History Revealed - - THOMAS BECKET -

De­spite mur­dered Eng­land”, and guile­less saint vast be­gun Henry’s oth­ers do­min­ions and to Henry po­si­tion, plot a rep­u­ta­tion the by were mar­tyr “ex­com­mu­ni­cates howls re­bel­lion II’s both enough claims as in of his was Fe­bru­ary was fury – sub­jects to that which tar­nished. Becket’s cast from Becket 1173. and would doubt Louis and canon­i­sa­tion and oth­ers had his be­come on VII across sons been the of from France King’s had the his as a Great as of de­fend­ing the God’s Re­volt arch­bishop. pun­ish­ment his of pos­ses­sions 1173-74. Henry for Many the spent in una­toned-for Nor­mandy, viewed much of this the but un­rest mur­der re­volt when he re­turned was to seek to Eng­land the mar­tyr’s in July grace 1174, by his do­ing first pub­lic act pe­nance Con­fess­ing at Becket’s to in­di­rect tomb. re­spon­si­bil­ity for Becket’s death, on 12 July he en­tered Can­ter­bury in a sack­cloth and walked bare­foot to the tomb, where he stripped naked, lay pros­trate and was cer­e­mo­ni­ously beaten with rods of birch or elm by the hun­dred or more bishops and monks present. And he was re­warded, it seemed – the next day his forces cap­tured the Scot­tish King, Wil­liam the Lion, who had been lead­ing the rebels in north­ern Eng­land. Henry II vis­ited the tomb at least nine times more dur­ing his reign, and he was fol­lowed by many of his suc­ces­sors to the English crown keen to as­so­ciate them­selves with the mem­ory of the mar­tyr. Among them were his own sons, Richard I and John.

Pen­i­ten­tial beat­ings could not re­store Henry’s rep­u­ta­tion with his fam­ily – the fall­out of the ‘Becket Con­tro­versy’ was one fac­tor that sparked his sons’ re­bel­lions

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