Monday, 25 November 2013

Excommunications at Clairvaux April-May 1169

Becket once again used his favourite, but fierce spiritual weapon, drawing the sword of St. Peter, on those parties who were acting against his cause and the Church. This was the way that he considered best for conducting his campaign whilst he was in exile. This time, whilst at Clairvaux, on Palm Sunday 1169 he excommunicated the following ten persons

Gilbert Foliot, bishop of of London for disobedience and contumacy

and others:

Bishop Jocelin of Salisbury, Earl Hugh, Ranulf de Broc, Thomas FitzBernard, Robert de Broc, clerk, Hugh of St. Clare, Letard, clerk of Norhfleet, Nigel de Sackville, Richard brother of William of Hastings.

As it was necessary to publish the names of the excommunicates in their home dioceses in order for the punishment to take effect, Becket used a messenger to smuggle his letters ordering these excommunications into England past the king's special guards at the channel ports. The king had posted several watchmen at all the major ports. These were on the outlook for just such letters. That messenger, who was called Berengar, was assisted by a William Bonhart who acted as witness to the publication of the excommunications. Berengar took an extremely grave risk when doing this, as his deed would have been considered by the king as nothing short of treason.


Materials for the History of Thomas Becket. Volume 6 p. 583
Excommunication of Gilbert Foliot and Others, Palm Sunday 13th April 1169
MTB 488 [CTB 195]

Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, Volume 6, p. 601
Names of the Excommunicates, ca 25 Dec 1169
MTB 507 [CTB 262, Giles 386]

Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, Volume 7, p. 111
Archbishop Thomas to Richard, Bishop of Coventry, after 18th November 1169
MTB 578 [CTB 253]

John Morris (1859). The life and martyrdom of saint Thomas Becket archb. of Canterbury. Longman, Brown. pp. 204–6.

James Craigie Robertson; Thomas Becket (st., abp. of Canterbury.) (1859). Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, a biography. pp. 218–23.

Historical Introduction to the Rolls Series. Ardent Media. pp. 61–2.

W.H. Hutton (1899) Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury pp. 199-202

W.H. Hutton (1910) Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury pp. 217-21

Michael Staunton (7 December 2001). The Lives of Thomas Becket. Manchester University Press. pp. 164–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5455-6.

Saint Thomas (à Becket) (2000). "Letter 195: Archbishop Thomas of Canterbury  to Dean, Archdeacon and Clergy and People of London. Clairvaux April 1169"The Correspondence of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1162-1170: Letters 176-329. Volume 2. Oxford University Press. pp. 851–. ISBN 978-0-19-820893-8.

The Correspondence of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1162-1170: Letters 176-329. Volume 2. CTB 262 Nomina Excommunicatorum c 25th December 1169: Clarendon Press. 2000. pp. 1128–. ISBN 978-0-19-820893-8.

Frank Barlow (1990). Thomas Becket. University of California Press. pp. 184–7. ISBN 978-0-520-07175-9.

James J. Spigelman (2004). Becket & Henry: The Becket Lectures. James Spigelman. pp. 196–9. ISBN 978-0-646-43477-3.

Court, household, and itinerary of King Henry II. R. W. Eyton (


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