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"Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" (also expressed as "troublesome priest" or "meddlesome priest") is a quote attributed to Henry II of England preceding the death of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1170. While the quote was not expressed as an order, it prompted four knights to travel from Normandy to Canterbury, where they killed Becket. The phrase is commonly used in modern-day contexts to express that a ruler's wish may be interpreted as a command by his or her subordinates.
Purportedly upon hearing the king's words, four knights—Reginald FitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy and Richard le Breton—traveled from Normandy to Canterbury with the intention of forcing Becket to withdraw his excommunication, or, alternatively, taking him back to Normandy by force. The day after their arrival, they confronted Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. When Becket resisted their attempts to seize him, they slashed at him with their swords, killing him. Although nobody, even at the time, believed that Henry directly ordered that Becket be killed, his words had started a chain of events that was likely to have such a result. Moreover, as Henry's harangue had been directed not at Becket, but at his own household, the four probably thought that a failure to act would be regarded as treachery, potentially punishable by death.
Following the murder, Becket was venerated and Henry was vilified. There were demands that the king be excommunicated. Pope Alexander forbade Henry to hear mass until he had expiated his sin. In May 1172, Henry did public penance in Avranches Cathedral.
According to Alfred H. Knight, the phrase "had profound long-term consequences for the development of constitutional law" because its consequences forced the king to accept the benefit of clergy, the principle that secular courts had no jurisdiction over clergy.
It has been said that the phrase is an example of "direction via indirection", in that it provides the speaker with plausible deniability when a crime is committed as a result of their words.
The New York Times commented that even though Henry might not actually have said the words, "in such matters historical authenticity may not be the point". The phrase has been cited as an example of the shared history with which all British citizens should be familiar, as part of "the collective memory of their country".
In a 2009 BBC documentary on the Satanic Verses controversy, journalist and newsreader Peter Sissons described a February 1989 interview with the Iranian chargé d'affaires in London, Mohammad Mehdi Akhondzadeh Basti. The position of the Iranian government was that the fatwa against Salman Rushdie declared by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini was "an opinion". Sissons described this argument as being "a bit like the, 'who will rid me of this turbulent priest', isn't it?"
In a 2017 appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI director James Comey testified that US President Donald Trump had told him that he "hoped" Comey could "let go" of any investigation into Michael Flynn; when asked if he would take "I hope", coming from the president, as a directive, Comey answered, "Yes. It rings in my ears as kind of 'Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?'"