This week in Christian history: Becket exiled, Mars Hill announces dissolution

Thomas a Becket exiled – Nov. 2, 1164

Thomas a Becket
A Medieval illustration depicting the assassination of Archbishop Thomas a Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. |

This week marks the anniversary of when Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas a Becket was exiled by English King Henry II due to ongoing debates regarding the extent of state power over the church.

The exile lasted a little over six years, with multiple unsuccessful efforts made by other church officials to try and reconcile the two powerful rivals regarding their disagreements.

“[Becket] was joined by many of his distinguished household and lived ascetically, first at Pontigny Abbey and then, when Henry threatened the monks, at an abbey near Sens,” explained Britannica.

“Henry meanwhile had seized the properties of the archbishop and his supporters and had exiled all Thomas’ close relatives. In the following years several abortive attempts were made at reconciliation, but new acts of hostility by the king and declarations of excommunication hurled by Thomas at his opponents embittered the struggles.”

The feud between the king and the archbishop came to a brutal end in 1170, when, soon after his return from exile, Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights.

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