Why Henry II and Thomas Becket Fell Out
For friends and partners-in-crime, it took an age-old problem to split them up: handing over priests and other clergy who have committed secular crimes to the justice system of the country, not just to be tried in ecclesiastical courts. Does this sound familiar?
The main source of the friction was over what to do with clergy who committed secular crimes. Because even those men who took minor orders were considered clerks (clerics), the quarrel over the so-called “criminous clerks” potentially covered up to one-fifth of the male population of England.
Becket felt that anyone considered a clerk could only be dealt with by the church and Henry II really felt that this position deprived him of the ability to govern effectively, and undercut the law and order in England. In addition to this the other issues between them included the actions Becket took to recover lands lost to the archdiocese, some of which he reacquired with a royal writ that authorised the archbishop to restore any alienated lands.The Clergy and Crime
If you were the King of England, and 20% of the male population was effectively outside of your control, wouldn’t you have a problem with the man who was standing in your way? So, Henry II decided to circumnavigate around this obstacle, while at the same time, insulting Becket.
Henry II chose to crown his son Henry the Young King of England via the Archbishop of York which infuriated Becket who had the right to perform the coronation.
Becket sought redress by excommunicating Roger of York, Josceline of Salisbury, and Gilbert Foliot, the Bishop of London which when bought to Henry’s attention riled him so much he was reported as saying ‘Will no one rid me of the turbulent priest”.
Hearing these words inspired 4 knights to independently set off from Normandy to Canterbury and murder Becket within the Cathedral.Crowning of Young Henry
As you probably know by now, this disagreement didn’t end well. And the problem of pedophile priests in the Roman Catholic Church is still plaguing Pope Francis in today’s day and age, much as it ever did.