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The ready to get the fun started with this anywhere! I did make a bottom piecrust because composition as well as about the crust. It is true that new theatre practice often establishes itself in the public consciousness through polemical differentiation from customary practice and thus creates the appearance that it owes its identity to the classical norms.
Provocation alone, however, does not make a form; even provocative, negating art has to create something new under its own steam. Through this alone, and not through the negation of classical norms, can it obtain its own identity. This then posed the question: And what is taking its place? This answer can no longer suffice. One exacerbating factor for the nearly uncontested acceptance of this conception of the epic as the successor to the dramatic has been the overpowering authority of Brecht. The case of Roland Barthes is a revealing one.
He concerned himself intensely with the theatre between and , acting in a student company. Barthes was so shaken by this experience that he subsequently declared his reluctance to write about any other kind of theatre from then on. Even then, this seemed more important to him than the emotionality of theatre.
Brecht became a perceptual block for Barthes. One could say, Brechtian aesthetics represented for him — all too comprehensively and all too absolutely — the one and only model of a theatre of inner distance. The estrangement of theatre and drama Starting in the Theory of the Modern Drama itself and more so in his subsequent studies on lyrical drama, Szondi himself expanded his diagnosis and amended his one-sided interpretation of the metamorphosis of drama as epicization.
Yet a whole host of prejudices still block comprehension of the very transformation process of which phenomena like the epicizing tendency and the lyrical theatre are themselves only moments: namely the transformation that has mutually estranged theatre and drama and has distanced them ever further from each other. Theatre without drama does exist. What is at stake in the new theatre development are the questions in which way and with what consequences the. Certainly, even throughout the modern era, the modern theatre for its devotees was an event in which the dramatic text played only one part — and often not the most important — of the experiences sought.
Yet despite all the individual entertaining effects of the staging, the textual elements of plot, character or at least dramatis personae and a moving story predominantly told in dialogue remained the structuring components. This explains why many spectators among the traditional theatre audience experience difficulties with postdramatic theatre, which presents itself as a meeting point of the arts and thus develops — and demands — an ability to perceive which breaks away from the dramatic paradigm and from literature as such.
It is not surprising that fans of other arts visual arts, dance, music are often more at home with this kind of theatre than theatregoers who subscribe to literary narrative. This indeed captures a crucial change and a structure concerning, for example, the theatre of Robert Wilson, Richard Foreman and other exponents of American avant-garde theatre. And in this theatre without dialogue the figures only seem to be speaking. It would be more accurate to say that they are being spoken by the author of the script or that the audience lends them its inner voice. These were important impulses avant la lettre for an understanding of the theatre of the s and s, and they have maintained much of their pertinence.
At the same time, one cannot stop here, especially since Wirth outlined his ideas only briefly and in the form of theses. To begin with, the discourse model, with its duality of point of view and vanishing point, omnipotent director here and solipsistic viewer there, preserves the classical ordering model of perspective that was characteristic of drama. A disposition of spaces of meaning and sound-spaces develops which is open to multiple uses and which can no longer simply be ascribed to a single organizer or organon — be it an individual or a collective.
Rather, it is often a matter of the authentic presence of individual performers, who appear not as mere carriers of an intention external to them — whether this derives from the text or the director. They act out their own corporeal logic within a given framework: hidden impulses, energy dynamics and mechanics of body and motorics.
Thus, it is problematic to see them as agents of a discourse of a director who remains external to them. This theatre of a logic of the double is precisely what Artaud wanted to exclude. Instead, we have to comprehend a much more radical distancing of theatre from the dramatic-dialogic conception as such. Theatre after Brecht Andrzej Wirth writes: Brecht called himself the Einstein of the new dramatic form. This selfassessment is no exaggeration if one understands the epoch-making theory. This theory has given an impulse for the dissolution of the traditional stage dialogue into the form of the discourse or solilogue.
Is Gestus, understood so generally, not at the heart of playing in all theatre? What Brecht achieved can no longer be understood one-sidedly as a revolutionary counter-design to tradition. In the light of the newest developments, it becomes increasingly apparent that, in a sense, the theory of epic theatre constituted a renewal and completion of classical dramaturgy. Postdramatic theatre is a post-Brechtian theatre. For here, too, the choice of words and an implicit or even explicit equation of theatre with staged drama perpetuate the no longer accurate. To take this stance, however, marginalizes crucial realities of theatre — and not just of contemporary theatre.
It no longer serves the purpose of theoretical concepts to sharpen perception but instead obstructs the cognition of theatre, as well as the theatre text. The need for action, entertainment, diversion and suspense employs the aesthetic rules of the traditional concept of drama, though mostly unconsciously so, in order to measure theatre that quite obviously refuses such demands according to these standards.
The quality of the Hamburg production — the only one I know — consisted, however, in its differentiated rhythm designed to carry the grand form intended by Handke. It is telling that even in an academic analysis of this case, the criterion itself remains unchallenged and valid as a matter of course. Exposition, ascending action, peripeteia and catastrophe: as old-fashioned as it may sound, these are what people expect of an entertaining story in film and theatre.
If texts and staged processes are perceived according to the model of suspenseful dramatic action, the theatrical. These elements the form , however, are precisely the point in many contemporary theatre works — by no means just the extreme ones — and are not employed as merely subservient means for the illustration of an action laden with suspense. Excitation and event are two connotations of this word. Yet we still find an actual similarity to drama here: suffering, at least disappointment, as much as the — presumably quite expressive — manifestation of feelings as a reaction to the refusal.
Two points are remarkable about this everyday usage. On the one hand, it concentrates on the serious side of the dramatic play whose model forms the background. This model of dramatic antagonism hardly makes itself felt in everyday language use. People also call a long search for a lost pet, in which no oppositions, enemy positions, etc.
Certainly, there have been adventurous theoretical attempts — for example in the eighteenth century — to salvage the principle of imitation even for music, for example by understanding it as the mimesis of affects. Since the beginning of modernism, the painted work has often rejected representation and obviously has to be comprehended as positing a new reality in its own right: as a gesture and innervation made manifest; as a statement affirming its own reality; as a trace no less concrete and real than a bloodstain or a freshly painted wall. In these cases, aesthetic experience demands — and makes possible — reflected visual pleasure, conscious experiencing of purely or predominantly visual perception as such, independent of any recognition of represented realities.
In the domain of visual arts, this shift in attitude has long been considered a foregone conclusion. This shifting of media boundaries displaces plot-oriented drama from the aesthetic centre of theatre — though of course by no means from its institutional centre where the traditional drama is still firmly rooted. If one thinks of theatre as drama and as imitation, then action presents itself automatically as the actual object and kernel of this imitation.
And before the emergence of film indeed no artistic practice other than theatre could so plausibly monopolize this dimension: the mimetic imitation of human action represented by real actors. With a certain necessity the fixation on action seems to entail thinking the aesthetic form of. This reality always precedes the double of theatre as the original. While for good reason no poetics of drama has ever abandoned the concept of action as the object of mimesis, the reality of the new theatre begins precisely with the fading away of this trinity of drama, imitation and action.
It is a trinity in which theatre is regularly sacrificed to drama, drama to the dramatized, and finally the dramatized — the real in its continual withdrawal — to its concept. One only has to remember that aesthetic articulations in general transversely to the conceptual grids invent perceptive images and differentiated worlds of affects or feelings that did not exist in this way before or outside of their artistic representation in text, sound, image or scene.
Human sentiment imitates art, as much as, the other way round, art imitates life. He emphasized, however, that conversely the aesthetic articulations of social conflicts in turn offer models for their perception and are partially responsible for the modes of ritualization in real social life. He argued that aesthetically formed drama produces images, structured forms of development and ideological patterns that give order to the social, its organization and perception.
Two investments of the libido. Shall we say that the action of the palm represents the passion of the tooth? Is there no possibility to reverse one and the other, a hierarchy of one position over the other, power of one over the other? These choruses relate to that reality not as representation, however, but rather like the clenching of the fist to the toothache in Bellmer. They allude or point towards it and at the same time offer themselves as an effect of a flux, an innervation or a rage. Energetic theatre would be theatre beyond representation — meaning, of course, not simply without representation, but not governed by its logic.
It gains its logic, as much as its sound material, through a musical organization. It would not represent a logic for example of a plot given prior to the theatrical signs. Otherwise it would debase itself by becoming a mere duplicate of something. Husserl, incidentally, leveled a cogent critique against duplication in the area of discursive knowledge.
Drama and dialectic Drama, history, meaning In classical aesthetics, the dialectic of the form of drama and its philosophical implications were of central concern. Therefore, a consideration of what is being left behind when drama is being left behind is best started here. Drama and tragedy were considered the highest form or one of the highest forms of the appearance of Spirit. Drama took on a distinguished role in the canon of the arts because of the dialectical essence of the genre dialogue, conflict, solution; a high degree of abstraction essential for the dramatic form; exposition of the subject in its state of conflict.
As the art form of process, it is, even to date, identified with the dialectical movement of alienation and sublation. Thus, Szondi attributes dialectic to the genre of drama and to tragedy. Historians have time and again taken recourse to the metaphors of drama, tragedy and comedy to describe the sense and inner unity of historical processes. This tendency has been furthered by the objective element of theatricality in history itself. Thus, above all the French Revolution with its grand entrances, speeches, gestures and exits has time and again been conceived of as a drama with conflict, solution, heroic roles and spectators.
To view history as drama, however, almost inevitably introduces teleology, pointing towards a finally meaningful perspective — reconciliation in idealist aesthetics, historical progress in Marxist historiography. Drama promises dialectic. The tight entanglement of drama and dialectic and, more generally, of drama and abstraction has often been noted.
Abstraction is inherent to drama. Conscious of this, Goethe and Schiller consequently put at the forefront of their contemplations about the difference between drama and epic the question of the right choice of subject appropriate to the form of drama. The gesture of the epic writer precisely emphasizes the accessory detail which in drama appears as a laborious waste of time in order to evoke a sense of plenitude and credibility.
By contrast, drama is based on a feat of abstraction that sketches a model world in which the plenitude not of reality in general but of human behaviour in the state of an experiment becomes evident.
Style Over Substance
This is also the basis for the often-observed similarity of novella and drama. For the Poetics drama is a structure that gives a logical namely dramatic order to the confusing chaos and plenitude of Being. This inner order, supported by the famous unities, hermetically seals off the meaningful form, which the artefact tragedy represents, from outside reality and, at the same time, constitutes it internally as an unbroken, complete unity and wholeness. Drama means a flow of time, controlled and surveyable. Just as peripeteia can be shown to be actually a logical category, anagnorisis, another profound idea of the Poetics, namely the extraordinary emotional effect of recognition, is a motif related to cognition.
The painful light of recognition casts light on the whole and, at the same time, poses it as an unsolvable riddle: according to which rules has the now brightly lit constellation come about? Thus, the moment of recognition is ironically the caesura, the interruption of recognition. This remains implicit in the Poetics, for Aristotle is concerned with the philosophical in tragedy. This is the reason why people take delight in seeing images; what happens is that as they view them they come to understand and work out what each thing is e.
Beauty, the Poetics argues, cannot be thought without a certain magnitude expansion : For this reason no organism could be beautiful if it is excessively small since observation becomes confused as it comes close to having no perceptible duration in time or excessively large since the observation is then not simultaneous, and the observers find that the sense of unity and wholeness is lost from their observation, e.
So just as in the case of physical objects and living organisms, they should possess a certain magnitude, and this should be such that it can readily be taken in at one view [eusynopton], so in the case of plots: they should have a certain length, and this should be such that it can readily be held in memory. The perceptible has to yield to the laws of comprehension and memory retention. By contrast, dramatic logos since Aristotle has been attributed with the advance of logic behind deceptive illusion.
The border between world and model that had promoted a sense of security dissolved. With that, an essential basis of dramatic theatre broke down that was axiomatic for occidental aesthetics, namely the totality of the logos. The beautiful is conceptualized according to the model of the logical, as its variant. Hegel 1: the exclusion of the real Drama as an essentially dialectical genre is at the same time the exquisite place of the tragic.
Theatre after drama, we might thus suspect, would be a theatre without the tragic. In art, the highest form and the most beautiful form are not the same. Hence the well-known remark about ancient sculptures that they were tinged with an air of mourning. For in post-antiquity, the height of beauty, the perfect merger of the sensuous and the spiritual, has to be overcome through the progress of Spirit in favour of a progressive intellectual abstraction.
While in classical sculpture, i. It is more than beautiful, already on the way to pure concept and subjectivity. Drama is not simply the unproblematic appearance but, at the same time, the manifest crisis of beautiful ethicity Sittlichkeit. In the philosophy of drama we find, at the height of its classical formulation,. Let us take a closer look at this rupture within tragedy.
Hence, the voice of the epic narrator, which remains external to the hero, has to be replaced with the actual dramatic structure of fate and — in the same move — with the self-articulation of the human being through the scenic embodiment. This is fatal for the ethical concept. For what motivates the internally necessary exclusion of the real, which at the same time endangers the claim to comprehensive mediation, is nothing less than the principle of drama itself. It is that dialectical abstraction that makes drama possible as a form in the first place, yet, in the same move, removes it from the realm of aesthetic reconciliation, a reconciliation that occurs by means of the permeation of sensuous subject-matter.
In the shape of an insolubly contradictory experience of the ethical problem and abjected materiality, there already slumber in the depths of dramatic theatre those tensions that open up its crisis, dissolution and finally the possibility of a non-dramatic paradigm. From postclassical times to the present, theatre has gone through a series of transformations that assert the right of the disparate, partial, absurd and ugly against the postulates of unity, wholeness, reconciliation and sense.
It should rather be understood as the unfolding and blossoming of a potential of disintegration, dismantling and deconstruction within drama itself. What results is, in other words, the for Hegel unthinkable phenomenon that the particular and preconceptual — the mere individual real player — stand above the moral content. The latter, the Spirit, here depends on the mere particular representational achievement of the player instead of imposing its law on the particular. The basic experience of the actor is the production of the ethically valid through individuals.
The self, appearing here in its significance as something actual, plays with the mask it once put on in order to act its part. It makes sense that Menke connects this inner tension, the incompleteness of drama, with the Romantic transcendentalization of poetry.
Demented Particulars: The Annotated Murphy
Towards a prehistory of postdramatic theatre Theatre and text Theatre and drama have existed, and still exist, in a relationship of tensionridden contradictions. To emphasize this state of affairs and consider the whole extent of its implications are the first prerequisite for an adequate understanding of the new and newest theatre. The cognition of postdramatic theatre starts with ascertaining to what extent its existence depends on the mutual emancipation and division between drama and theatre.
A genre history of drama in and of itself is therefore only of limited interest to theatre studies. In postdramatic forms of theatre, staged text if text is staged is merely a component with equal rights in a gestic, musical, visual, etc. The rift between the discourse of the text and that of the theatre can open up all the way to an openly exhibited discrepancy or even unrelatedness.
The historical drifting apart of text and theatre demands an unprejudiced redefinition of their relationship. It proceeds from the reflection that theatre existed first: arising from ritual, taking up the form of mimesis through dance, and developing into a full-fledged behaviour and practice before the advent of writing. The written text, literature, took on the rarely contested leading role of the cultural hierarchy. However, such a terminological identification of drama with all levels of theatricality cancels out the productive historical and typological differentiations between the different ways in which theatre and dramatic literature have met and separated from each other in modernity.
And the fear of this last transformation is general, one can rely on it, one can depend on it. Rather, what is at issue here is the reality albeit one always remaining in the twilight of an overcoming of death through its staging. Within this frame, the internally highly divergent types and individual appearances, too, presented themselves as variations of a discursive formation, for which the amalgamation of drama and theatre is essential. The development of that discursive formation towards the postdramatic will now be briefly traced.
The path leads from the grand theatre at the end of the nineteenth century, via a multitude of modern theatre forms during the historical avant-garde and then the neo-avant-garde of the s and s, to the postdramatic theatre forms at the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries. Second stage: crisis of drama, theatre goes its own way s Under the premise of a theatre that is not yet changed in revolutionary ways, the crisis of drama occurs from about onwards. What is being shaken during this crisis and subsequently declines is a series of previously unquestioned constituents of drama: the textual form of a dialogue charged with suspense and pregnant with decisions; the subject whose reality can essentially be expressed in interpersonal speech; the action that unfolds primarily in an absolute present.
Thus, Pirandello was convinced of the incompatibility of theatre and drama. This would even be dangerous because the acted Hamlet would kill some of the infinite wealth of the imaginary Hamlet. Later Craig actually undertook a production of the play and declared the attempt had proved his thesis that the play was unstageable. Theatre is here recognized as something that has its own different roots, preconditions and premises, which are even hostile to dramatic literature. The text should recede from the theatre, Craig concludes, precisely because of its poetic dimensions and qualities.
Yet in the forms of her texts, too, a. The autonomization of theatre is not the result of the self-importance of post modern directors craving recognition, as which it is often dismissed. The challenge to discover new potencies of the art of theatre has become an essential dimension of writing for the theatre. Autonomization, retheatricalization In parallel to the crisis of drama and in the course of the general art revolution around , a crisis of the discourse form of theatre itself occurs. Out of the rejection of traditional forms of theatre develops a new autonomy of theatre as an independent artistic practice.
Only since this caesura has theatre abandoned orienting the choice of its means securely around the requirements of the drama to be staged. This orientation had meant not just a certain limitation but at the same time a certain security for the criteria of theatre crafts, a logic and system of rules for the use of theatrical means that serve the drama. Hence, a loss occurred along with the newly acquired freedom, which, from a productive point of view, has to be described as the entry of theatre into the age of experimentation.
Since it became conscious of the artistic expressive potential slumbering within it, independent of the text to be realized, theatre, like other art forms, has been hurled into the difficult and risky freedom of perpetual experimentation. What until then had been the inherent domain of theatre, the representation of acting people in motion, is taken over by motion pictures which in this respect soon surpass theatre. This rediscovery of the presentational potential peculiar to theatre, and only to theatre, raises the question: what is unmistakable and irreplaceable about it compared to other media?
Indeed this question has since accompanied theatre, and not just because of the rivalry with other art forms.
Rather, it. Under the impression of new media, the old ones become self-reflexive. It happened thus with painting when photography emerged, with theatre when film emerged and with the latter when television and video emerged. Even if this change outshines everything else only in a first phase of reaction, from then on self-reflexivity remains a permanent potential and necessity, forced by the coexistence and competition paragon of the arts. The other regularity within the development of the arts seems to be that dynamism grows from decomposition.
Actor and Puppet
When in visual arts the dimension of representation separated from the experience of colour and form photography here and abstraction there the individual elements, thus thrown back upon themselves, could gain acceleration and new forms could come about. From the decomposition of the whole of a genre into its individual elements develop new languages of form.
The aim was not only the remembering of the purely aesthetic means of theatricality. It was not just a matter of a retheatricalization immanent to theatre but at the same time of an opening of the theatrical sphere to others: to cultural, political, magical, philosophical, etc.
The desire of the avant-gardes to overcome the boundaries between life and art the failure of which does not condemn them, of course was just as much a motif of retheatricalization. The autonomization of theatre and with it the increased importance of directing are arguably irrevocable. With the new insistence on the intrinsic value of theatre around the turn of the century there is another context to be kept in mind: the entertainment and spectacle theatre of the late nineteenth century in particular had strengthened the more ambitious directors in their conviction that there was a conflict between the text and routinized theatre.
For Craig, as much as for Chekhov and Stanislavski, Claudel and Copeau, the reclamation of complexity and truth for the theatre was a central motif of their endeavours. The tradition of the written text is under more threat from museumlike conventions than from radical forms of dealing with it. During the late s, the international departure begins. It marks the start not only of the avant-garde but also of pop culture which transforms all areas of private and public life.
Rock music Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley for the first time in history produces music deliberately and exclusively targeted at young people. The triumphal procession of youth culture starts. The reception of Kafka starts and serial music and Art Informel are making themselves felt. Culminating in the revolution of , the s see the development of a new spirit of experimentation in all arts.
With happenings, and all the more so with the Vienna actionists, the action takes on the traits of a ritual. In , Richard Schechner stages Dionysius 69, in which the spectators are invited to get into physical contact with the players. It renounces the visible meaningfulness of the dramatic action but in the midst of the decomposition of sense sticks surprisingly strictly to the classical unities of drama. Even as a game of the absurd, theatre remained a world representation. And just like the new political theatre of provocation, the absurd theatre remains pledged to the hierarchy that in dramatic theatre ultimately subordinates the theatrical means to the text.
The plexus of the dominance of the text, the conflict of figures, and the totality of plot and world representation however grotesque these may be that characterize dramatic theatre remain intact. The atmosphere the Theatre of the Absurd feeds off is based on a Weltanschauung and is politically, literarily and philosophically founded: the experience of barbarism in the twentieth century the Holocaust , the real possibility of the end of history Hiroshima , meaningless bureaucracies and political resignation.
The Existentialist retreat to the individual and the absurd are closely related. However, the different Weltanschauung gives an entirely different meaning to all motifs of discontinuity, collage and montage, decomposition of narration, speechlessness and withdrawal of meaning shared by the absurd and the postdramatic theatre. Absurdist theatre corresponds with the lyrical drama which belongs to the genealogy not the type of postdramatic theatre.
A play like Conversation-Sinfonietta builds a musical composition out of fragments of everyday language. The premiere production used music by Anton Webern. There is also a play without any figures in which only voices sound in an empty room Voix sans personne. Some of its texts explode the frame of dramatic and narrative logic. Yet the step to postdramatic theatre is taken only when the theatrical means beyond language are positioned equally alongside the text and are systematically thinkable without it.
The genre of documentary theatre developing in the s also points some way beyond the tradition of dramatic theatre. In place of the dramatic representation of the events themselves one finds here scenes of court trials of incidents, interrogations and witness statements. One could object that court scenes and cross-examinations of witnesses are also a means of traditional theatre to create suspense. Yet while this is true for many dramatic plays, it is not pertinent here because in documentary theatre little depends on the outcome of the process of investigation or that of arriving at a verdict.
What is thematically at stake here political or moral guilt in nuclear weapons research, the Vietnam War, imperialism, and the responsibility for concentration camp atrocities has long been historically and politically decided outside of the theatre. The documentary play in this respect confronts a similar kind of difficulty as every historical drama attempting the impossible: namely, how to represent the historically already known events as uncertain and to be decided upon only in the course of the dramatic procedure. It is questionable whether the much implored political claim of documentary theatre could be upheld by adapting it formally to the dramatic norm.
Of course, Stein himself consciously decided not to. What is so forwardlooking about the documentary theatre is less the desire for direct political action, and even less its conventional dramaturgy, than a trait likely to provoke rejection and criticism. The horror of the Auschwitz death camps is presented in cantos, heightening the material of the statements into a recitative that appears liturgical.
One can say that the prominent texts of those years question the dramatic model of communication more clearly than the practice of directing. The theatre here doubles itself, citing its own speech. At the same time, however, it also points to the future of theatre after drama.
The mentioned variants of neo-avant-gardist theatre each sacrifice certain parts of dramatic representation but in the end preserve the crucial unity: the close connection between the text of an action, report or process and the theatrical representation oriented towards it. This connection ruptures in the postdramatic theatre of the last decades.
Intermediality, the civilization of images and scepticism towards grand theories and meta-narratives20 dissolve the hierarchy that had previously guaranteed not just the subjection of all theatrical means to the text but also the coherence among them. It is no longer just a matter of affirming and recognizing the independent achievement of the staging as an artistic design.
Instead the relationships that are constitutive for dramatic theatre are inverted, first in a subterraneous manner, then openly. The aim is no longer the wholeness of an aesthetic theatre composition of words, meaning, sound, gesture, etc. Instead the theatre takes on a fragmentary and partial character. It renounces the long-incontestable criteria of unity and synthesis and abandons itself to the chance and risk of trusting individual impulses, fragments and microstructures of texts in order to become a new kind of practice.
A short look back at the historical avant-gardes A discussion of the new theatre forms roughly from around and into the first decade of the twenty-first century has to have recourse to the historical avant-gardes because here the conventional classical dramaturgy of unity was first disrupted. Of course this cannot involve adding to the rich scholarship on this epoch or creating an inventory of the manifold influences of the historical avant-garde on postdramatic theatre. At the age of twenty-four Thomas was given a post in the household of Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, and while there he apparently resolved on a career in the Church, for he took minor orders.
To prepare himself further, he obtained the archbishop's permission to study canon law at the University of Bologna, continuing his studies at Auxerre, France. On coming back to England, he became provost of Beverley, and canon at Lincoln and St. Paul's cathedrals. His ordination as deacon occurred in Theobald appointed him archdeacon of Canterbury, the highest ecclesiastical office in England after a bishopric or an abbacy, and began to entrust him with the most intricate affairs; several times he was sent on important missions to Rome.
It was Thomas' diplomacy that dissuaded Pope Eugenius III from sanctioning the coronation of Eustace, eldest son of Stephen, and when Henry of Anjou, great grandson of William the Conqueror, asserted his claim to the English crown and became King Henry II, it was not long before he appointed this gifted churchman as chancellor, that is, chief minister.
An old chronicle describes Thomas as "slim of growth, and pale of hue, with dark hair, a long nose, and a straightly featured face. Blithe of countenance was he, winning and lovable in conversation, frank of speech in his discourses but slightly stuttering in his talk, so keen of discernment that he could always make difficult questions plain after a wise manner. Like the later chancellor of the realm, Thomas Moore, who also became a martyr and a saint, Thomas Becket was the close personal friend as well as the loyal servant of his young sovereign.
They were said to have one heart and one mind between them, and it seems possible that to Becket's influence were due, in part, those reforms for which Henry is justly praised, that is, his measures to secure equitable dealing for all his subjects by a more uniform and efficient system of law. But it was not only their common interest in matters of state that bound them together. They were also boon companions and spent merry hours together. It was almost the only relaxation Thomas allowed himself, for he was an ambitious man.
He had a taste for magnificence, and his household was as fine—if not finer—than the King's. When he was sent to France to negotiate a royal marriage, he took a personal retinue of two hundred men, with a train of several hundred more, knights and squires, clerics and servants, eight fine wagons, music and singers, hawks and hounds, monkeys and mastiffs.
Little wonder that the French gaped in wonder and asked, "If this is the chancellor's state, what can the Ring's be like? In King Henry raised an army of mercenaries in France to regain the province of Toulouse, a part of the inheritance of his wife, the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Thomas served Henry in this war with a company of seven hundred knights of his own. Wearing armor like any other fighting man, he led assaults and engaged in single combat. Another churchman, meeting him, exclaimed: "What do you mean by wearing such a dress? You look more like a falconer than a cleric.
Yet you are a cleric in person, and many times over in office-archdeacon of Canterbury, dean of Hastings, provost of Beverley, canon of this church and that, procurator of the archbishop, and like to be archbishop, too, the rumor goes! Although he was proud, strong-willed, and irascible, and remained so all his life, he did not neglect to make seasonal retreats at Merton and took the discipline imposed on him there. His confessor during this time testified later to the blamelessness of his private life, under conditions of extreme temptation. If he sometimes went too far in those schemes of the King which tended to infringe on the ancient prerogatives and rights of the Church, at other times he opposed Henry with vigor.
In Archbishop Theobald died. King Henry was then in Normandy with Thomas, whom he resolved to make the next primate of England. When Henry announced his intention, Thomas, demurring, told him: "Should God permit me to be the archbishop of Canterbury, I would soon lose your Majesty's favor, and the affection with which you honor me would be changed into hatred. For there are several things you do now in prejudice of the rights of the Church which make me fear you would require of me what I could not agree to; and envious persons would not fail to make it the occasion of endless strife between us.
Thomas continued to refuse the promotion until the legate of the Holy See, Cardinal Henry of Pisa, overrode his scruples. The election took place in May, Young Prince Henry, then in London, gave the necessary consent in his father's name. Thomas, now forty-four years old, rode to Canterbury and was first ordained priest by Walter, bishop of Rochester, and then on the octave of Pentecost was consecrated archbishop by the bishop of Winchester. From this day worldly grandeur no longer marked Thomas' way of life. Next his skin he wore a hairshirt, and his customary dress was a plain black cassock, a linen surplice, and a sacerdotal stole about his neck.
He lived ascetically, spent much time in the distribution of alms, in reading and discussing the Scriptures with Herbert of Bosham, in visiting the infirmary, and supervising the monks at their work. He took special care in selecting candidates for Holy Orders. As ecclesiastical judge, he was rigorously just. Although as archbishop Thomas had resigned the chancellorship, against the King's wish, the relations between the two men seemed to be unchanged for a time.
But a host of troubles was brewing, and the crux of all of them was the relationship between Church and state. In the past the landowners, among which the Church was one of the largest, for each hide  of land they held, had paid annually two shillings to the King's officers, who in return undertook to protect them from the rapacity of minor tax- gatherers. This was actually a flagrant form of graft and the Ring now ordered the money paid into his own exchequer.
The archbishop protested, and there were hot words between him and the Ring. Thenceforth the King's demands were directed solely against the clergy, with no mention of other landholders who were equally involved. Then came the affair of Philip de Brois, a canon accused of murdering a soldier. According to a long-established law, as a cleric he was tried in an ecclesiastical court, where he was acquitted by the judge, the bishop of Lincoln, but ordered to pay a fine to the deceased man's relations. A king's justice then made an effort to bring him before his civil court, but he could not be tried again upon that indictment and told the king's justice so in insulting terms.
Thereat Henry ordered him tried again both for the original murder charge—and for his later misdemeanor. Thomas now pressed to have the case referred to his own archiepiscopal court; the King reluctantly agreed, and appointed both lay and clerical assessors. Philip's plea of a previous acquittal was accepted as far as the murder was concerned, but he was punished for his contempt of a royal court.
The King thought the sentence too mild and remained dissatisfied. In October, , the King called the bishops of his realm to a council at Westminster, at which he demanded their assent to an edict that thenceforth clergy proved guilty of crimes against the civil law should be handed over to the civil courts for punishment.
Thomas stiffened the bishops against yielding. But finally, at the council of Westminster they assented reluctantly to the instrument known as the Constitutions of Clarendon, which embodied the royal "customs" in Church matters, and including some additional points, making sixteen in all.
It was a revolutionary document: it provided that no prelate should leave the kingdom without royal permission, which would serve to prevent appeals to the Pope; that no tenant-in-chief should be excommunicated against the Ring's will; that the royal court was to decide in which court clerics accused of civil offenses should be tried; that the custody of vacant Church benefices and their revenues should go to the King.
Other provisions were equally damaging to the authority and prestige of the Church. The bishops gave their assent only with a reservation, "saving their order," which was tantamount to a refusal. Thomas was now full of remorse for having weakened, thus setting a bad example to the bishops, but at the same time he did not wish to widen the breach between himself and the King.
He made a futile effort to cross the Channel and put the case before the Pope. On his part, the Ring was bent on vengeance for what he considered the disloyalty and ingratitude of the archbishop. He ordered Thomas to give up certain castles and honors which he held from him, and began a campaign to persecute and discredit him.
Various charges of chicanery and financial dishonesty were brought against Thomas, dating from the time he was chancellor. The bishop of Winchester pleaded the archbishop's discharge. The plea was disallowed; Thomas offered a voluntary payment of his own money, and that was refused.
The affair was building up to a crisis, when, on October 13, , the King called another great council at Northampton. Thomas went, after celebrating Mass, carrying his archbishop's cross in his hand. The Earl of Leicester came out with a message from the King: "The King commands you to render your accounts. Otherwise you must hear his judgment. I am therefore not liable and will not plead with regard to them. Neither law nor reason allows children to judge and condemn their fathers.
Wherefore I refuse the King's judgment and yours and everyone's. Under God, I will be judged by the Pope alone. Determined to stand out against the Ring, Thomas left Northampton that night, and soon thereafter embarked secretly for Flanders. Meanwhile King Henry forbade anyone to give him aid. Gilbert, abbot of Sempringham, was accused of having sent him some relief. Although the abbot had done nothing, he refused to swear he had not, because, he said, it would have been a good deed and he would say nothing that might seem to brand it as a criminal act.
Henry quickly dispatched several bishops and others to put his case before Pope Alexander, who was then at Sens. Thomas also presented himself to the Pope and showed him the Constitutions of Clarendon, some of which Alexander pronounced intolerable, others impossible.
Hans thies lehmann postdramatic theatre by ruizhi wang - Issuu
He rebuked Thomas for ever having considered accepting them. The next day Thomas confessed that he had, though unwillingly, received the see of Canterbury by an election somewhat irregular and uncanonical, and had acquitted himself badly in it. He resigned his office, returned the episcopal ring to the Pope, and withdrew. After deliberation, the Pope called him back and reinstated him, with orders not to abandon his office, for to do so would be to abandon the cause of God. He then recommended Thomas to the Cistercian abbot at Pontigny. Thomas then put on a monk's habit, and submitted himself to the strict rule of the monastery.
Over in England King Henry was busy confiscating the goods of all the friends, relations, and servants of the archbishop, and banishing them, first binding them by oath to go to Thomas at Pontigny, that the sight of their distress might move him. Troops of these exiles soon appeared at the abbey.
Then Henry notified the Cistercians that if they continued to harbor his enemy he would sequestrate all their houses in his dominions. After this, the abbot hinted that Thomas was no longer welcome in his abbey. The archbishop found refuge as the guest of King Louis at the royal abbey of St. Columba, near Sens. This historic quarrel dragged on for three years.
Thomas was named by the Pope as his legate for all England except York, whereupon Thomas excommunicated several of his adversaries; yet at times he showed himself conciliatory towards the King. The French king was also drawn into the struggle, and the two kings had a conference in at Montmirail. King Louis was inclined to take Thomas' side. A reconciliation was finally effected between Thomas and Henry, although the lines of power were not too clearly drawn.
The archbishop now made preparations to return to his see. With a premonition of his fate, he remarked to the bishop of Paris in parting, "I am going to England to die. As he rode into the cathedral city at the head of a triumphal procession, every bell was ringing. Yet in spite of the public demonstration, there was an atmosphere of foreboding. At the reconciliation in France, Henry had agreed to the punishment of Roger, archbishop of York, and the bishops of London and Salisbury, who had assisted at the coronation of Henry's son, despite the long-established right of the archbishop of Canterbury to perform this ceremony and in defiance of the Pope's explicit instructions.
It had been another attempt to lower the prestige of the primate's see. Thomas had sent on in advance of his return the papal letters suspending Roger and confirming the excommunication of the two bishops involved. On the eve of his arrival a deputation waited on him to ask for the withdrawal of these sentences. He agreed on condition that the three would swear thenceforth to obey the Pope. This they refused to do, and together went to rejoin King Henry, who was visiting his domains in France. At Canterbury Thomas was subjected to insult by one Ranulf de Broc, from whom he had demanded the restoration of Saltwood Castle, a manor previously belonging to the archbishop's see.
After a week's stay there he went up to London, where Henry's son, "the young King," refused to see him. He arrived back in Canterbury on or about his fifty-second birthday. Meanwhile the three bishops had laid their complaints before the King at Bur, near Bayeux, and someone had exclaimed aloud that there would be no peace for the realm while Becket lived. At this, the King, in a fit of rage, pronounced some words which several of his hearers took as a rebuke to them for allowing Becket to continue to live and thereby disturb him.
Four of his knights at once set off for England and made their way to the irate family at Saltwood. On St. John's day Thomas received a letter warning him of danger, and all southeast Kent was in a state of ferment. On the afternoon of December 29, the four knights came to see him in his episcopal palace. During the interview they made several demands, in particular that Thomas remove the censures on the three bishops. The knights withdrew, uttering threats and oaths.
A few minutes later there were loud outcries, a shattering of doors and clashing of arms, and the archbishop, urged on by his attendants, began moving slowly through the cloister passage to the cathedral. It was now twilight and vespers were being sung. At the door of the north transept he was met by some terrified monks, whom he commanded to get back to the choir. They withdrew a little and he entered the church, but the knights were seen behind him in the dim light. The monks slammed the door on them and bolted it.
In their confusion they shut out several of their own brethren, who began beating loudly on the door. Becket turned and cried, "Away, you cowards! A church is not a castle. The others fled to the crypt and other hiding places, and Grim alone remained. At this point the knights broke in shouting, "Where is Thomas the traitor? The knights clamored at him to absolve the bishops, and Thomas answered firmly, "I cannot do other than I have done. Reginald, you have received many favors from me.
Why do you come into my church armed? Fitzurse flung down his axe and drew his sword. Fitzurse shouted back, "I owe no fealty contrary to the King! At this, Thomas covered his face and called aloud on God and the saints. Tracy struck a blow, which Grim intercepted with his own arm, but it grazed Thomas' skull and blood ran down into his eyes.
Hugh de Morville stood by but struck no blow. The murderers, brandishing their swords, now dashed away through the cloisters, shouting "The King's men! The King's men!