Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How blood and bones brought comfort, power and wealth – a new book from Yale University Press

Religious relics: a potential ticket to Heaven, a big boom for medieval tourism, and much more besides. 
Steven Russell meets a man who has studied this fascinating phenomenon...

Imagine (perish the thought) the Archbishop of Canterbury coming to a violent end and a crowd rushing to bottle blood trickling from his fatal wounds – convinced it had powerful religious properties that would rub off on them. Unthinkable today, but it happened with Thomas Becket in 1170, when an attempt by four barons to take him captive degenerated into a vicious attack that killed him in the cathedral.

His “crime” had been to excommunicate three bishops who had anointed Henry II’s son – Thomas being in France at the time – and thus effectively invalidate the coronation. Such defiance proved the final straw in a deteriorating relationship between Henry and the archbishop, caused by a power struggle between Crown and Church.

Click here to read this article from the East Anglian Daily Times