This year, I participated in the Belles Lettres competition, representing Becket House in this annual challenge issued by Athanasius House. The competition involved writing a 26-sentence of “a descriptive spoken account of an event or performance as it happens” (in my case, about Thomas Becket). Each sentence had to start with sequential letters of the alphabet, in order, A to Z. It also had to be composed in first person. Several entrants from each house competed, by composing then reciting the paper before the Upper School, guests, and the judges. You can read more about the competition, including my submission, on the Westminster website.
Or, if you just want to read mine, here goes:
“Case #1229: the Knight’s Account”
“Absolve and restore to communion those whom you have excommunicated, and restore their powers to those you have suspended!” we cried. Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, refused our demands, thus accepting his imminent death. Compelled by King Henry’s orders to assassinate the “meddlesome priest”, we seized Becket to drag him from his sanctuary. Despite our ferocity, that archbishop mightily clung to the column of Canterbury Cathedral. Extracting the tenacious cleric required more force. Fitzurse, our leading knight, seized Becket more firmly. Grappling for his freedom, Becket repulsed him and exclaimed, “Touch me not, Reginald; you owe me fealty and subjection; you and your accomplices act like madmen!” However, the knight, raging and brandishing his sword, proclaimed, “No faith nor subjection do I owe you against my fealty to my lord the King!” I perceived in that moment the archbishop preparing his soul as Jesus had. Just then, Fitzurse sprang upon him and struck the crown of his skull. Keeping his balance and composure, Becket received another clout. Le Breton dealt a third blow, prostrating the lion-hearted hero. Meekly he embraced his fate. Now another knight struck him, shattering his own sword. On the cold ground lay Becket’s bloody, separated crown. Putting my hand out, I interrupted the violence, attempting to arrest him instead. “Quit this murder so we may present him alive!” I shouted. Relentlessly Fitzurse dealt one more blow. Stomping Becket’s unguarded neck, he scattered gore and brains on that once-pure marble floor. The Archbishop of Canterbury lay lifeless, bloody, and mangled in his own cathedral. Uttered the villainous knight, “Let us away, knights; he will rise no more.” Vile was the putrid smell of the scene that the monks attempted to cleanse as we departed for the channel. Were we now truly pursuing our own earthly crowns of honor only to eternally condemn our souls? Xanthous was Fitzurse’s shield before the heinous injustice. Yet his insignia bore the blood of the martyr. Zealous as I was before, I now regret my crime.
Explanation: Thomas Becket (Dec. 21, 1118- Dec. 29, 1170) presided as chancellor to King Henry II of England until he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury so Henry might control the church as well. Despite his early friendship with Henry, Becket politically combated him after his shift of allegiance to the church. When the exiled archbishop excommunicated the Archbishop of York and the bishops of London and Salisbury for breaching his right to coronate the heir apparent, King Henry reportedly exclaimed, “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?” Four knights [ Reginald Fitzurse (whose emblem was likely yellowish) , Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton] acted on what they believed to be a command to assassinate Becket. The four killed him in Canterbury Cathedral, only weeks after his return from exile. Becket was canonized 26 months later while the knights fled to Scotland and Henry did public penance. The majority of details and quotes of this piece were from Edward Grim’s eyewitness account, although some accounts differ. The usage of such quotes was meant to establish the setting and historicity.