Creamer Joseph P., In the footsteps of Becket: episcopal sanctity in England, 1170-1270

Creamer, Joseph P., In the footsteps of Becket: episcopal sanctity in England, 1170-1270, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2011, (dir. R. Stacey, University of Washington)

Résumé/abstract :

This dissertation explains why holy bishops were so common in England while they were rare on the continent in the century after the murder of Thomas Becket by the king’s men in 1170. The Introduction shows how Becket’s sanctity was based on resistance to the king, but also drew on other models of episcopal holiness. Chapter 1 traces the development of the « Becket model » in the revival of episcopal sanctity shortly after Becket’s martyrdom and demonstrates how episcopal sanctity was contested by both English kings and royal opponents during the papal interdict of England. This chapter focuses on the biographies and miracles of bishops Wulfstan (canonized 1203), Hugh of Lincoln, (canonized 1220), William of York (canonized 1226), and Osmund of Salisbury (postulated 1228). Chapter 2 traces Archbishop Stephen Langton’s attempt to reform the English church and his role in the origins of Magna Carta. Chapter 3 on Edmund of Canterbury (canonized 1246) shows how his sanctity was shaped to make him an opponent of the king following in the footsteps of Becket, when Edmund actually had a good, if sometimes strained, relationship with the King. Chapter 4 on Robert Grosseteste (postulated 1256) returns to the development of saintly resistance to royal power, exploring how and why Grosseteste defended the Magna Carta by investing it with religious significance, while he and his fellow bishops were co-opted by the baronial rebellion to bless its violent opposition to the King. Chapter 5 broadens outward from the theme of episcopal opposition to authority in order to discuss how the sanctity of Richard Wich (canonized 1262) was shaped by the development of new forms of religious life in the thirteenth century. These developments helped create a new sanctity for the bishops, based not on royal resistance, but on the concerns of the Fourth Lateran Council-the prelate as pastor and preacher.

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