Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel
Was Thomas Becket a saint or sinner? John Guy comprehensively describes medieval sacred and political history so that one understands the origins of the contest between kingly divine right and church authority. Guy seamlessly then depicts Thomas’s younger years, when he grew from a middle-class clerk to a daredevil warrior, one who loved partying, hunting, and battles. More fascinating is how Guy for almost a quarter of this biography fluctuates back and forth between trying to prove Becket was a rash follower trying to find the “right” person with whom to set his future career and a talented, wise confidant whose star was very naturally beginning to rise with the right people, initially the churchman Theobald. Later, Becket helps forge numerous victories in King Henry’s quest to secure Normandy and other goals fill these pages until their relationship erodes gradually, with the final conflict assuming larger than life proportions. Well-researched, omitting no pivotal or minor associations, at times erratic in praising and damning the main character, John Guy’s biography is a painstaking, fascinating view of a man in the midst of friends and foes who changed the debate about sacred authority forever.