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Perhaps the chapter of English history fullest of romantic interest, is that containing the life of Thomas à Becket. In fact, the great struggle between Becket and Henry II,—between individual genius and sovereign power, between a subject and his king, between religion and the sword, between the Church and the State, is scarcely equaled in the annals of the world. And nowhere do we find a parallel to the strange story of Becket's life, beginning in Oriental legend, ending in heroic tragedy. By an accident of position, he questioned with the terrible power of genius the divine right of kings, and the grateful people of England, a hundred thousand at a time, flocked as pilgrims to his tomb.
The biography here presented has been taken from Dean Milman’s great history of Latin Christianity. The style is at once dignified, terse, and eloquent. The learning of Milman is abundant and accurate, his judgment singularly sound and free from prejudice. One of the gems of his history is this life of Becket. A biography of the biographer is part of our plan, and we gladly transfer to our pages, from the English Cyclopedia, a sketch of Milman’s life.