Online Conference: ‘Thomas Becket: Life, Death and Legacy’, 28-30 April 2021

Join Canterbury Cathedral and the University of Kent for three days of exciting papers, 28-30th April 2021, examining the history, visual and material culture, archaeology, architecture, literature, liturgy, musicology, and reception of Becket’s cult at Canterbury, across Europe and beyond, with keynote papers by Rachel Koopmans, Paul Webster, and Alec Ryrie. Be guided by experts on a series of Virtual Tours taking you right into the heart of Canterbury Cathedral and the surrounding area, allowing you to get up close with some of the stunning architecture and artefacts from Becket’s long and storied history.

The conference takes place over three days and each day has a specific focus.

The cult at Canterbury

The first day will focus on the art and architecture of the cathedral, with an examination of the material culture related to Becket and the growth of his cult alongside the developing tensions between Church and State. It will consider the building- its fabric, floors, stained glass windows, shrines, as well as graffiti. It will also look at reliquaries, ampullae and pilgrim badges.

Perceptions of Becket

The second day will focus on perceptions of Becket – including studies in diplomacy, liturgy, musicology, and hagiography – examining aspects of local and ‘global’ devotion. These papers will also examine various ways in which Becket was ‘pictured’ in the medieval church.

Becket, a global cult

The third day will explore the spread and diffusion of the cult of Becket across Europe and beyond, retracing its development until its destruction during the English Reformation.

Hashtags & Social Media

We encourage you to Tweet about the conference beforehand as well as while it’s happening. Please remember to tag @no1Cathedral and use the #BecketConference hashtag in your posts.

Practical Information

All tickets are sold through Eventbrite. You will receive an email confirmation of your order after booking your tickets. One week before the conference you will receive an email containing a link and instructions on how to join the conference, as well as a link to the Virtual Tours to watch them at your leisure.

Virtual Tours

  • Medieval gra­ti in the eastern crypt – Philippa Mesiano, and Ellen Meade
  • The Cosmati pavement – David Neal
  • Erasing Becket: Evidence in the Library & Archives of Canterbury Cathedral – David Rundle
  • The Mazer – a Becket relic? – Sheila Sweetinburgh

Find the PDF conference programme here. Get your tickets here!

Wednesday 28th April 2021 The Cult at Canterbury

9.00 – 9.15 — Zoom opens for all delegates

9.15 – 9.30 — Welcome from Canterbury Cathedral

9.30 – 11.10 — Session 1: Breaking new ground: New archaeological discoveries at Canterbury Cathedral, Chaired by Sheila Sweetinburgh

  • Paul Bennet, ‘Canterbury in the time of Becket’
  • Tim Tatton-Brown, ‘The Archeology of the Trinity Chapel’
  • John Crooks, ‘Becket’s Shrines at Canterbury’
  • Natalie Cohen, ‘The Archaeology of the Eastern Crypt’

11.10 – 11.30 — Comfort Break

11.30 – 13.10 — Session 2: Souvenirs of devotion: Badges, ampullae, & châsses, Chaired by Lloyd de Beer

  • Isabelle Bardiès-Fronty, ‘L’ampoule de pèlerinage à Thomas Becket de Cantorbéry, un témoin précieux’
  • Lydia Prosser & Ian Bass, ‘Thomas Who? The Curious Case of Anderson Type II.30 Ampullae’
  • Annemarieke Willemsen & Michael Lewis, ‘Identifying the Cult of St Thomas of Canterbury through signs in Britain and the Continent’
  • Lucy Splarn, ‘A ‘pilgrimage’ through the Canterbury Collection of Becket pilgrims’ souvenirs’

13.10 – 14.00 — Lunch Break

14.00 – 15.40 — Session 3: Becket, the Church, and the State, Chaired by Danica Summerlin

  • Cary J. Nederman, ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends? John of Salisbury, Thomas Becket, and the Discourse of Amicitia’
  • Rebecca Courtier, ‘Feminine Jurisdiction: St Thomas Becket as Mother of the Church’
  • Ryan Kemp, ‘Becket’s ‘admonitio’: a comparative approach’
  • Claudia Quattrocchi, ‘From Canterbury to Anagni and back: The “Invention of Saint Thomas Becket” in papal visual rhetoric’

15.40 – 16.00 — Comfort Break

16.00 – 17.40 — Session 4: New visualisations, Chaired by Emily Guerry

  • John Jenkins, ‘Variations on a Vision: Gervase of Canterbury and St Thomas in the fifteenth century’
  • Ryan Eisenman, ‘F(r)acturing Becket’s Body on Limoges Enamel Chasses’
  • Kathleen Doyle, ‘Becket in pictograms’
  • The Becket BM Curatorial Team, ‘Curating the exhibition ‘Thomas Becket: murder and the making of a saint’

17.40 – 18.00 – Comfort Break

18.00 – 19.00 – Keynote 1: Rachel Koopmans, ‘The First Days of Miracles: Becket’s Cult in 1171’ , Introduction: Emily Guerry

Thursday 29th April 2021 Perceptions of Becket

9.00 – 9.15 — Zoom opens for all delegates

9.15 – 9.30 — Welcome from Canterbury Cathedral

9.30 – 11.00 — Session 5: Perceptions of Becket: From diplomacy to mythology, Chaired by Barbara Bombi

  • Cecily Hennessey, ‘Thomas, Henry and Family Ties’
  • Jan Vanderburie, ‘The Cult of Thomas Becket in the Latin East 1191-1236’
  • Charlotte Gauthier, ‘To the Holy Land and Back Again: The Hospitallers of St Thomas of Canterbury’
  • Stephanie Plass, ‘The red rose of Canterbury and the white lilies of Lincoln: The use of Becket’s legacy in two saints’ lives written by Gerald of Wales’

11.10 – 11.30 — Comfort Break

11.30 – 13.10 – Session 6: Devotion to Becket: From local to global, Chaired by David Rundle

  • Innocent Smith, ‘Ad gaudia transtulisti: The Translation of St. Thomas Becket in a thirteenth-century Gilbertine Bible Missal (Cambridge, St. John’s College, N.1)’
  • Katherine Emery, ”Þu ert help in Engelande’: The Transmission of Vernacular Song Concerning Thomas Becket in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries’
  • Caroline Vogt, ‘Thomas Becket’s Wardrobe – The vestments of a Martyr’
  • Cecilia Mazzocchio, ‘A Rediscovered Reliquary: Remnants of Thomas Becket’s cult in Siena’

13.10 – 14.00 — Lunch Break

14.00 – 15.40 — Session 7: Picturing Becket in the medieval church, Chaired by Cassandra Harrington

  • Carlos Sánchez Márquez, ‘The wall paintings of Santa Maria in Terrassa and the cult of Thomas Becket in the Crown of Aragon’
  • Angela Websdale, ‘Gone, But Not Forgotten: The Gothic Wall Paintings of St Mary’s Church, Faversham’
  • Meg Bernstein, ‘Parochialising Becket’
  • Alyce Jordan, ‘Remembering Thomas Becket in St Lô’

15.40 – 16.00 — Comfort Break

16.00 – 17.00 — Keynote 2: Paul Webster, ‘What happened in 1220? Saint, Archbishop, King, and Legacy’, Introduction: Louise Wilkinson

Friday 30th April 2021 Becket, a Global Cult

9.00 – 9.15 — Zoom opens for all delegates

9.15 – 9.30 — Welcome from Canterbury Cathedral

9.30 – 11.10 – Session 8: The spread of Becket’s cult I, Chaired by Emily Guerry

  • Stefan Hope, ‘The liturgical veneration of Saint Thomas of Canterbury in medieval Norway’
  • Alexandru Stefan, ‘Sigilographic Perspectives on the Cult of St Thomas Becket in Medieval Transylvania’
  • Tomasz Węcławowicz, ‘The Legacy of Becket’s Martyrdom and St Stanislaw’s Cult in Poland’
  • Jesse Harrington, ‘A tale of two Angevin archbishop ‘martyrs’: St. Thomas of Canterbury and St. Laurence of Dublin’

11.10 – 11.30 — Comfort Break

11.30 – 13.10 – Session 9: The spread of Becket’s cult II, Chaired by Barbara Bombi

  • Synnøve M. Myking, ‘The Cult of Thomas Becket in Medieval Norway’
  • Christopher Lakey, ‘The Plenar of Otto the Mild: The Guelph family patronage of Thomas of Becket in Germany’
  • Anne E. Lester, ‘The French Connection: Aristocratic Patronage, Religious Networks and the French Cult of Thomas Becket’

13.10 – 14.00 – Lunch Break

14.00 – 15.40 – Session 10: The making and un-making of Becket’s cult, Chaired by John Jenskins

  • Katie Hodges-Kluck, ‘Contextualizing the Apocryphal tale of Thomas Becket’s Parentage’
  • Anne Bailey, ‘‘Becket’ or ‘St Thomas’? The Religious Legacy of a Medieval Saint in Post-Reformation Britain’
  • Tristan Taylor, ‘Excising Becket: Becket Erasure in Sixteenth-Century England’
  • Kay Slocum, ‘Tennyson’s Becket, Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, and the Canterbury Chapter House: Tradition and Innovation’

15.40 – 16.00 –Comfort Break

16.00 – 17.00 – Keynote 3: Alec Ryrie, ‘Henry VIII, the Liberties of the Church of England and the Second Martyrdom of Thomas Becket’, Introduction: Kenneth Fincham


Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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