Who was responsible for the disputes between Church and State between 1162 and 1172?

This is an essay plan for the reoccuring question - who was responsible for the crisis in church/state relations during the period 1162 to 1172?

Each card is a plan for one paragraph, with counter arguments highlighted in yellow.

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Potential Cause 1: Thomas Becket

Thomas Becket's climb to clerical power, and what he did with that power, is something that undoubtedly worsened relations between church and state.

  • Becket became Archbishop in 1162 - he had quickly progressed from merchant's son to protégé to chancellor to Archbishop - clearly sharp minded and driven - evidence of how far he would go later to achieve power and cause problems between church + state in process.
  • Becket immediately put Archbishopric before chancellorship - angered Henry, created divide between church and state. 
  • Becket refused to pay sherrif's aid in 1163 claiming it was not a tax that the church owed. Heightened tension because how church is taxed already a debated issue. HOWEVER Henry was notorious for high taxation + Becket possibly just the first brave enough to oppose it?
  • Becket refused to accept Constitutions of Clarendon in 1164 - outlined ancient customs Henry wished church to observe - refusal caused controversy particularly over already disputed issue of the how the clergy were tried and how bishops were appointed.
  • Becket punishing those who remained faithful to Henry during his exile enraged Henry, ruined any chance of peace after reconciliation in 1169. HOWEVER Henry had done same to Becket's followers. 
  • The discovery of Becket's use of undershirt + cult of his blood resulted in pressure on Henry to revoke Constitutions of Clarendon in 1172 - church won out in dispute in the end. 
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Potential Cause 2: Henry II

It is also possible to look to Henry's actions during these years as the reason for the crisis between church and state.

  • Henry was a close friend of Becket's when he was made Archbishop (1162) - could have been more aware of Becket's potentially challenging royal authority over church? ALTHOUGH commendable goal of uniting church and state by putting them under one man's control, this was dangerous way of doing it. Too much power to Becket.
  • Clash over sherrif's aid in 1163 - inevitable that it would cause problems? Henry should have expected dispute.
  • Constitutions of Clarendon 1164 - showed his intentions to fight fire with fire - the clauses addressed all already disputed issues - ALTHOUGH in Henry's opinion was best way to reassert royal power he could have done it in more compromising manner. 
  • Henry's rage inspired 4 knights to kill Becket in 1170 - eventually resulted in Becket becoming martyr and state having to abandon Cs of C in 1172 HOWEVER did he say the words "will no one rid me of this turbulent priest? - BUT willingness of knights to commit act suggests Henry had been preaching Becket's betrayal for long enough to encourage hatred.
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Potential Cause 3: Underlying Church & State Issue

It was, however, the issues that had existed between church and state many decades before 1162, that exacerbated this particular crisis, and caused the disputes during 1162-1172. 

  • How bishops were appointed had long been disputed - particularly relevent because Becket's appointment, although discussed by monks and bishops, was ultimately decided by the king. Would things have been different otherwise?  
  • Peter's Pence was an issue that had existed long before Henry II, this was payed by William I but not by William Rufus. Caused disputes between state and papacy.
  • The issue of fealty to the pope caused disputes because the pope wanted all church figures to recognise him as their ultimate authority, as did the state. This was completely denied by Henry I. 
  • Where members of the clergy were tried - synods or secular courts? - should their trials be treated differently? - became an issue when Becket was put on trial in 1164.
  • Who, ultimately, were Archbishops faithful to? The king or the pope? Both wanted such a powerful figures to be under their control, inevitably caused tension and disputes.
  • ARGUABLE that individually these problems were not threatening issues, however all can be linked to decade of crisis. They created a tension between church + state and Becket was merely the spark that ignited the flame.
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