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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