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The Archbishops of Canterbury

A Tale of Church and State

John Butler



ISBN: 9781841657905

Price: £12.99

Publication date: 1 March 2018

Category: Heritage

The office of Archbishop of Canterbury is the oldest continuous institution in Britain – older than the English crown and much older than Parliament. For over fourteen hundred years, from Augustine in the 6th century to Justin Welby in the 21st, successive Archbishops have been caught up in the transformation of the country from a collection of feudal Saxon kingdoms ruled by warrior kings to a modern industrial state with a democratic parliament and an established Church – as well as the longest reigning sovereign.

Some Archbishops have managed the tension between their responsibility to lead the Church and proclaim the gospel and their obligation to serve the interests of the state and its rulers. Others have lost their lives – three executed by the state, while two have met violent deaths at the hands of lawless mobs.

This new Pitkin captures the story of their faith and power, wisdom and folly and explores how high principle is matched at times by craven self-interest.


John Butler is Emeritus Professor at the University of Kent and an expert on the history of Canterbury Cathedral. He is author of the acclaimed Quest for Becket’s Bones (1995) and the prize-winning The Red Dean of Canterbury (2011).