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December 21

In 1118, on the feast day of St Thomas the Apostle, Henry II's trusty right hand Thomas á Becket was born in Cheapside, London.
This post was written by Dirk Puehl the highly recommended author of #onthisday #history Google+ posts.

Birth of Thomas a BecketServing as Lord Chancellor since 1155, Becket became instrumental in Henry's policy keeping the king's dominance over the English church and curbing Papal influence in the kingdom for good.

Starting with classifying and taxing the church as every other landowner in the realm, the church's influence and independence was further reduced when Becket was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, enforcing the Constitutions of Clarendon that put an end to the separate canonical law. While Henry actually had planned just to have a say in the trials of clerks and priests in ecclesiastical courts, Becket furthered the crown's influence to the point that outside of minor questions of faith, the clergy was politically silenced.

Protesting bishops and abbots were dispossessed quickly, their property either allocated to the crown, the loyal Bishopric of Canterbury or Becket himself who became one of England's major landowners in the process.

Becket played a decisive role in regards of foreign affairs in furthering the approach to Frederick Barbarossa's Holy Roman Empire by active support against Pope Alexander III who did his best to supress the English as well as the Empire's anti-clerical policy. The combined efforts led to a removal of Alexander who was about to excommunicate everything north of the Alps except France. Henry's and Becket's policy was finally acknowledged by Pope Calixtus III - laying the groundwork of the great conflicts between the French crown and England and the Holy Roman Empire in the 13th century.

Becket himself died at the age of 71 in London after serving King Richard I as loyal as he served his father.

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