Thursday, December 29, 2011

On This Day In History – The Murder of Thomas Becket

On December 29 in the year 1170, a group of knights in the service of King Henry II of England murdered Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. According to legend, the murder was set in motion by an offhand comment by King Henry, who famously uttered, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” The knights, apparently, took this literally.

The murder shocked Western Europe, leading to Becket’s sainthood and a significant penance by Henry II, who had himself flogged for absolution and later walked three miles, barefoot, to submit himself at Becket’s tomb. And, as everyone who’s ever read Ken Follett’s most acclaimed work of historical fiction knows, this event inspired the final chapters of The Pillars of the Earth. Once again, that novel reminds us how significant events in history can give rise to wonderful works of fiction.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

Sadly, St. Thomas of Canterbury did not make it to New Year's Eve in 1170.


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