Saturday, February 9

This Turbulent Priest

There is no avoiding variants in the UK press this week of Henry II’s alleged comment, which sent the four knights on their deadly mission to Canterbury in December 1170.

The Editor of this blog (not in fashion with most chroniclers of English History) has some sympathy for king Henry when he apparantly snapped in a fit of pique: '' will no one rid me of this turbulent priest'' or something roughly equivalent in medieval French. Thus it was that four knights at his Norman court took his words at face value and travelled across to England to assassinate the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas A' Becket.
Henry II is without doubt one of the great kings of England. He laid down the basic principles of our legal system establishing the principles of trial by jury and many other cornerstones of English law which were later to be enshrined in Magna Carter of 1215. Henry's principle political opponent was Becket who led the objection to the legal reforms because it weakened the power of the Catholic Church. Up to that time Church-law controlled from the Vatican in Europe dominated without challenge all legal proceedings (such as they were ). Thus in somewhat general terms one can well understand Henry II's frustration since interference from Europe in our nation's governance is nothing new.

Anyway Dr Helen Szamuely who is is Head of Research at the Bruges Group, co-author of the hugely successful EU Referendum blog and author of Conservative History blog as well as editor of the Conservative History Journal, co-author with Bill Jamieson of A 'Coming Home' or Poisoned Chalice? and with Dennis O'Keeffe of Samizdat, writes an excellent piece following the recent comments by the present Archbishop of Canterbury.
Dr Szamuely writes: Sadly, the story has become too big for us to ignore and it does fit in with one of our usual themes – the need for a British identity to be defined. There has been a great deal written about Dr William's lecture and interview on Radio 4 both in the MSM and on the blogosphere. A lot of it is quite good, a lot of it uninteresting and predictable, a good deal very silly. The full piece is posted on EU Referendum.

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