The Pillars of the Earth Characters

Ken Follett

List of Characters

Philip—abbot of Kingsbridge Cathedral and Monastery.

Francis—a priest and brother of Philip.

Tom the builder—first master builder of the Kingsbridge Cathedral.

Agnes—Tom’s first wife.

Alfred—Tom and Agnes’s son.

Martha—Tom and Agnes’s daughter.

Jonathan—Tom and Agnes’s youngest son.

Ellen—Tom’s second wife.

Jack—Ellen’s son with her lover, Jack Shareburg.

Jack Shareburg—a Frenchman hung in the beginning of the story.

Earl Bartholomew—Earl of Shiring, Aliena and Richard’s father.

Aliena—daughter of Earl Bartholomew, wife of Alfred, wife of Jack.

Tommy—son of Aliena and Jack.

Sally—daughter of Aliena and Jack.

Richard—son of Earl Bartholomew.

Regan Hamleigh—wife of Percy.

Richard Hamleigh—son of Percy.

Waleran Bigod—bishop of Shiring and Kingsbridge.

King Stephan—monarch at the beginning of the novel.

Empress Maud—rightful heiress to the throne.

Henry II—son of Empress Maud and ruler of England.

Character Analysis

The abbot of the monastery at Kingsbridge, Prior Philip, is a central character in Follett’s novel. He is one of the few characters that appear from the beginning to the end of the story. Philip is also the driving force in getting the cathedral built. A strong disciplinarian, Philip is known for his ability to take on broken-down and unsuccessful monasteries and make them successful. Not all his monks love and respect him, but most do. Philip is a strong-willed and intelligent man, who along with his brother Francis was orphaned when marauding knights stormed his village in Wales and killed his parents. The two boys were raised by monks, a service Philip will provide to Jonathan, when the baby is found abandoned.

Tom the builder (last names were not prominent in the twelfth century) is driven by his dream to become a master builder by constructing a cathedral. Tom is married to Agnes and the couple has two children, Alfred and Martha. When Tom loses a commission to build a house, he takes his family on the road in search of work. As they travel through winter, Agnes dies from complications during the birth of the couple’s third child, Jonathan. Unable to feed the baby, Tom leaves the baby to die. Later, Philip hires Tom as his master builder, and for a while Tom is able to watch Jonathan grow up without revealing that Jonathan is his son. Tom meets and falls in love with Ellen, mother of Jack. Although they are very much in love, Tom and Ellen’s relationship is turbulent, mostly because of Ellen’s aversion to monks and religion. Tom dies when William Hamleigh attacks Kingsbridge.

Aliena and her brother Richard lose their home and property when their father, the Earl Bartholomew of Shiring, supports Empress Maud in her bid for the throne. When Stephen finds out about the earl’s disloyalty, Bartholomew is sentenced to death. William Hamleigh, whose proposal of...

(The entire section is 674 words.)