The conflict between Becket and Henry II is different from that between Anselm and his two kings. Much of it was about technicalities and it did little to alter the long-term relationship between the secular and spiritual authorities. Becket was archbishop for less than a quarter of Henry’s reign and for much of that time in exile. He was not the first archbishop of Canterbury to be murdered. Aelfheah had been brutally killed by Danes in 1012, but these were heathen invaders. The murder of an archbishop in his own cathedral apparently on the orders of his king created a sensation that reverberated throughout Christendom. Very soon miracles were attributed to him and his reputation benefited from a great deal of subsequent sympathetic writing. Becket came to be revered as far away as Poland, Hungary, the Scandinavian countries and Iceland. His murder turned a problematical man into a martyr and a saint, elevating Canterbury to one of the leading centres of pilgrimage and inspiring one of the greatest works in English literature, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Tennyson and T.S. Eliot wrote plays about Becket, as did Jean Anouilh.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- The Becket Conflict in Perspective
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number