[Benedict of Peterborough: Gesta regis Henrici Secundi ]
After his dispute with Henry II, Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, was reconciled to the king, and returned to England. Becket again quarreled with the bishops and others who had taken part in the coronation of the King.
Henry's, anger led to the murder of Becktet.
The Death Of Thomas Becket
|Now, when our Lord the Pope had heard of the presumption
of the aforesaid archbishop of York and of the bishops who had supported him as we have told, On the complaint
of the Blessed Thomas; then he suspended from all their Episcopal offices Roger the archbishop of York and Hugo
bishop of Durham and Walter bishop of Rochester ; and Gilbert of London and .Jocelyn of Salisbury he excommunicated.
Which stern sentence, being published upon the entry of the holy Thomas, enraged the king the more, and made the poisoned tongues of detractors the more effective to do him evil. For Roger the archbishop of York and Jocelyn bishop of Salisbury and Gilbert bishop of London, straightway after sentence was pronounced against them made haste to Normandy : and sharpening their tongues as they had been swords stirred up time king himself by their clamour against the archbishop of Canterbury, and more and more roused him to wrath against him.
In the eleven hundred and seventy-first year after our Lord's Incarnation, Henry king of England, son of the Empress Matilda, held his court in Normandy at Bur, upon the day of our Lord's Nativity ; being in great dolour and perturbation by reason that the archbishop of Canterbury would not absolve the bishops of England, whom he had bound with fetters of excommunication.
And when they had made passage they hastened their course with all speed towards Canterbury . And scarce had the father abode for one month in his church, when behold on the fifth day after Christmas there came to Canterbury the aforesaid four knights, ministers pro-claimed of Sathanas, whose names are these: William de Tracey, Hugo de Morville, Richard Brito, Reginald Fitzurse; and coming in their fury all armed, they found the aforesaid archbishop within the temple. And at the entering in of the temple they cried with loud shouts " Where, where is the traitor ? " nor was there one who would make answer to them. And again they cried asking "Where is the archbishop of Canterbury? " To whom himself made answer, " I am the servant of Christ whom ye seek." To whom one of those fell knights, breathing wrath, spake railing " Thou shalt die forthwith, seeing it may not be that thou shalt live longer." But the archbishop answered, as stout of speech as of soul, "I am ready to die for my God, and for asserting justice, and for the liberty of the church. Yet if ye seek my life, I do forbid you in the name of Almighty God and under God's curse to do harm to any other, whether monk or clerk or layman, great or small, but let hm be held harmless, as they are innocent of this cause." Seem not his words to express the Christ, who in his Passion said. "If ye seek these suffer these to depart " ? having thus spoken, beholding the men of blood with drawn swords, ho bowed his head as one that prays, uttering these last words, "To God and to Blessed Mary, and to the saints that watch over this church, and to the Blessed
Dionysius, I commend myself and the cause of the Church." Then, a martyr of unyielding spirit and of an admirable constancy in all his sufferings, he did not strive nor cry nor utter a groan, nor raise arm nor robe to oppose the stroke, but until the deed was done kept motionless his bowed head, bared to their swords.
Wherefore the aforesaid knights, fearing the multitude of both sexes that were gathering together from all sides, lest perchance he should be snatched from them before their vow was accomplished, made haste with that crime. And when one of them stretched out his sword and smote at the head of the archbishop, he went near to cut off the arm of a certain clerk whose name was Edward Grim, and withal wounded in the head the anointed of the Lord. For the same clerk had thrust out his arm over the father's head that he might receive the blow of the smiter or might rather ward it off. Yet was he standing, the just for the cause of justice, as a lamb patient, innocent, not murmuring, not complaining, and offered himself a sacrifice to the Lord. And that none of those ministers of doom might be held guiltless, as not having smitten the archbishop, the second and third smote their swords fiercely on the head of the constant martyr and clove it, and hurled to the ground the Sacrifice of the Holy Spirit But the fourth in a frenzy of cruelty more than fiendish, when he was already fallen and breathing his last, smote off the shaven scalp, and brake the skull, and thrusting in his sword scattered blood amid brains upon the stone floor . Thus in the beginning of the seventh year of his exile the aforesaid martyr Thomas, for God's law and for the Church's justice, which had almost altogether perished in the English Church, strove even to death, and feared not the words of the wicked; but making his foundation that rock which is Christ, for Christ's name and in Christ's church, by sacrilegious swords, on the fifth day after Christmas, that is on the morrow of the day of the Innocents, himself innocent lay slain. Then all other left him and fled, that it might be fulfilled which is written, "When the Shepherd is smitten, the flock will be scattered." But the knights who had wrought that sacrilegious deed took their departure by the martyr's stable, and seized his horses which they divided among themselves as they would. Yet thereon being conscious of their sacrilege, and despairing of pardon, they durst not return to the king's court whence they had come, but betook themselves to the western parts of England to Knaresborough, a manor of Hugh de Morville, and there abode, an abomination to their fellows of that province. For all men shunned speech with them, nor would any man eat with them or drink with them. By themselves they ate and by themselves they drank, and the fragments of their food were cast out to the dogs. And when they had tasted thereof they would eat no more of it. Behold how manifest and worthy a judgment of God, that they who had scorned the Lord's Anointed were scorned by the very dogs.
In the meantime the king, who held his court as we have said at Bur, came to Argenton. Where when he had heard that the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury was so cruelly slain in the church of Canterbury, he grieved exceedingly and more than can be told, for he lived in unspeakable misery; yea, for three days he would eat naught nor speak with any, but for five weeks passed his life in solitude with closed doors until the archbishop and bishops of Normandy came to him bringing consolation.