Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel

John Guy. Random, $35 (448p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6907-1
Guy (Queen of Scots) gives us another masterful biography, this time of Thomas Becket (1118–1170), the man who refused to subordinate the power of the church to the power of the state, and was martyred for it. Through his engrossing chronicle of Becket’s life and work, Guy, a history fellow at Cambridge, regales us with the tale of a man who, because of his own rhetorical and administrative skills became Henry II’s right-hand man and eventually his mortal enemy. Distilling and disputing materials from several previous Becket biographies, Guy traces his subject’s development from a handsome, superficial, and socially ambitious youth to a mature man who rose intellectually, morally, and politically to become lord chancellor to Henry II. In 1162, he was named archbishop of Canterbury, a position he accepted reluctantly, knowing that his honest exercise of the office as a defender of liberty and as one who would assert the church’s power to cancel unjust state laws would bring him into conflict with Henry. Guy’s masterfully told tale of a man attempting to live up to his ideals amid political and religious intrigue brings Becket fully to life. 2 photo inserts, 2 maps. Agent: Grainne Fox, Fletcher & Co. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/07/2012
Release date: 07/03/2012
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