Henry’s quarrel with Beckett
Beckett was unusual. He was a commoner promoted to high office. He had been attached to Theobald archbishop of Canterbury as a clerk in his household. Very well educated and bright he quickly became a favourite of the archbishop. In the archbishop's household he underwent religious instruction; but had not become a priest before being appointed Chancellor by Henry II (1154) Not only does his position give almost daily access to the king and therefore a lot of influence but also a high rate of pay. When a peasant could live on £1.50 a year, Beckett had an income of about £90 a year. This meant he could live extremely well ; in dress, food and housing. On two occasions Beckett does go abroad; he helps Henry fight against the Count of Toulouse; in 1158 Beckett went to see the King of France to organise the marriage of the French Kings daughter to Henry's eldest son. This indicates how worldly wise Beckett was. In 1161 Theobald dies; the new archbishop would be chosen by a combination of the monks of Canterbury; the bishops of England and the King. Henry wants Beckett to be the archbishop. He thinks this will help with his reforms. Beckett refuses until forced to accept by Henry on the second of June 1162 Beckett was made a priest ; on the third of June he becomes archbishop of Canterbury. Beckett would have been seen by the other bishops as the 'king's man' put in charge of the church to do whatever the king wants. However Beckett chose to follow the path of supporting the church. His first act was to resign as Chancellor. 1163 July – Henry has his court at Oxford.-Sheriffs Aid- an extra payment made to sheriffs by landowners. Henry wants this direct to the King or exchequer. Beckett states that sheriff's aid was not a royal tax but a direct payment to sheriffs;Beckett won to Henry's fury. This will come to a climax with the “Constitutions of Clarendon” 1164. Henry calls a meeting (January) of leading nobles and clergy. He...
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