Thomas Becket and his Biographers

Thomas Becket and his Biographers

Michael Staunton


Boydell Press



Our major sources for the life and death of Thomas Becket are rigorously examined in this major new book.
In the wake of his murder in December 1170, an extraordinarily large number of Lives of Thomas Becket were produced.They provide an invaluable witness to the life and death of Thomas and the dramatic events in which he was involved, but they are also works of great literary value, more complex and sophisticated than has been recognised. This book, the first to be devoted to the biographers and their works, consists of an examination the individual Lives, followed by an analysis of the biographers' treatment of the major themes in Thomas's life - conversion, conflict, trial, exile and martyrdom - in the light of contemporary hagiographical, historical and theological writing and canon law. It raises points of major significance for the study of intellectual and literary life in the central middle ages and provides an important reassessment of the Becket conflict and Thomas Becket himself.

Dr MICHAEL STAUNTON is Lecturer in Medieval History, School of History and Archives, University College Dublin.

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September 2006
256 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in the History of Medieval Religion
ISBN: 9781843832713
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Lives and Their Context - Michael Staunton
The Forerunner: John of Salisbury - Michael Staunton
Telling the Story: Edward Grim, Guernes and Anonymous I - Michael Staunton
Criticism and Vindication: Anonymous II and Alan of Tewksbury - Michael Staunton
The View from Canterbury: Benedict of Peterborough and William of Canterbury - Michael Staunton
Observation and Reflection: William Fitzstephen - Michael Staunton
Breaking the Rules of History: Herbert of Bosham - Michael Staunton
Conversion - Michael Staunton
Conflict - Michael Staunton
Trial - Michael Staunton
Exile - Michael Staunton
Martyrdom - Michael Staunton


This is a fascinating study, which sets itself a clearly defined remit, which the author successfully manages to explore in a convincing and always engaging manner.[...][C]onstitutes a valuable addition to the corpus of Becket scholarship. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

Merits careful reading by anyone who wishes to deepen his understanding of one of the most remarkable literary productions of the Middle Ages. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

Offers an expansive and analytical treatment of an important area of medieval historiography. HISTORY

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