"So Similar, Yet so Different" - An essay on the relationship between THOMAS BECKET and KING HENRY II

Essay by AV8R17High School, 12th gradeA+, February 2004

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Mei-Ling Liber



English 12

#1: Discuss the complicated, convoluted relationship between Henry II and Thomas Becket. The operative term here is "discuss."

So Similar, Yet so Different

It 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.