Thomas Becket, 1115-1170: Separation of Church and State, Act One

Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel by John Guy,  Random House.

The Jean Anouilh play Becket pretty much confirms the power of art on an unsuspecting public.   Think Henry II and the reasonably educated person will get an image of King Peter O’Toole and his one time drinking buddy Richard Burton.  While Peter is always an engaging sort of rogue, Richard does really have the power of right on his side.  He being a saint and all.

So basically the fix has been in since 1959. Probably time enough for another look-see.  To that end, Mr. Guy’s book gives us a more historically accurate but just as entertaining a rendering of reality.

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Anne Boleyn, 1501-1536: The Trouble With Anne

Anne Boleyn has to date had far too many biographies written about her.  She is such a fascinating character, the woman for whom Henry the VIII broke faith with Rome to form an entirely new English church, and threw his family, and his kingdom into turmoil, and moreover lost Sir Thomas More’s head. (Someone else had to lose Sir Thomas More’s head; he never lost it himself.)

Anne Boleyn has been endlessly misjudged in my estimation.  People marvel at her success with her off-beat looks, and her eleven fingers, and her elegance, and think that those things, together with the solely contemporarily detectable quality of sexiness, explain her hold on King Henry – but I don’t think so. Continue reading