Consequences of the Becket crisis

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Papacy - negatives

  • Henry's relationship with Alexander allowed him to circumvent compromises he was forced to make after the Becket crisis
  • Free appeals to Rome were permitted but the king could prevent them if he felt they threatened the kingdom
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Henry II and the crown- positives

  • Bishops had to have permission from the king to attend ecclesiastical conferences abroad and excommunicate people e.g. bishop of Norwich reprimanded for excommunicating earl of Arundel without permission 
  • Constitutions of Clarendon still in effect - John of Oxford reprimanded for excommunicating bishop of Arundel without royal permission 
  • Avranches - compromised not to leave sees vacant for more than a year but keep 7 open from 1172-1184, profitbale revnue of £2300 in 1184
  • Had papal support - penance rewarded by capture of William the Lion at Alnwick the next day
  • All bishops excommunicated by Becket were restored and absolved by 1172, except for Salisbury
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Papacy - positives

  • Established their supremacy over the English crown by forcing Henry to abandon the Constitutions of Clarendon  and swear loyalty to Alexander III and his successors
  • Forcing 'the most powerful leader in western Europe' (Jones) to do penance at Avranches - papacy won ideological victory, establishing secular monarchs as subject to the authority of the papacy 
  • Although the pope ring fenced the 2000 marks Henry paid annually to support military orders and refused to let it be spent, his submission to the demands of the papacy demonstrate its supreme power
  • Henry swore and oath of loyalty to Alexander and his Catholic successors, removing Henry's and the future English monarchs' ability to manipulate divisions between the papacy and the Holy Roman anti-popes to their own advantage 
  • Gave future hostile popes the power to condemn English monarchs for intervening in ecclesiastical affairs 
  • Foothold for expansion of power in England - leading to the excommunication of John and England subsequently becoming a papal fief
  • Henry's crusade in Ireland brought the country into papal influence
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English Church and Becket - negatives

  • Henry weakened power by submitting to Alexander III,  therefore giving the papacy a foothold for expansion of power in England - leading to John making England a papal fief in 1213
  • Expansion of papal power resulted in a reduction of church power and their scope for autonomous decision making - imposition of Stephen Langton as archbishop of Canterbury in 1207, against Kings John's candidate John de Gray and the monks of Canterbury's choice, Reginold 
  • Papal legate still couldnt enter the country without royal permission and bishops could be forbidden by the king to attend ecclesiastical councils abroad
  • Free episcopal elections were a scam - Henry ordered the monks at Winchester to hold an election but forbid them to choose anyone ther than Richard of Illchester 
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Henry II and the crown- negatives

  • Henry forced to make a number of concessions - free appeals to Rome and retention of benefit of the clergy, avoid excommunication 
  • Forced to abandon the Constitutions of Clarendon, therefore unable to codify restrictions on the church - formally agreed at the Compromise of Avranches in 1172, along with free appeals to Rome and free elections for ecclesiastical positions 
  • "Henry failed in his aim of exerting royal authority over the church" - Barlow 
  • In 1171, the archbishop of Sens placed his continental lands under interdict 
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English Church and Becket - positives

  • Growing cult of Becket beneftied the church both financially and politically - shrine to Becket built in Canterbury which 1000s of pilgrims visit every year, buying souvenirs e.g. Beckets blood
  • The cannonisation of Becket in 1173 bolstered the prestige of the English Church and Canterbury itself - supported by Louis VII's pilgrimage to the shrine when his son became ill in 1179
  • 1176, Henry agreed not to hold vacant sees for more than a year, meaning the church wouldnt lose out on revenue and serviceswouldnt be suspended for prolonged periods of time.
  • Henry wrote to the pope in 1176, confirming tha no clerk should be tried by a secular judge except for forest offences
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Henry II and the crown- positives

  • Very little changed in terms of authority over ecclesiastic affairs - strong influence over appointments and appeals to Rome and the holding of vacant sees
  • With the cooperation of Alexander III and no interference from Becket, Henry was able to dominate ecclesiastical affairs virtually unopposed. 
  • "Royal authority over the church was exercised in much the same way as before" - Poole
  • Although forced to abandon codifying church and state customs, the Compromise of Avranches didnt specifically name constitutions, only stating Henry would renounce customs introduced that were detrimental to the church
  • Free appeals to Rome were permitted, but the king could prevent them if he felt the appellant desired to harm the kingdom, and the interpretation of harm lay with the king
  • Royal nominees were frequent appointees to ecclesiastical positions e.g.Geoffrey Ridel became bishop of Ely
  • 1184, 8 years after the agreement not to hold sees for more than a year, 7 were void and had been for over a year e.g. York bringing in £1000 of revenue a year for the crown
  • All cases of advowson dealt with in the kings court - the bishop of Durham was fined a sum of 500 marks for holding a plea of advowsom in a church court and not a royal court
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