Revisit our past exhibition
Revisit our past exhibition:
Explore key moments in the life and legacy of Thomas Becket (1120–1170), one of the most important and influential figures in medieval Europe.
Trace Becket's tumultuous journey from a merchant's son to an archbishop, and from a revered saint in death to a 'traitor' in the eyes of Henry VIII more than 350 years later.
A powerful patron
Thomas the chancellor
Thomas the archbishop
29 December 1170
Murder in the cathedral
St Thomas of Canterbury
Becket's relics, including fragments of his bones and pieces of blood-stained clothing, were distributed across Europe.
The shrine sits at the centre of a purpose-built and sumptuously decorated chapel. A series of twelve stained glass windows designed for this new chapel, known as the 'Miracle Windows', depicted Becket's life, death and the miracles he performed. Seven of these survive in situ in Canterbury Cathedral and show the many ways St Thomas intervened in the lives of everyday folk.
The Canterbury Tales
Two months' later, on 16 November 1538, a royal proclamation declares that Becket is no longer a saint and that his name and image should be removed wherever it appears. Amidst a wave of iconoclasm, the outlook for Becket's cult looks bleak. But his cult endures through the devotion of the faithful.