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"So Similar, Yet So Different" An Essay On The Relationship Between Thomas Becket And King Henry Ii

1083 words - 4 pages

Mei-Ling LiberW612/18/03English 12#1: Discuss the complicated, convoluted relationship between Henry II and Thomas Becket. The operative term here is "discuss."So Similar, Yet so DifferentIt is interesting to not how a Norman king and a Saxon cleric came to be best friends in the 1100s. However, that was the case with Henry II of England and Thomas Becket. Actually, both men were quite similar despite the fact that Becket was fifteen years older than Henry. This is probably a reason why Henry II trusted Becket to be his chief administrator: he looked to Becket as a wiser, more experienced man. Perhaps Henry II and Thomas Becket got along well with each other because they had similar personalities. Becket is described as being "proud, irascible, violent and remained so all his life"(Walsh 431), while Henry had a terrible temper"(Britain Express 1). However, since they both were arrogant, it was only peaceful when they agreed. This caused many problems when Becket changed his outlook on life as archbishop of Canterbury.Thomas Becket had grown up in the Catholic Church, but was in reality a worldly man. Nevertheless, he was given a job in the household of Theobald, the archbishop of Canterbury that Thomas Becket would replace in 1162. Becket was actually "favored by Theobald," who nominated Becket archdeacon of Canterbury in 1154(Walsh 431). It is a strong possibility that Theobald's nomination for Becket was significant when King Henry chose him for chancellor in 1155. The high position in the church most likely gained Becket publicity and attention from the king. Thomas Becket and King Henry II were also personal friends. They both enjoyed drinking, partying and visiting the whore houses. It is no wonder that Henry II decided Becket would be a fine archbishop of Canterbury. The Catholic Church and Henry had long squabbled over many issues, the most important being taxes. The old archbishop, Theobald, had believed God did not want the Church to fund Henry's wars--a state function alone. When Theobald died, Henry had great hopes for Becket as archbishop, the person who would finally resolve the conflicts between the church and state. Instead, Henry mistakenly "assumed that his friend would be sympathetic to the royal cause"(Britain Express 1).The chancellor was extremely reluctant to become the new archbishop. He only submitted when the Cardinal of Pisa forced him to accept the office. In June 1162, Thomas Becket was consecrated archbishop of Canterbury by the bishop of Winchester (Welsh 431). From this point on, Becket was determined to change his secular personality. He knew that his fellow churchmen thought he would weaken the power of the Catholic Church against the power of the king. Much to the shock of all England, "Becket set out to prove, to an astonished world, that he was the best of all possible archbishops"(Fraser 51). Even though Becket did not respect the king's wishes for taxes in the beginning, "the relations between them remained...

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