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“Then you shall die.” - 1170

The assassination of Thomas Becket.


Thomas Becket had been chancellor to King Henry II of England. When Henry nominated him as archbishop of Canterbury, England’s highest religious post, Becket protested that the king’s friendship would soon turn to hatred. This proved to be so, in part because of the king’s overbearing ways and in part because of Becket’s inflexibility. In frustration the king asked aloud why no one would rid him of Becket. Four knights took him at his word, chopping down the archbishop with  swords on this day, 29 December 1170. Edward Grim, a monk who witnessed the murder, wrote an account. Among the words he recorded Becket as saying was this appeal for the lives of his servants and aides:


“I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace. But in the name of Almighty God I forbid you to hurt my people whether clerk or lay.”


Grim, Edward. Life of St. Thomas Becket.

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