becket, thomas à

Cultural Dictionary

Becket, Thomas à definition

An English bishop of the twelfth century. Becket was archbishop of Canterbury and thus leader of the Christian Church in England. He defended church interests against interference by the king. Four of the king's men, thinking that the king wanted Becket put to death, went to Becket's cathedral and murdered him.

Note: The killing of Becket is dramatized in plays by T. S. Eliot (Murder in the Cathedral) and the French playwright Jean Anouilh (Becket).
Note: Soon after Becket's death, people from all over England began to go to his burial place in Canterbury to pray, especially sick persons, who prayed for healing. The storytellers in The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, are on their way to Becket's tomb.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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