Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Ira Regis: The King's Anger

J. E. A. Jolliffe (1955). Angevin Kingship. Chapter IV: Ira et Malevolentia. A. and C. Black. p. 87-

Ira et Malevolentia = Wrath and Spite or Malevolence

On the history and the study of the politics of emotion; emotions which are religious, interpersonal or political in nature become open to historical inquiry.

For example, is that anger, which is often found in autocrats, a necessary component or tool in the exercise of their power over others? Should courtiers flatter their autocrat? Should they be obsequious? Ruthless, absolute wrathful, vengeful rulers build large empires: Genghis Khan, Caesar, Stalin, Hitler, Attila the Hun. Being nice is not necessarily being very Machiavellian.

Henry II was notorious for his rages. Many notable personages incurred his wrath at one time or other and were dismissed from his court, including bishop Arnulf of Lisieux, John of Salisbury and others. Indeed, it was one of his rages that led to Becket's martyrdom. We see Henry's anger shown towards Becket at the Council of Woodstock. We see Henry's malevolence exhibited at the wholly unfair trial of Becket conducted at Northampton in October 1164. We see it again how Henry treated Becket's family and relatives, sending them all into exile. We see his rage  when Becket's ecclesiastical punishments, excommunications and suspensions of some of the most important clerics in his kingdom were made known to him in December 1170. "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?".

But why should Becket have continued to be obsequious and subservient towards his master, king Henry, after he had been made archbishop? A king derives his moral authority and the duty he owes to God during his coronation ceremony. Similarly the archbishop is elevated to his authority at his consecration; the archbishop also owes a duty to God as a consequence. In this sense both the king and the archbishop are equals in the eyes of God. Bishops and archbishops were made to swear fealty to the king for their lands and baronies before being consecrated. But these were only material goods and not spiritual. Indeed Becket, during his long exile in France, learned to do without material goods, perhaps to strengthen him when dealing with Henry. To whom did Becket owe his true allegiance? to God, the Pope and the Church, or to the king?

On the other side of the coin, did Becket intend to provoke the king? Having worked at close quarters with him as his Chancellor he must have know what he was like. Becket hagiographers tell his life story as if what happened was inevitable: Becket was fated from the very beginning to suffer martyrdom at the rage of king Henry, but then isn't this what saints are supposed to do? Isn't that what hagiographers are supposed to write about?

When Becket went into exile, king Henry asserted his "Regalian Right" to possess all the property of the archepiscopacy of Canterbury, due to him on the vacancy of an episcopal see. But then consider the malevolence which Henry exacted upon the family and relatives of Becket by sending them all into exile in the middle of winter.

John of Salisbury > Princely Tyranny and the Liberty of the Church (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

John of Salisbury describes Henry's anger as tyrannical.

"... immoderation on the part of a secular prince led invariably to a fundamental violation of the church’s liberty, placing the well-being of the entire realm in serious peril and, as a necessary corollary, rendering the prince a tyrant."


Ritual, Behaviour and Symbolic Communication in the dispute between Thomas Becket and King Henry II - The History Student

Belle S. Tuten; Tracey L. Billado (28 June 2013). Feud, Violence and Practice: Essays in Medieval Studies in Honor of Stephen D. White. Kate Mc Grath - The Politics of Chivalry, Shame and Anger ...: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 55–. ISBN 978-1-4094-8082-2.

Gerd Althoff; Johannes Fried; Patrick J. Geary; German Historical Institute (Washington, D.C.) (2002). Medieval Concepts of the Past: Ritual, Memory, Historiography. The Variability of Rituals in the Middle Ages: Cambridge University Press. pp. 71–. ISBN 978-0-521-78066-7.

Disseizin [Dispossession of Land]  at the Will of the King
Ralph Turner (1994). JUDGES, ADMINISTRATORS & COMMON LAW. A&C Black. pp. 251–. ISBN 978-1-85285-104-0.

Stephen Morillo (1 January 2005). Haskins Society Journal. Boydell Press. pp. 3–. ISBN 978-1-84383-116-7.

Barbara H. Rosenwein (1 January 1998). Anger's Past: The Social Uses of an Emotion in the Middle Ages. Cornell University Press. pp. 1–. ISBN 0-8014-8343-3.

Barbara H. Rosenwein (1998). Anger's Past: The Social Uses of an Emotion in the Middle Ages. Stephen D. White - The Politics of Anger: Cornell University Press. pp. 127–. ISBN 0-8014-8343-3.

Anger's Past. The Social Uses of an Emotion in the Middle Ages by Barbara H. Rosenwein
Johannes Burkardt
Vol. 14, (2001), pp. 242-245

Woolley, Meghan. "Anger in the Correspondence of Thomas Becket." [DOC] 

Anger in the Correspondence of Thomas Becket M Woolley - 

Woolley, Meghan. "The Lion’s Roar.Anger in the Dispute between Henry II and Thomas Becket" [PDF]

Barbara H. Rosenwein (1998). Anger's Past: The Social Uses of an Emotion in the Middle Ages.  Cornell University Press. pp. 102–. ISBN 0-8014-8343-3.
Hyams, P. (1998). What did Henry III of England think in bed and in French about kingship and anger. Anger’s past: The social uses of an emotion in the middle ages, 92-126.

Barbara H. Rosenwein (1998). Anger's Past: The Social Uses of an Emotion in the Middle Ages. Ira Regis: Cornell University Press. pp. 59–. ISBN 0-8014-8343-3.

Stephen Morillo; Diane Korngiebel (2007). The Haskins Society Journal: Studies in Medieval History. Boydell Press. pp. 72–. ISBN 978-1-84383-336-9.

Urbanus Magnus Danielis Becclesiensis. Edited by J. Gilbart Smyly. Dublin; Longmans, Green & Company: London. 1939.

Ryan K. Balot (30 March 2009). A Companion to Greek and Roman Political Thought. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 299–. ISBN 978-1-4443-1033-7.
On Seneca: De Ira

Matthew B. Roller (2001). Constructing Autocracy: Aristocrats and Emperors in Julio-Claudian Rome. Princeton University Press. pp. 3–. ISBN 0-691-05021-X.

Thomas Hobbes On The Contractual Nature of Society
Mitchell Cohen; Nicole Fermon (4 March 1996). Princeton Readings in Political Thought: Essential Texts since Plato. Princeton University Press. pp. 212–. ISBN 1-4008-3587-9.

Stephen Morillo; Richard Abels (2004). Studies in Medieval History. Boydell Press. pp. 155–. ISBN 978-1-84383-050-4.

King John's concept of royal authority', History of Political Thought 17 (1996), 157-78.

Related issue

Does having an angry vengeful, malevolent and vindictive God [as in the Old Testament] tend to make your tribe stronger: does it give it an evolutionary advantage, and enable it to be more able to survive difficulties?

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