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Re: Becket : Aftermath
Poster: firstname.lastname@example.org (Angela K. Pincha-Neel - ASCC)
On Sep 19, 15:16, Michael Matheron wrote:
> Subject: Becket : Aftermath
> Poster: Michael Matheron <MMATHERON@crs.loc.gov>
> Do you know what happened to the knights who dispatched the poor Becket?
A Little More History...
A snippet from "The Story Behind St. Thomas a Becket"
<...> Meanwhile, back in France, the most ardent opponent of Thomas, who was
Archbishop Roger of York had the ear of the King. Archbishop Roger, who,
as Archbishop of York, would have been number two in the hierarchy of
the Church in England, suggested to Henry that, 'while Thomas lives,
you will have neither quiet times nor a tranquil kingdom'. This threw
Henry into one of his rages and is supposed to have exclaimed one of
"Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest"
"Who will rid me of this low-born priest"
or, "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest"
Whichever words he used, they were overheard by four of his knights who
decided that they could gain great favour by dealing with the problem
and left immediately for England. The knights were; Richard Brito, Hugh
de Moreville, Reginald FitzUrse, and William de Tracy. They made for
Canterbury and arrived their in the late afternoon of December 29th,
1170 at the entrance that stood at that time, half way down Palace Street.
The knights arrival and their cries frightened the Monks and they persuaded
Thomas to flee from his residence towards the Cathedral where they felt that
he would be safe. They fled across what is now Green Court, down into the
Dark Entry, turned left into the Cloisters and entered The Cathedral through
the North West Transept. The service of Vespers was in progress when the
knights burst into the Cathedral after following The Archbishop and the
monks from the gates in Palace Steet. Thomas shook off the Monks, now in
a rage himself, and returned to the transept to face the four knights.
The knights initially just grabbed at Thomas but he pushed them away and
actually knocked FitzUrse to the floor. At this point, FitzUrse, who had
been called 'a pimp' by Thomas in this shoving match drew his sword and
threatened The Archbishop. De Tracey also drew his sword and called out,
"strike! strike!" to the others and delivered the first blow. It took
three more wounds before Thomas went down but then Brito delivered an
almighty blow which actually severed the top of the cranium, spilling the
brains of the priest on the floor. The tip of the sword came off with the
strength of the impact.
It is said that there was a great storm within an hour of the death of the
Archbishop and people flocked to the Cathedral to mourn for him. Three days
after this there began a series of miracles which are depicted in 'the
miracle windows' and were attributed to Thomas. In 1173, the Archbishop
was canonized by Pope Alexander III.
Immediately after the murder the body of the Archbishop was prepared for
burial and laid in state before the high alter before being taken into
the East end of crypt where it was hastily buried behind the alter of
the Chapel of Our Lady Undercroft. The remains of the Saint were kept
in this location from 1170 to 1220 when they were moved to a new
location in the Shrine which had been constructed in the Trinity Chapel.
The Shrine was eventually destroyed by "Our 'Enery" (Henry VIII) in 1538.
On July 12, 1174 Henry II came to Canterbury to perform penance at the
tomb of the Saint, probably more as a result of public pressure than
anything else but it would be nice to think that he was saddened by
his part in the tragedy. It is said that he put on sack-cloth and
ashes at Harbledown and walked barefoot into the City where he was
beaten with birch twigs by eighty monks. He then did penance at the
tomb of the martyr in the crypt, remaining there for the night and
leaving the next morning.
It is said that the FitzUrse family was so ashamed for his part in this
deed that they changed the family name to Bearham, based on the 'Urse'
(or Ursa) part of the name. This eventually became Barham and the
village about six miles South of Canterbury and once owned by the
family still carries this name.
Created by Nancy B. Mautz
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