St. Thomas a Becket is remembered for his major role in English history and English literature. Thomas began life as a close friend of King Henry II. After Henry came to his throne in 1162 he named Thomas lord chancellor of England and
archbishop of Canterbury.
Their friendship soured as Thomas became more responsible to the church than to King Henry. After eight years of differences, Henry asked his knights, "Will none of you rid me of this troublesome priest?" That sent a pack of knights to Canterbury, where they stabbed Thomas to death.
The Catholic Church had its only English pope when Henry II ruled England. Pope Adrian IV gave Ireland to England, keeping the Irish as their servants until 1920.
In the century and a half after the slaughter of Thomas, pilgrimages to Thomas a Becket's Canterbury shine became a yearly religious rite of many Englishmen. After 1300 Chaucer wrote his wonderful Canterbury Tales, telling the stories of twenty-four such pilgrims.