What Henry II really said

New Pitkin book

John Butler’s book on Archbishops of Canterbury is now out.

This is a 112 page Pitkin paperback.

Professor Butler is a Canterbury Cathedral guide and the author of The Quest for Becket’s Bones so the chapter on Thomas Becket is especially interesting.

We know that Henry II probably did not say: “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?”

The author says that the King cursed his knights as “a nest of cowards and traitors who had allowed their lord to be treated with contempt by a low born priest”.

This was the outburst which triggered the unauthorised murder of the Archbishop.

The cover picture is a portrait in a medieval window now reproduced as the pub sign at the St Thomas A Becket pub in London’s Old Kent Road.

Another figure familiar to those on the Pilgrims’ Way is Archbishop William Warham. It’s the remnant of his great palace which we visit at Otford.

The book’s portrait of Warham is by Hans Holbein the Younger and is described as the first realistic representation of any Archbishop of Canterbury. His face is captured in 1527 showing the strain of dealing with Henry VIII’s divorce and the coming Reformation.

The Archbishops of Canterbury: A Tale of Church and State by John Butler (Pitkin 12.99).

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