After Becket became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, he began to defend ecclesiastical liberty against Henry’s encroachments, partly in response to which Becket tasked John with composing (in early 1163) a hagiography of Anselm—a prior Canterbury archbishop who’d wrestled with overreaching English monarchs—in support of formal canonization.
As the conflict between Becket and Henry deepened, John backed the church’s cause against the English crown, albeit somewhat reluctantly.
Yet John admitted that severe impediments exist to the attainment of wisdom.
Throughout his writings, he professed to follow the moderate skepticism of Cicero and the New Academy, which rejected dogmatic claims to certainty.
Although he ultimately recovered favor, he acquired a lingering skepticism about Henry’s motives that was to be confirmed by later events.