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Flashcards in Becket Deck (24):
1

Becket

Film Facts
Ideological Reasons for Conflict
Intra-Personal Reasons for Conflict
Race
Morality

2

Film Facts

Augustin Thierry
Jean Anouilh
Becket (1964)
Historiography
Story
Sources

3

Ideological Reasons for Conflict

Church VS State
Why ?? Film
Hagiographies & Saintliness
Hagiographies & Worldliness

4

Intra-personal Reasons for Conflict

Legitimate contemporary criticism
Foliot's criticism
Pope's criticism
Personal conflict w/i the film
Love between Becket & Henry
The Gays

5

Race

Thierry's Mistake
Presentation of ethnic conflict w/i film
Modern context
Collaboration
Deliberately fictional?

6

Morality

Becket's morality
Treatment of women
Familial discord
The king's anger

7

Violence

Martyrdom
Military conflict
Becket as a perpetrator of violence
Violence and masculinity
Violence against women: see above.

8

FILM FACTS 1: FILM

Augustin Thierry's book (1825)
- Creates story of Saxons as victimised people, conquered by Norms
- Using texts indiscriminately from the 12th, 13th, 14th centuries
- Nationality struggle rather than church /state

Jean Anouilh's play, "Becket, or the Honour of God" (1959)
- "I was expecting a saint.... and I found a man" in Thierry's book

Becket (1964)
- Director Peter Glenville
- Closely based on play
- Edward Anhalt: scriptwiter - served mking short films in WW2 - directly involved in the discussion of the use of violence to bring peace to EU

9

FILM FACTS 2: ORIGINAL

Story Facts
- Henry II (r.1154-1189)
- TB (Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1155-1162); AB of Cant (1162-1170)
Type of Sources:
- Letters
- Hagiographies
Historiography:
- Frank Barlow, Thomas Becket: critical.
- Anne Duggan, Thomas Becket: saintliness.

10

IDEOLOGICAL REASONS FOR CONFLICT 1

Church and State

Growth of church power
> Papacy post-Gregorian Reform
> Investiture crisis; appointments
> Decrease in sacral kinship
> Church courts - morally important
Growth of king's power:
> Growth of common law
> Criminous clerks
> Constitutions of Clarendon, 1164
> Involvement of Louis
Cf. Duggan's claim it is hard to understand b/c we cannot *feel* conflict.
Lack of clear motivation w/i film.
> Conversation about the growing power of the archbishop of Canterbury, but Becket's change of mind situated as personal + w/o historic context
> Henry's kingship mostly based on rah rah I am king etc - noted that his ancestors did not tax the church, but not why it has changed

11

IDEOLOGICAL REASONS FOR CONFLICT 2

Hagiographies & saintliness

Martyrdom: dying in defence of the English church against the impositions of secular oppressors

Canonised 1173: w/i a decade, ten men had written saint's lives - life as a prelate, quarrel w/ Henry II, his martyrdom.

Easter 1171: John of Salisbury's description of Thomas's martyrdom, followed by his Life and Passion - "The Ancient Enemy [is] continually assaulting the Holy Church" - typical tropes of hagiography.

12

IDEOLOGICAL REASONS FOR CONFLICT 3

Hagiographies & worldliness

Party like Thomas Becket did when he was chancellor (1155-1162): wealthy & extravagant - wild animals, lavish feats, fought in wars, hunted, gambled, had so many servants he required six or more ships when he crossed the channel.

Not a conflict - redemption in archiepiscopacy (Duggan).

Secret sanctity?
- William fitz Stephen: though his "house glistened with gold and silver cases, and abounded in precious food and drink", he practised "utmost sobriety in these things", as "in the midst of these glories of secular honour he often received discipline in secret".
- Herbert of Bosham, pretending to behave immorally to allow him to behave morally in secret.

Insistence on abstinence: Edward Grim, celibacy, "though others may say differently"

13

INTRA-PERSONAL CONFLICT 1

Legitimate contemporary criticism - Gilbert Foliot

Letter to Becket August 1166: "to suffer hardships is an honourable thing: to suffer hardships wrongly and obstinately is dishonourable."

Portrayed as unreasonable in the play: Anouilh - stage direction - "a thin lipped, venomous man" - "yelping", "frothing, and slightly ridiculous".

In film: Donald Wolfit - bishop of London - sneering, hysterical critic & collaborator. Denies legitimacy of their criticisms.

14

INTRA-PERSONAL CONFLICT 2

Legitimate contemporary criticism - the Pope

Pope A III: June 1165: "be discreet", "wary, prudent, and circumspect", re-establish relationship. Repeatedly revoked Becket's excommunications & power to excommunicate.

In film: Cardinals - bickering, money obsessed, warning of Louis VII - comic depiction of A's discussion w/ Cardinal Zambelli (wealth & commercialisation of papacy [/ideology]).

15

INTRA-PERSONAL CONFLICT 3

Personal conflict w/i the film

Kingsley Amis review: lack of clear motivation

Becket's last words:
- In reality: Feast Day liturgy, developed from Salisbury's 1171 hagiography, B's last words - "to God and blessed May and St Denis and the holy patrons of this church, I commend myself to the Church's cause".
- In film & play, "Poor Henry".

Opening scene: HII wonders why Becket never forgave him for taking Gwendolen, & prompting her suicide.

Emphasis on honour - B - lost honour "only a void" (to Gwen), to him asking for honour, to defending "the honour of God".

16

INTRA-PERSONAL CONFLICT 4

Confessions of love:
- "I would have sacrificed the whole kingdom for you. And laughed about it. I loved you, and you didn't love me, did you?"

Nasty to family; never alone w/ a woman in bed.

William fitz Stephen: "Never in Christian times were there two greater friends".

Line changes for Anouilh: "You have an obsession with him which is unnatural and unhealthy."

Lifshitz: context of 1967 de-criminalisation act.

Homosocial bonding:
- Jaeger & Kasten: large part of the medieval period - love between men glorified - honour and virtue - love for women denied - change c. 12th c.
- Against historiographical traditional of John Boswell, "Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality".

17

RACE 1

Origins of ethnic conflict w/i film

Thierry's book - used a mixture of sources for different periods - portrayed Becket as a crusader & a Saxon, the conflict primarily racial.

18

RACE 2

Presentation of ethnic conflict w/i film

Knowingly wrong: Anouilh initially believed Becket was a Saxon, discovered he wasn't, but published statement before the play (in the programme) stating it was fictional but better for drama.

Title card: sets it up in terms of William the Conqueror's contest, despite the fact he conquered England almost one hundred year's before the events of the film - "Henry II... continued to rule over the oppressed Saxon peasants".

Constant references. Little Monk.

Collaboration (cf. Vichy France) - King to Be: "how does one combine honour and collaboration?" B: "I didn't try. One collaborates to live." H: "And what about honour?" B: "Honour is a concern for the living. Honour is a private matter."

19

RACE 3

Modern context

Emotional weight: Maybe not using MA to talk about these issues, because the morality of the situation is unclear - gives emotional weight to their conflict (Lifshitz).

Pretence of authenticity; scenery.

Three race-based contexts:
- Decolonization
- The civil rights movement in the US
- Aftermath of Nazi occupation in Vichy France

20

MORALITY 1

Becket's Morality

"One can always come to a sensible little arrangement with God."

Does not cross moral threshold.

Foil to Henry.

21

MORALITY 2

Treatment of women

Treatment of the peasant girl: secretly refusing Henry's gift of a peasant girl, and then giving the girl's father money. Girl brought to him later, she offers to take her clothes off, he says "what?", she repeats, he laughed, pained. In the play: "Of course."

Treatment of Eleanor & Matilda: H treats them both very badly.
- Eleanor: verbally abused, personally despised, sexually ignored. In reality: Eleanor still close to her husband; powerful queen figure.
- Matilda dead (1167). Matilda against Constitutions of Clarendon, Becket wrote to her as an intermediary. Henry claims she did not pay attention to him or love him - in the play, says Lifshitz, M refers to her political past; not in the film.

Treatment of Gwendolen: Becket - she loves him, it's consensual. Her affection & her death makes him more sympathetic. (Cf. Edward Grim > celibacy).

22

MORALITY 3

Henry's anger

Political tool: Jolliffe, tools of statecraft; Althoff - political functioning of emotion; Reuter, cultivated unreliability.

Contemporary accounts of Henry's anger:
GRIM VIALS OF WRATH: Edward Grim, "Vials of his wrath" at Woodstock (1163) - discrediting B's opponent, but anger > beneficial to Henry.
ARNULF'S TRIAL OF STRENGTH: 1165 - "all who have had occasion to contend against him have preferred to conclude precarious treaties of an empty peace rather than run the risk of a trial of strength."

Not knowing HYK's name; beaten, cowering, sickly; yelled at, abused, Henry tries to kick him. Neither controlled nor official.

23

VIOLENCE 1

Martyrdom

Unusually violent nature of his death - portrayed in film - his injuries - blooded; a line of blood from his mouth.

Lack of precedent: kings sometimes die in churches - 1128 - Charles the Good of Flanders; 1086 - King Cnut of Denmark (hagiographical narratives) - but they are lay rulers.

Obsession at the time:
- Bystanders collecting his body, blood, clothing.
- Reliquary caskets, manufactured in Limoges - concentrated on the moment of the murder - vivid colour - three royal knights struck down AB, fourth held back the citizenry.

24

VIOLENCE 2

Military violence

Becket's involvement in war:

REALITY: Toulouse, 1159.

PLAY: Discussion about Becket being a good fighter; how both he & the king have fought in close combat.

FILM: Becket avoids conflict with the French; instead negotiates their surrender. But successfully defends himself against two men trying to stab him (peasant boy in the woods & later Brother John, the Saxon monk) - able to defeat them. (VS Henry who is scared of blood).

H.M. Thomas - honour - muscular defence of Christianity; shame/masculinity. "Stand manfully with me in the first, take up weapons and the shield and rise to my aid."