Book review: Thomas Becket, By John Guy


Acclaimed for narrative verve, this life scores with vivid descriptions of character and events. Henry II's "chief weakness was his temper… like a whirlwind".

According to Guy, the king never said, "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" though the gutsy, Thomas prompted repeated monarchic tantrums.

"It was essentially just bad luck that this time there were within earshot four of Henry's least important household knights," Guy's poignant account of the murder explains why the crime scene has become "a site of pilgrimage scarcely altered after almost 900 years".