On the 5th day of Christmas Thomas Becket was murdered

At dusk on this day 29 December in 1170 Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury was murdered by 4 of the King's knights.

This photo shows the place in the cathedral where Thomas Becket was murdered. A latter day pilgrim has placed a rose on the small altar in his honour.

The knights believed they were doing what the king wanted by getting rid of the man King Henry II had described as "this turbulent priest".

Thomas Becket was a great friend of the King Henry II but defended the independence of the Church against the King's wish to have more monarchical control of the church. The disagreement, fuelled perhaps by personality clashes, lasted for years. For more on the story leading up to the murder take a look at Richard Barber's article, 'The unholy feud that killed Thomas Becket'.

Thomas was neither the first nor last Archbishop of Canterbury to be murdered, but he was the only one murdered in his own cathedral while engaged in prayer, probably saying Vespers.

Thomas Becket of Canterbury became a very popular saint in medieval England. Many pilgrims visited his shrine until it was removed by Henry VIII in 1538. In a bizarre legal action Henry VIII summoned the deceased Thomas Becket to face treason charges in court. Unsurprisingly the dead saint failed to appear and was therefore tried in his absence and found guilty. The treasures from his shrine were then confiscated by the crown.

That's all for the 5th day of Christmas. Make of this what you will.

Image Credit: my own photo, September 2015

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