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A revisionist new biography reintroducing readers to one of the most subversive figures in English history—the man who sought to reform a nation, dared to defy his king, and laid down his life to defend his sacred honor NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KANSAS CITY STAR AND BLOOMBERG Becket’s life story has been often told but never so incisively reexamined and vividly rendered as it is in John Guy’s hands. The son of middle-class Norman parents, Becket rose against all odds to become the second most powerful man in England. As King Henry II’s chancellor, Becket charmed potentates and popes, tamed overmighty barons, and even personally led knights into battle. After his royal patron elevated him to archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, however, Becket clashed with the King. Forced to choose between fealty to the crown and the values of his faith, he repeatedly challenged Henry’s authority to bring the church to heel. Drawing on the full panoply of medieval sources, Guy sheds new light on the relationship between the two men, separates truth from centuries of mythmaking, and casts doubt on the long-held assumption that the headstrong rivals were once close friends. He also provides the fullest accounting yet for Becket’s seemingly radical transformation from worldly bureaucrat to devout man of God. Here is a Becket seldom glimpsed in any previous biography, a man of many facets and faces: the skilled warrior as comfortable unhorsing an opponent in single combat as he was negotiating terms of surrender; the canny diplomat “with the appetite of a wolf” who unexpectedly became the spiritual paragon of the English church; and the ascetic rebel who waged a high-stakes contest of wills with one of the most volcanic monarchs of the Middle Ages. Driven into exile, derided by his enemies as an ungrateful upstart, Becket returned to Canterbury in the unlikeliest guise of all: as an avenging angel of God, wielding his power of excommunication like a sword. It is this last apparition, the one for which history remembers him best, that will lead to his martyrdom at the hands of the king’s minions—a grisly episode that Guy recounts in chilling and dramatic detail. An uncommonly intimate portrait of one of the medieval world’s most magnetic figures, Thomas Becket breathes new life into its subject—cementing for all time his place as an enduring icon of resistance to the abuse of power. From the Hardcover edition.
Charismatic, insatiable and cruel, Henry VIII was, as John Guy shows, a king who became mesmerized by his own legend - and in the process destroyed and remade England. Said to be a 'pillager of the commonwealth', this most instantly recognizable of kings remains a figure of extreme contradictions: magnificent and vengeful; a devout traditionalist who oversaw a cataclysmic rupture with the church in Rome; a talented, towering figure who nevertheless could not bear to meet people's eyes when he talked to them. In this revealing new account, John Guy looks behind the mask into Henry's mind to explore how he understood the world and his place in it - from his isolated upbringing and the blazing glory of his accession, to his desperate quest for fame and an heir and the terrifying paranoia of his last, agonising, 54-inch-waisted years.
Now a major film, this is a dramatic reinterpretation of the life of Mary Queen of Scots by one of the leading historians of this period. Winner of the Whitbread Biography Award For centuries, Mary, Queen of Scots has been a figure of scholarly debate. Where many have portrayed her as the weak woman to Elizabeth's rational leader, John Guy reassesses the young queen, finding her far more politically shrewd than previously believed. Crowned Queen of Scotland at nine months old, Queen of France by age sixteen and widowed the following year, Guy paints Mary as a commanding and savvy queen who navigated the European power struggles of the time to her advantage. Her life was one of drama and conflict - Scottish lords constructed labyrinthine plots to wrest power from her and attempts to prove her claim to the English throne were thwarted by English ministers bent on protecting Elizabeth. Mary Queen of Scots re-examines the original sources, resulting in a riveting new argument surrounding Mary's involvement in her husband Lord Darnely's murder and her subsequent marriage to his suspected assassin. Guy's accessible treatment of the well-trodden story, his deft storytelling and insightful new arguments provide compelling and dramatic reading. 'An absorbing biography . . . meticulously researched . . . scholarly and intriguing' Peter Ackroyd,The Times 'Rarely have first-class scholarship and first-class storytelling been so effectively combined' John Adamson, Daily Telegraph John Guy is a Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge. His bestselling books include A Daughter's Love: Thomas and Margaret More, Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel, Victim: A 900-Year-Old Story Retold, Tudor England, The Children of Henry VIII, and 'My Heart is My Own': the Life of Mary Queen of Scots, which won the Whitbread Biography Award and the Marsh Biography Award. He appears regularly on BBC radio and television. Previously published as 'My Heart is My Own'.
On 29 December, 1170, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was brutally murdered in his own cathedral. News of the event was rapidly disseminated throughout Europe, generating a widespread cult which endured until the reign of Henry VIII in the sixteenth century, and engendering a fascination which has lasted until the present day. The Cult of Thomas Becket: History and Historiography through Eight Centuries contributes to the lengthy debate surrounding the saint by providing a historiographical analysis of the major themes in Becket scholarship, tracing the development of Becket studies from the writings of the twelfth-century biographers to those of scholars of the twenty-first century. The book offers a thorough commentary and analysis which demonstrates how the Canterbury martyr was viewed by writers of previous generations as well as our own, showing how they were influenced by the intellectual trends and political concerns of their eras, and indicating how perceptions of Thomas Becket have changed over time. In addition, several chapters are devoted a discussion of artworks in various media devoted to the saint, as well as liturgies and sermons composed in his honor. Combining a wide historical scope with detailed textual analysis, this book will be of great interest to scholars of medieval religious history, art history, liturgy, sanctity and hagiography.
COSTA AWARD FINALIST ECONOMIST BOOK OF THE YEAR FINANCIAL TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR Film rights acquired by Gold Circle Films, the team behind My Big Fat Greek Wedding “A fresh, thrilling portrait… Guy’s Elizabeth is deliciously human.” –Stacy Schiff, The New York Times Book Review A groundbreaking reconsideration of our favorite Tudor queen, Elizabeth is an intimate and surprising biography that shows her at the height of her power. Elizabeth was crowned queen at twenty-five, but it was only when she reached fifty and all hopes of a royal marriage were behind her that she began to wield power in her own right. For twenty-five years she had struggled to assert her authority over advisers, who pressed her to marry and settle the succession; now, she was determined not only to reign but to rule. In this magisterial biography, John Guy introduces us to a woman who is refreshingly unfamiliar: at once powerful and vulnerable, willful and afraid. We see her confronting challenges at home and abroad: war against France and Spain, revolt in Ireland, an economic crisis that triggers riots in the streets of London, and a conspiracy to place her cousin Mary Queen of Scots on her throne. For a while she is smitten by a much younger man, but can she allow herself to act on that passion and still keep her throne? For the better part of a decade John Guy mined long-overlooked archives, scouring handwritten letters and court documents to sweep away myths and rumors. This prodigious historical detective work has enabled him to reveal, for the first time, the woman behind the polished veneer: determined, prone to fits of jealous rage, wracked by insecurity, often too anxious to sleep alone. At last we hear her in her own voice expressing her own distinctive and surprisingly resonant concerns. Guy writes like a dream, and this combination of groundbreaking research and propulsive narrative puts him in a class of his own. "Significant, forensic and myth-busting, John Guy inspires total confidence in a narrative which is at once pacey and rich in detail." -- Anna Whitelock, TLS “Most historians focus on the early decades, with Elizabeth’s last years acting as a postscript to the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Guy argues that this period is crucial to understanding a more human side of the smart redhead.” – The Economist, Book of the Year
This three-volume set presents fundamental information about the most important events in world religious history as well as substantive discussions of their significance and impact. • Presents readers with essential information about the chief events in religious history that will help them better understand world history and promote a greater respect for culturally diverse religious traditions • Provides cross-references and sidebars that cite print and electronic resources for further reading with each entry • Includes a selected, general bibliography of print and electronic resources suitable for student research
This is the first monograph to be published about one of the most famous and least understood authors of the Latin Middle Ages. We know him by the pseudonym of Archpoet. Setting the Archpoet's world and works in their historical contexts, Peter Godman argues that they provide insight into a brilliant counter-culture of medieval Germany. Its subtlest exponent did not indulge in literary play but refashioned the political, social, and religious roles available to a twelfth-century thinker in order to create, for himself and his patron, an identity alternative to the norms of clerical conformity prevalent elsewhere in Europe. At a time when Germans were being decried as backward barbarians, he produced a manifesto of intellectual heterodoxy which wittily challenged the truth-claims made by humourless moralists. The Archpoet and Medieval Culture reconsiders the categoriesin which the literature of the Middle Ages is interpreted and suggests a less literal mode of reading the sources to historians.

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