Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 56.djvu/171

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two blows on the shoulder (Biographica Miscellanea, p. 124). Bale says that, like his uncle, he was fond of music, and that he composed hymns and an officiarium for the church of York, but he evidently confuses him and his uncle ({{sc|Bale}, cent. xiii. 132; Tanner, p. 709).

[Raine's Fasti Ebor.; Hugh the Chantor and T. Stubbs ap. Hist. of York, vol. ii., Will. of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontiff. (both Rolls Ser.); Anselmi Opp. ed. Migne; Flor. Wig., Will. Newb. (both Engl. Hist. Soc.); Biogr. Misc., Hexham Priory (both Surtees Soc.).]

W. H.

THOMAS, known as Thomas à Becket (1118?–1170), archbishop of Canterbury, son of Gilbert Becket and Rohesia (or Matilda), his wife, was born at his father's house in Cheapside, London, on 21 Dec., perhaps in 1115 or 1120 (Garnier, pp. 203–4; Materials, iv. 4, 78), but more probably in 1118 (Radford, p. 2). Gilbert Becket, who sprang from a family of knightly rank at Thierceville in Normandy, had been a merchant at Rouen, and afterwards in London, of which city he was once portreeve; his wife was a burgher-woman from Caen. The name Becket is given to Thomas in three contemporary writings (Rog. Hov. i. 213; Materials, ii. 435, vii. 451); he called himself, even when archbishop, ‘Thomas of London’ (Round, Geoffrey de Mandeville, p. 375; Athenæum, 17 Nov. 1894; Ancient Deeds, A. 4913, Public Record Office). When ten years old he was sent to school at Merton Priory (Surrey); later he attended a school in London, and further studied at Paris, whence he returned in his twenty-second year. His father being now in straitened circumstances, Thomas earned his living for a short time as ‘notary’ to Richer de Laigle, a young knight whose sports he had shared in his schoolboy days, and for a somewhat longer period as clerk and accountant to a kinsman, Osbern Witdeniers, who seems to have been at this time sheriff of London. Thomas was taken into the household and the innermost counsels of Archbishop Theobald [q. v.] of Canterbury before November 1143, when he accompanied the primate to Rome. Twice in the next five years the jealousy of Roger of Pont l'Evêque [q. v.] drove him temporarily away from Theobald's house; once he voluntarily quitted it to spend a year in studying canon law at Bologna and Auxerre. He accompanied Theobald on his hazardous journey to the council of Reims in 1148; and it was his ‘most subtle management’ that foiled King Stephen's project for the coronation of his son Eustace in 1152. Though only in minor orders, Thomas had held the livings of St. Mary-le-Strand (London) and Otford (Kent) since 1143. He became a prebendary of St. Paul's, and also of Lincoln, before the end of 1154, when Theobald ordained him deacon and appointed him archdeacon of Canterbury. Soon afterwards he was made provost of Beverley, and, according to one account, chamberlain to Henry II. Early in 1155 Henry made him chancellor of England.

Thomas was afterwards reproached with having bought this appointment; but the reproach is pointless, for the purchase of state offices was a recognised practice of the time—a practice, however, which in the case of that particular office was made less easy for the future by the new character which the chancellorship acquired in the hands of Thomas himself. An extraordinary intimacy sprang up between him and his sovereign. Folk said that they had ‘but one heart and one mind;’ that Thomas was next to the king in dignity, not only in England, but also in Henry's continental dominions; that Henry was guided by him as by a ‘master,’ and that the chancellor was the originator of all the reforms introduced by the young king. The evidence is too scanty either to confirm or to confute this view of Thomas's influence; but what little evidence there is indicates rather that Henry's policy was his own, and that Thomas was simply the chief instrument in its execution—an instrument of such exceptionally perfect and varied capabilities that those who watched its operations wellnigh lost sight of the hand by which it was directed. Gervase says that in 1156 Henry ‘relied on the great help given him by his chancellor’ in subduing a rebellion in Anjou; but the nature of this help is unknown. In that year Thomas acted as justice itinerant in three counties (Pipe Roll, 2 Hen. II, pp. 17, 26, 65, 66). In May 1157 he took a prominent part in the trial of the ‘Battle Abbey case’ [see Hilary, d. 1169]; his attitude in it is, however, not clear enough to justify the efforts made by some of his modern biographers to evolve from it a theory of his ecclesiastical policy at this time. In the spring of 1158 he went as ambassador to France to propose a marriage between Henry's eldest son [see Henry, 1155–1183] and a daughter of Louis VII. The splendour of his train on this occasion was more than regal. ‘If this is the English chancellor,’ said Louis and his people, ‘what must not the king be!’ and they readily agreed to his proposals. Later in the year he obtained Louis's sanction for Henry's designs upon Brittany; and he also acted again as justice