A three-day virtual conference organised by the University (28-30 April) will explore the life and times of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, just over 850 years after his murder in Canterbury Cathedral. The conference is open to all.
Each day of the conference will focus on one of three areas of scholarly and popular interest: Becket’s life story and true character; his murder and its lasting international repercussions; and the breadth of his legacy, beginning with his becoming a martyr idol, through the attempted eradication of his name from history, and ending with his saintly rebirth in the 19th Century and onward.
Organised by Dr Emily Guerry, Senior Lecturer in Medieval European History at Kent’s School of History, the conference will feature contributions from over 40 leading Becket experts from 11 countries. Keynote papers will be presented by: Rachel Koopmans, Associate Professor, York University (Canada); Paul Webster, Teaching Associate, Cardiff University; and Alec Ryrie, Professor of the History of Christianity at Durham University.
The conference’s partners are Canterbury Cathedral and Canterbury Christ Church University, with support from the British Academy and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Delegates will also be given virtual tours of Canterbury Cathedral, each with focus on a unique theme including; mosaics, architecture, stained glass, relics, and medieval graffiti. The tours will reveal the extent to which Thomas Becket is embedded in English history and in the Cathedral, including relics both attacked and preserved in the wake of Henry VIII’s reformation, including the identifiable knife marks in manuscripts from which Becket’s name was ripped.
The British Museum is holding an exhibition in parallel with the conference: ‘Thomas Becket – murder and the making of a saint’.
Dr Guerry said: ‘This conference is the greatest collaboration of the world’s leading experts on Thomas Becket to date and is a tremendous opportunity for sharing insights, research and resources on a subject that is of vital importance to history. Speakers will demonstrate that the life, death and legacy of Becket are crucial in appreciating the evolution of English literature, humour, religion, politics and its position in Europe and the world.’
Conference tickets, with a student reduction, can be purchased here.