Thomas Becket

Saint Thomas of Canterbury: Thomas Becket was a Saxon, born in London’s Cheapside on 21st December 1118 to Gilbert and Matilda Beket. He became an agent to Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, and undertook several trips to Rome. Becket was noticed by Henry II and the two became close friends, the King made Becket his English Chancellor in 1155. In 1162 Henry appointed Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Their friendship was put under strain when it became clear that Becket would now stand up for the church in its disagreements with the king. In 1164, due to Henry's irritation, Becket fled into exile in France, and remained in exile, until he returned to Canterbury on 30th November 1170.

Becket's return to Canterbury threw King Henry into a rage, he was purported to have shouted: "What sluggards, what cowards have I brought up in my court, who care nothing for their allegiance to their lord. Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest."
The king's outrage while in France inspired four knights to set sail to England to rid the realm of this annoying high ecclesiastical dignitary. Two of the knights landed at Folkestone, and were joined at Saltwood Castle, by the others who had disembarked at Winchelsea to plot the death of Becket. Hugh de Moreville was one of the four knights that committed the assassination, along with Reginald Fitzurse, William de Tracey, and Richard le Breton. These four discussed their plans in darkness, none daring to behold another's face.
When the four knights arrived at Canterbury. According to accounts they placed their weapons under a tree outside the cathedral and hid their mail armour under cloaks before entering to challenge Becket. The knights informed Becket he was to go to Winchester to give an account of his actions, but Becket refused. It was not until Becket refused their demands to submit to the king's will that they retrieved their weapons and rushed back inside for the killing. Becket, meanwhile, proceeded to the main hall for vespers. The knights, wielding drawn swords, caught up with him at the altar in a spot near a door to the monastic cloister, the stairs into the crypt, and the stairs leading up into the quire of the cathedral, where the monks were chanting vespers.
...The wicked knight leapt suddenly upon him, cutting off the top of the crown which the unction of sacred chrism had dedicated to God. Next he received a second blow on the head, but still he stood firm and immovable. At the third blow he fell on his knees and elbows, offering himself a living sacrifice, and saying in a low voice, 'For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.' But the third knight inflicted a terrible wound as he lay prostrate. By this stroke, the crown of his head was separated from the head in such a way that the blood white with the brain, and the brain no less red from the blood, dyed the floor of the cathedral. The same clerk who had entered with the knights placed his foot on the neck of the holy priest and precious martyr, and, horrible to relate, scattered the brains and blood about the pavements, crying to the others, 'Let us away, knights; this fellow will arise no more. (Lee This Sceptred Isle p. 71)

Becket was made a saint in 1173 and his shrine in Canterbury Cathedral became an important focus for pilgrimage

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