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Module Reading List

Primary Sources for the Historian: An Introduction to Documentary study, 2019/20, Semester 2
Professor Stephen Alford
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

Text: The lives of Thomas Becket . Selected sources translated and annotated by Michael Staunton (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001).

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Other primary sources:

Councils & synods, with other documents relating to the English church , vol. i (871-1204), part 2 (1066-1204) (Oxford, 1981, eds. D. Whitelock, M. Brett, and C. N. L. Brooke. [Contains a particularly useful commentary on the Constitutions of Clarendon.]

The correspondence of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, 1162-1170 (Oxford, 2000), ed. A. Duggan. [Well worth looking at alongside the Lives .]

The letters and charters of Gilbert Foliot, Abbot of Gloucester (1139-48), Bishop of Hereford (1148-63), and London (1163-87) (Cambridge, 1967), eds. A. Morey and C. N. L. Brooke.

The letters of John of Salisbury. Vol.2, The later letters (1163-1180) , vol. ii (Oxford, 1979), eds. W. J. Millor and C. N. L. Brooke.

Anselm & Becket : two Canterbury saints' lives by John of Salisbury, ed. and tr. R. E. Pepi (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 2009).


D. Carpenter, The struggle for mastery : Britain 1066-1284 (London: Penguin, 2004). [Contains an excellent introduction to Henry II’s reign.]

R. Bartlett, England under the Norman and Angevin kings, 1075-1225 (Oxford, 2000).

M. Clanchy, From memory to written record : England 1066-1307 , 2nd edn (Oxford, 1993). [This is particularly useful as part of the background to the Constitutions of Clarendon.]

B. Hamilton, Religion in the Medieval West (1986)

J. Lynch, The medieval church : a brief history (1992)

R. Mortimer, Angevin England, 1154-1258 (Oxford, 1994).

W. L. Warren, The governance of Norman and Angevin England 1086-1272 (1987).

C. Morris, The Papal Monarchy: the Western Church from 1050 to 1250 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1989). [Fine introduction to Church matters during the period.]

J. Truax, Archbishops Ralph d'Escures, William of Corbeil, and Theobald of Bec : heirs of Anselm and ancestors of Becket, (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012). [An unexpectedly useful book that looks at Becket’s predecessors as archbishops of Canterbury.]

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Henry II and Angevin kingship:

E. Amt, The accession of Henry II in England : royal government restored, 1149-1159 (Woodbridge, 1993).

M. Aurell, The Plantagenet empire 1154-1224 (2007)

W. L. Warren, Henry II (London, 1973), esp. chs. 12-14. [A bit old and out-of-date, now: to be treated with caution!]

 Henry II : new interpretations ed. C. Harper-Bill and N. Vincent (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2007).

J. Gillingham, The Angevin Empire , 2nd edn. (London: Edward Arnold, 2001). [Good, short introduction.]

R.V. Turner, Eleanor of Aquitaine : Queen of France, Queen of England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).

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Becket and the Church:

F. Barlow, Thomas Becket (London, 1986, repr. 1997).

A. Duggan, Thomas Becket : a textual history of his letters (Oxford, 1980).

A. Duggan, Thomas Becket (2004). [The best biographical study, especially good on the ‘myth’.]

J. Guy, Thomas Becket : warrior, priest, rebel, victim : a 900-year-old story retold (London: Viking, 2013). [Accessible and lively biography.]

T. Keefe, ‘Shrine time: King Henry II’s visits to Thomas Becket’s tomb’, The Haskins Society journal. 11 (2003), 115-22.

D. Knowles, ‘Archbishop Thomas Becket: a Character Study’, Proceedings of the British Academy 35 (1949), 175-205; reprinted in his The historian and character : and other essays (1963). Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva[Rather old – be careful with this!]

 D. Knowles, The episcopal colleagues of Archbishop Thomas Becket (1951). [Again, rather old – be careful!]

 D. Knowles, Thomas Becket (London, 1970). Again, rather old – be careful!]

 H. Mayr-Harting, ‘Henry II and the Papacy, 1170-1189’, Journal of ecclesiastical history. 16 (1965), 39-53.

A. Morey and C. N. L. Brooke, Gilbert Foliot and his letters (Cambridge, 1965), esp. ch. 9.   

B. Smalley, The Becket conflict and the schools : a study of intellectuals in politics (Oxford, 1973).

M. Staunton, ‘Thomas Becket’s Conversion’, Proceedings of the Battle Conference. Anglo Norman Studies 21 (1989), 193-211.

M. Staunton, Thomas Becket and his biographers (2006).

W. Urry, Thomas Becket : his last days (Stroud, 1999). [A detailed discussion of the murder itself.]

The World of John of Salisbury , ed. M. Wilks (Oxford, 1984)

P. Fergusson, Canterbury Cathedral Priory in the age of Becket (London: Yale University Press, 2011). 

R. W. Southern, The monks of Canterbury and the murder of Archbishop Becket (Canterbury: Friends of Canterbury Cathedral and the William Urry Memorial Trust, 1985).

Pope Alexander III (1159-81) : the art of survival ed. P. D. Clarke and A. J. Duggan (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012). [Includes a fine introduction by Anne Duggan, and an important essay by Nicholas Vincent.]

Canterbury : a medieval city, ed. C. Royer-Hemet (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing). [Contains an article by A. Duggan on the early cult of Becket.]

W. C. Jordan, ‘The English Holy Men at Pontigny’, in Cistercian Studies Quarterly, no. 43, part 1 (2008), 63-75. [Includes discussion of Becket’s time there.]

J. D. Hosler, ‘The Brief Military Career of Thomas Becket’, in Haskins Society Journal 15 (2006), 88-100. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva

H. D. Vollrath, ‘Was Thomas Becket chaste? Understanding episodes in the Becket Lives’, in Anglo-Norman Studies, XXVII: Proceedings of the Battle Conference, 2004, ed. J. Gillingham (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2005), 198-209. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva

M. Staunton, ‘Exile in the Lives of Anselm and Thomas Becket’, Exile in the Middle Ages: Selected Proceedings from the International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, ed. L. Napran and E. van Houts (Turnhout: Brepols, 2004), 159-80.

C. Duggan, ‘St Thomas of Canterbury and aspects of the Becket dispute in the decretal collections’, Decretals and the Creation of ‘New Law’ in the Twelfth Century: Judges, Judgements, Equity and Law, ed. C. Duggan (Aldershot: Variorum, 1998), Essay II: 87-135. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva

This list was last updated on 16/12/2013