Becket’s Crown


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Art and Imagination in Gothic England 1170-1300

Paul Binski


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To appreciate England’s earliest Gothic buildings and art—the great cathedrals at Canterbury, Lincoln, Salisbury, and Wells and contemporary Gothic texts and images—it is necessary to understand the religious and ethical ideals of the individuals and communities who sponsored them. Paul Binski’s fascinating new book offers a radical new perspective on English art, architecture, social formation, and religious imagination during this pivotal period.

Binski reveals that the Church, although authoritarian and undergoing reform, was able to come to terms with new developments in society and technology as well as with the fact of social and religious diversity. He explains how varying ideals of personal sanctity were bound up with radical new notions of leadership, personal ethics, and styles of religious devotion and how ideas of reform of worship, personal conduct, and art affected the community at large.

Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

Paul Binski is reader in the history of medieval art at the University of Cambridge.

"The references to a wide range of primary and secondary texts throughout the work demonstrate a quite remarkable breadth and depth of knowledge of the subject. They pay dividends in terms of insight and understanding at a number of levels... detailed and compelling."---Burlington Magazine

“Paul Binski’s latest and boldest book…takes – suitably one might say – an ambitious, engaging and multi-faceted approach to ‘the long thirteenth century’. … Binski’s understanding of the intellectual processes involved is truly impressive and difficult to surpass… Paul Binski’s brilliant book has only raised the stakes.” - Zoe Opacic, True Principles

"I found this beautifully illustrated, wonderfully written, and fascinating book all that one could wish for."—Sarah Blick, Speculum

"An intensely serious and ambitious book which sheds much light on English art. . . . Beautifully produced with well-chosen and apposite illustrations. . . . It is skillfully written; it glitters with brilliant apercus; and it can be witty as well as serious. . . . Becket's Crown is indisputably a very important book, a landmark in the study of Gothic art in England, and essential reading for those working elsewhere in the period."—Julian Gardner, The Catholic Historical Review

"A book of remarkable depth and range. . . . Its rich rewards are enhanced by repeated considerations of the text's many compelling insights into a variety of issues and objects. In Becket's Crown, Binski has redefined the nature of contextual studies for art historical scholarship."—Lisa Reilly, CAA Reviews

2005 ACE/Mercers International Book Award for outstanding contribution to the dialogue between religious faith and the visual arts.

  Shortlisted for the William Berger Prize for British Art History 2005.

Winner of the 2006 Historians of British Art Book Prize in the single author, pre-circa 1800 subject category
ISBN: 9780300105094
Publication Date: February 11, 2005
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
360 pages, 9 x 11
210 b/w + 80 color illus.
Gothic Wonder

Art, Artifice, and the Decorated Style, 1290–1350

Paul Binski

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