-1.
The Becket Leaves  
Becket Leaves - Archived

2. Images by Joseph Strutt

 Joseph Strutt; James Robinson Planché (1842). The regal and ecclesiastical Antiquities of England; containing the representations of all the English monarchs, from Edward the Confessor to Henry VIII; and of many persons that were eminent under their several reigns.

Strutt, Joseph; Planché, James R.
The regal and ecclesiastical antiquities of England: containing the representations of all the English monarchs, from Edward the Confessor to Henry the Eighth
London, 1842


Plate IX, The Murder of Thomas Becket.
British Library MS Cotton Julius A.XL

Plate VIII. Henry the Second and Thomas Becket
From British Library Cotton MS Claudius D.2.

3. Mosaic Monreale Cathedral, Sicily

4. Queen Mary Psalter, British Library MS Royal 2 B VII

The Life of Thomas Becket

5. Boss in Exeter Cathedral

6. British Library MS Harley 5102

7. BL Cotton MS Claudius B II

Martyrdom of Thomas Becket - The British Library

9.  British Library Harley 5312 f.28v

Book of Hours Harley 5312 f. 28v

10. British Library  Harley 1251, f.48

Harley 1251 f.48 - Book of Hours

11. British Library Add MS 42130 f.51r - Luttrell Psalter  

File-Psalm 26 (27); Thomas Becket - Luttrell Psalter (c.1325-1335), f.51 - BL Add MS 42130.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Luttrell Psalter

12. British Library MS Stowe 12 f. 27v   

MS Stowe 12 f. 27v

13. Others

The Murder of Thomas Becket, in John of Salisbury's 'Life of ...
On 29 December 1170, the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas
Becket, was murdered by four knights in... ... 
The Martyrdom of Thomas Becket, In A Psalter
... The Martyrdom of Thomas Becket, In A Psalter. ... Several details of this
image follow eye-witness accounts of Becket's death. ... 

The Burial of Thomas Becket, In A Psalter
... Thomas Becket, In A Psalter. The Burial of Thomas Becket, In A Psalter.
Medium: Ink, pigments and gold on vellum. Date: 1225. ... 

Martyrdom of Thomas a Becket, in Chronicle of Melrose Abbey
... Abbey. Martyrdom of Thomas a Becket, in Chronicle of Melrose Abbey.
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum. Date: 1270. ... 

Antiphonal; Illuminated letter showing pilgrims & clergy at ...
... Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170 – a "holy, blisful martyr", Chaucer
writes in his Prologue to the 'Canterbury Tales'. ... 

Frontispiece To Psalms, In The Bible Of William Of Devon
... Facing the start of the book of Psalms are five scenes in compartments: the
Crucifixion; the martyrdom of Thomas Becket; the identifications of the ... 

Thursday, 13 August 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.

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