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Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535),
venerated Veneration in Noto St Conrad of Piacenza (San Corrado) Veneration ( la, veneratio; el, τιμάω ), or veneration of saints, is the act of honoring a saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional d ...
in the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . As the wo ...

Catholic Church
as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, judge, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted
Renaissance humanist Renaissance humanism was a revival in the study of classical antiquity, at first Italian Renaissance, in Italy and then spreading across Western Europe in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. During the period, the term ''humanist'' ( it, umanista ...
. He also served
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 12 July 927, when it emerged fro ...

Henry VIII
as Lord High Chancellor of England from October 1529 to May 1532. He wrote ''
Utopia A utopia ( ) typically describes an imaginary community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target. "Level of analysis" is distinct f ...
'', published in 1516, which describes the political system of an imaginary island state. More opposed the
Protestant Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity File:Petersdom von Engelsburg gesehen.jpg, 250px, St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the larges ...
, directing polemics against the theology of
Martin Luther Martin Luther (; ; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a Germans, German professor of Christian theology, theology, priest, author, composer, former Order of Saint Augustine, Augustinian monk, and is best known as a seminal f ...

Martin Luther
,
Huldrych Zwingli Huldrych Zwingli or Ulrich Zwingli (1 January 1484 – 11 October 1531) was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland Map of the Swiss Confederacy by Sebastian Münster () The Protestant Reformation in Switzerland was promoted initi ...

Huldrych Zwingli
,
John Calvin John Calvin (; Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family The Indo-European languages are a language fami ...

John Calvin
and
William Tyndale William Tyndale (; sometimes spelled ''Tynsdale'', ''Tindall'', ''Tindill'', ''Tyndall''; – ) was an English scholar who became a leading figure in the Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th- ...

William Tyndale
. More also opposed Henry VIII's separation from the Catholic church, refusing to acknowledge Henry as
supreme head of the Church of England The title of Supreme Head of the Church of England was created in 1531 for King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for his six marriages, and, in ...
and the annulment of his marriage to
Catherine of Aragon Catherine of Aragon (; 16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536) was Queen of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom o ...

Catherine of Aragon
. After refusing to take the
Oath of Supremacy The Oath of Supremacy required any person taking public or church office in England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its ...
, he was convicted of treason and executed. On his execution, he was reported to have said: "I die the King's good servant, and God's first".
Pope Pius XI Pope Pius XI ( it, Pio XI), born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti (; 31 May 1857 – 10 February 1939), was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christia ...
canonised More in 1935 as a martyr.
Pope John Paul II Pope John Paul II ( la, Ioannes Paulus II; it, Giovanni Paolo II; pl, Jan Paweł II; born Karol Józef Wojtyła ; 18 May 19202 April 2005) was the head of the and sovereign of the from 1978 until his death in 2005. He was elected by ...

Pope John Paul II
in 2000 declared him the
patron saint A patron saint, patroness saint, patron hallow or heavenly protector is a saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set ...
of statesmen and politicians.


Early life

Born on Milk Street in the
City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and local government district that contains the historic centre and the primary central business district (CBD) of London. It c ...

City of London
, on 7 February 1478, Thomas More was the son of Sir John More, a successful lawyer and later a judge, and his wife Agnes (''née'' Graunger). He was the second of six children. More was educated at St Anthony's School, then considered one of London's best schools. From 1490 to 1492, More served John Morton, the
Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Cat ...
and Lord Chancellor of England, as a household page.. Morton enthusiastically supported the "
New LearningIn the history of ideas the New Learning in Europe is the Renaissance humanism Renaissance humanism was a revival in the study of classical antiquity, at first in Italy and then spreading across Western Europe in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centu ...
" (scholarship which was later known as "humanism" or "London humanism"), and thought highly of the young More. Believing that More had great potential, Morton nominated him for a place at the
University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the List of oldest universit ...
(either in St. Mary Hall or
Canterbury CollegeCanterbury College may refer to: * Canterbury College (Indiana), U.S. * Canterbury College (Waterford), Queensland, Australia * Canterbury College (Windsor, Ontario), Canada * Canterbury College, Kent, England * Canterbury College, Oxford, England * ...
, both now gone).. More began his studies at Oxford in 1492, and received a classical education. Studying under
Thomas Linacre Thomas Linacre or Lynaker ( ; 20 October 1524) was an English humanist scholar and physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English), medical doctor, or simply doct ...

Thomas Linacre
and
William Grocyn William Grocyn ( 14461519) was an English scholar, a friend of Erasmus Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (; English: Erasmus of Rotterdam;''Erasmus'' was his baptismal name, given after St. Erasmus of Formiae. ''Desiderius'' was a self-adopted ad ...

William Grocyn
, he became proficient in both Latin and Greek. More left Oxford after only two years—at his father's insistence—to begin legal training in London at New Inn, one of the
Inns of Chancery , the only Inn of Chancery building to survive largely intact The Inns of Chancery or ''Hospida Cancellarie'' were a group of buildings and legal institutions in London initially attached to the Inns of Court and used as offices for the clerks of ...
. In 1496, More became a student at Lincoln's Inn, one of the
Inns of Court The Inns of Court in London are the professional associations for barristers in England and Wales. There are four Inns of Court – Gray's Inn, Lincoln's Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple. All barristers must belong to one of them. They have ...
, where he remained until 1502, when he was
called to the Bar The call to the bar (rarely, call to bar) is a legal term of art Jargon is the specialized terminology associated with a particular field or area of activity. Jargon is normally employed in a particular Context (language use), communicative cont ...
.


Spiritual life

According to his friend, the theologian
Desiderius Erasmus Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (; English: Erasmus of Rotterdam;''Erasmus'' was his baptismal name, given after St. Erasmus of Formiae. ''Desiderius'' was a self-adopted additional name, which he used from 1496. The ''Roterodamus'' was a schol ...
of
Rotterdam Rotterdam ( , , ) is the second largest List of cities in the Netherlands by province, city and List of municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality in the Netherlands. It is in the Provinces of the Netherlands, province of South Holland, ...

Rotterdam
, More once seriously contemplated abandoning his legal career to become a
monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via ''monachus'') is a person who practices religious by living, either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decides to dedicate his life ...

monk
. Between 1503 and 1504 More lived near the Carthusian monastery outside the walls of London and joined in the monks' spiritual exercises. Although he deeply admired their piety, More ultimately decided to remain a layman, standing for election to Parliament in 1504 and marrying the following year. More continued ascetic practices for the rest of his life, such as wearing a
hair shirt Mary Magdalene in cilice. Polychrome wood carving by Pedro de Mena, Church of San Miguel and San Julian, Valladolid A cilice , also known as a sackcloth, was originally a garment or undergarment made of coarse cloth or animal hair (a hairshirt) ...

hair shirt
next to his skin and occasionally engaging in self-flagellation. A tradition of the
Third Order of Saint Francis The Third Order of Saint Francis, is a third order The term Third Order signifies, in general, lay members of religious orders, who do not necessarily live in community and yet can claim to wear the habit and participate in the good works of som ...
honours More as a member of that Order on their
calendar of saints The calendar of saints is the traditional Christian method of organizing a liturgical year by associating each day with one or more saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of Q-D-Š, ho ...

calendar of saints
.


Family life

More married Jane Colt in 1505. In that year he leased a portion of a house known as the Old Barge (originally there had been a wharf nearby serving the Walbrook river) on Bucklersbury,
St Stephen Walbrook St Stephen Walbrook is a church in the City of London, part of the Church of England's Diocese of London. The present domed building was erected to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren following the destruction of its medieval predecessor in the Gr ...

St Stephen Walbrook
parish, London. Eight years later he took over the rest of the house and in total he lived there for almost 20 years, until his move to Chelsea in 1525.
Erasmus Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (; English: Erasmus of Rotterdam;''Erasmus'' was his baptismal name, given after St. Erasmus of Formiae. ''Desiderius'' was a self-adopted additional name, which he used from 1496. The ''Roterodamus'' was a schol ...
reported that More wanted to give his young wife a better education than she had previously received at home, and tutored her in music and literature. The couple had four children:
Margaret Margaret is a female first name, derived via French (''Marguerite (given name), Marguerite'') and Latin (''Margarita'') from grc, μαργαρίτης (''margarítēs'') meaning "pearl". The Greek is borrowed from Indo-Iranian languages, Persia ...
, Elizabeth, Cicely, and John. Jane died in 1511. Going "against friends' advice and common custom," within 30 days, More had married one of the many eligible women among his wide circle of friends. He chose Alice Middleton, a widow, to head his household and care for his small children. The speed of the marriage was so unusual that More had to get a dispensation from the
banns of marriage The banns of marriage, commonly known simply as the "banns" or "bans" (from a Middle English language, Middle English word meaning "proclamation", rooted in Frankish language, Frankish and from there to Old French language, Old French), are the ...
, which, due to his good public reputation, he easily obtained. More had no children from his second marriage, although he raised Alice's daughter from her previous marriage as his own. More also became the guardian of two young girls: Anne Cresacre would eventually marry his son, John More; and Margaret Giggs (later Clement) who was the only member of his family to witness his execution (she died on the 35th anniversary of that execution, and her daughter married More's nephew
William Rastell William Rastell (150827 August 1565) was an England, English printer and judge. Life Rastell was born in London. At the age of seventeen he went to the University of Oxford, but did not take a degree, being probably called home to superintend the p ...
). An affectionate father, More wrote letters to his children whenever he was away on legal or government business, and encouraged them to write to him often.. More insisted upon giving his daughters the same classical education as his son, an unusual attitude at the time. His eldest daughter, Margaret, attracted much admiration for her erudition, especially her fluency in Greek and Latin. More told his daughter of his pride in her academic accomplishments in September 1522, after he showed the bishop a letter she had written: More's decision to educate his daughters set an example for other noble families. Even Erasmus became much more favourable once he witnessed their accomplishments. A portrait of More and his family, Sir Thomas More and Family, was painted by Holbein; however, it was lost in a fire in the 18th century. More's grandson commissioned a copy, of which two versions survive.


Early political career

In 1504 More was elected to Parliament to represent
Great Yarmouth Great Yarmouth, often called Yarmouth, is a seaside resort A seaside resort is a resort town, town, village, or hotel that serves as a Resort, vacation resort and is located on a coast. Sometimes the concept includes an aspect of official accr ...
, and in 1510 began representing
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...
. From 1510, More served as one of the two
undersheriff An undersheriff (or under-sheriff) is an office derived from ancient Kingdom of England, English custom that remains in, among other places, England and Wales and the United States, though performing different functions. United States In Policing i ...
s of the
City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and local government district that contains the historic centre and the primary central business district (CBD) of London. It c ...

City of London
, a position of considerable responsibility in which he earned a reputation as an honest and effective public servant. More became
Master of RequestsMaster of Requests, from the Latin Requestarum Magister, is an office that developed in several European systems of law and government in the late Middle Ages and the early modern period. Holders of the title had the responsibility of presenting peti ...
in 1514, the same year in which he was appointed as a
Privy Counsellor The Privy Council of the United Kingdom, officially Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, or known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest le ...
.Rebhorn, W. A. (ed.) p. xviii After undertaking a diplomatic mission to the
Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as ...
,
Charles VCharles V may refer to: * Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, german: Karl V, it, Carlo V, nl, Karel V, la, Carolus V (24 February 1500 – 21 September 1558) was Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and offici ...

Charles V
, accompanying
Thomas Wolsey Thomas Wolsey (c. March 1473 – 29 November 1530) was an English statesman and Catholic bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a positi ...
,
Cardinal Cardinal or The Cardinal may refer to: Christianity * Cardinal (Catholic Church), a senior official of the Catholic Church * Cardinal (Church of England), two members of the College of Minor Canons of St. Paul's Cathedral Navigation * Cardina ...
Archbishop of York The Archbishop of York is a senior bishop in the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a List of Christian denominations, Christian church which is the established church of England. The archbishop of Canterbury is the most ...
, to
Calais Calais ( , , traditionally , ; pcd, Calés; vls, Kales) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia ...

Calais
and
Bruges Bruges ( , nl, Brugge ; ; german: Brügge ) is the capital and largest city of the Provinces of Belgium, province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country, and the seventh-largest city of the country b ...

Bruges
, More was knighted and made under-treasurer of the
Exchequer In the civil service The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transi ...
in 1521. As secretary and personal adviser to
King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Ital ...
, More became increasingly influential: welcoming foreign diplomats, drafting official documents, and serving as a liaison between the King and Lord Chancellor Wolsey. More later served as
High StewardHigh Steward or Lord High Steward may refer to: *High Steward (academia) in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge *High steward (Ancient Egypt), in the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom *High steward (civic) of various towns in England *Lord Hig ...
for the Universities of
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' u ...
and
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a university city and the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' ...
. In 1523 More was elected as
knight of the shire Knight of the shire ( la, milites comitatus) was the formal title for a member of parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency. In many countries with Bicameralism, bicameral parliam ...
(MP) for
Middlesex Middlesex (; abbreviation: Middx) is a Historic counties of England, historic county in South East England, southeast England. Its area is almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London and mostly within the Ceremonial counties of En ...
and, on Wolsey's recommendation, the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpor ...
elected More its
Speaker Speaker may refer to: Roles * Speaker (politics), the presiding officer in a legislative assembly * Public speaker, one who gives a speech or lecture * A person producing speech, sometimes also called a speaker-hearer Electronics * Loudspeaker, a ...
. In 1525 More became
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is a ministerial office in the Government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United ...
, with executive and judicial responsibilities over much of northern England.


Chancellorship

After Wolsey fell, More succeeded to the office of
Lord Chancellor The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking among the Great Officers of State In the United Kingdom, the Great Officers of State are traditional ministers of The Crown who either inheri ...
in 1529. He dispatched cases with unprecedented rapidity.


Campaign against the Protestant Reformation

More supported the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . As the wo ...

Catholic Church
and saw the
Protestant Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity File:Petersdom von Engelsburg gesehen.jpg, 250px, St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the larges ...
as
heresy Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. The term is usually used in reference to violations of important religi ...
, a threat to the unity of both church and society. More believed in the theology, argumentation, and ecclesiastical laws of the church, and "heard Luther's call to destroy the Catholic Church as a call to war."Gerard B. Wegemer, ''Portrait of Courage'', p. 136. His early actions against the Protestant Reformation included aiding Wolsey in preventing Lutheran books from being imported into England, spying on and investigating suspected Protestants, especially publishers, and arresting anyone holding in his possession, transporting, or distributing Bibles and other materials of the Protestant Reformation. Additionally, More vigorously suppressed English translation of the New Testament. The Tyndale Bible used controversial translations of certain words that More considered heretical and seditious; for example, it used "senior" and "elder" rather than "priest" for the Greek "'", and used the term ''congregation'' instead of ''church''; he also pointed out that some of the marginal glosses challenged Catholic doctrine. It was during this time that most of his literary polemics appeared. Many accounts circulated during and after More's lifetime regarding persecution of the Protestant "heretics" during his time as Lord Chancellor. The popular sixteenth-century English Protestant historian
John Foxe John Foxe (1516/1517 – 18 April 1587), an English historian and martyrologist A martyrology is a catalogue or list of martyrs and other saints and beatification, beati arranged in the calendar order of their anniversaries or feasts. Local mar ...
, who "placed Protestant sufferings against the background of... the Antichrist", was instrumental in publicising accusations of torture in his ''
Book of Martyrs The ''Actes and Monuments'' (full title: ''Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days, Touching Matters of the Church''), popularly known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs, is a work of History of Protestantism, Protestant history and martyr ...
'', claiming that More had often personally used violence or torture while interrogating heretics. Later authors such as Brian Moynahan and Michael Farris cite Foxe when repeating these allegations.
Peter Ackroyd Peter Ackroyd, (born 5 October 1949) is an English biographer, novelist and critic with a particular interest in the history and culture of London. For his novels about English history and culture and his biographies of, among others, William ...
also lists claims from Foxe's ''Book of Martyrs'' and other post-Reformation sources that More "tied heretics to a tree in his Chelsea garden and whipped them", that "he watched as 'newe men' were put upon the rack in the Tower and tortured until they confessed", and that "he was personally responsible for the burning of several of the 'brethren' in Smithfield."
Richard Marius Richard Curry Marius (July 29, 1933 – November 5, 1999) was an American academic and writer. He was a scholar of the Protestant Reformation, Reformation, novelist of the Southern United States, American South, speechwriter, and teacher of writin ...
records a similar claim, which tells about James Bainham, and writes that "the story Foxe told of Bainham's whipping and racking at More's hands is universally doubted today". More himself denied these allegations: More instead claimed in his "Apology" (1533) that he only applied corporal punishment to two heretics: a child who was caned in front of his family for heresy regarding the Eucharist, and a "feeble-minded" man who was whipped for disrupting prayers.Marius, Richard (1999). Thomas More: A Biography, Harvard University Press During More's chancellorship, six people were burned at the stake for heresy; they were Thomas Hitton,
Thomas Bilney Thomas Bilney ( 149519 August 1531) was an English Christian martyr A martyr ( Greek: μάρτυς, ''mártys'', "witness"; stem μαρτυρ-, ''martyr-'') is someone who suffers persecution and death for advocating, renouncing, refusi ...
, Richard Bayfield, John Tewkesbury, Thomas Dusgate, and James Bainham. Moynahan argued that More was influential in the burning of Tyndale, as More's agents had long pursued him, even though this took place over a year after his own death. Burning at the stake had been a standard punishment for heresy: 30 burnings had taken place in the century before More's elevation to Chancellor, and burning continued to be used by both Catholics and Protestants during the religious upheaval of the following decades. Ackroyd notes that More zealously "approved of burning". Marius maintains that More did everything in his power to bring about the extermination of the Protestant "heretics". John Tewkesbury was a London leather seller found guilty by the
Bishop of London The Bishop of London is the Ordinary (church officer), ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of London in the Province of Canterbury. The diocese covers of 17 boroughs of Greater London north of the Thames, River Thames (historically the ...
John Stokesley John Stokesley (8 September 1475 – 8 September 1539) was an England, English church leader who was Catholic Bishop of London during the reign of Henry VIII of England, Henry VIII. Life Stokesley was born at Collyweston in Northamptonshire, and b ...
of harbouring English translated New Testaments; he was sentenced to burning for refusing to recant. More declared: he "burned as there was neuer wretche I wene better worthy." After Richard Bayfield was also executed for distributing Tyndale's Bibles, More commented that he was "well and worthely burned". Modern commentators are divided over More's religious actions as Chancellor. Some biographers, including Ackroyd, have taken a relatively tolerant view of More's campaign against Protestantism by placing his actions within the turbulent religious climate of the time and the threat of deadly catastrophes such as the German Peasants' Revolt, which More blamed on Luther, (Online citatio
here
(CTA=''Confutation of Tyndale's Answer'') as did many others, such as
Erasmus Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (; English: Erasmus of Rotterdam;''Erasmus'' was his baptismal name, given after St. Erasmus of Formiae. ''Desiderius'' was a self-adopted additional name, which he used from 1496. The ''Roterodamus'' was a schol ...

Erasmus
. Others have been more critical, such as Richard Marius, an American scholar of the Reformation, believing that such persecutions were a betrayal of More's earlier humanist convictions, including More's zealous and well-documented advocacy of extermination for Protestants. Some Protestants take a different view. In 1980, More was added to the Church of England's calendar of Saints and Heroes of the Christian Church, despite being a fierce opponent of the
English Reformation The English Reformation took place in 16th-century England when the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. These events were, in part, associated with the wider European Protestant Reformati ...
that created the Church of England. He was added jointly with
John Fisher John Fisher (c. 19 October 1469 – 22 June 1535) was an Catholic Church, English Catholic Bishop (Catholicism), bishop, Cardinal (Catholic Church), cardinal, and theologian. Fisher was also an academic and Chancellor (education), Chancellor o ...

John Fisher
, to be commemorated every 6 July (the date of More's execution) as "Thomas More, scholar, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, Reformation Martyrs, 1535".
Pope John Paul II Pope John Paul II ( la, Ioannes Paulus II; it, Giovanni Paolo II; pl, Jan Paweł II; born Karol Józef Wojtyła ; 18 May 19202 April 2005) was the head of the and sovereign of the from 1978 until his death in 2005. He was elected by ...

Pope John Paul II
honoured him by making him
patron saint A patron saint, patroness saint, patron hallow or heavenly protector is a saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set ...
of statesmen and politicians in October 2000, stating: "It can be said that he demonstrated in a singular way the value of a moral conscience ... even if, in his actions against heretics, he reflected the limits of the culture of his time".


Resignation

As the conflict over supremacy between the Papacy and the King reached its apogee, More continued to remain steadfast in supporting the supremacy of the Pope as Successor of Peter over that of the King of England. Parliament's reinstatement of the charge of
praemunire In English history, ''praemunire'' or ''praemunire facias'' () refers to a 14th-century law that prohibited the assertion or maintenance of papal jurisdiction, or any other foreign jurisdiction or claim of supremacy in England England is a ...
in 1529 had made it a crime to support in public or office the claim of any authority outside the realm (such as the Papacy) to have a legal jurisdiction superior to the King's. In 1530, More refused to sign a letter by the leading English churchmen and aristocrats asking
Pope Clement VII Pope Clement VII (; ; born Giulio de' Medici; 26 May 1478 – 25 September 1534) was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, l ...
to
annul Annulment is a legal procedure Procedural law, adjective law, in some jurisdictions referred to as remedial law, or rules of court comprises the rules by which a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government ...
Henry's marriage to
Catherine of Aragon Catherine of Aragon (; 16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536) was Queen of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom o ...

Catherine of Aragon
, and also quarrelled with Henry VIII over the heresy laws. In 1531, a royal decree required the clergy to take an oath acknowledging the King as
Supreme Head of the Church of England The title of Supreme Head of the Church of England was created in 1531 for King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of Eng ...
. The bishops at the
Convocation of Canterbury The Convocations of Canterbury and York are the synodical assemblies of the bishops and clergy of each of the two provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , ...
in 1532 agreed to sign the Oath but only under threat of praemunire and only after these words were added: "as far as the law of Christ allows". This was considered to be the final Submission of the Clergy. Cardinal
John Fisher John Fisher (c. 19 October 1469 – 22 June 1535) was an Catholic Church, English Catholic Bishop (Catholicism), bishop, Cardinal (Catholic Church), cardinal, and theologian. Fisher was also an academic and Chancellor (education), Chancellor o ...

John Fisher
and some other clergy refused to sign. Henry purged most clergy who supported the papal stance from senior positions in the church. More continued to refuse to sign the Oath of Supremacy and did not agree to support the annulment of Henry's marriage to Catherine. However, he did not openly reject the King's actions and kept his opinions private. On 16 May 1532, More resigned from his role as Chancellor but remained in Henry's favour despite his refusal. His decision to resign was caused by the decision of the convocation of the English Church, which was under intense royal threat, on the day before.


Indictment, trial and execution

In 1533, More refused to attend the
coronation A coronation is the act of placement or bestowal of a crown '' File:서봉총 금관 금제드리개.jpg, The Seobongchong Golden Crown of Ancient Silla, which is 339th National Treasure of South Korea. It is basically following the stand ...

coronation
of
Anne Boleyn Anne Boleyn (; 1501 – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of En ...

Anne Boleyn
as the Queen of England. Technically, this was not an act of treason, as More had written to Henry seemingly acknowledging Anne's queenship and expressing his desire for the King's happiness and the new Queen's health. 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 charges had to be dismissed for lack of any evidence. In early 1534, More was accused by
Thomas Cromwell Thomas Cromwell, (; 1485 – 28 July 1540) was an English lawyer and statesman who served as List of English chief ministers, chief minister to King Henry VIII from 1534 to 1540, when he was beheaded on orders of the king. Cromwell was one o ...

Thomas Cromwell
of having given advice and counsel to the "Holy Maid of Kent," Elizabeth Barton, a nun who had prophesied that the king had ruined his soul and would come to a quick end for having divorced Queen Catherine. This was a month after Barton had confessed, which was possibly done under royal pressure, and was said to be concealment of treason. Though it was dangerous for anyone to have anything to do with Barton, More had indeed met her, and was impressed by her fervour. But More was prudent and told her not to interfere with state matters. More was called before a committee of the Privy Council to answer these charges of treason, and after his respectful answers the matter seemed to have been dropped. On 13 April 1534, More was asked to appear before a commission and swear his allegiance to the parliamentary First Succession Act, Act of Succession. More accepted Parliament's right to declare
Anne Boleyn Anne Boleyn (; 1501 – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of En ...

Anne Boleyn
the legitimate Queen of England, though he refused "the spiritual validity of the king's second marriage", and, holding fast to the teaching of papal supremacy, he steadfastly refused to take the oath of supremacy of the Crown in the relationship between the kingdom and the church in England. More furthermore publicly refused to uphold Henry's annulment from Catherine.
John Fisher John Fisher (c. 19 October 1469 – 22 June 1535) was an Catholic Church, English Catholic Bishop (Catholicism), bishop, Cardinal (Catholic Church), cardinal, and theologian. Fisher was also an academic and Chancellor (education), Chancellor o ...

John Fisher
, Bishop of Rochester, refused the oath along with More. The oath reads: In addition to refusing to support the King's annulment or supremacy, More refused to sign the 1534 Act Respecting the Oath to the Succession, Oath of Succession confirming Anne's role as queen and the rights of their children to succession. More's fate was sealed. While he had no argument with the basic concept of succession as stated in the Act, the preamble of the Oath repudiated the authority of the Pope. His enemies had enough evidence to have the King arrest him on treason. Four days later, Henry had More imprisoned in the Tower of London. There More prepared a devotional ''A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation''. While More was imprisoned in the Tower, Thomas Cromwell made several visits, urging More to take the oath, which he continued to refuse. The charges of high treason related to More's violating the statutes as to the King's supremacy (malicious silence) and conspiring with Bishop
John Fisher John Fisher (c. 19 October 1469 – 22 June 1535) was an Catholic Church, English Catholic Bishop (Catholicism), bishop, Cardinal (Catholic Church), cardinal, and theologian. Fisher was also an academic and Chancellor (education), Chancellor o ...

John Fisher
in this respect (malicious conspiracy) and, according to some sources, included asserting that Parliament did not have the right to proclaim the King's Supremacy over the English Church. One group of scholars believes that the judges dismissed the first two charges (malicious acts) and tried More only on the final one, but others strongly disagree. Regardless of the specific charges, the indictment related to violation of the Treasons Act 1534 which declared it treason to speak against the King's Supremacy: The trial was held on 1 July 1535, before a panel of judges that included the new Lord Chancellor, Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden, Sir Thomas Audley, as well as Anne Boleyn's uncle, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, her father Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, Thomas Boleyn and her brother George Boleyn, 2nd Viscount Rochford, George Boleyn. Norfolk offered More the chance of the king's "gracious pardon" should he "reform his […] obstinate opinion". More responded that, although he had not taken the oath, he had never spoken out against it either and that his silence could be accepted as his "ratification and confirmation" of the new statutes. Thus More was relying upon legal precedent and the maxim "''qui tacet consentire videtur''" ("one who keeps silent seems to consent"), understanding that he could not be convicted as long as he did not explicitly deny that the King was Supreme 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 Solicitor General Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich, Richard Rich to testify that More had, in his presence, denied that the King was the legitimate head of the Church. This testimony was characterised by More as being extremely dubious. Witnesses Richard Southwell (courtier), Richard Southwell and Mr. Palmer both denied having heard the details of the reported conversation, and as More himself pointed out:
Can it therefore seem likely to your Lordships, that I should in so weighty an Affair as this, act so unadvisedly, as to trust Mr. Rich, a Man I had always so mean an Opinion of, in reference to his Truth and Honesty, … that I should only impart to Mr. Rich the Secrets of my Conscience in respect to the King's Supremacy, the particular Secrets, and only Point about which I have been so long pressed to explain my self? which I never did, nor never would reveal; when the Act was once made, either to the King himself, or any of his Privy Councillors, as is well known to your Honours, who have been sent upon no other account at several times by his Majesty to me in the Tower. I refer it to your Judgments, my Lords, whether this can seem credible to any of your Lordships.
The jury took only fifteen minutes, however, to find More guilty. 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" (take over the role of the Pope). According to William Roper's account, More was pleading that the Statute of Supremacy was contrary to the Magna Carta, to Church laws and to the laws of England, attempting to void the entire indictment against him. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered (the usual punishment for traitors who were not the nobility), but the King commuted this to execution by decapitation. The execution took place on 6 July 1535 at Tower Hill. When he came to mount the steps to the scaffold, its frame seeming so weak that it might collapse, More is widely quoted as saying (to one of the officials): "I pray you, master Lieutenant, see me safe up and [for] my coming down, let me shift for my self"; while on the scaffold he declared that he died "the king's good servant, and God's first." After More had finished reciting the ''Psalm 51, Miserere'' while kneeling, the executioner reportedly begged his pardon, then More rose up merrily, kissed him and gave him forgiveness.


Relics

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. More asked that his foster/adopted daughter Margaret Clement (née Giggs) be given his headless corpse to bury. She was the only member of his family to witness his execution. He was buried at the Tower of London, in the chapel of Church of St Peter ad Vincula, St Peter ad Vincula in an unmarked grave. His head was Head on a spike, fixed upon a pike over London Bridge for a month, according to the normal custom for traitors. More's daughter Margaret later rescued the severed head. It is believed to rest in the Roper Vault of St. Dunstan's, Canterbury, St Dunstan's Church, Canterbury, perhaps with the remains of Margaret and her husband's family. Some have claimed that the head is buried within the tomb erected for More in Chelsea Old Church. Among other surviving relics is his Cilice, hair shirt, presented for safe keeping by Margaret Clement.. This was long in the custody of the community of Augustinian canonesses who until 1983 lived at the convent at Abbotskerswell Priory, Devon. Some sources, including one from 2004, claimed that the shirt, made of goat, goat hair was then at the Martyr's church on the Weld family's estate in Chideock, Dorset. The most recent reports indicate that it is now preserved at Buckfast Abbey, near Buckfastleigh in Devon.


Scholarly and literary work


''History of King Richard III''

Between 1512 and 1519 More worked on a ''History of Richard III of England, King Richard III'', which he never finished but which was published after his death. The ''History'' is a Renaissance biography, remarkable more for its literary skill and adherence to classical precepts than for its historical accuracy. Some consider it an attack on royal tyranny, rather than on Richard III himself or the House of York. More uses a more dramatic writing style than had been typical in medieval chronicles; Richard III is limned as an outstanding, archetypal tyrant—however, More was only seven years old when Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 so he had no first-hand, in-depth knowledge of him. 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.Logan (2011) p168 It greatly influenced William Shakespeare's play ''Richard III (play), Richard III''. Contemporary historians attribute the unflattering portraits of Richard III in both works to both authors' allegiance to the reigning Tudor dynasty that wrested the throne from Richard III in the Wars of the Roses. More's version barely mentions Henry VII of England, King Henry VII, the first Tudor king, perhaps because he had persecuted his father, Sir John More. Clements Markham suggests that the actual author of the work was John Morton (cardinal), Archbishop Morton and that More was simply copying or perhaps translating the work.


''Utopia''

More's best known and most controversial work, ''
Utopia A utopia ( ) typically describes an imaginary community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target. "Level of analysis" is distinct f ...
'', is a frame narrative written in Latin. More completed and theologian
Erasmus Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (; English: Erasmus of Rotterdam;''Erasmus'' was his baptismal name, given after St. Erasmus of Formiae. ''Desiderius'' was a self-adopted additional name, which he used from 1496. The ''Roterodamus'' was a schol ...

Erasmus
published the book in Leuven in 1516, but it was only translated into English and published in his native land in 1551 (16 years after his execution), and the 1684 translation became the most commonly cited. More (also a character in the book) and the narrator/traveller, Raphael Hythlodaeus (whose name alludes both to the healer archangel Raphael (archangel), Raphael, and 'speaker of nonsense', the surname's Greek meaning), discuss modern ills in Antwerp, as well as describe the political arrangements of the imaginary island country of Utopia (a Greek pun on 'ou-topos' [no place] and 'eu-topos' [good place]) among themselves as well as to Pieter Gillis and Hieronymus van Busleyden. Utopia's original edition included a symmetrical "Utopian language#Writing system, Utopian alphabet" omitted by later editions, but which may have been an early attempt or precursor of shorthand. 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, there are no lawyers because of the laws' simplicity and because social gatherings are in public view (encouraging participants to behave well), communal ownership supplants private property, men and women are educated alike, and there is almost complete religious toleration (except for atheists, who are allowed but despised). More may have used Monasticism, monastic communalism as his model, although other concepts he presents such as legalising euthanasia remain far outside Church doctrine. Hythlodaeus asserts that a man who refuses to believe in a god or an afterlife could never be trusted, because he would not acknowledge any authority or principle outside himself. Some take the novel's principal message to be the social need for order and discipline rather than liberty. Ironically, Hythlodaeus, who believes philosophers should not get involved in politics, addresses More's ultimate conflict between his humanistic beliefs and courtly duties as the King's servant, pointing out that one day those morals will come into conflict with the political reality. ''Utopia'' gave rise to a literary genre, Utopian and dystopian fiction, which features ideal societies or perfect cities, or their opposite. Early works influenced by ''Utopia'' included ''New Atlantis'' by Francis Bacon, ''Erewhon'' by Samuel Butler (novelist), Samuel Butler, and ''Candide'' by Voltaire. Although Utopianism combined classical concepts of perfect societies (Plato and Aristotle) with Roman rhetorical finesse (cf. Cicero, Quintilian, epideictic oratory), the Renaissance genre continued into the Age of Enlightenment and survives in modern science fiction.


Religious polemics

In 1520 the reformer
Martin Luther Martin Luther (; ; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a Germans, German professor of Christian theology, theology, priest, author, composer, former Order of Saint Augustine, Augustinian monk, and is best known as a seminal f ...

Martin Luther
published three works in quick succession: ''An Appeal to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation'' (Aug.), ''Concerning the Babylonish Captivity of the Church'' (Oct.), and ''On the Liberty of a Christian Man'' (Nov.). In these books, Luther set out his doctrine of salvation through grace alone, rejected certain Catholic practices, and attacked abuses and excesses within the Catholic Church. In 1521, Henry VIII formally responded to Luther's criticisms with the ''Assertio'', written with More's assistance. Pope Leo X rewarded the English king with the title "''Fidei defensor"'' ("Defender of the Faith") for his work combating Luther's heresies. Martin Luther then attacked Henry VIII in print, calling him a "pig, dolt, and liar". At the king's request, More composed a rebuttal: the ''Responsio ad Lutherum'' was published at the end of 1523. In the ''Responsio'', More defended papal supremacy, the sacraments, and other Church traditions. More, though considered "a much steadier personality", described Luther as an "ape", a "drunkard", and a "lousy little friar" amongst other epithets. Writing under the pseudonym of Gulielmus Rosseus, More tells Luther that: :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 shitty mouth, truly the shit-pool of all shit, all the muck and shit 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 the kingly crown you have determined to play the buffoon. His saying is followed with a kind of apology to his readers, while Luther possibly never apologized for his sayings. Stephen Greenblatt argues, "More speaks for his ruler and in his opponent's idiom; Luther speaks for himself, and his scatological imagery far exceeds in quantity, intensity, and inventiveness anything that More could muster. If for More scatology normally expresses a communal disapproval, for Luther, it expresses a deep personal rage." Confronting Luther confirmed More's theological conservatism. He thereafter avoided any hint of criticism of Church authority. In 1528, More published another religious polemic, ''A Dialogue Concerning Heresies'', that asserted the Catholic Church was the one true church, established by Christ and the Apostles, and affirmed the validity of its authority, traditions and practices. In 1529, the circulation of Simon Fish's ''Supplication for the Beggars'' prompted More to respond with ''The Supplication of Souls''. In 1531, a year after More's father died,
William Tyndale William Tyndale (; sometimes spelled ''Tynsdale'', ''Tindall'', ''Tindill'', ''Tyndall''; – ) was an English scholar who became a leading figure in the Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th- ...

William Tyndale
published ''An Answer unto Sir Thomas More's Dialogue'' in response to More's ''Dialogue Concerning Heresies.'' More responded with a half million words: the ''Confutation of Tyndale's Answer''. The ''Confutation'' is an imaginary dialogue between More and Tyndale, with More addressing each of Tyndale's criticisms of Catholic rites and doctrines. More, who valued structure, tradition and order in society as safeguards against tyranny and error, vehemently believed that Lutheranism and the Protestant Reformation in general were dangerous, not only to the Catholic faith but to the stability of society as a whole.


Correspondence

Most major humanists were prolific letter writers, and Thomas More was no exception. As in the case of his friend Erasmus of Rotterdam, however, only a small portion of his correspondence (about 280 letters) survived. These include everything from personal letters to official government correspondence (mostly in English), letters to fellow humanist scholars (in Latin), several epistolary tracts, verse epistles, prefatory letters (some fictional) to several of More's own works, letters to More's children and their tutors (in Latin), and the so-called "prison-letters" (in English) which he exchanged with his oldest daughter Margaret while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London awaiting execution. More also engaged in controversies, most notably with the French poet Germain de Brie, which culminated in the publication of de Brie's ''Antimorus'' (1519). Erasmus intervened, however, and ended the dispute. More also wrote about more spiritual matters. They include: ''A Treatise on the Passion'' (a.k.a. Treatise on the Passion of Christ), ''A Treatise to Receive the Blessed Body'' (a.k.a. Holy Body Treaty), and ''De Tristitia Christi'' (a.k.a. The Agony of Christ). More handwrote the last in the Tower of London while awaiting his execution. This last manuscript, saved from the confiscation decreed by Henry VIII, passed by the will of his daughter Margaret to Spanish hands through Fray Pedro de Soto, confessor of Emperor Charles V. More's friend Luis Vives received it in Valencia, where it remains in the collection of Real Colegio Seminario del Corpus Christi museum.


Veneration


Catholic Church

Pope Leo XIII beatification, beatified Thomas More,
John Fisher John Fisher (c. 19 October 1469 – 22 June 1535) was an Catholic Church, English Catholic Bishop (Catholicism), bishop, Cardinal (Catholic Church), cardinal, and theologian. Fisher was also an academic and Chancellor (education), Chancellor o ...

John Fisher
, and List of Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation#Beatified 29 December 1886 by Pope Leo XIII, 52 other English Martyrs on 29 December 1886. Pope Pius XI canonisation, canonised More and Fisher on 19 May 1935, and More's feast day was established as 9 July. Since 1970 the General Roman Calendar has celebrated More with St John Fisher on 22 June (the date of Fisher's execution). On 31 October 2000
Pope John Paul II Pope John Paul II ( la, Ioannes Paulus II; it, Giovanni Paolo II; pl, Jan Paweł II; born Karol Józef Wojtyła ; 18 May 19202 April 2005) was the head of the and sovereign of the from 1978 until his death in 2005. He was elected by ...

Pope John Paul II
declared More "the heavenly patron saint, Patron of Statesmen and Politicians".Apostolic letter issued ''motu proprio'' proclaiming Saint Thomas More Patron of Statesmen and Politicians, 31 October 200
Vatican.va
/ref> More is the patron of the German Catholic youth organisation Katholische Junge Gemeinde.


Anglican Communion

In 1980, despite their opposing the
English Reformation The English Reformation took place in 16th-century England when the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. These events were, in part, associated with the wider European Protestant Reformati ...
, More and Fisher were added as martyrs of the reformation to the Church of England's Calendar of saints (Church of England), calendar of "Saints and Heroes of the Christian Church", to be Commemoration (Anglicanism), commemorated every 6 July (the date of More's execution) as "Thomas More, scholar, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, Reformation Martyrs, 1535".


Legacy

The steadfastness and courage with which More maintained his religious convictions, and his dignity during his imprisonment, trial, and execution, contributed much to More's posthumous reputation, particularly among Roman Catholics. His friend
Erasmus Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (; English: Erasmus of Rotterdam;''Erasmus'' was his baptismal name, given after St. Erasmus of Formiae. ''Desiderius'' was a self-adopted additional name, which he used from 1496. The ''Roterodamus'' was a schol ...

Erasmus
defended More's character as "more pure than any snow" and described his genius as "such as England never had and never again will have." Upon learning of More's execution, Emperor Charles V said: "Had we been master of such a servant, we would rather have lost the best city of our dominions than such a worthy councillor."Quoted in ''Britannica – The Online Encyclopedia'', article
''Sir Thomas More''
/ref> G. K. Chesterton, a Roman Catholic convert from the Church of England, predicted More "may come to be counted the greatest Englishman, or at least the greatest historical character in English history." Hugh Trevor-Roper called More "the first great Englishman whom we feel that we know, the most saintly of humanists, the most human of saints, the universal man of our cool northern renaissance."Cited in Marvin O'Connell, "A Man for all Seasons: an Historian's Demur," ''Catholic Dossier'' 8 no. 2 (March–April 2002): 16–1
online
/ref> Jonathan Swift, an Anglican, wrote that More was "a person of the greatest virtue this kingdom ever produced". Some consider Samuel Johnson that quote's author, although neither his writings nor Boswell's contain such. The metaphysical poet John Donne, also honoured as a saint by Anglicans, was More's great-great-nephew. US Senator Eugene McCarthy had a portrait of More in his office. Roman Catholic scholars maintain that More used irony in ''Utopia'', and that he remained an orthodox Christian. Marxist theoreticians such as Karl Kautsky considered the book a critique of economic and social exploitation in pre-modern Europe and More is claimed to have influenced the development of socialist ideas. In 1963, ''Moreana'', an academic journal focusing on analysis of More and his writings, was founded. In 2002, More was placed at number 37 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.


In literature and popular culture

William Roper (biographer), William Roper's biography of More was one of the first biographies in Modern English. ''Sir Thomas More (play), Sir Thomas More'' is a play written circa 1592 in collaboration between Henry Chettle, Anthony Munday, William Shakespeare, and others. In it More is portrayed as a wise and honest statesman. The original manuscript has survived as a handwritten text that shows many revisions by its several authors, as well as the censorious influence of Edmund Tylney, Master of the Revels in the government of Elizabeth I of England, Queen Elizabeth I. The script has since been published and has had several productions.Long, William B. ''The Occasion of the Book of Sir Thomas More''. Howard-Hill, T.H. editor. ''Shakespeare and Sir Thomas More; essays on the play and its Shakespearean Interest''. Cambridge University Press. (1989) . pages 49–54 The 20th-century agnostic playwright Robert Bolt portrayed Thomas More as the tragic hero of his 1960 play ''A Man for All Seasons''. The title is drawn from what Robert Whittington in 1520 wrote of More:
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.
In 1966, the play ''A Man for All Seasons'' was adapted into a A Man for All Seasons (1966 film), film with the same title. It was directed by Fred Zinnemann and adapted for the screen by the playwright. It stars Paul Scofield, a noted British actor, who said that the part of Sir Thomas More was "the most difficult part I played." The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Scofield won the Academy Award for Best Actor, Best Actor Oscar. In 1988 Charlton Heston starred in and directed a made-for-television film that restored the character of "the common man" that had been cut from the 1966 film. In the 1969 film ''Anne of the Thousand Days'', More is portrayed by actor William Squire. Catholic science fiction writer R. A. Lafferty wrote his novel ''Past Master (novel), Past Master'' as a modern equivalent to More's ''Utopia'', which he saw as a satire. In this novel, Thomas More travels through time to the year 2535, where he is made king of the world "Astrobe", only to be beheaded after ruling for a mere nine days. One character 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." Karl Zuchardt's novel, ''Stirb du Narr!'' ("Die you fool!"), about More's struggle with Henry VIII of England, King Henry, portrays More as an idealist bound to fail in the power struggle with a ruthless ruler and an unjust world. In her 2009 novel ''Wolf Hall'', its 2012 sequel ''Bring Up the Bodies'', and the final book of the trilogy, her 2020 ''The Mirror and the Light'', the novelist Hilary Mantel portrays More (from the perspective of a sympathetically portrayed
Thomas Cromwell Thomas Cromwell, (; 1485 – 28 July 1540) was an English lawyer and statesman who served as List of English chief ministers, chief minister to King Henry VIII from 1534 to 1540, when he was beheaded on orders of the king. Cromwell was one o ...

Thomas Cromwell
) as an unsympathetic persecutor of Protestants and an ally of the Habsburg empire. Literary critic James Wood in his book ''The Broken Estate'', a collection of essays, is critical of More and refers to him as "cruel in punishment, evasive in argument, lusty for power, and repressive in politics". 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 ironic in his book or was genuinely advocating a police state. Zelman comments, "More is the only Christian saint to be honoured with a statue at the Moscow Kremlin, Kremlin." By this Zelman implies that ''Utopia'' influenced Vladimir Lenin's Bolsheviks, despite their brutal repression of religion. Other biographers, such as
Peter Ackroyd Peter Ackroyd, (born 5 October 1949) is an English biographer, novelist and critic with a particular interest in the history and culture of London. For his novels about English history and culture and his biographies of, among others, William ...
, have offered a more sympathetic picture of More as both a sophisticated philosopher and man of letters, as well as a zealous Catholic who believed in the authority of the Holy See over Christendom. 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 More. More is the focus of the Al Stewart song "A Man For All Seasons" from the 1978 album ''Time Passages'', and of the Far (band), Far song "Sir", featured on the limited editions and 2008 re-release of their 1994 album ''Quick (album), Quick''. In addition, the song "So Says I" by indie rock outfit The Shins alludes to the socialist interpretation of More's ''Utopia''. Jeremy Northam depicts More in the television series ''The Tudors ''as a peaceful man, as well as a devout Roman Catholic and loving family patriarch. He also shows More loathing Protestantism, burning both Martin Luther's books and English Protestants who have been convicted of heresy. The portrayal has unhistorical aspects, such as that More neither personally caused nor attended Simon Fish's execution (since Fish actually died of bubonic plague in 1531 before he could stand trial), although More's ''The Supplycatyon of Soulys'', published in October 1529, addressed Fish's Simon Fish#Supplycatyon of Soulys: St. Thomas More's Response to Simon Fish, ''Supplication for the Beggars''.see Fish, Simon. "Supplycacion for the Beggar." 1529 in Carroll, Gerald L. and Joseph B. Murray. ''The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More''. Vol. 7. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990, pp. 1–10. See also Pineas, Rainer. "Thomas More's Controversy with Simon Fish." ''Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900'', Vol. 7, No. 1, ''The English Renaissance'', Winter, 1967, 13–14. Indeed, there is no evidence that More ever attended the execution of any heretic. The series also neglected to show More's avowed insistence that Richard Rich's testimony about More disputing the King's title as
Supreme Head of the Church of England The title of Supreme Head of the Church of England was created in 1531 for King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of Eng ...
was perjured. In the years 1968–2007 the University of San Francisco's Gleeson Library Associates awarded the annual Sir Thomas More Medal for Book Collecting to private book collectors of note, including Elmer Belt, Otto Schaefer, Albert Sperisen, John S. Mayfield and Lord Wardington.


Institutions named after More


Communism, socialism and resistance to communism

Having been praised "as a Communism, Communist hero by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Karl Kautsky" because of the Communist attitude to property in his ''Utopia'', under Soviet Communism the name of Thomas More was in Alexander_Garden_Obelisk#Inscribed_names, ninth position from the top of Moscow's Stele of Freedom (also known as the Alexander Garden Obelisk, Obelisk of Revolutionary Thinkers), as one of the most influential thinkers "who promoted the liberation of humankind from oppression, arbitrariness, and exploitation." This monument was erected in 1918 in Aleksandrovsky Garden near the Kremlin at Lenin's suggestion. It was dismantled on 2 July 2013, during Vladimir Putin's third term as President of Russia#Russian Federation, post-Communist Russia. ''The Great Soviet Encyclopedias Great Soviet Encyclopedia#English, English translation (1979) described More as "the founder of Utopian socialism", the first person "to describe a society in which private property ... had been abolished" (a society in which the family was "a cell for the communist way of life"), and a thinker who "did not believe that the ideal society would be achieved through socialist revolution, revolution", but who "greatly influenced reformers of subsequent centuries, especially Étienne-Gabriel Morelly, Morelly, François-Noël Babeuf, G. Babeuf, Henri de Saint-Simon, Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, C. Fourier, Étienne Cabet, E. Cabet, and other representatives of Utopian socialism." ''Utopia'' also inspired Socialism, socialists such as William Morris. Many see More's communism or socialism as purely satirical. In 1888, while praising More's communism, Karl Kautsky pointed out that "perplexed" historians and economists often saw the name ''Utopia'' (which means "no place") as "a subtle hint by More that he himself regarded his communism as an impracticable dream". Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Prize-winning, anti-Communist author of ''The Gulag Archipelago'', argued that Soviet communism needed enslavement and forced labour to survive, and that this had been " ...foreseen as far back as Thomas More, the great-grandfather of Socialism (Marxism), socialism, in his ''Utopia''". In 2008, More was portrayed on stage in Hong Kong as an allegorical symbol of the Pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong, pan-democracy camp resisting the Chinese Communist Party in a translated and modified version of Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons#HK-antiCommunist01a, ''A Man for All Seasons''.


Historic sites


Westminster Hall

A plaque in the middle of the floor of London's Westminster Hall commemorates More's trial for treason and condemnation to execution in that original part of the Palace of Westminster. The building, which houses Parliament, would have been well known to More, who served several terms as a member and became Speaker of the House of Commons before his appointment as England's Lord Chancellor.


Beaufort House and Crosby Hall

As More's royal duties frequently required his attendance at the king's River Thames, Thameside palaces in both Richmond and Greenwich, it was convenient to select a riverside property situated between them (the common method of transport being by boat) for his home. In about 1520 he purchased a parcel of land comprising "undisturbed wood and pasture", stretching from the Thames in Chelsea, London, Chelsea to the King's Road. There he caused to be built a "dignified" red-brick mansion (known simply as More's house or Chelsea House) in which he lived until his arrest in 1534. In the bawdy poem ''The Twelve Mery Jestes of Wyddow Edyth'', written in 1525 by a member of More's household (or even by More himself) using the pseudonym of "Walter Smith", the widow arrives by boat at "Chelsay…where she had best cheare of all/in the house of Syr Thomas More." Upon More's arrest the estate was confiscated, coming into the possession of the Comptroller of the Household, Comptroller of the Royal Household, William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester, William Paulet. In 1682 the property was renamed Beaufort House (after a new owner: Henry Somerset, 1st Duke of Beaufort). It was demolished in 1712 and the site is now occupied by modern-day Beaufort Street, Chelsea, Beaufort Street. In June 1523 More bought the "very large and beautiful" Crosby Hall, London, Crosby Place (Crosby Hall) in Bishopsgate, London, but this was not a simple transaction: eight months later he sold the property (never having lived there) at a considerable profit to his friend and business partner Antonio Bonvisi who, in turn, leased it back to More's son-in-law William Roper and nephew
William Rastell William Rastell (150827 August 1565) was an England, English printer and judge. Life Rastell was born in London. At the age of seventeen he went to the University of Oxford, but did not take a degree, being probably called home to superintend the p ...
; possibly this was an agreed means of dealing with a debt between More and Bonvisi. Because of this the Crown did not confiscate the property after More's execution. Parts of the Crosby Hall survived until demolished in 1909 when some elements, including the hammer-beam roof of the Great Hall, part of a musicians' gallery, a postern doorway and some oriel windows, were placed in storage and eventually incorporated into a new building erected by the Thames in Chelsea, near to the original site of Beaufort House. It is privately owned and closed to the public.


Chelsea Old Church

Across a small park and Old Church Street from Crosby Hall is Chelsea Old Church, an Anglican church whose southern chapel More commissioned and in which he sang with the parish choir. Except for his chapel, the church was largely destroyed in the Second World War and rebuilt in 1958. The capitals on the medieval arch connecting the chapel to the main sanctuary display symbols associated with More and his office. On the southern wall of the sanctuary is the tomb and epitaph he erected for himself and his wives, detailing his ancestry and accomplishments in Latin, including his role as peacemaker between the various Christian European states as well as a curiously altered portion about his curbing heresy. When More served Mass, 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. It is open to the public at specific times. Outside the church, facing the River Thames, is a statue by L. Cubitt Bevis erected in 1969, commemorating More as "saint", "scholar", and "statesman"; the back displays his coat-of-arms. Nearby, on Upper Cheyne Row, the Roman Catholic Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer & St. Thomas More honours the martyr.


Tower Hill

A plaque and small garden commemorate the famed execution site on Tower Hill, London, just outside the Tower of London, as well as all those executed there, many as religious martyrs or as prisoners of conscience. More's corpse, minus his head, was unceremoniously buried in an unmarked mass grave beneath the Church of St Peter ad Vincula, Royal Chapel of St. Peter Ad Vincula, within the walls of the Tower of London, as was the custom for traitors executed at Tower Hill. The chapel is accessible to Tower visitors.


St Katharine Docks

Thomas More is commemorated by a stone Commemorative plaque, plaque near St Katharine Docks, just east of the Tower where he was executed. The street in which it is situated was formerly called Nightingale Lane, a corruption of "Knighten Guild", derived from the original owners of the land. It is now renamed Thomas More Street in his honour.


St Dunstan's Church and Roper House, Canterbury

St. Dunstan's, Canterbury, St Dunstan's Church, an Anglican parish church in Canterbury, possesses More's head, rescued by his daughter Margaret Roper, whose family lived in Canterbury down and across the street from their parish church. A stone immediately to the left of the altar marks the sealed Roper family vault beneath the Nicholas Chapel, itself to the right of the church's sanctuary or main altar. St. Dunstan's, Canterbury, St Dunstan's Church has carefully investigated, preserved and sealed this burial vault. The last archaeological investigation revealed that the suspected head of More rests in a niche separate from the other bodies, possibly from later interference. Displays in the chapel record the archaeological findings in pictures and narratives. Roman Catholics donated stained glass to commemorate the events in More's life. A small plaque marks the former home of William and Margaret Roper; another house nearby and entitled Roper House is now a home for deaf people.


Works

Note: The reference "CW" is to the relevant volume of the ''Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More'' (New Haven and London 1963–1997)


Published during More's life (with dates of publication)

* ''A Merry Jest'' (c. 1516) (CW 1) * ''
Utopia A utopia ( ) typically describes an imaginary community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target. "Level of analysis" is distinct f ...
'' (1516) (CW 4) * ''Latin Poems'' (1518, 1520) (CW 3, Pt.2) * ''Letter to Brixius'' (1520) (CW 3, Pt. 2, App C) * ''Responsio ad Lutherum'' (The Answer to Luther, 1523) (CW 5) * ''A Dialogue Concerning Heresies'' (1529, 1530) (CW 6) * ''Supplication of Souls'' (1529) (CW 7) * ''Letter Against Frith'' (1532) (CW 7
pdf
* ''The Confutation of Tyndale's Answer'' (1532, 1533) (CW 8) Books 1–4
Books 5–9
* ''Apology'' (1533) (CW 9) * ''Debellation of Salem and Bizance'' (1533) (CW 10
pdf
* ''The Answer to a Poisoned Book'' (1533) (CW 11
pdf


Published after More's death (with likely dates of composition)

* ''The History of King Richard III'' (c. 1513–1518) (CW 2 & 15) * ''The Four Last Things'' (c. 1522) (CW 1) * ''A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation'' (1534) (CW 12) * ''Treatise Upon the Passion'' (1534) (CW 13) * ''Treatise on the Blessed Body'' (1535) (CW 13) * ''Instructions and Prayers'' (1535) (CW 13) * ''De Tristitia Christi'' (1535) (CW 14) (preserved in the Real Colegio Seminario del Corpus Christi, Valencia)


Translations

* ''Translations of Lucian'' (many dates 1506–1534) (CW 3, Pt.1) * ''The Life of Pico della Mirandola'', by Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola (c. 1510) (CW 1)


Notes


Sources


Biographies

* * * (Note: this is a 2009 translation (from the original German, by Hector de Cavilla) of Berglar's 1978 work ''Die Stunde des Thomas Morus – Einer gegen die Macht''. Freiburg 1978; Adamas-Verlag, Köln 1998, ) * * Henri Brémond, Brémond, Henri (1904) – ''Le Bienheureux Thomas More 1478–1535'' (1904) as'' Sir Thomas More'' (1913) translated by Henry Child; *
1920 edition
published by R. & T. Washbourne Limited, ; ** Paperback edition by Kessinger Publishing, LLC (26 May 2006) with , ; ** published in French in Paris by Gabalda, 1920, :(Note: Brémond is frequently cited in Berglar (2009)) * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * . * * *


Historiography

* . * . * Miles, Leland. “Persecution and the Dialogue of Comfort: A Fresh Look at the Charges against Thomas More.” ''Journal of British Studies'', vol. 5, no. 1, 1965, pp. 19–30
online


Primary sources

* . * * . * . * . * .


External links

* *
The Center for Thomas More Studies
at the University of Dallas
Thomas More Studies database
contains several of More's English works, including dialogues, early poetry and letters, as well as journal articles and biographical material * * * * . Presents a critical view of More's anti-Protestantism
More and ''The History of Richard III''
* .

– a learning resource from the British Library * .
The Essential Works of Thomas More
– The Center for Thomas More Studies at the University of Dallas *
Patron Saints Index entry
– Saint Thomas More biography, prayers, quotes, Catholic devotions to him.
Trial of Sir Thomas More
Professor Douglas O. Linder, University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Law
John Fisher and Thomas More: Martyrs of England and Wales
* {{DEFAULTSORT:More, Thomas 1478 births 1535 deaths 16th-century Christian saints 16th-century male writers 16th-century historians 16th-century Latin-language writers 16th-century English novelists 16th-century Roman Catholic martyrs Chancellors of the Duchy of Lancaster Christian humanists 16th-century English philosophers English Catholic poets English non-fiction writers English religious writers English Renaissance humanists English Roman Catholic saints English saints Executed philosophers Executed writers Executions at the Tower of London Creators of writing systems Lord Chancellors of England Members of Lincoln's Inn Members of the Privy Council of England People educated at Magdalen College School, Oxford People associated with the University of Oxford Christian martyrs executed by decapitation People executed under the Tudors for treason against England People from the City of London Prisoners in the Tower of London Catholic philosophers Roman Catholic writers Early modern Christian devotional writers Canonizations by Pope Pius XI Authors of utopian literature Members of the Third Order of Saint Francis Franciscan martyrs Franciscan saints People executed by Tudor England by decapitation Executed people from London People executed under Henry VIII English MPs 1504 English MPs 1510 English MPs 1523 Speakers of the House of Commons of England Members of the Parliament of England for the City of London Burials at the Church of St Peter ad Vincula More family British male poets English male novelists English politicians convicted of crimes Catholic martyrs of England and Wales Proto-socialists Anglican saints 16th-century socialists