After his death Thomas Becket was seen by some as a martyr, and he was made a saint by Pope Alexander. Pilgrims believed his remains had the power to heal. Even today, cathedral visitors can buy commemorative items. Why does this martyr-figure interpretation exist? What about alternative interpretations of Becket as a power-seeking, obstinate, difficult man?
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- 9 January 2008
The class could work together to produce a diagram, centred on Becket, which notes different opinions of his life and death. Students should consider which side people would have taken in the arguments between Becket and Henry II, how they would have viewed the manner and circumstances of his assassination and, regardless of their views on the morality of the event, whether or not they would have been glad of his death. They could then write up an explanation of his death from the point of view of the Church, or from Henry.