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Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Length: 449 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


Suspenseful, meticulously researched... Guy's biography scintillates with energetic scene-setting, giving us wherever possible a tactile, visual feel for early medieval England... however well you think you know the story, it is well worth the read Financial Times It is to Guy's immense credit that he has written such a lively, effortlessly readable biography - a book that not only corrects many historical errors and uncertainties, but merits reading more than once, for the sheer joy of its super storytelling The Times Fine and thought-provoking Sunday Times A nuanced portrait of one of English history's most controversial figures TLS Entertainingly astute, and in places positively moving - essential reading The Independent Meticulously sifts the contemporary sources for Becket's life The Telegraph An elegantly written, scrupulously researched and original study The Herald A wonderfully moving and subtle new biography - the reading of the assassination in the north transept of the cathedral is almost unbearably intense and brings tears to one's eye Daily Express Thoroughly researched... an impressive array of contemporary accounts Sunday Express The most accessible Life of Thomas Becket to be published in recent years TLS

About the Author

John Guy is an award-winning historian, accomplished broadcaster and a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. His previous books include My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots, winner of the 2004 Whitbread Biography Award and the Marsh Biography Award, the highly acclaimed dual biography A Daughter's Love: Thomas and Margaret More and a history, Tudor England, which has sold over 250,000 copies worldwide.

Product Details

  • File Size: 13090 KB
  • Print Length: 449 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (July 3, 2012)
  • Publication Date: July 3, 2012
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005V2DU8Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,070 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
John Guy has written some brilliant historical biographies, including A Daughter's Love: THOMAS MORE AND HIS DEAREST MEG and Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart, so I was really looking forward to his latest work - the story of Thomas Becket and what a fascinating story it is. Although really it is not only the story of Thomas Becket, but also that of Henry II, as their lives, and fates, were so entwined with each other.

Thomas Becket was born to middle class, but fairly humble beginnings. His early life showed very little of what was ahead - surprisingly he was not academically minded as a young man, nor was he ambitious intellectually. It was interesting that he enjoyed the friendship of a Norman artistocrat fairly early on and was introduced to another way of life - enjoying hawking and hunting. Indeed, he was wonderfully human, enjoying himself while studying in Paris and seeming neither overly serious nor particularly pious. A critical choice in his life and career was joining the household of Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury and learning the craft of a right hand man, becoming invaluable and taking his studies seriously. He also learnt an important lesson when he witnessed Theobald forced to flee for his life, which led him to take precautions when faced with a similar situation.

It is once Henry enters the picture that the book really comes alive. Becket is by Theobald's side when peace is brokered between Henry and Stephen, ending the civil war that had raged for so long.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Easy to read; well documented and thoughtful about the value of sources...
It is really difficult to get more information of the people and the world of the 12th century... the reader can enjoy this book as an introductory work, academic but published in a friendly way... brief chapters, no large disgressions, etcetera
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book which will probably become the definitive biography of Saint Thomas Becket, who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.

John Guy writes well and his research is extensive. His interpretations of the original sources and evidence are all reasonable and persuasive.

Guy presents the disagreement between Henry II and Thomas Becket for what it was: an Archbishop standing up to a King in defence of the Church's rights and autonomy. In Guy's view, Henry II comes across as a untrustworthy, oppressive tyrant who wanted to subordinate and control the Church in his kingdom for his own political purposes. When Henry II appointed his Chancellor, Thomas Becket, as Archbishop of Canterbury, he expected Becket to accomplish this for him. Instead, Becket took his role as Archbishop as meaning his first allegiance was to God and the Church instead of to King Henry II. In Becket's view, his position as Archbishop of Canterbury meant he was still a subject of the King but his first allegiance was to God and the Church.

The story is a fascinating study of the relationship between Church and state in medieval Europe, 12th century European politics, and philosophical questions such as the duty of subjects/citizens toward tyrannical and oppressive rulers. It's also a very interesting study of a man who stood up for what he believed to be his duty in the face of often overbearing and relentless pressure.

Although Henry VIII later accomplished what Henry II wanted to accomplish through Becket, Thomas Becket's stand against Henry II had a major effect on European history. The story is still relevant today. It's a fascinating story told in a well written, well researched biography. Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
But for his dispute with Thomas Becket, which on both sides became obsessive and led to Becket's murder, Henry II has generally been regarded as what Sellar and Yeatman in 1066 & All That called 'A Good Thing'. The 'nineteen long winters' of the reign of his immediate predecessor, Stephen (Grandson of William the Conqueror), left England in a state of anarchy. Powerful barons ran their own fiefs, justice was a mockery and the country was subject to invasion from Scotland and Wales. It was Henry's attempts to tackle these problems, coupled with his own and Becket's initially friendly but ultimately incompatible personalities, that led to Becket's martyrdom.

In Thomas Becket: Warrier, priest, rebel, victim; a 900-year-old story retold, John Guy does a first rate job of detailing Becket's life and relations with the king, and of painting-in the background crucial to understanding why and how the disputes came about. England was still feudal in structure; the church was a hugely powerful force; virtually all the key players, including Becket, the king, the barons, and most English bishops were second or third generation descendents of Normans who had crossed the English Channel with or following the Conquest, in many cases maintaining their links with France; and, London and Canterbury apart, much of the action of this story takes place in France. It is also relevant that the Pope of the time, as keen as Becket to defend the church's property, income and privileges in England, and generally supportive of Becket, was himself under great pressure from an anti-Pope and his sponsors, and obliged to live in exile from Rome.
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