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The Right Honourable
 Sir Thomas More


In office
1529–1532
Preceded by Thomas Wolsey
Succeeded by Thomas Audley

In office
1525–1529
Preceded by Richard Wingfield
Succeeded by William FitzWilliam

In office
1523
Preceded by Thomas Neville
Succeeded by Thomas Audley

Born 7 February 1478
London, England
Died 6 July 1535 (aged 57)
London, England
Saint Thomas More
Martyr
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion
Beatified 1886, Rome by Pope Leo XIII
Canonized 19 May 1935, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Feast 22 June (Roman Catholic Church)
6 July (on some local calendars and in the Anglican Communion)
Attributes dressed in the robe of the Chancellor and wearing the Collar of Esses; axe
Patronage Adopted children; Ateneo de Manila Law School; civil servants; Diocese of Arlington; Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee; University of Malta; University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters; court clerks; lawyers, politicians, and statesmen; stepparents; widowers; difficult marriages; large families

Sir Thomas More (February 7, 1478 – July 6, 1535), also known as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, scholar, author and statesman. He is also recognised as a saint within the Catholic Church. During his life he gained a reputation as a leading Renaissance humanist, an opponent of the Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther and wrote long treatises opposing William Tyndale and others who wished to see the Bible translated into the English language.  For three years toward the end of his life he was Lord Chancellor.

More coined the word "utopia" - a name he gave to the ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in Utopia, published in 1516. An important counsellor to Henry VIII of England, he was imprisoned and executed by beheading in 1535 after he had fallen out of favour with the king over his refusal to sign the Act of Supremacy 1534, which declared the king to be the Supreme Head of the Church of England, effecting a final split with the Catholic Church in Rome. More was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1886 and canonised, with John Fisher, in 1935. In 1980, he was added to the Church of England calendar of saints.

Contents

Early life

Study for a portrait of Thomas More's family, c. 1527, by Hans Holbein the Younger

Born in Milk Street, London, Thomas More was the eldest son of Sir John More, a successful lawyer who served as a judge in the King's Bench court. The younger More was educated at St Anthony's School and was later (1491) a page in the household service of John Morton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who declared that young Thomas would become a "marvellous man." Morton sent More to attend the University of Oxford for two years as a member of Canterbury Hall (subsequently absorbed by Christ Church), where he was a friend of Erasmus, John Colet, and William Lilye. A pupil of Thomas Linacre and William Grocyn, More studied Latin and logic. He then returned to London, where he studied law with his father and was called to the bar. Admitted to Lincoln's Inn in 1496, in 1501 More became a barrister, where he was eminently successful.

To his father's great displeasure, More seriously contemplated abandoning his legal career in order to become a monk. From 1499 to 1503 he lodged at the London Charterhouse, subjected himself to the discipline of a Carthusian monk, and also considered joining the Franciscan order. He abandoned the order, however, perhaps because he judged himself incapable of celibacy. More finally decided to marry in 1505, but for the rest of his life he continued to observe many ascetical practices, including self-punishment: he wore a hair shirt every day and occasionally engaged in flagellation.

After becoming a Member of Parliament in 1504, More successfully opposed Henry VII's demand for monetary aid upon the marriage of then-Princess Margaret Tudor.

More had four children by his first wife, Jane Colt, who died in 1511. He remarried almost immediately, to a rich widow named Alice Middleton who was several years his senior. More and Alice Middleton did not have children together, though More raised Alice's daughter, from her previous marriage, as his own. More provided his daughters with an excellent classical education, at a time when such learning was usually reserved for men.

Early political career

From 1510, More served as one of the two undersheriffs of the City of London, a position of considerable responsibility in which he earned a reputation as an honest and effective public servant, impressing the king by his arguments in a noted Star Chamber case. Thomas became Master of Requests in 1514; in 1517, he entered the king's service as counsellor and personal servant and became a Privy Counsellor in 1518. At the Field of the Cloth of Gold he met Guillaume Budé. After undertaking a diplomatic mission to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, accompanying Thomas Wolsey to Calais and Bruges, More was knighted and made undertreasurer in 1521.

As secretary and personal adviser to King Henry VIII, More became increasingly influential in the government, welcoming foreign diplomats, drafting official documents and serving as a liaison between the king and his Lord Chancellor: Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, the Archbishop of York.

Recommended by Wolsey, More was elected the Speaker of the House of Commons in 1523. He later served as High Steward for the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In 1525 he became chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a position that entailed administrative and judicial control of much of northern England.

Scholarly and literary work

Woodcut by Ambrosius Holbein for a 1518 edition of Utopia. The traveler Raphael Hythloday is depicted in the lower left-hand corner describing to a listener the island of Utopia, whose layout is schematically shown above him.

Between 1512 and 1518, Thomas More worked on a History of King Richard III, an unfinished work, based on Sir Robert Honorr's Tragic Deunfall of Richard III, Suvereign of Britain (1485),[citation needed], which greatly influenced William Shakespeare's play Richard III. Both Thomas's and Shakespeare's works are controversial to contemporary historians for their unflattering portrait of King Richard III, a bias partly due to both authors' allegiance to the reigning Tudor dynasty that wrested the throne from Richard III with the Wars of the Roses. More's work, however, little mentions King Henry VII, the first Tudor king, perhaps for having persecuted his father, Sir John More. Some historians see an attack on royal tyranny, rather than on Richard III, himself, or on the House of York.

The History of King Richard III is a Renaissance history, remarkable more for its literary skill and adherence to classical precepts than for its historical accuracy. More's work, and that of contemporary historian Polydore Vergil, reflects a move from mundane medieval chronicles to a dramatic writing style; for example, the shadowy King Richard is an outstanding, archetypal tyrant drawn from the pages of Sallust, and should be read as a meditation on power and corruption as well as a history of the reign of Richard III. The 'History of King Richard III was written and published in both English and Latin, each written separately, and with information deleted from the Latin edition to suit a European readership.

Utopia

More sketched out his most well-known and controversial work, Utopia (completed and published in 1516), a novel in Latin. In it a traveller, Raphael Hythloday (in Greek, his name and surname allude to archangel Raphael, purveyor of truth, and mean "speaker of nonsense"), describes the political arrangements of the imaginary island country of Utopia (Greek pun on ou-topos [no place], eu-topos [good place]) to himself and to Pieter Gillis. At the time, the majority of people could understand the actual meaning of the word "utopia" because of the relatively widespread knowledge of the Greek language. This novel describes the city of Amaurote by saying, "Of them all this is the worthiest and of most dignity".

Utopia contrasts the contentious social life of European states with the perfectly orderly, reasonable social arrangements of Utopia and its environs (Tallstoria, Nolandia, and Aircastle). In Utopia, with communal ownership of land, private property does not exist, men and women are educated alike, and there is almost complete religious toleration. Some take the novel's principal message to be the social need for order and discipline rather than liberty. The country of Utopia tolerates different religious practices, but does not tolerate atheists. Hythloday theorizes that if a man did not believe in a god or in an afterlife he could never be trusted, because, logically, he would not acknowledge any authority or principle outside himself.

More used the novel describing an imaginary nation as a means of freely discussing contemporary controversial matters; speculatively, he based Utopia on monastic communalism, based upon the Biblical communalism in the Acts of the Apostles.

Utopia is a forerunner of the utopian literary genre, wherein ideal societies and perfect cities are detailed. Although Utopianism is typically a Renaissance movement, combining the classical concepts of perfect societies of Plato and Aristotle with Roman rhetorical finesse (cf. Cicero, Quintilian, epideictic oratory), it continued into the Enlightenment. Utopia's original edition included the symmetrical "Utopian alphabet" that was omitted from later editions; it is a notable, early attempt at cryptography that might have influenced the development of shorthand.

Utopia ironically points out through Raphael, More's ultimate conflict between his beliefs as a humanist and a servant of the King at court. More tries to illustrate how he can try and influence courtly figures including the king to the humanist way of thinking but as Raphael points out, one day they will come into conflict with the political reality

Religious polemics

More greatly valued harmony and a strict hierarchy. The greatest danger to the health of the society as he saw it was the challenge that heretics posed to the established faith. For More the unity of Christendom was not only the instrument for the eternal salvation of souls, but also the basis of a common understanding of human nature necessary for just law and earthly happiness. To his mind, the fragmentation and discord of the Lutheran Reformation were dreadful.

His personal counter-attack began when he assisted Henry VIII with writing the Defence of the Seven Sacraments (1521)[citation needed], a polemic response to Martin Luther's On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. When Luther replied with measures of reform in Contra Henricum Regem Anglie (Against Henry, King of the English), More appeared as a champion of the king, tasked with writing a counter-response, Responsio ad Lutherum (Reply to Luther). This exchange included many intemperate personal insults on either side. At times More's language and techniques could become very down-to-earth, even scatological; Michael Farris describes C. S. Lewis as describing More as "almost obsessed with harping on about Luther's 'abominable bichery' to the point where he 'loses himself in a wilderness of opprobrious adjectives'".[1] However, "More did not rely solely on ridicule and satire .... He also appealed to the common sense of his fellow Englishmen. As the title of his book indicates his attempt was not simply to ridicule Luther; it was more basically to confront and refute Luther's accusations."[2]

Moreover Luther was himself a master of "opprobrious adjectives" and neither he nor More were averse to using strong and even shocking scatological language in their polemics when they deemed it suited their purposes. More, for example, who had been commissioned by Henry VIII to respond in kind to insults that it did not befit a monarch to engage in, near the beginning of chapter 21 in the first book of the Responsio, quotes from Luther's book Against Henry:

[The king] would have to be forgiven if humanly he erred. Now, since he knowingly and conscientiously fabricates lies against the majesty of my king in heaven [Christ], this damnable rottenness and worm, I will have the right, on behalf of my king, to bespatter his English majesty with muck and dung and to trample underfoot that crown of his which blasphemes against Christ.[3]

More responded thus:

Come, do not rage so violently, good father; but if you have raved wildly enough, listen now, you pimp. You recall that you falsely complained above that the king has shown no passage in your whole book, even as an example, in which he said that you contradict yourself. You told this lie shortly before, although the king has demonstrated to you many examples of your inconsistency ....

But meanwhile, for as long as your reverend paternity will be determined to tell these shameless lies, others will be permitted, on behalf of his English majesty, to throw back into your paternity's filthy mouth, truly the dung-pool of all dung, all the muck and filth which your damnable rottenness has vomited up, and to empty out all the sewers and privies onto your crown divested of the dignity of the priestly crown, against which no less than against the kingly crown you have determined to play the buffoon.

In your sense of fairness, honest reader, you will forgive me that the utterly filthy words of this scoundrel have forced me to answer such things, for which I should have begged your leave. Now I consider truer than truth that saying: 'He who touches pitch will be wholly defiled by it' (Sirach 13:1). For I am ashamed even of this necessity, that while I clean out the fellow's shit-filled mouth I see my own fingers covered with shit.

But who can endure such a scoundrel who shows himself possessed by a thousand vices and tormented by a legion of demons, and yet stupidly boasts thus: 'The holy fathers have all erred. The whole church has often erred. My teaching cannot err, because I am most certain that my teaching is not my own but Christ's,' alluding of course to those words of Christ, 'My words are not my own but His who sent me, the Father's' (John 12:49)?[4]

It is evident that, beyond his overwhelming invective, More seeks to demonstrate the audacity of Luther's claim that his own teaching is more authoritative than hundreds of years of thoughtful dialogue, such authority as among Christians is generally given only to the words of Christ himself. Later, in the second book of the Responsio (ch. 27, last chapter), More again feels compelled to respond to Luther in language most unseemly:

[Luther is a] person in whose pen there is nothing but calumnies, lies and deceptions; in whose spirit there is nothing but venom, bombast and ill will; who conceives nothing in his mind but folly, madness, and insanity; who has nothing in his mouth but privies, filth and dung .... But if he proceeds to play the buffoon in the manner in which he has begun, and to rave madly, if he proceeds to rage with calumny, to mouth trifling nonsense, to act like a raging madman, to make sport with buffoonery, and to carry nothing in his mouth but bilge-water, sewers, privies, filth and dung, then let others do what they will; we will take timely counsel, whether we wish to deal with the fellow thus ranting according to his virtue and to paint with his colors, or to leave this mad friarlet and privy-minded rascal with his ragings and ravings, with his filth and dung, shitting and beshitted.[5]

(Numerous examples of Luther's own use of scatological language, particularly against the Pope and the bishops, may be found in The Table-Talk and the First Notes of the Same.)[6]

In 1528, More directed his first book of English controversy (Dialogue) against the writings of Tyndale.

Chancellorship

After Wolsey fell, More succeeded to the office of Lord Chancellor in 1529. He dispatched cases with unprecedented rapidity. At that point fully devoted to Henry and to the cause of royal prerogative, More initially co-operated with the king's new policy, denouncing Wolsey in Parliament and proclaiming the opinion of the theologians at Oxford and Cambridge that the marriage of Henry to Catherine had been unlawful. But as Henry began to deny the authority of the Pope, More's qualms grew.

Campaign against the Reformation

More supported the Catholic Church and saw heresy as a threat to the unity of both church and society. "He agreed with established English law, and with the lessons taught by the thousand-year experience of Christendom, that in order for peace to reign, heresy must be controlled. At the time, heresies were identified as seditious attempts to undermine existing authority .... More heard Luther's call to destroy the Catholic Church as a call to war. He therefore followed traditional procedures to ensure the safety of this legitimate and time-honored institution."[7] However, More also sought radical clergy reform and more rational theology.[citation needed]

His early actions against the Reformation included aiding Wolsey in preventing Lutheran books from being imported into England. During this time most of his literary polemics appeared. After becoming Lord Chancellor of England, More set himself the following task:

Now seeing that the king's gracious purpose in this point, I reckon that being his unworthy chancellor, it appertaineth ... to help as much as in me is, that his people, abandoning the contagion of all such pestilent writing, may be far from infection.

[citation needed]

Sir Thomas More is commemorated with a sculpture at the late 19th-century Sir Thomas More House, opposite the Royal Courts of Justice, Carey Street, London.

In June 1530 it was decreed that offenders were to be brought before the King's Council, rather than being examined by their bishops, the practice hitherto. Actions taken by the Council became ever more severe. In 1531, Richard Bayfield, a graduate of the University of Cambridge and former Benedictine monk, was burned at Smithfield for distributing copies of Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament.[8]

In 1532 More published a six volume (half a million word) Confutation of Tyndale's Answer in response to Tyndale's An Answer unto Sir Thomas More's Dialogue in which he criticized Tyndale errors as a translator and as a theologian.

Rumours circulated both during More's lifetime and posthumously regarding the treatment of heretics during his time as Lord Chancellor. The popular anti-Catholic polemicist John Foxe, who "placed Protestant sufferings against the background of ... the Antichrist"[9] was instrumental in spreading rumours of torture in his famous Book of Martyrs, claiming that More had often personally used violence or torture while interrogating heretics: more current Protestant authors, such as the amateur historians Brian Moynahan and Michael Farris, continue to cite Foxe as a source when repeating these allegations in their own respective works.[10] More himself, however, took pains to refute these charges, as recounted by British historian Peter Ackroyd in his biography The Life of Thomas More:

Stories of a similar nature were current even in More's lifetime and he denied them forcefully. He admitted that he did imprison heretics in his house — 'theyr sure kepynge' — he called it - but he utterly rejected claims of torture and whipping.[11]

As Ackroyd surmises, since More rejected the rumoured reports of torture as false, 'so helpe me God': "He was not a man falsely to invoke the deity and it can be believed that the heretics whom he detained and interrogated suffered 'neur . . . so mych as a fylyppe on the forhed.'" [12]

In total, there were six heretics burned at the stake during More's Chancellorship: Thomas Hitton, Thomas Bilney, Richard Bayfield, John Tewkesbery, Thomas Dusgate, and James Bainham.[13] It should be noted that burning at the stake was seen as the acceptable punishment for unrepentant heretics at the time, even for more moderate people like Erasmus and many Protestants — about thirty burnings had taken place in the century leading to More's elevation to Lord Chancellor.[14] In context, this number was slight compared to the nearly 300 burnings of Protestants which took place during the subsequent reign of Mary Tudor,[15] or even the casualties inflicted upon Catholic dissidents during the latter part of the reign of Henry VIII, such as the many hung to death in the gallows after the failed Pilgrimage of Grace.[16]

Resignation

In 1530 More refused to sign a letter by the leading English churchmen and aristocrats asking the Pope to annul Henry's marriage to Catherine; he also quarrelled with Henry VIII over the heresy laws. In 1531 he attempted to resign after being forced to take an oath declaring the king the Supreme Head of the English Church "as far as the law of Christ allows"; he refused to take the oath in the form in which it would renounce all claims of jurisdiction over the church except the sovereign's. In 1532 he asked the king again to relieve him of his office, claiming that he was ill and suffering from sharp chest pains. This time Henry granted his request.[citation needed]

Trial and execution

Rowland Lockey after Hans Holbein the Younger, The Family of Sir Thomas More, c. 1594

In 1533, More refused to attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn as the Queen of England. Technically, this was not an act of treason as More had written to Henry acknowledging Anne's queenship and expressing his desire for the king's happiness and the new queen's health.[17] Despite this, his refusal to attend was widely interpreted as a snub against Anne and Henry took action against him.

Shortly thereafter More was charged with accepting bribes, but the patently false charges had to be dismissed for lack of any evidence. In early 1534, More was accused of conspiring with "holy maid of Kent" Elizabeth Barton, a nun who had prophesied against the king's annulment, but More quickly produced a letter in which he had instructed Barton not to interfere with state matters.

On April 13, 1534, More was asked to appear before a commission and swear his allegiance to the parliamentary Act of Succession. More accepted Parliament's right to declare Anne Boleyn the legitimate queen of England, but he steadfastly refused to take the oath because of an anti-papal preface to the Act asserting Parliament's authority to legislate in matters of religion by impugning the authority of the Pope, which More would not accept; he also would not swear to uphold Henry's divorce from Catherine. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, refused the oath along with More. The oath reads:

.... By reason whereof the Bishop of Rome and See Apostolic, contrary to the great and inviolable grants of jurisdictions given by God immediately to emperors, kings and princes in succession to their heirs, hath presumed in times past to invest who should please them to inherit in other men's kingdoms and dominions, which thing we your most humble subjects, both spiritual and temporal, do most abhor and detest;[18]

Four days later More was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he prepared a devotional, Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation. While More was imprisoned in the Tower, he had a few visits from Thomas Cromwell who urged More to take the oath, but More persistently refused to do so.

On July 1, 1535, More was tried before a panel of judges that included the new Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Audley, as well as Anne Boleyn's father, brother, and uncle. He was charged with high treason for denying the validity of the Act of Succession. More believed he could not be convicted as long as he did not explicitly deny that the king was the head of the church, and he therefore refused to answer all questions regarding his opinions on the subject. Thomas Cromwell, at the time the most powerful of the king's advisors, brought forth the Solicitor General, Richard Rich, to testify that More had, in his presence, denied that the king was the legitimate head of the church. This testimony was almost certainly perjured (witnesses Richard Southwell and Mr. Palmer both denied having heard the details of the reported conversation), but on the strength of it the jury voted for More's conviction.

More was tried, and found guilty, under the following section of the Treason Act 1534:

If any person or persons, after the first day of February next coming, do maliciously wish, will or desire, by words or writing, or by craft imagine, invent, practise, or attempt any bodily harm to be done or committed to the king's most royal person, the queen's, or their heirs apparent, or to deprive them or any of them of their dignity, title, or name of their royal estates ...

That then every such person and persons so offending ... shall have and suffer such pains of death and other penalties, as is limited and accustomed in cases of high treason.

—Treason Act 1495[19][20]

After the jury's verdict was delivered and before his sentencing, More spoke freely of his belief that "no temporal man may be the head of the spirituality". He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered (the usual punishment for traitors) but the king commuted this to execution by decapitation. The execution took place on July 6, 1535. When he came to mount the steps to the scaffold, he is widely quoted as saying (to the officials): "I pray you, I pray you, Mr Lieutenant, see me safe up and for my coming down, I can shift for myself"; while on the scaffold he declared that he died "the king's good servant, but God's first."[21] Another comment he is believed to have made to the executioner is that his beard was completely innocent of any crime, and did not deserve the axe; he then positioned his beard so that it would not be harmed.[22] More asked that his foster daughter Margaret Giggs should be given his headless corpse to bury.[23] He was buried at the Tower of London, in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in an unmarked grave. His head was fixed upon a pike over London Bridge for a month, according to the normal custom for traitors. His daughter Margaret (Meg) Roper then rescued it, possibly by bribery, before it could be thrown in the River Thames.

The skull is believed to rest in the Roper Vault of St. Dunstan's Church, Canterbury, though some researchers have claimed it might be within the tomb he erected for himself in Chelsea Old Church (see below). The evidence, however, seems to be in favour of its placement in St. Dunstan's, with the remains of his daughter, Margaret Roper, and her husband's family, whose vault it was. Margaret would have treasured this relic of her adored father, and legend is that she wished to be buried herself with his head in her arms.[citation needed]

Canonisation

Statue of Thomas More by Leslie Cubitt Bevis in front of Chelsea Old Church, Cheyne Walk, London.

More was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 and canonised, with John Fisher, on 19 May 1935 by Pope Pius XI. His name was added to the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1970 for celebration on 22 June jointly with Fisher, the only remaining Bishop (owing to the coincident natural deaths of eight aged bishops) who, during the English Reformation, maintained, at the King's mercy, allegiance to the Pope.[24] In 2000, Pope John Paul II declared More the "heavenly patron of statesmen and politicians".[25] In 1980, More was added to the Anglican calendar of Saints and Heroes of the Christian Church, jointly with John Fisher, More is commemorated on 6 July.[26]

Influence and reputation

The steadfastness and courage with which More held on to his religious convictions in the face of ruin and death and the dignity with which he conducted himself during his imprisonment, trial, and execution, contributed much to More's posthumous reputation, particularly among Catholics.

More's conviction for treason was widely seen as unfair, even among some Protestants.[citation needed] His friend Erasmus, himself no Protestant, but broadly sympathetic to reform movements within the Catholic Church, declared after his execution that More had been "more pure than any snow" and that his genius was "such as England never had and never again will have."

Winston Churchill wrote about More in the History of the English-Speaking Peoples: "The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a noble and heroic stand. They realised the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom. [...] More stood as the defender of all that was finest in the medieval outlook. He represents to history its universality, its belief in spiritual values and its instinctive sense of other-worldliness. Henry VIII with cruel axe decapitated not only a wise and gifted counsellor, but a system, which, though it had failed to live up to its ideals in practice, had for long furnished mankind with its brightest dreams."

Roman Catholic writer G. K. Chesterton said that More was the "greatest historical character in English history".

Literary echoes and evaluations

More was portrayed as a wise and honest statesman in the 1592 play Sir Thomas More, which was probably written in collaboration by Henry Chettle, Anthony Munday, William Shakespeare, and others, and which survives only in fragmentary form after being censored by Edmund Tylney, Master of the Revels in the government of Queen Elizabeth I (any direct reference to the Act of Supremacy was censored out).

As the author of Utopia, More has also attracted the admiration of modern socialists. While Roman Catholic scholars maintain that More's attitude in composing Utopia was largely ironic and that he was at every point an orthodox Christian, Marxist theoretician Karl Kautsky argued in the book Thomas More and his Utopia (1888) that Utopia was a shrewd critique of economic and social exploitation in pre-modern Europe and that More was one of the key intellectual figures in the early development of socialist ideas.

The 20th-century agnostic playwright Robert Bolt portrayed More as the ultimate man of conscience in his play A Man for All Seasons, the title drawn from what Robert Whittington in 1520 wrote of him:

"More is a man of an angel's wit and singular learning. I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness and affability? And, as time requireth, a man of marvelous mirth and pastimes, and sometime of as sad gravity. A man for all seasons."[27]

In 1966, the play was made into the successful film A Man for All Seasons directed by Fred Zinnemann, adapted for the screen by the playwright himself, and starring Paul Scofield in an Oscar-winning performance. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture for that year. In 1988, Charlton Heston starred and directed in a made-for-television film that followed Bolt's original play almost verbatim, restoring for example the commentaries of "the common man".

Catholic science fiction writer R. A. Lafferty wrote his novel Past Master as a modern equivalent to More's Utopia, which he saw as a satire. In this novel, Thomas More is brought through time to the year 2535, where he is made king of the future world of "Astrobe", only to be beheaded after ruling for a mere nine days. One of the characters in the novel compares More favourably to almost every other major historical figure: "He had one completely honest moment right at the end. I cannot think of anyone else who ever had one." He was also greatly admired by the Irish Anglican clergyman and satirist Jonathan Swift.

Karl Zuchardt's novel, Stirb du Narr! ("Die you fool!"), about More's struggle with King Henry, portrays More as an idealist bound to fail in the power struggle with a ruthless ruler and an unjust world.

A number of modern writers, such as Richard Marius, have attacked More for alleged religious fanaticism and intolerance (manifested, for instance, in his persecution of heretics). James Wood calls him, "cruel in punishment, evasive in argument, lusty for power, and repressive in politics".[28] The historian Jasper Ridley, author of several historical biographies including one on Henry VIII and the other on Mary Tudor, goes much further in his dual biography of More and Cardinal Wolsey, The Statesman and the Fanatic, describing More as "a particularly nasty sadomasochistic pervert," a line of thinking also followed by the late Joanna Denny in her 2004 biography of Anne Boleyn. Brian Moynahan in his book "God's Messenger: William Tyndale, Thomas More and the Writing of the English Bible", takes a similarly critical view of More, as does the American writer, Michael Farris. The novelist Hilary Mantel portrays More as a religious and masochistic fanatic in her 2009 novel Wolf Hall, which is written from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, whom it portrays favorably.

Aaron Zelman's non-fiction book "The State Versus the People" includes a comparison of "Utopia" with Plato's "Republic". Zelman is undecided as to whether More was being humorous towards his work or seriously advocating a nation-state, and comments that "More is the only Christian saint to be honoured with a statue at the Kremlin", implying that his work had influenced on the Soviet Union, despite its general antipathy towards organized religion.

Other biographers, such as Peter Ackroyd, have offered a more sympathetic picture of More as both a sophisticated humanist and man of letters, as well as a zealous Roman Catholic who believed in the necessity of religious and political authority.

The protagonist of Walker Percy's novels, Love in the Ruins and The Thanatos Syndrome, is Dr. Thomas More, a reluctant Catholic and descendant of Sir Thomas More.

He is also the focus of the Al Stewart song A Man For All Seasons from the 1978 album Time Passages, and of the Far song Sir, featured on the limited editions and 2008 re-release of their 1994 album Quick.

Jeremy Northam portrays More in the television series, The Tudors, where he is shown as a peaceful man, a devout Catholic and family head, who unabashedly expresses his loathing for Lutheranism. He orders Martin Luther's books destroyed, yet when the books are actually burned, he expresses a sense of unease and regret. He is shown exercising his new power as chancellor by burning convicted heretics. The series also shows him engaging in the conversation that Richard Rich testified as having taken place, regarding the King's status as Head of the Church in England, despite it being widely believed that this testimony was perjured.

Institutions named after Thomas More

There are many legal and educational institutions named Thomas More:

There are various St. Thomas More Societies for Catholic lawyers.

Historic sites

Westminster Hall

Visitors to the Houses of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London will notice a plaque in the middle of the floor of Westminster Hall commemorating More's trial for treason and condemnation to execution in that original part of the Palace. This building would have been well known to More, who served as Speaker of the House of Commons prior to becoming Lord Chancellor of England.

Crosby Hall

More's home and estate along the Thames in Chelsea was confiscated by the Crown from his wife Alice after his execution. But in later times Crosby Hall, which formed part of More's London residence, was relocated to the site in his commemoration and reconstructed there by the conservation architect, Walter Godfrey. Today after further rebuilding in the 1990s it stands out as a white stone building amid modern brick structures that apparently aim to recapture the style of More's manor that formerly occupied the site. Crosby Hall is privately owned and closed to the public. The modern structures face the Thames and include an entry way that displays More's arms, heraldic beasts, and a Latin maxim. Apartment buildings and a park are built over the former locations of his gardens and orchard, and some are named after their former functions: Roper's Garden is the park occupying one of More's gardens, sunken as his was believed to be. Other than these, there are no remnants of the More estate.

Chelsea Old Church

This small park sits between Crosby Hall and Chelsea Old Church, an Anglican church on Old Church Street whose southern chapel was commissioned by More and in which he sang with his parish choir. The medieval arch connecting the chapel to the main sanctuary was commissioned by More and displays on its capitals symbols associated with his person and office. On the southern wall of the sanctuary is the tomb and epitaph he erected for himself and his wives, detailing in a lengthy Latin inscription his ancestry and accomplishments, including his role as peacemaker between the Christian nations of Europe and a curiously altered portion detailing his curbing of heresy. This tomb was probably located here because it was his custom to assist the priest at Mass and he would leave by the door just to the left of it. He is not, however, buried here, nor is it entirely certain which of his family may be. Except for his chapel, the church was largely destroyed in the Second World War and was rebuilt in 1958. It is open to the public only at specific times. Outside the church is a statue commemorating him as "saint", "scholar", and "statesman", the back of which displays his coat-of-arms. In the same neighborhood, on Upper Cheyne Row, is the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Saviour and St. Thomas More, which honours him according to the Church he defended with his life.

Tower Hill

More was executed on a scaffold erected on Tower Hill, London, just outside the Tower of London. A plaque and small garden commemorate the famed execution site and all those who were executed there, many as religious martyrs or as prisoners of conscience. His body, minus his head, was unceremoniously buried in an unmarked grave in the Royal Chapel of St. Peter Ad Vincula, within the walls of the Tower of London. It was the custom for traitors executed at Tower Hill to be buried in the mass grave beneath this chapel, which is accessible to visitors to the Tower.

St Dunstan's Church, Canterbury

St Dunstan's Church, an Anglican parish church in Canterbury, possesses More's head, rescued by his beloved daughter Margaret Roper. This is sealed in the Roper family vault beneath the altar of the Nicholas Chapel, to the right of the church's sanctuary or main altar. The stone marking the sealed vault is to the immediate left of the altar below which it lies. St Dunstan's Church has carefully investigated, preserved and sealed this burial vault of the Roper family who lived in Canterbury. The last archaeological search of the Roper Vault demonstrated that the believed head of the martyr rests in a niche separate from the other bodies there, possibly due to later interference.[citation needed] A few displays in the chapel record the archaeological findings in written accounts and pictures. The walls of the chapel are host to impressive stained glass donated by Roman Catholics to commemorate the events in More's life. Down and across the street from the parish the facade of the former home of Margaret Roper and her husband William Roper survives and is marked by a small plaque.

Other relics

Our Lady Queen of Martyrs and St Ignatius Catholic Church in Chideock, Dorset is said to have the relic of his hairskin shirt frequently worn by him as a form of penance and a reminder of humility underneath his robes of state.[citation needed] Other small relics of the saint are known in Catholic churches, such as St Thomas of Canterbury's in Canterbury, the Tyburn Convent in London and (in the United States) the Cathedral of St Thomas More, in Arlington, Virginia.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Quoted by Michael Farris in his book, From Tyndale to Madison, 2007
  2. ^ Gerard B. Wegemer, "Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage"
  3. ^ Responsio ad Lutherum in The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, John Headley, ed., Sister Scholastica Mandevilled, tr., Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1969, ISBN 0300011237 ISBN 978-0300011234, vol. 5, pt. I, p. 311.
  4. ^ Ibid. p. 311.
  5. ^ Ibid. p. 683.
  6. ^ In Luther by Hartmann Grisar, vol. 3, pp. 217-241.
  7. ^ Gerard B. Wegemer, "Portrait of Courage", p. 136.
  8. ^ Moynahan, Brian, God's Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Writing of the English Bible - A Story of Martyrdom and Betrayal, St Martin's Press; 1st edition (August 23, 2003)
  9. ^ Diarmaid MacCulloch, 277.
  10. ^ Michael Farris, From Tyndale to Madison, 2007.
  11. ^ Ackroyd, Peter.The Life of Thomas More. New York, Anchor Books. 1999. pg 298
  12. ^ Ackroyd, Peter.The Life of Thomas More. New York, Anchor Books. 1999. pg 298
  13. ^ Ackroyd, Peter.The Life of Thomas More. New York, Anchor Books. 1999. pg 299 - 306
  14. ^ Guy, John A. Tudor England Oxford, 1988. pg 26
  15. ^ Brigden, Susan. New Worlds, Lost Worlds: The Rule of the Tudors: 1485-1603 Viking, 2000. pg 208
  16. ^ Brigden, Susan. New Worlds, Lost Worlds: The Rule of the Tudors: 1485-1603 Viking, 2000. pg 129
  17. ^ Eric W. Ives, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn (2004), p. 47. More wrote on the subject of the Boleyn marriage that "[I] neither murmur at it nor dispute upon it, nor never did nor will .... I faithfully pray to God for his Grace and hers both long to live and well, and their noble issue too ...."
  18. ^ Elton, Geoffrey Rudolph (1982). "The Crown". The Tudor constitution : documents and commentary (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Cambridge University Press. p. 7. ISBN 0521245060. OCLC 7876927. http://books.google.com/books?id=CJZZzoBJOfwC&lpg=PA7&pg=PA1. Retrieved 24 July 2009. 
  19. ^ The Act (technically referred to as 11 Hen. 7, c. 1) has no official short title but is often informally called the Treason Act 1495. (Official text of The Act 11 Hen. 7 (c.1) as amended and in force today within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database)
  20. ^ "Annotated original text". http://home.freeuk.net/don-aitken/ast/h8a.html#149. 
  21. ^ "Account of trial". http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/more/moreaccount.html. Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  22. ^ Henry Hyde, US Congressman (9 September 1988). United States Congressional Record Conference Report on H.R. 4783, Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 1989. House of Representatives, Proceedings and Debates of the 100th Congress, Second Session, Volume 134, Page H7332-03 (H7333) (noting that when Thomas More was beheaded by Henry VIII, More gave notoriety to his beard with his famous line, saying to the axeman, "Be careful of my beard, it hath committed no treason").
  23. ^ Guy, John, A Daughter's Love: Thomas & Margaret More, London: Fourth Estate, 2008, ISBN 9780007192311, p. 266.
  24. ^ Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation, (New York: Viking, 2004), 194
  25. ^ Apostolic letter issued moto proprio proclaiming Saint Thomas More Patron of Statesmen and Politicians Vatican.va
  26. ^ Calendar of Holy Days of the Church of England
  27. ^ A Man for all Seasons: an Historian's Demur
  28. ^ Wood, James, The Broken Estate, Essays on Literature and Belief, Pimlico, 2000, ISBN 0-7126-6557-9, 16.

Biographies

  • William Roper, "The Life of Sir Thomas More" (written by More's son-in-law ca. 1555, but first printed in 1626)
  • Cresacre More, The life and death of Sir Thomas More, Lord High Chancellour of England (written by his great-grandson), 1630
  • Princesse de Craon, Thomas Morus, Lord Chancelier du Royaume d'Angleterre au XVIe siècle (First edition in French, 1832/1833 - First edition in Dutch 1839/1840)
  • E.E. Reynolds, The Trialet of St Thomas More, (1964)
  • E.E. Reynolds, Thomas More and Erasmus, (1965)
  • John Guy The Public Career of Sir Thomas More (1980) ISBN 978-0300025460
  • Jasper Ridley, Statesman and Saint: Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas More, and the Politics of Henry VIII (1983) ISBN 0-670-48905-0; published in Great Britain as The Statesman and the Fanatic (1982)
  • Richard Marius, Thomas More: A Biography (1984)
  • Gerard Wegemer, Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage (1995) ISBN 978-1889334127
  • Peter Ackroyd, The Life of Thomas More (1999)
  • John Guy, Thomas More (2000) ISBN 978-0340731383
  • John Foxe, Foxe's Book of Martyrs
  • Brian Moynahan "God's Messenger: William Tyndale, Thomas More and the Writing of the English Bible" (St Martin's Press, 2003).
  • John Guy, "A Daughter's Love: Thomas More and his daughter Meg," 2009
  • Bernard Basset, S.J., "Born for Friendship: The Spirit of Sir Thomas More," Burns and Oates, London 1965
  • Charles A. Brady, "Stage of Fools: A Novel of Sir Thomas More," Dutton 1953

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Neville
Speaker of the House of Commons
1523
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Audley
Preceded by
Sir Richard Wingfield
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
1525–1529
Succeeded by
Sir William Fitzwilliam
Preceded by
Thomas Cardinal Wolsey
Lord Chancellor
1529–1532
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Audley
(Keeper of the Great Seal) 

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

He judged it not fit to determine anything rashly; and seemed to doubt whether those different forms of religion might not all come from God, who might inspire man in a different manner, and be pleased with this variety; he therefore thought it indecent and foolish for any man to threaten and terrify another to make him believe what did not appear to him to be true.

Saint Thomas More (7 February 14786 July 1535), also known as Sir Thomas More, was an English lawyer, writer, and politician. He is chiefly remembered for his principled refusal to accept King Henry VIII's claim to be the supreme head of the Church of England, a decision which ended his political career and led to his execution as a traitor. In 1935, four hundred years after his death, More was canonized in the Catholic Church and was later declared the patron saint of statesmen, lawyers, and politicians.

Contents

Sourced

  • Now there was a young gentleman which had married a merchant's wife. And having a little wanton money, which him thought burned out the bottom of his purse, in the first year of his wedding took his wife with him and went over sea, for none other errand but to see Flanders and France and ride out one summer in those countries.
    • Works (c. 1530) Sometimes paraphrased "A little wanton money, which burned out the bottom of his purse."
  • For men use, if they have an evil turn, to write it in marble: and whoso doth us a good turn we write it in dust.
    • Richard III and His Miserable End (1543)
  • And when the devil hath seen that they have set so little by him, after certain essays, made in such times as he thought most fitting, he hath given that temptation quite over. And this he doth not only because the proud spirit cannot endure to be mocked, but also lest, with much tempting the man to the sin to which he could not in conclusion bring him, he should much increase his merit.
    • Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation (1553), Book Two, Section XVI
  • See me safe up: for in my coming down, I can shift for myself.
    • On ascending the platform to his execution, as quoted in History of England (1856-1870) by James Anthony Froude
  • This hath not offended the king.
    • As he drew his beard aside upon placing his head on the block. As quoted in Apothegms by Francis Bacon, no. 22

Utopia (1516)

Full text at Wikisource
The island of Utopia is in the middle two hundred miles broad, and holds almost at the same breadth over a great part of it, but it grows narrower towards both ends. Its figure is not unlike a crescent.
  • The island of Utopia is in the middle two hundred miles broad, and holds almost at the same breadth over a great part of it, but it grows narrower towards both ends. Its figure is not unlike a crescent. Between its horns the sea comes in eleven miles broad, and spreads itself into a great bay, which is environed with land to the compass of about five hundred miles, and is well secured from winds. In this bay there is no great current; the whole coast is, as it were, one continued harbour, which gives all that live in the island great convenience for mutual commerce. But the entry into the bay, occasioned by rocks on the one hand and shallows on the other, is very dangerous. In the middle of it there is one single rock which appears above water, and may, therefore, easily be avoided; and on the top of it there is a tower, in which a garrison is kept; the other rocks lie under water, and are very dangerous. The channel is known only to the natives; so that if any stranger should enter into the bay without one of their pilots he would run great danger of shipwreck.
    • Ch. 1 : Discourses of Raphael Hythloday, of the Best State of a Commonwealth
  • Plato by a goodly similitude declareth, why wise men refrain to meddle in the commonwealth. For when they see the people swarm into the streets, and daily wet to the skin with rain, and yet cannot persuade them to go out of the rain, they do keep themselves within their houses, seeing they cannot remedy the folly of the people.
    • Ch. 1 : Discourses of Raphael Hythloday, of the Best State of a Commonwealth
    • Modern phrase: Not sense enough to come in out of the rain.
  • I must say, extreme justice is an extreme injury: for we ought not to approve of those terrible laws that make the smallest offences capital, nor of that opinion of the Stoics that makes all crimes equal; as if there were no difference to be made between the killing a man and the taking his purse, between which, if we examine things impartially, there is no likeness nor proportion. God has commanded us not to kill, and shall we kill so easily for a little money?
    • Ch. 1 : Discourses of Raphael Hythloday, of the Best State of a Commonwealth
  • I think putting thieves to death is not lawful; and it is plain and obvious that it is absurd and of ill consequence to the commonwealth that a thief and a murderer should be equally punished; for if a robber sees that his danger is the same if he is convicted of theft as if he were guilty of murder, this will naturally incite him to kill the person whom otherwise he would only have robbed; since, if the punishment is the same, there is more security, and less danger of discovery, when he that can best make it is put out of the way; so that terrifying thieves too much provokes them to cruelty.
    • Ch. 1 : Discourses of Raphael Hythloday, of the Best State of a Commonwealth
  • One rule observed in their council is, never to debate a thing on the same day in which it is first proposed; for that is always referred to the next meeting, that so men may not rashly and in the heat of discourse engage themselves too soon, which might bias them so much that, instead of consulting the good of the public, they might rather study to support their first opinions, and by a perverse and preposterous sort of shame hazard their country rather than endanger their own reputation, or venture the being suspected to have wanted foresight in the expedients that they at first proposed; and therefore, to prevent this, they take care that they may rather be deliberate than sudden in their motions.
    • Ch. 3 : Of Their Magistrates
  • They wonder much to hear that gold, which in itself is so useless a thing, should be everywhere so much esteemed, that even men for whom it was made, and by whom it has its value, should yet be thought of less value than it is.
    • Ch. 6 : Of the Travelling of the Utopians
  • They have but few laws, and such is their constitution that they need not many. They very much condemn other nations whose laws, together with the commentaries on them, swell up to so many volumes; for they think it an unreasonable thing to oblige men to obey a body of laws that are both of such a bulk, and so dark as not to be read and understood by every one of the subjects.
    • Ch. 7 : Of Their Slaves, and of Their Marriages
  • They have no lawyers among them, for they consider them as a sort of people whose profession it is to disguise matters and to wrest the laws, and, therefore, they think it is much better that every man should plead his own cause, and trust it to the judge, as in other places the client trusts it to a counsellor; by this means they both cut off many delays and find out truth more certainly; for after the parties have laid open the merits of the cause, without those artifices which lawyers are apt to suggest, the judge examines the whole matter, and supports the simplicity of such well-meaning persons, whom otherwise crafty men would be sure to run down; and thus they avoid those evils which appear very remarkably among all those nations that labour under a vast load of laws. Every one of them is skilled in their law; for, as it is a very short study, so the plainest meaning of which words are capable is always the sense of their laws; and they argue thus: all laws are promulgated for this end, that every man may know his duty; and, therefore, the plainest and most obvious sense of the words is that which ought to be put upon them, since a more refined exposition cannot be easily comprehended, and would only serve to make the laws become useless to the greater part of mankind, and especially to those who need most the direction of them; for it is all one not to make a law at all or to couch it in such terms that, without a quick apprehension and much study, a man cannot find out the true meaning of it, since the generality of mankind are both so dull, and so much employed in their several trades, that they have neither the leisure nor the capacity requisite for such an inquiry.
    • Ch. 7 : Of Their Slaves, and of Their Marriages
In no victory do they glory so much as in that which is gained by dexterity and good conduct without bloodshed.
  • In no victory do they glory so much as in that which is gained by dexterity and good conduct without bloodshed. In such cases they appoint public triumphs, and erect trophies to the honour of those who have succeeded; for then do they reckon that a man acts suitably to his nature, when he conquers his enemy in such a way as that no other creature but a man could be capable of, and that is by the strength of his understanding. Bears, lions, boars, wolves, and dogs, and all other animals, employ their bodily force one against another, in which, as many of them are superior to men, both in strength and fierceness, so they are all subdued by his reason and understanding.
    • Ch. 8 : Of Their Military Discipline
  • There are several sorts of religions, not only in different parts of the island, but even in every town; some worshipping the sun, others the moon or one of the planets. Some worship such men as have been eminent in former times for virtue or glory, not only as ordinary deities, but as the supreme god. Yet the greater and wiser sort of them worship none of these, but adore one eternal, invisible, infinite, and incomprehensible Deity; as a Being that is far above all our apprehensions, that is spread over the whole universe, not by His bulk, but by His power and virtue; Him they call the Father of All, and acknowledge that the beginnings, the increase, the progress, the vicissitudes, and the end of all things come only from Him; nor do they offer divine honours to any but to Him alone. And, indeed, though they differ concerning other things, yet all agree in this: that they think there is one Supreme Being that made and governs the world, whom they call, in the language of their country, Mithras. They differ in this: that one thinks the god whom he worships is this Supreme Being, and another thinks that his idol is that god; but they all agree in one principle, that whoever is this Supreme Being, He is also that great essence to whose glory and majesty all honours are ascribed by the consent of all nations.
    • Ch. 9 : Of the Religions of the Utopians
  • Those among them that have not received our religion do not fright any from it, and use none ill that goes over to it, so that all the while I was there one man was only punished on this occasion. He being newly baptised did, notwithstanding all that we could say to the contrary, dispute publicly concerning the Christian religion, with more zeal than discretion, and with so much heat, that he not only preferred our worship to theirs, but condemned all their rites as profane, and cried out against all that adhered to them as impious and sacrilegious persons, that were to be damned to everlasting burnings. Upon his having frequently preached in this manner he was seized, and after trial he was condemned to banishment, not for having disparaged their religion, but for his inflaming the people to sedition; for this is one of their most ancient laws, that no man ought to be punished for his religion.
    • Ch. 9 : Of the Religions of the Utopians
  • Utopus having understood that before his coming among them the old inhabitants had been engaged in great quarrels concerning religion, by which they were so divided among themselves, that he found it an easy thing to conquer them, since, instead of uniting their forces against him, every different party in religion fought by themselves. After he had subdued them he made a law that every man might be of what religion he pleased, and might endeavour to draw others to it by the force of argument and by amicable and modest ways, but without bitterness against those of other opinions; but that he ought to use no other force but that of persuasion, and was neither to mix with it reproaches nor violence; and such as did otherwise were to be condemned to banishment or slavery.
    This law was made by Utopus, not only for preserving the public peace, which he saw suffered much by daily contentions and irreconcilable heats, but because he thought the interest of religion itself required it. He judged it not fit to determine anything rashly; and seemed to doubt whether those different forms of religion might not all come from God, who might inspire man in a different manner, and be pleased with this variety; he therefore thought it indecent and foolish for any man to threaten and terrify another to make him believe what did not appear to him to be true. And supposing that only one religion was really true, and the rest false, he imagined that the native force of truth would at last break forth and shine bright, if supported only by the strength of argument, and attended to with a gentle and unprejudiced mind; while, on the other hand, if such debates were carried on with violence and tumults, as the most wicked are always the most obstinate, so the best and most holy religion might be choked with superstition, as corn is with briars and thorns; he therefore left men wholly to their liberty, that they might be free to believe as they should see cause.
    • Ch. 9 : Of the Religions of the Utopians

Unsourced

  • I die the king's faithful servant, but God's first.
    • Last words before being beheaded
  • If honor were profitable, everybody would be honorable.

Quotes about More

  • A man of an angel's wit and singular learning. I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness and affability? And, as time requireth, a man of marvelous mirth and pastimes, and sometime of as sad gravity. A man for all seasons.

External links

Wikipedia
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Simple English

File:Hans Holbein d. J.
Sir Thomas More (painting by Hans Holbein the Younger)

Sir Thomas More or Saint Thomas More (February 7, 1478July 6, 1535), was an English writer, lawyer, and statesman. He held many important jobs including Speaker of the House of Commons, Lord Chancellor and advisor to the King Henry VIII. He also invented the word "utopia", which means: "an ideal place to live". This is described in a book called Utopia. When King Henry left the Roman Catholic Church because the Pope would not give him a divorce from his first wife, he started The Church of England. More was a devout Catholic, so he did not accept the King as head of the Church. Because of this, he was arrested and executed for treason. He was thought of as a martyr and made a saint by the Roman Catholic Church in 1935. His feast day is on June 22 and he is the patron of lawyers and politicans. A play and movie called A Man For All Seasons is based on his life.








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