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Sunday, February 2, 2020

Spoke 12: The Biblewheel and The 12th Century - The Murder of Archbishop of Thomas Becket of Canterbury

Spoke 12: The Biblewheel and The 12th Century
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The Murder of Archbishop of Thomas Becket of Canterbury

Although the murder of Zechariah wasn't mentioned in the 12th book of the Bible 2Kings, as king Joash was responsible, his servants who took revenge, their names are mentioned as:

[2Kings 12:21 KJV]
For Jozachar the son of Shimeath, and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, smote him, and he died; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead.

But the murder of the priest Zechariah the son of Jehoiada was mentioned in the 14th book 2Chronicles. Those who avenged his murder were also mentioned in:

[2 Chronicles 24:20 KJV]
And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you.

[2 Chronicles 24:21 KJV]
And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD.

[2 Chronicles 24:22 KJV]
Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon [it], and require [it].

[2 Chronicles 24:23 KJV]
And it came to pass at the end of the year, [that] the host of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all the spoil of them unto the king of Damascus.

[2 Chronicles 24:24 KJV]
For the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and the LORD delivered a very great host into their hand, because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers. So they executed judgment against Joash.

[2 Chronicles 24:25 KJV]
And when they were departed from him, (for they left him in great diseases,) his own servants conspired against him for the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed, and he died: and they buried him in the city of David, but they buried him not in the sepulchres of the kings.

[2 Chronicles 24:26 KJV]
And these are they that conspired against him; Zabad the son of Shimeath an Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the son of Shimrith a Moabitess.

Now Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury lived and was murdered in the 12th century by king Henry II of England over the issue of signing of the Constitutions of Clarendon. But his murderers including the king sought repentance afterwards.


Thomas Becket

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Saint

Thomas Becket
Archbishop of Canterbury
Primate of England
Westlake Window, St Peter’s Berkhamsted 15 17 04 162000.jpeg
19th-century depiction of St Thomas Becket, showing a sword piercing his head. St Peter’s Church, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire
ArchdioceseCanterbury
SeeCanterbury
Appointed24 May 1162
Term ended21 December 1170
PredecessorTheobald of Bec
SuccessorRoger de Bailleul (Archbishop-elect)
Orders
Ordination2 June 1162
Consecration3 June 1162
by Henry of Blois
Personal details
Born21 December c. 1119
CheapsideLondonKingdom of England
Died29 December 1170 (age 50 or 51)
Canterbury CathedralKentKingdom of England
BuriedCanterbury Cathedral
DenominationCatholic
Parents
  • Gilbert Beket
  • Matilda
Previous post
Coat of armsThomas Becket's coat of arms
Sainthood
Feast day29 December
Venerated in
Beatifiedby Pope Alexander III
Canonized21 February 1173
by Pope Alexander III
AttributesSwordmartyrdomepiscopal vestments
PatronageExeter College, OxfordPortsmouthArbroath Abbeysecular clergyCity of London
ShrinesCanterbury Cathedral
Lord Chancellor
In office
1155–1162
MonarchHenry II
Preceded byRobert of Ghent
Succeeded byGeoffrey Ridel

Attributed arms of Saint Thomas Becket: Argent, three Cornish choughs proper, visible in many English churches dedicated to him. As he died 30 to 45 years before the age of heraldry, he bore no arms.
Thomas Becket (/ˈbɛkɪt/), also known as Saint Thomas of CanterburyThomas of London[1] and later Thomas à Becket[note 1] (21 December c. 1119 (or 1120) – 29 December 1170), was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He is venerated as a saint and martyr by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He engaged in conflict with Henry II, King of England, over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral. Soon after his death, he was canonised by Pope Alexander III.

Contents

Sources[edit]

The main sources for the life of Becket are a number of biographies written by contemporaries. A few of these documents are by unknown writers, although traditional historiography has given them names. The known biographers are John of SalisburyEdward GrimBenedict of PeterboroughWilliam of CanterburyWilliam fitzStephenGuernes of Pont-Sainte-MaxenceRobert of CrickladeAlan of TewkesburyBenet of St Albans, and Herbert of Bosham. The other biographers, who remain anonymous, are generally given the pseudonyms of Anonymous I, Anonymous II (or Anonymous of Lambeth), and Anonymous III (or Lansdowne Anonymous). Besides these accounts, there are also two other accounts that are likely contemporary that appear in the Quadrilogus II and the Thómas saga erkibyskups. Besides these biographies, there is also the mention of the events of Becket's life in the chroniclers of the time. These include Robert of Torigni's work, Roger of Howden's Gesta Regis Henrici Secundi and ChronicaRalph Diceto's works, William of Newburgh's Historia Rerum, and Gervase of Canterbury's works.[3]

Early life[edit]

Becket was born about 1119,[4] or in 1120 according to later tradition.[1] He was born in Cheapside, London, on 21 December, which was the feast day of St Thomas the Apostle. He was the son of Gilbert and Matilda Beket.[note 2] Gilbert's father was from Thierville in the lordship of Brionne in Normandy, and was either a small landowner or a petty knight.[1] Matilda was also of Norman descent,[2] and her family may have originated near Caen. Gilbert was perhaps related to Theobald of Bec, whose family also was from Thierville. Gilbert began his life as a merchant, perhaps as a textile merchant, but by the 1120s he was living in London and was a property owner, living on the rental income from his properties. He also served as the sheriff of the city at some point.[1] They were buried in Old St Paul's Cathedral.

Plaque marking Becket's birthplace along Cheapside
One of Becket's father's wealthy friends, Richer de L'Aigle, often invited Thomas to his estates in Sussex where Becket was exposed to hunting and hawking. According to Grim, Becket learned much from Richer, who was later a signatory of the Constitutions of Clarendon against Thomas.[1]
Beginning when he was 10, Becket was sent as a student to Merton Priory in England and later attended a grammar school in London, perhaps the one at St Paul's Cathedral. He did not study any subjects beyond the trivium and quadrivium at these schools. Later, he spent about a year in Paris around age 20. He did not, however, study canon or civil law at this time and his Latin skill always remained somewhat rudimentary. Some time after Becket began his schooling, Gilbert Beket suffered financial reverses, and the younger Becket was forced to earn a living as a clerk. Gilbert first secured a place for his son in the business of a relative—Osbert Huitdeniers—and then later Becket acquired a position in the household of Theobald of Bec, by now the Archbishop of Canterbury.[1]
Theobald entrusted him with several important missions to Rome and also sent him to Bologna and Auxerre to study canon law. Theobald in 1154 named Becket Archdeacon of Canterbury, and other ecclesiastical offices included a number of beneficesprebends at Lincoln Cathedral and St Paul's Cathedral, and the office of Provost of Beverley. His efficiency in those posts led to Theobald recommending him to King Henry II for the vacant post of Lord Chancellor,[1] to which Becket was appointed in January 1155.[7]
As Chancellor, Becket enforced the king's traditional sources of revenue that were exacted from all landowners, including churches and bishoprics.[1] King Henry even sent his son Henry to live in Becket's household, it being the custom then for noble children to be fostered out to other noble houses.[8]

Primacy[edit]

Becket was nominated as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, several months after the death of Theobald. His election was confirmed on 23 May 1162 by a royal council of bishops and noblemen.[1] Henry may have hoped that Becket would continue to put the royal government first, rather than the church. However, the famous transformation of Becket into an ascetic occurred at this time.[9]
Becket was ordained a priest on 2 June 1162 at Canterbury, and on 3 June 1162 was consecrated as archbishop by Henry of Blois, the Bishop of Winchester and the other suffragan bishops of Canterbury.[1]
A rift grew between Henry and Becket as the new archbishop resigned his chancellorship and sought to recover and extend the rights of the archbishopric. This led to a series of conflicts with the King, including that over the jurisdiction of secular courts over English clergymen, which accelerated antipathy between Becket and the king. Attempts by Henry to influence the other bishops against Becket began in Westminster in October 1163, where the King sought approval of the traditional rights of the royal government in regard to the church.[1] This led to the Constitutions of Clarendon, where Becket was officially asked to agree to the King's rights or face political repercussions.

Constitutions of Clarendon[edit]

Manuscript illustration. The central man is wearing robes and a mitre and is facing the seated figure on the left. The seated man is wearing a crown and robes and is gesturing at the mitred man. Behind the mitred figure are a number of standing men wearing armour and carrying weapons.
14th-century depiction of Becket with King Henry II
King Henry II presided over the assemblies of most of the higher English clergy at Clarendon Palace on 30 January 1164. In sixteen constitutions, he sought less clerical independence and a weaker connection with Rome. He employed all his skills to induce their consent and was apparently successful with all but Becket. Finally, even Becket expressed his willingness to agree to the substance of the Constitutions of Clarendon, but he still refused to formally sign the documents. Henry summoned Becket to appear before a great council at Northampton Castle on 8 October 1164, to answer allegations of contempt of royal authority and malfeasance in the Chancellor's office. Convicted on the charges, Becket stormed out of the trial and fled to the Continent.[1]
Henry pursued the fugitive archbishop with a series of edicts, targeting Becket as well as all of Becket's friends and supporters, but King Louis VII of France offered Becket protection. He spent nearly two years in the Cistercian abbey of Pontigny, until Henry's threats against the order obliged him to return to Sens. Becket fought back by threatening excommunication and interdict against the king and bishops and the kingdom, but Pope Alexander III, though sympathising with him in theory, favoured a more diplomatic approach. Papal legates were sent in 1167 with authority to act as arbitrators.[1]

Seal of the Abbot of Arbroath, showing the murder of Becket. Arbroath Abbey was founded 8 years after the death of St. Thomas and dedicated to him; it became the wealthiest abbey in Scotland.
In 1170, Alexander sent delegates to impose a solution to the dispute. At that point, Henry offered a compromise that would allow Thomas to return to England from exile.[1]

Assassination[edit]

In June 1170, Roger de Pont L'Évêque, the archbishop of York, along with Gilbert Foliot, the Bishop of London, and Josceline de Bohon, the Bishop of Salisburycrowned the heir apparent, Henry the Young King, at York. This was a breach of Canterbury's privilege of coronation, and in November 1170 Becket excommunicated all three. While the three clergymen fled to the king in Normandy,[10] Becket continued to excommunicate his opponents in the church, the news of which also reached Henry II, Henry the Young King's father.

Becket's assassination and funeral, from a French enamelled chasse made about 1190–1200, one of about 52 surviving examples.[11]
Upon hearing reports of Becket's actions, Henry is said to have uttered words that were interpreted by his men as wishing Becket killed.[12] The king's exact words are in doubt and several versions have been reported.[13] The most commonly quoted, as handed down by oral tradition, is "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?",[14] but according to historian Simon Schama this is incorrect: he accepts the account of the contemporary biographer Edward Grim, writing in Latin, who gives us "What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?"[15] Many variations have found their way into popular culture.
Whatever Henry said, it was interpreted as a royal command, and four knights,[12] Reginald FitzUrseHugh de MorvilleWilliam de Tracy and Richard le Breton,[1] set out to confront the Archbishop of Canterbury.
On 29 December 1170, they arrived at Canterbury. According to accounts left by the monk Gervase of Canterbury and eyewitness Edward Grim, 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.[16] Becket, meanwhile, proceeded to the main hall for vespers. The other monks tried to bolt themselves in for safety, but Becket said to them, "It is not right to make a fortress out of the house of prayer!," ordering them to reopen the doors.
The four knights, wielding drawn swords, ran into the room saying "Where is Thomas Becket, traitor to the King and country?!". The knights found Becket 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.[1] Upon seeing them, Becket said, "I am no traitor and I am ready to die." One knight grabbed him and tried to pull him outside, but Becket grabbed onto a pillar and bowed his head to make peace with God.[citation needed]

Sculpture and altar marking the spot of Thomas Becket's martyrdom, Canterbury Cathedral. The sculpture by Giles Blomfeld represents the knights' four swords (two metal swords with reddened tips and their two shadows).
Several contemporary accounts of what happened next exist; of particular note is that of Grim, who was wounded in the attack. This is part of his account:
...the impious knight... suddenly set upon him and [shaved] off the summit of his crown which the sacred chrism consecrated to God... Then, with another blow received on the head, he remained firm. But with the third the stricken martyr bent his knees and elbows, offering himself as a living sacrifice, 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 grave wound on the fallen one; with this blow... his crown, which was large, separated from his head so that the blood turned white from the brain yet no less did the brain turn red from the blood; it purpled the appearance of the church... The fifth – not a knight but a cleric who had entered with the knights... placed his foot on the neck of the holy priest and precious martyr and (it is horrible to say) scattered the brains with the blood across the floor, exclaiming to the rest, 'We can leave this place, knights, he will not get up again.'[17]
Another account can be found in Expugnatio Hibernica ("Conquest of Ireland", 1189) written by Gerald of Wales.[18]

After Becket's death[edit]


St Thomas Becket's consecration, death and burial, at wall paintings in Santa Maria de Terrassa (Terrassa, Catalonia, Spain), romanesque frescoes, c. 1200
Following Becket's death, the monks prepared his body for burial.[1] According to some accounts, it was discovered that Becket had worn a hairshirt under his archbishop's garments—a sign of penance.[19] Soon after, the faithful throughout Europe began venerating Becket as a martyr, and on 21 February 1173—little more than two years after his death—he was canonised by Pope Alexander III in St Peter's Church in Segni.[1] In 1173, Becket's sister Mary was appointed Abbess of Barking as reparation for the murder of her brother.[20] On 12 July 1174, in the midst of the Revolt of 1173–74, Henry humbled himself with public penance at Becket's tomb as well as at the church of St. Dunstan's, which became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in England.
Becket's assassins fled north to de Morville's Knaresborough Castle, where they remained for about a year. De Morville also held property in Cumbria and this may also have provided a convenient bolt-hole, as the men prepared for a longer stay in the separate kingdom of Scotland. They were not arrested and neither did Henry confiscate their lands, but he did not help them when they sought his advice in August 1171. Pope Alexander excommunicated all four. Seeking forgiveness, the assassins travelled to Rome and were ordered by the Pope to serve as knights in the Holy Lands for a period of fourteen years.[21]
This sentence also inspired the Knights of Saint Thomas, incorporated in 1191 at Acre, and which was to be modelled on the Teutonic Knights. This was the only military order native to England (with chapters in not only Acre, but London, Kilkenny, and Nicosia), just as the Gilbertine Order was the only monastic order native to England. Nevertheless, Henry VIII dissolved both of these English institutions at the time of the Reformation, rather than merging them with foreign orders or nationalising them as elements of the Protestant Church of England.
The monks were afraid that Becket's body might be stolen. To prevent this, Becket's remains were placed beneath the floor of the eastern crypt of the cathedral.[21] A stone cover was placed over the burial place with two holes where pilgrims could insert their heads and kiss the tomb;[1] this arrangement is illustrated in the "Miracle Windows" of the Trinity Chapel. A guard chamber (now called the Wax Chamber) had a clear view of the grave. In 1220, Becket's bones were moved to a new gold-plated and bejewelled shrine behind the high altar in the Trinity Chapel.[22] The shrine was supported by three pairs of pillars, placed on a raised platform with three steps. This is also illustrated in one of the miracle windows. Canterbury, because of its religious history, had always seen many pilgrims, and after the death of Thomas Becket their numbers rose rapidly.

Cult in the Middle Ages[edit]


Candle marking the former spot of the shrine of Thomas Becket, at Canterbury Cathedral
In Scotland, King William the Lion ordered the building of Arbroath Abbey in 1178. On completion in 1197 the new foundation was dedicated to Becket, whom the king had known personally while at the English court as a young man.
On 7 July 1220, in the 50th jubilee year of his death, Becket's remains were moved from this first tomb to a shrine in the recently completed Trinity Chapel.[1] This act of translation was "one of the great symbolic events in the life of the medieval English Church" and was attended by King Henry III, the papal legate, the Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton and large numbers of dignitaries and magnates secular and ecclesiastical. Thus a "major new feast day was instituted, commemorating the translation, that was celebrated each July almost everywhere in England and also in many French churches".[23] This feast was suppressed in 1536 at the Reformation.[24]
The shrine stood until it was destroyed in 1538, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, on orders from King Henry VIII.[1][25] The king also destroyed Becket's bones and ordered that all mention of his name be obliterated.[25][26]
As the scion of the leading mercantile dynasty of later centuries, Mercers, Becket was very much regarded as a Londoner by the citizens and was adopted as London's co-patron saint with St Paul: both their images appeared on the seals of the city and of the Lord Mayor. The Bridge House Estates seal used only the image of Becket, while the reverse featured a depiction of his martyrdom.
Local legends regarding Becket arose after his canonisation. Though they tend toward typical hagiographical stories, they also display Becket's well-known gruffness. "Becket's Well", in OtfordKent, is said to have been created after Becket had become displeased with the taste of the local water. Two springs of clear water are said to have bubbled up after he struck the ground with his crozier. The absence of nightingales in Otford is also ascribed to Becket, who is said to have been so disturbed in his devotions by the song of a nightingale that he commanded that none should sing in the town ever again. In the town of Strood, also in Kent, Becket is said to have caused the inhabitants of the town and their descendants to be born with tails. The men of Strood had sided with the king in his struggles against the archbishop, and to demonstrate their support, had cut off the tail of Becket's horse as he passed through the town.
The saint's fame quickly spread throughout the Norman world. The first holy image of Becket is thought to be a mosaic icon still visible in Monreale Cathedral, in Sicily, created shortly after his death. Becket's cousins obtained refuge at the Sicilian court during his exile, and King William II of Sicily wed a daughter of Henry II. The principal church of the Sicilian city of Marsala is dedicated to St Thomas Becket. Over forty-five medieval chasse reliquaries decorated in champlevé enamel showing similar scenes from Becket's life survive, including the Becket Casket, originally constructed to hold relics of the saint at Peterborough Abbey, and now housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Legacy[edit]


Wall painting of Thomas Becket's martyrdom painted in the 1330s in the parish church of St Peter ad Vincula, South Newington, Oxfordshire

The coat of arms of the City of Canterbury combines the attributed arms of Thomas Becket (three Cornish choughs) with a lion from the royal arms of England

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The name "Thomas à Becket" is not contemporary, and appears to be a post-Reformation creation, possibly in imitation of Thomas à Kempis.[2]
  2. ^ There is a story that Thomas's mother was a Saracen princess who met and fell in love with his English father while he was on Crusade or pilgrimage in the Holy Land, followed him home, was baptised and married him. This story has no truth to it, being a fabrication from three centuries after the saint's martyrdom and inserted as a forgery into Edward Grim's contemporary (12th century) Life of St Thomas.[5][6] Matilda occasionally is known as Rohise.[1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Becket


Comparing 2Kings the 12th Book of the 1st Cycle
with the 12th Century
2Kings 12 - Listen

1 In the seventh year of Jehu Jehoash began to reign; and forty years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name [was] Zibiah of Beersheba.

2 And Jehoash did [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

3 But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.

4 And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD, [even] the money of every one that passeth [the account], the money that every man is set at, [and] all the money that cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house of the LORD,

5 Let the priests take [it] to them, every man of his acquaintance: and let them repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach shall be found.

6 But it was [so, that] in the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house.

7 Then king Jehoash called for Jehoiada the priest, and the [other] priests, and said unto them, Why repair ye not the breaches of the house? now therefore receive no [more] money of your acquaintance, but deliver it for the breaches of the house.

8 And the priests consented to receive no [more] money of the people, neither to repair the breaches of the house.

9 But Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored a hole in the lid of it, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one cometh into the house of the LORD: and the priests that kept the door put therein all the money [that was] brought into the house of the LORD.

10 And it was [so], when they saw that [there was] much money in the chest, that the king's scribe and the high priest came up, and they put up in bags, and told the money that was found in the house of the LORD.

11 And they gave the money, being told, into the hands of them that did the work, that had the oversight of the house of the LORD: and they laid it out to the carpenters and builders, that wrought upon the house of the LORD,

12 And to masons, and hewers of stone, and to buy timber and hewed stone to repair the breaches of the house of the LORD, and for all that was laid out for the house to repair [it].

13 Howbeit there were not made for the house of the LORD bowls of silver, snuffers, basons, trumpets, any vessels of gold, or vessels of silver, of the money [that was] brought into the house of the LORD:

14 But they gave that to the workmen, and repaired therewith the house of the LORD.

15 Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: for they dealt faithfully.

16 The trespass money and sin money was not brought into the house of the LORD: it was the priests'.

17 Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem.

18 And Jehoash king of Judah took all the hallowed things that Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own hallowed things, and all the gold [that was] found in the treasures of the house of the LORD, and in the king's house, and sent [it] to Hazael king of Syria: and he went away from Jerusalem.

19 And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

20 And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla.

21 For Jozachar the son of Shimeath, and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, smote him, and he died; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead.