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Thomas Becket, William Warham and the Crisis of the Early Tudor Church

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 April 2019

University of Warwick
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England's first Tudor monarchs were formally devoted to the cult of St Thomas of Canterbury. In popular memory, however, Thomas was a champion of law and custom, an opponent of untrammelled royal power, and – especially among the clergy – a martyr for ecclesiastical ‘liberties’. This suggests that the pre-Reformation Church was considerably less ‘monarchical’ than is sometimes supposed. In the 1530s Thomas became a powerful symbol of resistance to Henry VIII's royal supremacy. However, the fact that he could be portrayed as a patron of the clergy's sectional interests helps to explain how opposition was weakened and divided.

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