22 de agosto de 2010

Memory of Thomas Becket

Thomas Becket (1118 – 29 December 1170), was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He is venerated as a saint and martyr by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He engaged in conflict withHenry II of England over the rights and privileges of the Church and was assassinated by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral. Soon after the death of Thomas Becket, Pope Alexander canonised him and the murdered priest was elevated to sainthood. He achieved his final position of power as the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, several months after the death of Theobald. Henry intended to further his influence by directing the actions of Thomas, his loyal appointee, and diminish the independence and influence of the Church in England. The famous transformation of Becket into an ascetic occurred at this time. A rift grew between Henry and Thomas as the new Archbishop dropped his Chancellorship and consolidated the landed revenues of Canterbury under his control. So began a series of legal conflicts, such as the jurisdiction of secular courts over English clergymen, which accelerated antipathy between the two great offices. Attempts by King Henry to foment the opinion and influence of the other bishops against Thomas began in Westminster in October 1163, where the King sought approval of stated royal privileges. This led to Clarendon, where Thomas was officially asked to sign off on the King’s rights or face political repercussions.
Canterbury, because of its religious history, had always seen a large number of pilgrims. However, after the death of Thomas Becket, the number of pilgrims visiting the city grew rapidly.

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Murder of Thomas Becket

The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century. The tales (mostly in verse, although some are in prose) are told as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from Southwark to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. In a long list of works, including "Troilus and Criseyde", "House of Fame", "Parliament of Fowls", the Canterbury Tales was Chaucer's magnum opus. He uses the tales and the descriptions of the characters to paint an ironic and critical portrait of English society at the time, and particularly of the Church. Structurally, the collection bears the influence of The Decameron, which Chaucer is said to have come across during his first diplomatic mission to Italy in 1372. However, Chaucer peoples his tales with 'sondry folk' rather than Boccaccio's fleeing nobles.