The Cult of St Thomas Becket in the Plantagenet World, c.1170-c.1220

The Cult of St Thomas Becket in the Plantagenet World, c.1170-c.1220

Edited by Paul Webster, Marie-Pierre Gelin


Boydell Press



The extraordinary growth and development of the cult of St Thomas Becket is investigated here, with a particular focus on its material culture.
Thomas Becket - the archbishop of Canterbury cut down in his own cathedral just after Christmas 1170 - stands amongst the most renowned royal ministers, churchmen, and saints of the Middle Ages. He inspired the work of medieval writers and artists, and remains a compelling subject for historians today. Yet many of the political, religious, and cultural repercussions of his murder and subsequent canonisation remain to be explored in detail.
This book examines the development of the cult and the impact of the legacy of Saint Thomas within the Plantagenet orbit of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries - the "Empire" assembled by King Henry II, defended by his son King Richard the Lionheart, and lost by King John. Traditional textual and archival sources, such as miracle collections, charters, and royal and papal letters, are used in conjunction with the material culture inspired by the cult, to emphasise the wide-ranging impact of the murder and of the cult's emergence in the century following the martyrdom. From the archiepiscopal church at Canterbury, to writers and religious houses across the Plantagenet lands, to the courts of Henry II, his children, and the bishops of the Angevin world, individuals and communities adapted and responded to one of the most extraordinary religious phenomena of the age.

Dr Paul Webster is currently Lecturer in Medieval History and Project Manager of the Exploring the Past adult learners progression pathway at Cardiff University; Dr Marie-Pierre Gelin is a Teaching Fellow in the History Department at University College London.

Contributors: Colette Bowie, Elma Brenner, José Manuel Cerda, Anne J. Duggan, Marie-Pierre Gelin, Alyce A. Jordan, Michael Staunton, Paul Webster.


10 colour, 3 black and white illustrations
270 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Hardback, 9781783271610, December 2016
eBook, 9781782048657, December 2016
Boydell Press
BIC HBLC1, 1D, 2AB, 3H
BISAC HIS037010, REL033000, REL020000
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Table of Contents

Introduction. The Cult of St Thomas Becket: An Historiographical Pilgrimage - Paul Webster
Becket is Dead! Long Live St Thomas - Anne J. Duggan
The Cult of St Thomas in the Liturgy and Iconography of Christ Church, Canterbury - Marie-Pierre Gelin
Thomas Becket and Leprosy in Normandy - Elma Brenner
Thomas Becket in the Chronicles - Michael Staunton
Matilda, Duchess of Saxony (1168-89) and the Cult of Thomas Becket: A Legacy of Appropriation - Colette Bowie
Leonor Plantagenet and the Cult of Thomas Becket in Castile - José Manuel Cerda
Crown versus Church after Becket: King John, St Thomas, and the Interdict - Paul Webster
The St Thomas Becket Windows at Angers and Coutances: Devotion, Subversion, and the Scottish Connection - Alyce A. Jordan


[T]his volume enriches our understanding of the multiple meanings and diverse uses of Becket's prodigious afterlife. SPECULUM

This volume will be of interest to scholars of multiple specialities, including history, literature, and art history, along with others. The collection also speaks to regions beyond England and northern France, particularly Spain and Germany. PARERGON

A lively, thoroughly-researched, and stimulating contribution to an ever-expanding Becket literature. SEHEPUNKTE

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