Thomas Becket’s letters from his exile and their French text
Leena Löfstedt (University of Helsinki, University of California 
in Los Angeles)

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Garnier de Pont-Sainte-Maxence’s
Vie de Saint Thomas (1171–1174) preserves, in French alexandrines, three letters by Thomas Becket, sent from his exile in the year 1166. The editor of the Vie, E. Walberg (1922) took them to be translations of the official Latin letters.  After a comparison of these French texts with the official Latin letters edited by Anne Duggan (2000) in the Correspondence of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1162–1170, the Author of this article thinks that the letters versified by Garnier are not translations, but go back to (now lost) French letters written as parallel texts to the official Latin letters.  This opinion is supported, e.g., by the French and Latin letters’ diverging use of their common material ; while following the same guideline, they differ in many details. Consequently, the French letters should not be neglected in Thomas Becket research : surviving outside the Latin manuscript tradition, they may add a new voice into the discussion, and even change some results.
KEY WORDS : Thomas Becket’s French and Latin letters, Garnier de Pont-Sainte-Maxence

Accompanying illustrations

(© Getty MSS)

Getty Gratian (Ms. Ludwig XIV 2)

Getty Gratian (Ms. Ludwig XIV 2) 

Marginal notes