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John of Salisbury and Thomas Becket

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Chapter Summary

This chapter concentrates on the question of how John of Salisbury's attitudes toward Thomas Becket as a person and as a political figure, reflected in the range of his writings, shaped the broader contours of his thought and activity. The general characterization of John's relationship with and opinion of Becket has varied widely. Summarizing the state of the literature about John's "personal attitude toward Becket", Anne Duggan accurately observes that some (such as Beryl Smalley) have "called it ambivalent; others have considered it circumspect; while a hostile critic might question its general integrity". John's ultimate aim is to set out for Becket the philosophical and religious principles that ought to guide his conduct as a new courtier. After Becket's selection as archbishop in 1162, John remained in the service of Canterbury, although his role seems to have been greatly diminished in contrast with his responsibilities under Theobald.

Keywords: Anne Duggan; archbishop; Canterbury; John of Salisbury; Thomas Becket



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