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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.
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.
Contrary to modern myth, medieval people lived in an era of innovation more than of superstition. This beautifully illustrated, highly readable book will appeal to all those who want a truer picture of a world often wrongly represented today. People in the Middle Ages did not believe the earth was flat; torture was far less common than in later centuries; and technological advances included guns, printing, blast furnaces, spectacles, stirrups and the compass. Medieval People tells the life stories of seventy individuals across Europe and the Middle East from the ninth to fifteenth centuries - monarchs and merchants, popes, peasants and poets, artists and adventurers, saints, scholars and soldiers. Empire builders such as Charlemagne, and Chinggis Khan (Genghis Khan) are included as well as influential women such as Matilda of Tuscany, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Joan of Arc. Religious figures range from Urban II, the pope who started the Crusades, to Hildegard of Bingen and Thomas Becket, martyred archbishop. Fulk Nerra, pioneering castle builder, sits beside the great Persian polymath Avicenna. James Douglas, hero of Scottish independence, rubs shoulders with Dante and Giotto. Note: The ebook edition includes the complete text of the printed book with a reduced number of illustrations.
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
The monarchs of the Tudor period are among some of the most well-known figures in British history. John Guy presents a compelling and fascinating exploration of the Tudors in the new edition of this Very Short Introduction. Looking at all aspects of the period, from beginning to end, he considers Tudor politics, religion, and economics, as well as issues relating to gender and minority rule, and the art, architecture, and social and material culture of the time. Introducing all of the key Tudor monarchs, Guy considers the impact the Tudor period had not only at the time, but also the historical legacy it left behind. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Behind the façade of politics and pageantry at the Tudor court, there was a family drama. Nothing drove Henry VIII, England's wealthiest and most powerful king, more than producing a legitimate male heir and so perpetuating his dynasty. To that end, he married six wives, became the subject of the most notorious divorce case of the sixteenth century, and broke with the pope, all in an age of international competition and warfare, social unrest and growing religious intolerance and discord. Henry fathered four living children, each by a different mother. Their interrelationships were often scarred by jealously, mutual distrust, sibling rivalry, even hatred. Possessed of quick wits and strong wills, their characters were defined partly by the educations they received, and partly by events over which they had no control. Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, although recognized as the king's son, could never forget his illegitimacy. Edward died while still in his teens, desperately plotting to exclude his half-sisters from the throne. Mary's world was shattered by her mother's divorce and her own unhappy marriage. Elizabeth was the most successful, but also the luckiest. Even so, she lived with the knowledge that her father had ordered her mother's execution, was often in fear of her own life, and could never marry the one man she truly loved. Henry's children idolized their father, even if they differed radically over how to perpetuate his legacy. To tell their stories, John Guy returns to the archives, drawing on a vast array of contemporary records, personal letters, and first-hand accounts.
Most Christians worship on a regular basis on the Lord's Day. They have done so from the beginning, and their worship has centered on the Eucharist, following Jesus's words, Do this in remembrance of me. Over the two millennia of the Christian tradition there have been shifts of emphasis and understanding about the Eucharist. This book attempts to point out, by providing accessible accounts of both liturgies and liturgists across the centuries and traditions, just how much different Christians have in common and how they can benefit from attending to one another's worship. The author's ultimate hope is that in its small way, the book will contribute to Christians worshiping together.
'A compelling and evocative re-imagining of the events that led to this most infamous of murders; full of wit and pathos.' Hana Cole, author of The Devil's Crossing BECKET: WARRIOR 1159 Toulouse. Thomas of London, Chancellor of England, has spent a lifetime as a clerk, administrator, and ambassador. Now he must prove himself a warrior and leader of men, if his friend and master King Henry II of England is to achieve his ambition to rule all France. The fiery King and calculating Chancellor are as close as brothers, but many at court see Thomas as an upstart. Becket must fight on a political as well as military front. The city of Toulouse controls trade into Spain and the Mediterranean. With it in English hands, Henry will control more of the Frankish Kingdom than Louis VII of France. The French King, and Count Raymond of Toulouse, will stop at nothing to save the city and France from the greatest English host ever assembled. Thomas and the English army must prove their mettle, or be condemned to defeat on foreign soil. BECKET: REBEL 1164. Northampton. Thomas of London, the reluctant Archbishop of Canterbury, was an ambitious courtier who thought of nothing but pleasing his King. Now he must prove to the English church and his former master that he has been directed towards a new calling. The fiery King Henry II and calculating Archbishop were once as close as brothers. But their professional duties impinge upon their personal relationship. Crown and church, embodied in the persons of King and Archbishop, must confront one another. Henry aims to subdue the rebellious clergyman in Northampton, but Thomas plans to escape to the Pope in France. King Louis of France and Pope Alexander are both wary of supporting the Archbishop and angering the vindictive Henry. As agents scour England for the rebel, Thomas must evade them and find allies in his perilous dispute with the English King. The road to liberty will be a bloody one. BECKET: MARTYR 1170. Canterbury. Thomas of London, the rebellious Archbishop of Canterbury, has made peace with Henry II, after six long years in exile.Henry and Thomas are both prepared to put past differences aside, but there is little trust left between the two former close friends and allies. A single ill-judged word or action could spark a conflict between the two men - and church and state. Thomas's return to England threatens the interests of Henry's barons and his enemies in the church. They will stop at nothing to destroy the popular, but proud, clergyman. Back in Canterbury, Thomas is intent on taking his revenge on those who conspired against him, whatever the consequences. News that Thomas has excommunicated royal supporters soon reaches the King. It is the last straw for the Henry. He explodes in a rage, calling on four knights to rid him of his 'turbulent priest'. They are words that will resound down the centuries and leave Henry with a lifetime of regret. With no hope of a lasting peace between the King and Archbishop, there can be only one, bloody, conclusion. Jemahl Evans is the author of the acclaimed Sir Blandford Candy series of novel. He lives in West Wales. Praise for Jemahl Evans: 'The research is impeccable and the writing full of verve.' Antonia Senior, The Times 'It's great fun and a rollicking good read.' Historical Novel Society 'Frankly, glorious.' Michael Jecks 'Warrior is a swift, breathless plunge into the high medieval period.' J.A. Ironside, author of The King's Knight
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'.
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.
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.
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
With the novelistic vividness that made his National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Queen of Scots “a pure pleasure to read” (Washington Post BookWorld), John Guy brings to life Thomas More and his daughter Margaret— his confidante and collaborator who played a critical role in safeguarding his legacy. Sir Thomas More’s life is well known: his opposition to Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn, his arrest for treason, his execution and martyrdom. Yet Margaret has been largely airbrushed out of the story in which she played so important a role. John Guy restores her to her rightful place in this captivating account of their relationship. Always her father’s favorite child,Margaret was such an accomplished scholar by age eighteen that her work earned praise from Erasmus. She remained devoted to her father after her marriage—and paid the price in estrangement from her husband.When More was thrown into the Tower of London,Margaret collaborated with him on his most famous letters from prison, smuggled them out at great personal risk, even rescued his head after his execution. John Guy returns to original sources that have been ignored by generations of historians to create a dramatic new portrait of both Thomas More and the daughter whose devotion secured his place in history.
Presents a compendium of world events from throughout history, featuring quotes, facts, lists of people and events, coverage of major leaders, and descriptions of important battles.

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