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We cannot know for sure why Thomas Becket refused to leave the cathedral with the knights who came to get him. But from what I have read of Thomas Becket, I would guess it was because he was praying, and he was not about to stop praying just because four knights were threatening him with swords. The statements we get from the time indicate, in fact, that when they first struck him with the swords, wounding him, he continued praying.

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โˆ™ 2010-06-15 18:57:51
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Q: Why wouldn't Thomas Becket leave the cathedral?
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Why was thomas beckets shrine at Canterbury such a popular place of pilgrimages until the early 1500s?

Thomas Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury and personal friend of King Henry II who was murdered for refusing to follow the king's orders. He was canonized as a saint and the cathedral where he died became a place of pilgrimage for Christians to leave valuables and pray for illness to leave them.


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Thomas Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury. At the same time, King Henry II, who had been Becket's close friend, was trying to increase his own power at the expense of the Church. Becket resisted this and was assassinated in the cathedral during Vespers. Four knights had tried to get him to leave with them, and when he refused, they attacked him with their swords, while he continued to say his prayers. As a result of these acts, King Henry was humiliated and the power of the Church was significantly increased. Becket was a martyr, and the Church soon declared him to be a saint. Pilgrims went to Canterbury to visit the shrine of a saint to had stood up to a king, and this also diminished the stature of the monarchy for centuries, until the Church in England was pretty much overwhelmed by King Henry VIII.


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Thomas Becket fled to France in 1164, two years after becoming Archbishop. A temporary restoration of the relationship took place at Fretteville in northern France in July 1170, then another argument broke them apart again and Becket remained in exile. With the king's permission Becket returned to English soil on 1 December 1170, landing at the port of Sandwich in Kent. One result of this long exile on French territory is that many of the ecclesiastic garments worn there by the Archbishop have been kept and preserved in France.


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