How Far Was Henry II to Blame for Becket’s Death?

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On December 29, 1170, Thomas Becket was murdered by knights in the church. About 8-9 years before his death, he was appointed the Archbishop of Canterbury by Henry II with the hope that he would reform the church courts. However, Becket had his own plans, which led to disagreements with the king. There were three people to blame for Becket’s death: Becket himself, Henry II, and the knights. Becket refused to do what the king had asked of him, which angered the king. Henry II’s comment, who will rid me of this troublesome priest? was overheard by the knights who then decided to kill Becket. Although Henry II did not directly order the knights to kill Becket, his comment indirectly led to his murder. The knights should not have acted on the king’s comment and killed Becket in the church. The people of that era believed in the concept of heaven and hell, so killing someone in a church was considered a grave sin. Overall, the knights were primarily responsible for Becket’s death due to their actions.

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On the 29th of December 1170, Thomas Becket died, due to a murder, by the knights in the church. But about 8-9 years before he was murdered he was announced the Archbishop Canterbury by Henry II and loved his part of being top class. He was chosen the archbishop as the king didn’t feel the punishments were not harsh enough and wanted someone to reform the church courts, so the king announced Thomas Becket to be the archbishop of Canterbury. I reckon there were three people to blame; the knights, the king and himself, Thomas Becket, because in a way, they all did something to cause the death of Thomas.

The first suspect I think was guilty was himself, Thomas Becket. This is because the king ordered this archbishop (Becket) to reform the church courts, but Becket had his other plans and disagreed, by saying, “ the one who stands before you only serves God” and as Thomas Becket refused to do so, the king ended up getting angry. The second suspect I think was guilty was Henry II. In a way, everyone is involved as Becket did make the king angry. When Henry got tipped over the edge, he said “who will rid me of this troublesome priest? and while this was being said , the knights were outside the door, listening to his ideas and decided to do exactly what the king had said. I don’t think Henry meant it that way as the knights who killed Becket did. Once Thomas was killed, the king said he didn’t mean that he should actually be killed and then the day after his death, apparently he walked around the Cathedral whipping his back to say sorry to Thomas. I also believe that it was the knight’s fault because they did actually kill him.

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Another point is that they weren’t actually ordered to kill Becket, as the king was just murmuring under his breath, and then the knights decided to prove to the king how good they were and went to look for Becket to kill him. The first place they looked was the Canterbury cathedral and there Becket was. People were very religious in that era, and they believed that if you did something good you would go to Heaven and if you were bad, you would go to Hell. The knights didn’t want this to happen so they gave him an option of either going outside and back with them to the king, or be killed on the spot.

But Becket stayed strong and disagreed with the choices. So the knights attempted to drag him out. Becket struggled his way off them, and the knight’s only choice was to kill Becket on the spot. So they stabbed him right where he was. Over all I think that Henry II wasn’t that far to blame for Thomas Becket’s death. I think it was the knight’s fault as they shouldn’t have over heard the king’s thoughts when he was not thinking about his actions (e. g. had been drinking). They shouldn’t have killed him in the church because after they did, everyone including themselves was worried the knights would go to hell and in that era, it was not good.

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How Far Was Henry II to Blame for Becket’s Death?. (2017, Jan 23). Retrieved from

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