Twelfth-century theologians debated whether Thomas Becket’s cause sufficed to make him a martyr, and modern historians have acknowledged that it was not his personality but the circumstances of his death in December 1170 and the rapid popular acclaim of the posthumous miracles which secured formal canonisation in February 1173. 1 Political as much as religious considerations have been cited to explain the cult of a saint who in life had been ‘vain, overbearing […] not a likeable type of feudal prelate’. 2 Reappraisals occasioned by the eighth centenary of the murder in the cathedral rescued Becket both from earlier excessive denigrations of his character and from the vogue for psychoanalysing him as an actor playing a part or series of roles, 3 but the accusation contained in the royal proclamation suppressing his cult in 1538 was not challenged: ‘there appereth nothynge in his lyfe and exteriour conversation whereby he shuld be callyd a sainct’. 4