Thursday, December 29, 2005

BBC Declares St. Thomas Becket "Worst Briton of 12th Century" (!!)

In the January 2006 issue of its history magazine, the BBC, after consulting with "leading" historians, came up with a list of the "10 'worst' Britons of the last 1,000 years. This list, which was posted on the BBC News website on 27 December, named St. Thomas Becket as the "12th century's worst villain." The historian who nominated the martyr for this unbecoming title was John Hudson, professor of legal history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Professor Hudson gave the following explanation on why St. Thomas was supposedly such an evil character. "He divided England in a way that even many churchmen who shared some of his views thought unnecessary and self-indulgent." Hudson also named the bishop "a founder of gesture politics."

If that wasn't enough, Professor Hudson justified the murder of St. Thomas by King Henry II's knights. "Those who share my prejudice against Becket may consider his assassination in Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December, 1170, a fittingly grisly end."

St. Thomas deserved to die because he stood up to the king? As one poster on Free Republic stated in response to this article, "I'd never thought I'd see a modern British academic defending the authority of the monarchy, even indirectly."

Another thing that the article never got around explaining was why St. Thomas was described as being "greedy." On the contrary, Diane Moczar (who is also a history professor), in her article about the saint in the Fall 2003 issue of The Latin Mass, stated that Becket "dedicated himself to the spiritual and temporal needs of his people with the energy he had formerly brought to affairs of state."

As a side note, the BBC also named another notable Catholic, Thomas Arundel, as the worst Briton of the 15th century. The reason: "he persecuted the Lollards, a group calling for reform of the Catholic Church by promoting a lay priesthood and translations of the Bible." They omit the more diabolical aspects of Lollardy - a denial of the doctrine of transubstantiation, a denial of the necessity of the sacrament of Confession, and iconoclasm.

Credit is due, however, in their explanation for naming Titus Oates as the worst Briton of the 17th century. They correctly report that Oates "made up a story about a Catholic plot to murder King Charles II which led to scores of people being rounded up and several innocent men being executed."

Even with this obvious bias, it is good that the BBC revealed this list, for it reveals what sort of people they are.

St. Thomas Becket, pray for us!


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