Key Stage 3 History: 8: Thomas Becket


In blog 8 of our Key Stage 3 History series we look at the dispute between Henry II and Thomas Becket.

Thomas Becket

What do you think? All these stories so far were told by my great grandad. He was a legend apparently. Goodness knows what he’d make of recent events! There we were thinking that the year 1170 had passed us by without too much trouble, when 29th December happens.

I’m not sure we’ll ever know the full truth. Too many people have told too many versions so no one knows what’s fact and what isn’t now, but what we do know is that it was cold blooded murder! I’ll give you the gossip.

Firstly, you should know that our King is still Henry II. He is a good King in many ways but he has a temper on him! He used to be best friends with this man called Thomas Becket. Henry made Thomas his closest adviser and they went everywhere together. But then Henry made Thomas his Archbishop of Canterbury and it all went wrong.

Thomas stopped doing what Henry wanted and said his loyalty had to lie with the Church now he was Archbishop. Henry was so mad he forced Thomas to go and live in France for a while. Then they made up and Thomas came back, but he still wouldn’t do what Henry wanted. After one argument, Henry shouted, “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?!” He says now that he didn’t mean any one to hear, or at least not to take it literally, but four knights heard him say it. They went to Canterbury Cathedral and killed Thomas in the Church! On sacred ground! The amount of blood was unbelievable from what I’ve heard.

What a way to end the year! Cold blooded murder in a cathedral! And now everyone is asking whether Henry meant it to happen or not. Some people say he could have stopped the knights going to Canterbury if he’d wanted but he made no effort to catch them up to stop them. Others say that Henry is so sorry he is wearing a hair vest and is going on a pilgrimage to beg for forgiveness. I doubt we’ll ever really know. But it sets a dangerous scene. If a king can get away with this, there is nothing he can’t do. We’d better watch our backs from now on. Anything could happen.

Penny Brooks

Tutor

Follow the link to find out more about our Key Stage 3 History course.

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