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Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN-10: 0679603417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679603412
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Great insight into 12th century England.
Peter Cunningham
Interesting background to the Catholic Pedophile issue.
Phillipwh
I found the book very readable and informative.
Ron Storaker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Luis Eugenio Espinosa on September 24, 2012
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 13, 2012
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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30 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Ktina on July 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Encyclopedic in detail. Becket's early life is described with many might-haves and could-haves and and maybes. I think it would have been better to shorten this part. A definitive work for sure, but requires significant patience even on the part of a history-loving reader.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ron Storaker on October 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have only recently developed an interest in English history, so this is not meant to be an academic review. I found the book very readable and informative. It has inspired me to more reading in this area of interest. It appears very well researched, and was a great resource for my fledgling venture into history of that era.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark Anderson on November 15, 2012
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Diane L. Johnson on July 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a reader with a very strong knowledge in the high medievil history era I have read a lot concerning Henry II and Becket. John Guy's book presents a different theory on their relationship than most books (and especially films). His accounting of the relationship between the two individuals puts a completely different view to the famous falling out between the king and his archbishiop. The book itself spends a lot of time (perhaps too much time) on Becket's exile in France, but does provide interesting history into the roles of the French king, the Popes and various other Euopean rulers at the time. So there is enough intrigue involved, not just religion, for those interested in very early 'politics'. The book is also interesting because it provides information about a British king (other than Henry VIII) attempting to control the Church (of course Henry II wasn't the first king who attempted to exert control over the Catholic church). While I enjoyed the book, and found it intriguing because of the new information, I ultimately only gave it 4 stars because it starts to become somewhat bogged down with pages and pages of details about who sent appeals and complaints to and from the Pope and who threatened to excommunicate whom. Ultimately, though, I think the book is one of the better books I've read concerning the topic and period and, while I find Guy to be a somewhat inconsistent historian (based on other books I've read authored by him) I do think this is a comfortable read that only requires basic background information to fully enjoy the book.
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