How did the murder come about? What was the motive? For sure, Henry wanted to consolidate his political power. If he eliminated Becket, he would remove a political obstacle.
Did Henry directly commission the knights to kill the Archbishop? No, Henry was more cunning; he used others as his tools.
History records Henry as saying, “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?" Henry’s well-coined phrase, disguised ambiguity, rhetorical structure, falling on the right ears, was calculated to arouse the passions enough to inspire the right type of person to commit murder.
When Sarah Palin put crosshairs on Gabrielle Giffords and 19 other members of congress, she knew the image it would conjure and the passions it would arouse, if it infected the right set of ears. Palin’s crosshairs, Limbaugh’s vitriol, and Beck’s paranoia, all emerge from the same lust for power, each an exquisite example of the pornography of violence.