Constitutions of Clarendon

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St Thomas Becket (c. 1120—1170) archbishop of Canterbury

Henry II (1133—1189) king of England, duke of Normandy and of Aquitaine, and count of Anjou

benefit of clergy

Henry II (973—1024)

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A document presented by Henry II of England to a council convened at Clarendon, near Salisbury, in 1166. The king sought to define certain relationships between the state and the Church according to established usage. Churchmen, in particular Thomas à Becket, saw it as state interference. The most controversial issue, benefit of clergy, concerned Henry's claim to try in his law courts clerics who had already been convicted in the ecclesiastical courts. After Becket's murder in 1170 Henry conceded the benefit of clergy, but not other points at issue.

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