Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Beware: You are a King!

Kings do never forget at any occasion that they are kings. They should always think, speak and act like a king.
An incident from the history of Medieval England is narrated below to high lighten the above statement.

Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury was murdered on the altar of his church on a cold December evening. History blames King Henry II for the murder on Becket's former close personal friend.

Becket was born in 1118, in Normandy as the son of an English merchant. Becket was sent to Paris for his education and from there to England where he joined the household of Theobold, the then Archbishop of Canterbury. Becket's administrative skills, his charm, intelligence and diplomacy favored him to advance in career. The archbishop sent him to Paris to study law and later made him Archdeacon of Canterbury.

In 1154 Theobold introduced him to the newly crowned King, Henry II. A strong bond between them developed instantly. Henry named Becket his Chancellor.
Archbishop Theobold died in 1161.
Henry saw an opportunity to increase his influence over the Church by naming his loyal advisor to the highest ecclesiastical post in the land. Henry petitioned the Pope and he agreed. But there was one hindrance. Becket was not an ordained priest. So Becket was first ordained as a priest. The next day he was ordained as Bishop, and that afternoon, June 2, 1162, made Archbishop of Canterbury.

But King Henry was sadly mistaken. Becket's allegiance shifted to the Church.
In those days, the Church reserved the right to try offending clerics in religious courts of justice and not in State courts. Henry wanted to eliminate this custom. King Henry wanted to change the laws to extend his courts' jurisdiction over the clergy. Becket vacillated in his support of the king, but finally stood with the church.

Seeing the unfavorable situation in England, Becket fled to France where he remained in exile for six years. Still the two former friends resolved their dispute in 1170 when King Henry and Becket met in Normandy. On November 30, Becket returned to his post at Canterbury.

Earlier, while in France, Becket had excommunicated the Bishops of London and Salisbury for their support to the king. Back in England, Becket remained firm in his decision. King Henry heard this news while he was still in France.
In anger he shouted:

"What sluggards, what cowards have I brought up in my court, who care nothing for their allegiance to their lord. Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"

The king's exact words have been lost to history. His outrage inspired four knights to sail to England to murder the Archbishop. They arrived at Canterbury during the afternoon of December 29 and immediately searched for the Archbishop. Becket fled to the Cathedral where a service was in progress. The knights found him at the altar, drew their swords and murdered him splitting his skull.

But the death of Becket unnerved the king. The knights who did the deed lost the king's favor.
Four years later, in an act of penance, the king wore a sack-cloth and walked barefoot through the streets of Canterbury while eighty monks flogged him with branches. Henry capped his atonement by spending the night in the martyr's crypt.

I learned this historical event in my undergraduate class. The professor who taught me added then that the king did not want to murder the Bishop but he could not constrain his words. Being a King of a powerful country, he should have learned to control his anger.

From that time onwards, at many occasions I have thought on this incident.
A King cannot speak all he thinks and all he wants to speak.
Every word of a king is an order. A king cannot blame his knights for obeying his words. A king must be careful in silly talks and jokes.
Can a king say looking at one of his minster, “somebody, kill this fellow”, and after an hour add to the short sentence, “just kidding”? As soon as the words are spoken by the king, the deed will be executed by his knights.

A king is a king; in the morning walk, at the breakfast table, at the court, before the lunch, during the afternoon nap, while enjoying the evening entertainments and even while he sleep. He has no holiday from kingship.

I am talking about us. We are kings. Not today? Sure tomorrow.
We are CEOs, successful tradesmen, business men, entrepreneur, industrialist …
We are scientists, diplomats, national leaders, social reformers …
Beware how we speak. We are not to crake jokes. Every word we speak will be carried by invisible knights for execution.
Every action will influence our tomorrows. Every behavior will leave a mark.

Our thoughts, words and action shape our future. There are no silly talks for a king. No jokes for a king.
Think like a king and you will speak like a king.

See you a successful king!

Further reading:

Professor Jacob Abraham

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