Murder in the Cathedral

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First Knight (Reginald Fitz Urse) Character Analysis

Reginald Fitz Urse, designated as the first knight and described by the third knight as the leader of the group of four, introduces the other three knights when they turn to the audience to defend their decision to murder Becket. Urse does not himself offer an argument in defense of Becket’s execution, claiming that he’s unqualified as an orator, since he’s a “man of action,” not of words. Urse appeals to the fact that the audience is composed of Englanders, saying that Englishmen “believe in fair play: and when you see one man being set upon by four, then your sympathies are all with the under dog.” He also associates critical thinking and rationality with the audience, claiming that, as Englishmen, they will need to hear both sides of the case (they’ve already witnessed Becket’s reasons for martyrdom, so now they must hear the knights’ justification for murder) in order to arrive at a judgment of who’s morally in the right.

First Knight (Reginald Fitz Urse) Quotes in Murder in the Cathedral

The Murder in the Cathedral quotes below are all either spoken by First Knight (Reginald Fitz Urse) or refer to First Knight (Reginald Fitz Urse). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Worldly Power vs. Spiritual Power  Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harcourt edition of Murder in the Cathedral published in 1964.
Part 2 Quotes

It is not I who insult the King. . .
It is not against me, Becket, that you strive.
It is not Becket who pronounces doom,
But the Law of Christ’s Church, the judgement of Rome.

Related Characters: Thomas Becket (speaker), First Knight (Reginald Fitz Urse), Second Knight (William de Traci), Third Knight (Hugh de Melville), Fourth Knight (Richard Brito), King Henry II
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Becket addresses the four knights, who’ve accused him of betraying the king, calling him the one who’s ultimately responsible for the king’s condemnation by the Pope.

Becket asserts that he’s not the one who is truly responsible, but that he was just following the orders of the Pope (who was viewed as the direct voice of God). He claims to be the executor of a law higher than his own powers and command, acting as an instrument of a spiritual order of which he’s merely the mouthpiece—it’s not “Becket” who’s giving the commands, but Christ’s Law and the judgment of Rome. This instant is another example of Becket affirming himself as merely channeling the will of God, having submitted himself wholly to Christ.

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First Knight (Reginald Fitz Urse) Character Timeline in Murder in the Cathedral

The timeline below shows where the character First Knight (Reginald Fitz Urse) appears in Murder in the Cathedral. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2
Fate and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Loyalty and Guilt Theme Icon
The knights then begin to elaborate their charges against Becket. The first knight accuses Becket of fleeing England to stir up trouble in France by soiling Henry II’s... (full context)
Worldly Power vs. Spiritual Power  Theme Icon
Fate and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Eternity and Human Understanding Theme Icon
Loyalty and Guilt Theme Icon
The first knight accepts Becket’s explanation, but says that, regardless, the king’s orders are that Becket and his... (full context)
Worldly Power vs. Spiritual Power  Theme Icon
Loyalty and Guilt Theme Icon
After the Chorus speaks, the knights, having killed Becket, turn to address the audience. The first knight, Reginald Fitz Urse , says that the other knights are going to give arguments in defense of their... (full context)