Thomas More

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Thomas More
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{{Other uses}}{{short description|15th/16th-century English statesman}}{{Use British English|date=May 2012}}{{Use dmy dates|date=July 2012}}

153562df=y}}|birth_place = London, England|death_place = London, England|signature = Thomas More Signature.svg



Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478{{spaced ndash}} 6 July 1535), venerated in the Catholic Church as Saint Thomas More,St. Thomas More, 1478–1535 at Savior.orgHomily at the Canonization of St. Thomas More at The Center for Thomas More Studies at the University of Dallas, 2010, citing text "Recorded in The Tablet, June 1, 1935, pp. 694–695" was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He was also a councillor to Henry VIII, and Lord High Chancellor of England from October 1529 to 16 May 1532.Linder, Douglas O. The Trial of Sir Thomas More: A Chronology at University Of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School Of Law He wrote Utopia, published in 1516, about the political system of an imaginary, ideal island nation.More opposed the Protestant Reformation, in particular the theology of Martin Luther, Henry VIII, John Calvin and William Tyndale. More also opposed the king's separation from the Catholic Church, refusing to acknowledge Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. After refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy, he was convicted of treason and executed. Of his execution, he was reported to have said: "I die the King's good servant, but God's first".Pope Pius XI canonised More in 1935 as a martyr. Pope John Paul II in 2000 declared him the patron saint "of Statesmen and Politicians". Since 1980, the Church of England has remembered More liturgically as a Reformation martyr.WEB,weblink Holy Days, Worship – The Calendar, Church of England, 2011, 20 April 2011, The Soviet Union honoured him for the purportedly communist attitude toward property rights expressed in Utopia.

Early life

{{Catholic philosophy}}Born on Milk Street in London, on 7 February 1478, Thomas More was the son of Sir John More,Jokinen, A. (June 13, 2009). "The Life of Sir Thomas More." Luminarium. Retrieved on: 19 September 2011. 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.WEB,weblink Sir Thomas More, The Biography Channel website, 2014, 30 January 2014, WEB,weblink Thomas More: Always a Londoner,, 24 September 2016, 1 May 2019, From 1490 to 1492, More served John Morton, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England, as a household page.BOOK, Rebhorn, Wayne A, Utopia, New York, Barnes & Noble, Classics, 2005, Introduction, .{{rp|xvi}} Morton enthusiastically supported the "New Learning" (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 (either in St. Mary Hall or Canterbury College, both now gone).BOOK, Ackroyd, Peter, The Life of Thomas More, New York, Anchor Books, 1999, .{{rp|38}}More began his studies at Oxford in 1492, and received a classical education. Studying under Thomas Linacre and 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.{{rp|xvii}}JOURNAL, Harpsfield, Nicholas, The Life and Death of Sr Thomas More, London, Early English Text Society, 1931, 12–3, . In 1496, More became a student at Lincoln's Inn, one of the Inns of Court, where he remained until 1502, when he was called to the Bar.{{rp|xvii}}

Spiritual life

According to his friend, theologian Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, More once seriously contemplated abandoning his legal career to become a monk.BOOK, Erasmus, Desiderius, Desiderius Erasmus, Letter to Ulrich von Hutten, Adams, Robert M., Utopia, New York, WW Norton & Co, 125, WEB, Erasmus to Ulrich von Hutten, The Center for Thomas More Studies. Biographical Accounts: Erasmus' Letters about More,weblink PDF,, 8 March 2014, 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.{{rp |xxi}}More continued ascetic practices for the rest of his life, such as wearing a hair shirt next to his skin and occasionally engaging in flagellation.{{rp |xxi}} A tradition of the Third Order of Saint Francis honours More as a member of that Order on their calendar of saints.WEB,weblink Tau Cross Region of the Secular Franciscan Order, Franciscan Calendar, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 5 May 2013, dmy-all,

Family life

File:More famB 1280x-g0.jpg|thumb|upright=1.2|Rowland Lockey after Hans Holbein the YoungerHans Holbein the YoungerMore married Jane Colt in 1505.{{rp |118}} Erasmus 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.{{rp |119}} The couple had four children before Jane died in 1511: Margaret, Elizabeth, Cicely, and John.{{rp |132}}Going "against friends' advice and common custom," within thirty days More had married one of the many eligible women among his wide circle of friends.BOOK, Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage, Gerard B. Wegemer, 1995, Scepter Publishing, BOOK,weblink Encyclopedia of Tudor England, John A. Wagner, Susan Walters Schmid, ABC-CLIO, 2011, 1598842994, 769–770, He chose Alice Harpur Middleton to head his household and care for his small children.Maddison, the Rev. Canon, A.R., M.A., F.S.A., editor, Lincolnshire Pedigrees, Harleian Society, London, 1903, p.5. The speed of the marriage was so unusual that More had to get a dispensation of the banns of marriage, 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;{{rp|146}} and Margaret Giggs (later Clement) would be 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). 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.{{rp|150}}BOOK, Rogers, Elizabeth Frances, St Thomas, More, Selected Letters, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1961, .{{rp|xiv}}More insisted upon giving his daughters the same classical education as his son, a highly unusual attitude at the time.{{rp |146–47}} His eldest daughter, Margaret, attracted much admiration for her erudition, especially her fluency in Greek and Latin.{{rp|147}} More told his daughter of his pride in her academic accomplishment 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.{{rp|149}}A portrait of More and his family, Sir Thomas More and Family, was painted by Holbein, but it was lost in a fire in the 18th century. More's grandson commissioned a copy, of which two versions survive.

Early political career

File:Study for portrait of the More family, by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg|thumb|Study for a portrait of Thomas More's family, c. 1527, by Hans Holbein the YoungerHans Holbein the YoungerIn 1504 More was elected to Parliament to represent Great Yarmouth, and in 1510 began representing London.WEB,weblink History of Parliament, History of Parliament Trust, 13 October 2011, 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. More became Master of Requests in 1514,Magnusson (ed.) Chambers Biographical Dictionary (1990) p. 1039 the same year in which he was appointed as a Privy Counsellor.Rebhorn, W. A. (ed.) p. xviii After undertaking a diplomatic mission to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, accompanying Thomas Wolsey, Cardinal Archbishop of York, to Calais and Bruges, More was knighted and made under-treasurer of the Exchequer in 1521.As secretary and personal adviser to King Henry VIII, 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 Steward for the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.In 1523 More was elected as knight of the shire (MP) for Middlesex and, on Wolsey's recommendation, the House of Commons elected More its Speaker. In 1525 More became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, with executive and judicial responsibilities over much of northern England.


After Wolsey fell, More succeeded to the office of Lord Chancellor in 1529. He dispatched cases with unprecedented rapidity.

Campaign against the Protestant Reformation

File:HouseOfMore.JPG|thumb|Sir Thomas More is commemorated with a sculpture at the late-19th-century Sir Thomas More House, opposite the Royal Courts of JusticeRoyal Courts of JusticeMore supported the Catholic Church and saw the Protestant Reformation as heresy, 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,BOOK, MacCulloch, Diarmaid, Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cromwell : a life, 27 September 2018, 9781846144295, 160–162, especially publishers, and arresting anyone holding in his possession, transporting, or selling the books of the Protestant Reformation. More vigorously suppressed Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament.BOOK,weblink The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature, David Loewenstein, Janel Mueller, Cambridge University Press, 2002, 0521631564, 93 (footnote 36), 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;BOOK,weblink The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern English Literature and Religion, Andrew Hiscock, Helen Wilcox, Oxford University Press, 2017, 019165342X, 547, he also pointed out that some of the marginal glosses challenged Catholic doctrine.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 ed. (23 August 2003). It was during this time that most of his literary polemics appeared.Rumours circulated during and after More's lifetime regarding ill-treatment of heretics during his time as Lord Chancellor. The popular sixteenth-century English protestant historian John Foxe, who "placed Protestant sufferings against the background of... the Antichrist",Diarmaid MacCulloch, 277. was instrumental in publicising accusations of torture in his famous Book of Martyrs, 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.JOURNAL, Michael, Farris, From Tyndale to Madison, 2007, . Peter Ackroyd 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."BOOK,weblink'brethren'%20at%20Smithfield&f=false, The Life of Thomas More, Peter Ackroyd, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012, 0307823016, {{page needed|date=October 2017}} Richard Marius 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, however, writes 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{{rp |404}} During More's chancellorship, six people were burned at the stake for heresy; they were Thomas Hitton, Thomas Bilney, Richard Bayfield, John Tewkesbury, Thomas Dusgate, and James Bainham.{{rp |299–306}} Moynahan has claimed 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.Moynahan, B., William Tyndale: If God Spare My Life, Abacus, London, 2003.{{page needed|date=October 2017}} Burning at the stake had long been a standard punishment for heresy; about thirty 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.Guy, John A. Tudor England Oxford, 1988. p 26 Ackroyd notes that More "approved of burning".{{rp |298}} Marius maintains that More did everything in his power to bring about the extermination of heretics but not that More was personally active in burning them.BOOK,weblink Thomas More: A Biography, Richard Marius, Harvard University Press, 1999, 0674885252, 406, John Tewkesbury was a London leather seller found guilty by Bishop of London John StokesleyWEB,weblink John Tewkesbury (1531), UK Wells, 10 December 2014, Having failed in this the Bishop of London, Stokesley, tried him and sentenced him to be burned., yes,weblink" title="">weblink 17 April 2014, dmy-all, of harbouring banned books; he was sentenced to burning for refusing to recant. More declared: he "burned as there was neuer wretche I wene better worthy."BOOK, Yale, Complete Works, Thomas, More, 8, The Confutation of Tyndale's Answer, Schuster, LA, Marius, RC, Lusardi, JP, Schoeck, RJ, 1973, 20, . After Richard Bayfield was executed for selling heretical books, More commented that he was "well and worthely burned".BOOK,weblink The Life of Thomas More, Peter Ackroyd, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012, 0307823016, {{page needed|date=October 2017}}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,BOOK, Wegemer, Gerard, Gerard Wegemer, Thomas More on statesmanship, Catholic University of America Press , 1996,weblink 173, ...civil chaos will surely follow (691-93). This prediction seemed to come true very quickly, as More noted in his next polemical work, A dialogue Concerning Heresies. There he argued that the Peasants' Revolt in Germany (1525), the Lutheran mercenaries' sack of Rome (1527), and the growing unrest in England all stemmed from Luther's inflammatory teachings and especially the lure of false freedom, Original from the University of Michigan Digitized 29 Jul 2009BOOK,weblink The Life of Thomas More, Peter Ackroyd, Peter Ackroyd, Chatto & Windus, 1998, 244, 1-85619-711-5, (Chapter 22) ... Already, in these early days of English heresy, he was thinking of the fire. It is a measure of his alarm at the erosion of the traditional order that he should, in this letter, compose a defence of scholastic theology—the same scholasticism which in his younger days he had treated with derision. This was no longer a time for questioning, or innovation, or uncertainty, of any kind. He blamed Luther for the Peasants’ Revolt in Germany, and maintained that all its havoc and destruction were the direct result of Luther’s challenge to the authority of the Church; under the pretext of ‘libertas’ Luther preached ‘licentia’ which had in turn led to rape, sacrilege, bloodshed, fire and ruin., (Online citation here)BOOK,weblink Thomas More, Joanne Paul, John Wiley & Sons, 2016, 9780745692203, Princes were 'driven by necessity' by the 'importune malice of heretics raising rebellions' to set 'sorer and sorer punishments thereunto' (CTA, 956). In other words, the heretics had started it: 'the Catholic Church did never persecute heretics by any temporal pain or any secular power until the heretics began such violence themself' (CTA, 954). More had in mind violent conflicts on the continent, such as the German Peasants' War (1524–5) and the Münster Rebellion (1532–5)., {{page needed|date=September 2018}} (CTA=Confutation of Tyndale's Answer) as did many others, such as Erasmus.WEB, Wegemer, Gerard, Gerard Wegemer, Thomas More as statesman, The Center for Thomas More Studies, 31 October 2001, 27 September 2018,weblink 8, In the Peasants’ Revolt in Germany in 1525, More pointed out, 70,000 German peasants were slaughtered – and More, along with Erasmus and many others, considered Luther to be largely responsible for that wildfire., Others have been more critical, such as Richard Marius, an American scholar of the Reformation, believing that persecutions were a betrayal of More's earlier humanist convictions, including More's zealous and well-documented advocacy of extermination for Protestants.{{rp |386–406}}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 that created the Church of England. He was added jointly with 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 honoured him by making him patron saint 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".BOOK,weblink Executing The Tudors, Scott Shaw-Smith,, 2016, 1326872265, 16,


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 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 to annul Henry's marriage to 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 in England. The bishops at the Convocation of Canterbury in 1532 agreed to sign the Oath but only under threat of praemunire and only after these words were added: "as far as Christ law allows". This was considered to be the final Submission of the Clergy.BOOK,weblink Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage, Gerard Wegemer, Scepter Publishers, 1995, 188933412X, xiv, Cardinal 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.BOOK,weblink Defending Royal Supremacy and Discerning God's Will in Tudor England, Daniel Eppley, Routledge, 2016, 1351945793, 13, 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.BOOK,weblink The Cambridge Companion to Thomas More, George M. Logan, Cambridge University Press, 2011, 1139828487, 116,

Indictment, trial and execution

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 seemingly acknowledging Anne's queenship and expressing his desire for the King's happiness and the new Queen's health.{{Citation | author-link = Eric Ives| first = Eric W | last = Ives | title = The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn | year = 2004 | page = 47 | quote = [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...}} 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 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,BOOK, The Religious Orders in England, 3, David Knowles (scholar), David Knowles, Cambridge University Press, 1979, 0521295688, 188–189, BOOK, Women and Religion in England: 1500-1720, Patricia Crawford, Routledge, 2014, 1136097562, 29, and was said to be concealment of treason.BOOK,weblink The Life of Thomas More, Peter Ackroyd, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012, 0307823016, 342, Though it was dangerous for anyone to have anything to do with Barton, More had indeed met with 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 be dropped.BOOK, Lee, Sidney, Great Englishmen of the Sixteenth Century,weblink 1904, Archibald Constable, Limited, London, 48, On 13 April 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, though he refused "the spiritual validity of the king's second marriage",BOOK,weblink The Cambridge Companion to Thomas More, George M. Logan, Cambridge University Press, 2011, 1139828487, 122, 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, Bishop of Rochester, refused the oath along with More. The oath reads:BOOK, Elton, Geoffrey Rudolph, The Tudor constitution: documents and commentary, Cambridge University Press, 1982, 0-521-24506-0,weblink 24 July 2009, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, 7876927, 7, 2nd, The Crown,weblink In addition to refusing to support the King's annulment or supremacy, More refused to sign the 1534 Oath of Succession confirming Anne's role as queen and the rights of their children to succession. More's fate was sealed.BOOK,weblink A Thomas More Source Book, Gerard Wegemer, Stephen W. Smith, The Catholic University of America Press, 2004, 0813213762, 305, BOOK,weblink Thomas More's Utopia: Arguing for Social Justice, Lawrence Wilde, Routledge, 2016, 1317281373, 112–113, 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.BOOK,weblink's%20great%20matter&f=false, Utopia, Thomas More, Translated by G.C. Richards, William P. Weaver, Broadview Press, 2010, 1460402111, 8–9, BOOK,weblink Policy and Police: The Enforcement of the Reformation in the Age of Thomas Cromwell, G. R. Elton, CUP Archive, 1985, 0521313090, 223, {{citation |url= |title=The Twentieth Century, Volume 30 |publisher=Nineteenth Century and After |year=1891 |page=556}}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 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.{{Multiple image|direction=vertical|align=right|width=220|image1=London 01 2013 Tower Hill scaffold 5211.JPG|image2=London 01 2013 Tower Hill scaffold plaque 5214.JPG|caption1=Site of scaffold at Tower Hill where More was executed by decapitation|caption2=Commemorative plaque at the site of the ancient scaffold at Tower Hill, with Sir Thomas More listed among other notables executed at the site}}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 in this respect (malicious conspiracy) and, according to some sources, for 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.BOOK,weblink Thomas More's Trial by Jury: A Procedural and Legal Review with a Collection of Documents, Henry Ansgar Kelly, Louis W. Karlin, Gerard Wegemer, Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 2011, 1843836297, xiv-xvi, 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:BOOK,weblink Voices of the Reformation: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life, John A. Wagner, ABC-CLIO, 2015, 1610696808, 170, }}The trial was held on 1 July 1535, before a panel of judges that included the new Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Audley, as well as Anne Boleyn's father, brother, and uncle.More, relying upon legal precedent and the maxim "qui tacet consentire videtur" ("one who keeps silent seems to consent"BOOK, Thomas More's Trial by Jury: A Procedural and Legal Review with a Collection of Documents, Henry Ansgar Kelly, Louis W. Karlin, Gerard Wegemer, Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 2011, 1843836297, 189, ), understood 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.BOOK,weblink Thomas More's Trial by Jury: A Procedural and Legal Review with a Collection of Documents, Henry Ansgar Kelly, Louis W. Karlin, Gerard Wegemer, Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 2011, 1843836297, 22, File:Nb pinacoteca yeames the meeting of sir thomas more with his daughter after his sentence of death.jpg|thumb|upright=1.15|William Frederick YeamesWilliam Frederick YeamesThomas Cromwell, at the time the most powerful of the King's advisors, brought forth 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 characterised by More as being extremely dubious. Witnesses 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.WEB,weblink The Trial of Sir THOMAS MORE Knight, Lord Chancellor of England, for High-Treason in denying; the King's Supremacy, May 7, 1535. the 26th of Henry VIII.,
(File:History of the great reformation in Europe in the times of Luther and Calvin.. (1870) (14785678593).jpg|thumb|upright|left|Beheading of Thomas More, 1870 illustration)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.BOOK,weblink The Household of Sir Thomas More, Anne Manning, Edmund Lodge, C. Scribner, 1852, xiii, The execution took place on 6 July 1535. When he came to mount the steps to the scaffold, its frame seeming so weak that it might collapse,BOOK,weblink 798, The comprehensive history of England, from the earliest period to the suppression of the Sepoy revolt, Charles, MacFarlane, Charles Macfarlane, Thomas, Thomson, Thomas Napier Thomson, 1876, Blackie and Son, BOOK,weblink 434, Life and Writings of Sir Thomas More: Lord Chancellor of England and Martyr Under Henry VIII, Thomas Edward, Bridgett, Thomas Edward Bridgett, 3, Burns & Oates, 1891, 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";BOOK,weblink The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Elizabeth M. Knowles, Oxford University Press, 1999, 0198601735, 531, while on the scaffold he declared that he died "the king's good servant, and God's first."WEB,weblink Famous Quotes, The Center for Thomas More Studies at The University of Dallas, 9 October 2017, BOOK,weblink A Thomas More Source Book, Gerard Wegemer, Stephen W. Smith, The Catholic University of America Press, 2004, 0813213762, 357, BOOK,weblink Liturgy and Empire: Faith in Exile and Political Theology, Scott W. Hahn, David Scott, Emmaus Road Publishing, 2009, 1931018561, 73, "I die the king's good servant, but God's first." Footnote 133: "This phrase from Robert Bolt's play 'A Man for All Seasons' ... is an adjustment of More's actual last words: 'I die the king's good servant, and God's first.{{'", }}BOOK, Shepherd, Rose, 2014, Powerhouse, Treasurehouse, Slaughterhouse, At Home with Henry VIII: His Life, His Wives, His Palaces, London, CICO Books, 98, 978-1-78249-160-6, After More had finished reciting the MiserereBOOK,weblink Liturgy and Contemplation in Byrd's Gradualia, Kerry McCarthy, Routledge, 2008, 1135865647, 61, BOOK, 2, Ecclesiastical Biography, Or, Lives of Eminent Men Connected with the History of Religion in England: From the Commencement of the Reformation to the Revolution, Ecclesiastical Biography, Or, Lives of Eminent Men Connected with the History of Religion in England, London, 1810, F.C. and J. Rivington,weblink 222–223, while kneeling, the executioner reportedly begged his pardon, then More rose up merrily, kissed him and gave him forgiveness.BOOK,weblink Pedro de Ribadeneyra's 'Ecclesiastical History of the Schism of the Kingdom of England', Spencer J. Weinreich, BRILL, 2017, 9004323961, 238, BOOK,weblink IV, A Collection of the most remarkable Trials of persons for High-Treason, Murder, Heresy ..., 1736, London, T. Read, 94, BOOK,weblink The Life and Letters of Sir Thomas More, Agnes M. Stewart, Burns & Oates, 1876, 339, BOOK,weblink Sir Thomas More His Life and Times: Illustrated from His Own Writings and from Contemporary Documents, W. Jos Walter, London, Charles Dolman, 1840, 353,


(File:Sir Thomas More family's vault in St Dunstan's Church (Canterbury).jpg|thumb|upright|Sir Thomas More family's vault)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.{{Citation | first = David | last = Hume | title = The History of England | year = 1813 | page = 632}}. More asked that his foster/adopted daughter Margaret Clement (née Giggs) be given his headless corpse to bury.Guy, John, A Daughter's Love: Thomas & Margaret More, London: Fourth Estate, 2008, {{ISBN|978-0-00-719231-1}}, p. 266. She was the only member of his family to witness his execution. 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.More's daughter Margaret later rescued the severed head.BOOK,weblink Life and Writings of Sir Thomas More: Lord Chancellor of England and Martyr Under Henry VIII, Thomas Edward Bridgettyear=1891 St. Dunstan's, Canterbury>St Dunstan's Church, Canterbury,HTTPS://BOOKS.GOOGLE.COM/BOOKS?ID=KGC_AQAAMAAJ&PG=PA142&DQ=THOMAS+MORE++ROPER+VAULT+SKULL&HL=EN&SA=X&VED=0AHUKEWJQT7HROQLVAHXF7YMKHX_4DA0Q6AEIKDAA#V=ONEPAGE&Q=THOMAS%20MORE%20%20ROPER%20VAULT%20SKULL&F=FALSE >TITLE=JOURNAL OF THE BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION PUBLISHER=BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION PAGES=142–144, perhaps with the remains of Margaret and her husband's family.LADY MARGARET ROPER AND THE HEAD OF SIR THOMAS MORE>URL=HTTP://WWW.LYNSTED-SOCIETY.CO.UK/LIBRARY/BOOKS/MARGARET_ROPER_AND_HEAD_OF_SIR_THOMAS_MORE.HTMLACCESSDATE=24 JULY 2017, Some have claimed that the head is buried within the tomb erected for More in Chelsea Old Church.HTTPS://BOOKS.GOOGLE.COM/BOOKS?ID=AGJSAAAAMAAJ&PG=PA88&DQ=THOMAS+MORE+SKULL+BURIED+AT&HL=EN&SA=X&VED=0AHUKEWIM7RCZO6LVAHVB0YMKHZJHDNYQ6AEIKDAA#V=ONEPAGE&Q=THOMAS%20MORE%20SKULL%20BURIED%20AT&F=FALSE >TITLE=NOTICES OF THE HISTORIC PERSONS BURIED IN THE CHAPEL OF ST. PETER AD VINCULA: IN THE TOWER OF LONDON PUBLISHER=J. MURRAY PAGES=88–91, Among other surviving relics is his hair shirt, presented for safe keeping by Margaret Clement.ENCYCLOPEDIA, Catholic Encyclopaedia, St. Thomas More,weblink . 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 hair shirt was then at the Martyr's church on the Weld family's estate in Chideock, Dorset.BOOK,weblink Little Book of Dorset, David Hilliam, History Press, 2010, 0752462652, {{page needed|date=October 2017}}BOOK,weblink Shrines of Our Lady in England, Anne Vail, Gracewing Publishing, 2004, 0852446039, 42, The most recent reports indicate that it is now preserved at Buckfast Abbey, near Buckfastleigh in Devon.WEB,weblink St. Thomas More's hair shirt now enshrined for public veneration, Simon Caldwell, 21 November 2016, Catholic News Service,

Scholarly and literary work

History of King Richard III

Between 1512 and 1519 More worked on a History of 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.BOOK, Wegemer, Gerard, Gerard B. Wegemer, Thomas More on Statesmanship, The Catholic University of America Press, 1st, Washington D.C., 1998, 218, 0-8132-0913-7, Some consider it an attack on royal tyranny, rather than on Richard III himself or the House of York.BOOK, Meyer, Jürgen, Jürgen Meyer, An Unthinkable History of..., The Modern Language Review, Journal Article, 2014, 629–639, 10.5699/modelangrevi.109.3.0629, 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. {{citation needed|date=June 2014}} It greatly influenced William Shakespeare's 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.{{citation needed|date=June 2014}} More's version barely mentions King Henry VII, the first Tudor king, perhaps because he had persecuted his father, Sir John More. {{citation needed|date=December 2013}} Clements Markham suggests that the actual author of the work was Archbishop Morton and that More was simply copying or perhaps translating the work.BOOK, Clements, Markham,weblink Richard III: His Life and Character, 1906, 168, harv, Clements Markham, Yoran, H. Thomas More's Richard III: Probing the Limits of Humanism. Renaissance Studies 15, no. 4 (2001): 514–37. Accessed December 1, 2015.


More's best known and most controversial work, Utopia is a frame narrative written in Latin.{{citation needed|date=October 2018}} More completed and theologian 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, 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 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 monastic communalism as his model, although other concepts 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, 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 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.).{{rp|225}} 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.{{rp|225–6}} 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.{{rp|226–7}}Martin Luther then attacked Henry VIII in print, calling him a "pig, dolt, and liar".{{rp|227}} 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",BOOK,weblink The Catholic Church Through the Ages: A History, John Vidmar, Paulist Press, 2005, 0809142341, 184, described Luther as an "ape", a "drunkard", and a "lousy little friar" amongst other epithets.{{rp|230}} 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.BOOK,weblink Alan Dundes, Carl R. Pagter, Work Hard and You Shall be Rewarded: Urban Folklore from the Paperwork Empire, Wayne State University Press, 1978, 0814324320, 60–61,
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."BOOK,weblink Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture, Stephen Greenblatt, Routledge, 2012, 1136774203, 95, Confronting Luther confirmed More's theological conservatism. He thereafter avoided any hint of criticism of Church authority.{{rp|230}} 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.{{rp|279–81}} 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 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.{{rp|307–9}} 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.{{rp|307–9}}


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 which reads 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.


(File:MEDAILLON.OF.SAINT.THOMAS.MORE.jpg|thumb|Medal of Saint Thomas More)

Roman Catholic Church

Pope Leo XIII beatified Thomas More, John Fisher and 52 other English Martyrs on 29 December 1886. Pope Pius XI 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 declared More "the heavenly Patron of Statesmen and Politicians".Apostolic letter issued motu proprio proclaiming Saint Thomas More Patron of Statesmen and Politicians, 31 October 2000 More is the patron of the German Catholic youth organisation Katholische Junge Gemeinde.WEB,weblink Thomas Morus,, 2016-07-01,

Anglican Communion

In 1980, despite their opposing the English Reformation, More and Fisher were jointly added as martyrs of the reformation to the Church of England's calendar of "Saints and Heroes of the Christian Church", 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".More is also listed in the calendars of saints of some of the other churches in the Anglican Communion including: Among those on which More is not listed are the calendars of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Hong Kong and Macau.


File:APSjfb.JPG|thumb|left|upright=0.7|Statue of Thomas More at the Ateneo Law SchoolAteneo Law SchoolThe 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 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."BOOK, Daniel J. Boorstin, The Seekers: The Story of Man's Continuing Quest to Understand His World,weblink 1999, Random House Digital, Inc., 154, 978-0-375-70475-8, 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 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."BOOK, Chesterton, G. K., The Fame of Blessed Thomas More, 1929, Sheed & Ward, London, 63, G. K. Chesterton, 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): 16–19 onlineJonathan Swift, an Anglican, wrote that More was "a person of the greatest virtue this kingdom ever produced".WEB,weblink Writings on Religion and the Church, Vol. I. by Jonathan Swift: Ch. 14: Concerning that Universal Hatred, Jonathan Swift, Jonathan Swift, Prose Works of Jonathan Swift v. 13, Oxford UP, 1959, p. 123)JOURNAL,weblink Thomas More Studies, Reputation, . Some consider Samuel Johnson that quote's author, although neither his writings nor Boswell's contain such.WEB,weblink Kenny, Jack, A Man of Enduring Conscience, Resource Center, Catholic Culture via Trinity Communications, 2011, BOOK, Chambers, R. W., Sir Thomas More's Fame Among His Countrymen, 1929, Sheed & Ward, London, 13, Raymond Wilson Chambers, The metaphysical poet John Donne, also honoured as a saint by Anglicans, was More's great-great-nephew.ODNB, 7819, Donne, John (1572–1631), 2004, 2011, Colclough, David, While Roman Catholic scholars maintain that More used irony in Utopia, and that he remained an orthodox Christian, Marxist theoretician Karl Kautsky considered the book a shrewd critique of economic and social exploitation in pre-modern Europe; More thus is claimed to have influenced the development of socialist ideas.Thomas More and his Utopia (1888)

Communism, socialism and resistance to communism

{{anchor|SovietCommunism01a}}Having been praised "as a 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 ninth position from the top of Moscow's Stele of Freedom (also known as the 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.BOOK,weblink Renaissance Humanism: An Anthology of Sources, Hackett Publishing, Margaret L. King, 157, 2014, 978-1-62466-146-4, 20 December 2014, Hailed as a Communist hero by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Karl Kautsky, More's contribution to "the liberation of humankind" is commemorated, at Lenin's suggestion, on a monument erected in 1918 in Aleksandrovsky Garden near the Kremlin.[12]...[12] J.A.Guy, Thomas More (London, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 95–96, WEB,weblink The Center for Thomas More Studies – Art > Gallery > Moscow, The Center for Thomas More Studies at The University of Dallas, 2010, 20 December 2014, This monument, suggested by Lenin and built in 1918, lists Thomas More (ninth from the top) among the most influential thinkers "who promoted the liberation of humankind from oppression, arbitrariness, and exploitation." It is in Aleksndrovsky Garden near the Kremlin., WEB,weblink On the removal of a Moscow statue, afoniya, 10 July 2013, 20 December 2014, What was known as the Stele of Freedom or the Alexander Garden Obelisk, Obelisk of Revolutionary Thinkers has been dismantled apparently to be reinstalled in some months time as a monument to the Romanov Dynasty. This historically symbolic act was carried out on July 2 completely unannounced … The obelisk was one of the most interesting statues historically and ideologically because of the kind of names that it had on the statue. This was not simply a case of Marx, Engels, Lenin. It was (it seems) the first revolutionary monument to be opened after the revolution of 1917 and, in a non-dogmatic spirit, it included the names of anarchists, reformist socialists and even that of Thomas More., It was dismantled on 2 July 2013, during Vladimir Putin's third term as President of post-Communist Russia.Utopia also inspired Socialists such as William Morris.Many see More's communism or socialism as purely satirical.ENCYCLOPEDIA, Catholic Encyclopaedia, St. Thomas More,weblink 1913, The whole work is really an exercise of the imagination with much brilliant satire upon the world of More's own day. … there can be no doubt that he would have been delighted at entrapping William Morris, who discovered in it a complete gospel of Socialism, 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".BOOK
, Kautsky, Karl
, Karl Kautsky
, Thomas More and his Utopia
, 16 January 2015
, 1888
, Part III. UTOPIA … Chapter V. THE AIM OF UTOPIA … Historians and economists who are perplexed by Utopia perceive in this name a subtle hint by More that he himself regarded his communism as an impracticable dream.
, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian Nobel Prize-winning anti-Communist author, survivor and historian of the Soviet Gulag system, argued that Soviet communism needed enslavement and forced labour to survive, and that this had been " ...foreseen as far back as Thomas More, in his Utopia".BOOK,weblink Enslavement and Emancipation, Infobase Publishing, Bloom, Harold, Harold Bloom, Hobby, Blake, 173–174, 2010, 978-1-60413-441-4, 20 January 2015, Moreover, Solzhenitsyn insists that the Soviet system cannot survive without the camps, that Soviet communism requires enslavement and forced labour. " ...foreseen as far back as Thomas More, in his Utopia [,the] labor of zeks was needed for degrading and particularly heavy work, which no one, under socialism, would wish to perform" (''Gulag, Vol 3." 578)., {{anchor|HK-antiCommunist01a}}In 2008, More was portrayed on stage in Hong Kong as an allegorical symbol of the pan-democracy camp resisting Chinese Communism in a translated and modified version of Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons.BOOK
, Chen, Chapman
, "Postcolonial Hong Kong Drama Translation" in "Beyond Borders: Translations Moving Languages, Literatures and Cultures"
, Volume 39 of TransÃœD. Arbeiten zur Theorie und Praxis des Ãœbersetzens und Dolmetschens
, Pekka Kujamäki
, 8 January 2015
, 2011
, 47–54
, (:de:Frank & Timme, Frank & Timme GmbH), Berlin
, 978-3-86596-356-7

Literature and popular culture

William Roper's biography of More was one of the first biographies in Modern English.Sir Thomas More is a play written circa 1592 in collaboration with 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 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) {{ISBN|0 521 34658 4}}. pages 49–54Gabrieli, Vittorio. Melchiori, Giorgio, editors Introduction. Munday, Anthony. And others. Sir Thomas More. Manchester University Press. {{ISBN|0-7190-1544-8}}. Page 1The 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 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."Gary O'Connor (2002), Paul Scofield: An Actor for All Seasons, Applause Books. Page 150. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Scofield won the 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.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 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 King Henry, portrays More as an idealist bound to fail in the power struggle with a ruthless ruler and an unjust world.The novelist Hilary Mantel portrays More as an unsympathetic persecutor of Protestants, and an ally of the Habsburg empire, in her 2009 novel Wolf Hall, told from the perspective of a sympathetically portrayed Thomas Cromwell.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".BOOK, Wood, James, The Broken Estate: Essays on Literature and Belief,weblink 2010, Picador, New York, 978-0-312-42956-0, 15, 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 Kremlin."{{citation needed|date=April 2011}} By this Zelman implies that Utopia influenced Vladimir Lenin's Bolsheviks, despite their brutal repression of religion.Other biographers, such as Peter Ackroyd, 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 song "Sir", featured on the limited editions and 2008 re-release of their 1994 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).WEB,weblink A Supplicacyon for the Beggers, 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 was perjured.In 2002, More was placed at number 37 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.Sue Parrill, William Baxter Robison (2013). "The Tudors on Film and Television", p. 92. McFarland,

Institutions named after More

Historic sites

{{more citations needed|section|date=February 2018}}

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.WEB,weblink Westminster Hall, The Center for Thomas More Studies, 2010, 4 July 2015, 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.

Crosby Hall

The Crown confiscated More's home and estate along the Thames in Chelsea after his execution. Crosby Hall, which was part of More's London residence, was eventually relocated and reconstructed in Chelsea by conservation architect Walter Godfrey in 1910. Rebuilt in the 1990s, the white stone building stands amid modern brick structures that attempt to recapture the style of More's former manor on 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 cover the former gardens and orchard; Roper's Garden is the park atop one of More's gardens, sunken as his was believed to be. No other remnants exist of the More estate.

Chelsea Old Church

(File:Chelsea Old Church 14.JPG|thumb|Thomas More statue, 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 Christian nations of Europe 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 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 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.WEB,weblink St Katharine's Dock, Exploring East London, 4 November 2015,

St Dunstan's Church and Roper House, 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 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.BOOK, Schulte Herbrüggen, Hubertus, Das Haupt des Thomas Morus in der St. Dunstan-Kirche zu Canterbury, Forschungsberichte des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, 1982, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 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 the deaf.


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 (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)


  • 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)

See also




  • BOOK, Ackroyd, Peter, The Life of Thomas More, 1999, Peter Ackroyd,
  • BOOK, Basset, Bernard, SJ, Born for Friendship: The Spirit of Sir Thomas More, 1965, London, Burns & Oates,
  • BOOK, Berglar, Peter, Peter Berglar, Thomas More: A Lonely Voice against the Power of the State, Scepter Publishers, New York, 2009,weblink 978-1-59417-073-7, (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, {{ISBN|3-925746-78-1}})
  • BOOK, Brady, Charles A., Stage of Fools: A Novel of Sir Thomas More, 1953, Dutton,
  • 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, {{OCLC|1224822|749455885}};
    • Paperback edition by Kessinger Publishing, LLC (26 May 2006) with {{ISBN|1-4286-1904-6}}, {{ISBN|978-1-4286-1904-3}};
    • published in French in Paris by Gabalda, 1920, {{OCLC|369064822}}

(Note: Brémond is frequently cited in Berglar (2009))
  • BOOK, Chambers, RW, Thomas More, 1935, Harcourt, Brace, R.W. Chambers,
  • BOOK, Guy, John, The Public Career of Sir Thomas More, 1980, 978-0-300-02546-0, John Guy (historian),
  • BOOK, Guy, John, 3, Thomas More, 2000, 978-0-340-73138-3,
  • BOOK, Guy, John, 3, A Daughter's Love: Thomas More and His Daughter Meg, 2009,
  • ODNB, 19191, More, Thomas, 2004, 2008, House, Seymour B.,
  • BOOK, Marius, Richard, Thomas More: A Biography, 1984, Richard Marius,
  • BOOK, Marius, Richard, 3, Thomas More: a biography, 1999, Harvard University Press, 978-0-674-88525-7,weblink
  • BOOK, More, Cresacre, The Life of Sir Thomas More by His Great-Grandson,weblink 1828, .
  • BOOK, Phélippeau, Marie-Claire, Thomas More, 2016, Gallimard,
  • BOOK, Reynolds, EE, The Trialet of St Thomas More, 1964,
  • BOOK, Reynolds, EE, Thomas More and Erasmus, 1965, 3,
  • BOOK, Ridley, Jasper, Statesman and Saint: Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas More, and the Politics of Henry VIII, 1983, 0-670-48905-0, Jasper Ridley,
  • {{Citation | last = Roper | first = William | author-link = William Roper (biographer) | title = The Life of Sir Thomas More (1556) | editor1-first = Gerard B | editor1-last = Wegemer | editor2-first = Stephen W | editor2-last = Smith | publisher = Center for Thomas More Studies| year = 2003 | url =weblink | format = PDF}}.
  • {{Citation | last = Stapleton | first = Thomas | author-link = Thomas Stapleton (theologian) | title = The Life and Illustrious Martyrdom of Sir Thomas More (1588) | url =weblink | format = PDF}}.
  • BOOK, Wegemer, Gerard, Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage, 1985, 978-1-889334-12-7, Gerard Wegemer,
  • {{Citation | last = Wegemer | first = Gerard | title = Thomas More on Statesmanship | year = 1996 | author-mask = 3}}.


  • {{Citation | last = Gushurst-Moore | first = André | title = A Man for All Eras: Recent Books on Thomas More | journal = Political Science Reviewer | year = 2004 | volume = 33 | pages = 90–143 }}.
  • {{Citation | last = Guy | first = John | url =weblink | title = The Search for the Historical Thomas More | journal = History Review | year = 2000 | pages = 15+}}.

Primary sources

  • {{Citation | last = More | first = Thomas | author-link = Thomas More | title = Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More | place = New Haven and London | year = 1963–1997}} Amazon links.
  • {{Citation | last = More | first = Thomas | author-mask = 3 | title = Utopia | publisher = Norton | series = Critical Editions | editor1-first = George M | editor1-last = Logan | editor2-first = Robert M | editor2-last = Adams | edition = 3rd | year = 2010}}.
  • {{Citation | last = More | first = Thomas | author-mask = 3 | title = Saint Thomas More: Selected Writings | editor-first = John F | editor-last = Thornton | year = 2003}}.
  • {{Citation |last = More | first = Thomas | author-mask = 3 | title = The Last Letters of Thomas More | editor-first = Álvaro | editor-last = da Silva | year = 2001}}.
  • {{Citation | last = More | first = Thomas | author-mask = 3 | title = A Thomas More Source Book | editor1-first = Gerald B | editor1-last = Wegemer | editor2-first = Stephen W | editor2-last = Smith | year = 2004 | publisher = Catholic University of America Press}}.

External links

{{Wikisource author}}{{Commons category|Thomas More}}
  • {{UK National Archives ID}}
  • {{NPG name|name=Sir Thomas More}}
  • 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
  • {{Gutenberg author | id=More,+Thomas,+Saint+(1478–1535)}}
  • {{Internet Archive author |sname=Thomas More}}
  • {{Librivox author |id=2660}}
  • {{Citation | url =weblink | title = Sir Thomas More: A Man for One Season | type = essay | author-link = James Wood (critic)| first = James | last = Wood}}. Presents a critical view of More's anti-Protestantism
  • weblink" title="">More and The History of Richard III
  • {{Citation | url =weblink | title = Thomas More and his Utopia | first = Karl | last = Kautsky | author-link = Karl Kautsky | publisher = Marxists}}.
  • Thomas More and Utopias – a learning resource from the British Library
  • {{Citation | url =weblink | title = Integrity and Conscience in the Life and Thought of Thomas More | first = Gerard | last = Wegemer | author-link = Gerard Wegemer}}.
  • {{CathEncy | wstitle=St. Thomas More}}
  • 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
  • {{LCAuth|n79056176|Saint Thomas More|186|ue}}
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