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Thomas Becket with Anne Duggan - 32 Londoners 2014

Anne Duggan on THOMAS BECKET - Saint, b.1118 Cheapside

On May the 1st 2014, the EDF Energy London Eye hosted a unique event where each of its 32 capsules was given over to a talk by a well-known authority on a famous Londoner. To commemorate the occasion, this podcast series has been made of all the talks.

Thomas Becket, son of Norman immigrant parents, was born in Ironmonger Lane in the heart of the City around 1120. Propelled upwards by talent and patronage, Thomas had an extraordinary career: Archdeacon of Canterbury, Royal Chancellor (1154/5–62), and Archbishop of Canterbury (1162–70). He was murdered in Canterbury Catherdral by four knights of Henry II’s court on 29 December 1170, an act which, like the assassination of President Kennedy, shook the whole European world. From 1173, the canonized St Thomas the Martyr became a model of episcopal rectitude as well as a saint to whom the sick in mind and body could turn for help. The Canterbury pilgrimage, immortalized in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, drew hundreds of thousands of pilgrims throughout the Middle Ages. The present Mercers' Hall and Chapel occupy the site of Becket’s birthplace, which the Company acquired after the Reformation. He is commemorated in the stained glass window that lights the great staircase. 

Anne Duggan, emeritus professor at King’s College London, is the world authority on Thomas Becket. She edited his Latin correspondence, wrote an acclaimed biography, and published numerous studies on his posthumous fame and impact. She appears regularly on TV (most recently in BBC2’s ‘Sacred Wonders of Britain’, Jan. 2014), and has lectured on aspects of the Becket phenomenon in various European countries.

BUY Anne Duggan's acclaimed biography here: Thomas Becket (Reputations)