The lives of Thomas Becket

This book talks about the story of Thomas Becket's turbulent life, violent death and extraordinary posthumous acclaim in the words of his contemporaries. The story and the issues often require explanation and interpretation, and it is sometimes necessary to fill in the gaps left by the biographers. It is hoped that by reading about him in the words of his biographers, others will be encouraged to investigate further the unresolved features of his life. Both medieval and modern commentators have tended to take more interest in Thomas of Canterbury than in Thomas of London. The earliest recorded disputes in which Thomas was involved as archbishop relate to his attempts to retrieve Canterbury properties. Thomas's establishment as archbishop led to a crisis of unprecedented severity between the crown and the Church in England. His rift with his former friend the king, and the progress of the dispute which led to public confrontation and prolonged exile, was keenly followed all over the Christian world. Thomas's flight and prolonged exile moved the dispute onto a new plane. His heroic attempt to shield the archbishop from the knights' blows earned him a place in the saint's legend, and in many visual representations of the martyrdom.

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