Thomas More

Thomas More

Overview
Sir Thomas More also known by Catholics as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman
Statesman
A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...

 and noted Renaissance humanist
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 and, for three years toward the end of his life, Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

. He is recognised as a saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

 within the Catholic Church and is commemorated by the Church of England as a "Reformation martyr". He was an opponent of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 and in particular of Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 and William Tyndale
William Tyndale
William Tyndale was an English scholar and translator who became a leading figure in Protestant reformism towards the end of his life. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and by Martin Luther...

.

More coined the word "utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

" – a name he gave to the ideal and imaginary island nation, the political system of which he described in Utopia
Utopia (book)
Utopia is a work of fiction by Thomas More published in 1516...

published in 1516.
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Unanswered Questions
Quotations

Now there was a young gentleman which had married a merchant's wife. And having a little wanton money, which him thought burned out the bottom of his purse, in the first year of his wedding took his wife with him and went over sea, for none other errand but to see Flanders and France and ride out one summer in those countries.

Works (c. 1530) Sometimes paraphrased "A little wanton money, which burned out the bottom of his purse."

For men use, if they have an evil turn, to write it in marble: and whoso doth us a good turn we write it in dust.

Richard III and His Miserable End (1543)

And when the devil hath seen that they have set so little by him, after certain essays, made in such times as he thought most fitting, he hath given that temptation quite over. And this he doth not only because the proud spirit cannot endure to be mocked, but also lest, with much tempting the man to the sin to which he could not in conclusion bring him, he should much increase his merit.

Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation (1553), Book Two, Section XVI

See me safe up: for in my coming down, I can shift for myself.

On ascending the platform to his execution, as quoted in History of England (1856-1870) by James Anthony Froude|James Anthony Froude

This hath not offended the king.

As he drew his beard aside upon placing his head on the block. As quoted in Apothegms by Francis Bacon, no. 22 :s:Utopia|Full text at Wikisource
Encyclopedia
Sir Thomas More also known by Catholics as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman
Statesman
A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...

 and noted Renaissance humanist
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 and, for three years toward the end of his life, Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

. He is recognised as a saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

 within the Catholic Church and is commemorated by the Church of England as a "Reformation martyr". He was an opponent of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 and in particular of Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 and William Tyndale
William Tyndale
William Tyndale was an English scholar and translator who became a leading figure in Protestant reformism towards the end of his life. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and by Martin Luther...

.

More coined the word "utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

" – a name he gave to the ideal and imaginary island nation, the political system of which he described in Utopia
Utopia (book)
Utopia is a work of fiction by Thomas More published in 1516...

published in 1516. He opposed the king's separation from the Catholic Church and refused to accept the king as Supreme Head
Supreme Head
Supreme Head of the Church of England was a title held by King Henry VIII of England signifying his leadership of the Church of England.-History:...

 of the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, a status the king had been given by a compliant parliament through the Act of Supremacy of 1534
Acts of Supremacy
The first Act of Supremacy was a piece of legislation that granted King Henry VIII of England Royal Supremacy, which means that he was declared the supreme head of the Church of England. It is still the legal authority of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom...

. He was imprisoned in 1534 for his refusal to take the oath required by the First Succession Act because the act disparaged the power of the Pope and Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon , also known as Katherine or Katharine, was Queen consort of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII of England and Princess of Wales as the wife to Arthur, Prince of Wales...

. In 1535, he was tried for treason, convicted on perjured testimony and beheaded.

Intellectuals and statesmen across Europe were stunned by More's execution. Erasmus saluted him as one "whose soul was more pure than any snow". Two centuries later Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

 said he was "the person of the greatest virtue this kingdom ever produced", a sentiment with which Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

 agreed. Historian Hugh Trevor-Roper said in 1977 that More was "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." The Catholic Church proclaimed him a saint in 1935. The Franciscan order has the tradition that he was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis
Third Order of St. Francis
The Third Order of St. Francis is a third order within the Franciscan movement of the Roman Catholic Church. It includes both congregations of vowed men and women and fraternities of men and women living standard lives in the world, usually married...

 and venerates his memory as a member of the order.

Early life



Born in Milk Street in London on 7 February 1478, Thomas More was the son of Sir John More
Sir John More
Sir John More was a London lawyer and later judge, notable for being the father of Thomas More, Henry VIII's lord chancellor.He entered Lincoln's Inn in either 1470 or 75, was called to be a serjeant-at-law in 1503, a justice of assize in 1513, a justice of the common pleas in 1518, and finally to...

, a successful lawyer, and his wife Agnes (née Graunger). More was educated at St Anthony's School, considered one of the finest schools in London at that time. He later spent the years 1490 to 1492 as a page in the household service of John Morton, the Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

 and Lord Chancellor of England. Morton enthusiastically supported the "New Learning
New Learning
In the history of ideas the New Learning in Europe is a term for Renaissance humanism, developed in the later fifteenth century. Newly retrieved classical texts sparked philological study of a refined and classical Latin style in prose and poetry....

" of the Renaissance, and thought highly of the young More. Believing that More showed great potential, Morton nominated him for a place at Oxford University (either in St. Mary's Hall (Oriel) or Canterbury College
Canterbury College, Oxford
Canterbury College, Oxford was a University of Oxford college owned and run by Christ Church Priory, Canterbury. The Priory first sent 4 monks to study in Oxford in 1311, in a hall it had bought there near the church of St. Peter-in-the-East, but the actual college was founded in 1362 by Simon...

), where More began his studies in 1492. More may have lived and studied at nearby St. Mary’s Hall. Both Canterbury College and St Mary’s Hall have since disappeared; part of Christ Church College is on the site of Canterbury, and part of Oriel College is on the site of St Mary’s. More received a classical education at Oxford and was a pupil of Thomas Linacre
Thomas Linacre
Thomas Linacre was a humanist scholar and physician, after whom Linacre College, Oxford and Linacre House The King's School, Canterbury are named....

 and William Grocyn
William Grocyn
William Grocyn was an English scholar, a friend of Erasmus.He was born at Colerne, Wiltshire. Intended by his parents for the church, he was sent to Winchester College, and in 1465 was elected to a scholarship at New College, Oxford. In 1467 he became a fellow, and among his pupils was William...

, becoming proficient in both Greek and Latin. He left Oxford in 1494 – after only two years – at the insistence of his father, to begin his legal training in London at New Inn, one of the Inns of Chancery. In 1496, he 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.

According to his friend, the theologian Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, More once seriously contemplated abandoning his legal career to become a monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

. 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 the piety of the monks, he ultimately decided on the life of a layman upon his marriage and election to Parliament in 1504. In spite of his choice to pursue a secular career, More continued to observe certain ascetical practices for the rest of his life, such as wearing a hair shirt
Cilice
A cilice was originally a garment or undergarment made of coarse cloth or animal hair used in some religious traditions to induce some degree of discomfort or pain as a sign of repentance and atonement...

 next to his skin and occasionally engaging in flagellation
Flagellation
Flagellation or flogging is the act of methodically beating or whipping the human body. Specialised implements for it include rods, switches, the cat o' nine tails and the sjambok...

.

Family life


More married Jane Colt in 1505. She was nearly ten years his junior and was said by More's friends to be quiet and good-natured. Erasmus reported that More had taken an interest early on in giving his young wife a better education than she had previously received at home, and became a personal tutor to her in the areas of music and literature. More had four children with Jane: Margaret
Margaret Roper
Margaret Roper was an English writer and translator. She was the daughter of Thomas More and wife of William Roper. During More's imprisonment in the Tower of London, she was a frequent visitor to his cell, along with her husband.Roper married William Roper in 1521 in Eltham, Kent...

, Elizabeth, Cicely, and John. When Jane died in 1511, More remarried almost immediately, choosing as his second wife a rich widow named Alice Middleton. Alice More did not enjoy the reputation for docility that her predecessor had and was instead known as a strong and outspoken woman. More's friend Andrew Ammonius derided Alice as a "hook-nosed harpy", although Erasmus attested that the marriage was a happy one. More and Alice did not have children together, although More raised Alice's daughter from her previous marriage as his own. More became the guardian of a young girl named Anne Cresacre, who would eventually marry his son, John More. More was an affectionate father who wrote letters to his children whenever he was away on legal or government business, and encouraged them to write to him often.

More took a serious interest in the education of women, an attitude that was highly unusual at the time. Believing women to be just as capable of academic accomplishment as men, More insisted upon giving his daughters the same classical education given to his son. The academic star of the family was More's eldest daughter Margaret, who attracted much admiration for her erudition, especially her fluency in Greek and Latin. More recounted a moment of such admiration in a letter to Margaret in September 1522, when the Bishop of Exeter was shown a letter written by Margaret to More:
The success More enjoyed in educating his daughters set an example for other noble families. Even Erasmus became much more favourable towards the idea once he witnessed the accomplishments of More's daughters.

Early political career


In 1504 he was elected to Parliament to represent Great Yarmouth
Great Yarmouth (UK Parliament constituency)
Great Yarmouth is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election....

 and in 1510 to represent London.

From 1510, More served as one of the two undersheriff
Undersheriff
An Undersheriff is an office derived from ancient British practice and still extant in, among other places, the United Kingdom and the United States, though somewhat different forms.-United States:...

s of the City of London
City of London
The City of London is a small area within Greater London, England. It is the historic core of London around which the modern conurbation grew and has held city status since time immemorial. The City’s boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, and it is now only a tiny part of...

, a position of considerable responsibility in which he earned a reputation as an honest and effective public servant. More became Master of Requests
Master of Requests
The Master of Requests was a Great Officer of State in Scotland.The office first appeared in the reign of James V. Its functions in Scotland included that of receiving petitions from subjects and presenting them for consideration by the Privy Council...

 in 1514, the same year in which he was appointed as a Privy Councillor, a member of His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council. After undertaking a diplomatic mission to the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

, Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

, accompanying Thomas Wolsey to Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

 and Bruges
Bruges
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country....

, More was knighted and made under-treasurer of the Exchequer in 1521.

As secretary and personal adviser to King Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

, More became increasingly influential in the government, welcoming foreign diplomats, drafting official documents, and serving as a liaison between the king and his Lord Chancellor: Thomas Wolsey, the Cardinal
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

 Archbishop of York
Archbishop of York
The Archbishop of York is a high-ranking cleric in the Church of England, second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of York and metropolitan of the Province of York, which covers the northern portion of England as well as the Isle of Man...

.

In 1523 he was elected as knight of the shire (MP) for Middlesex
Middlesex (UK Parliament constituency)
Middlesex is a former United Kingdom Parliamentary constituency. It was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1885....

 and, recommended by Wolsey, was elected the Speaker of the House of Commons
House of Commons of England
The House of Commons of England was the lower house of the Parliament of England from its development in the 14th century to the union of England and Scotland in 1707, when it was replaced by the House of Commons of Great Britain...

.

He later served as High Steward
High Steward (academia)
The High Steward in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge is a once-important but now largely ceremonial university official...

 for the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In 1525 he became chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is, in modern times, a ministerial office in the government of the United Kingdom that includes as part of its duties, the administration of the estates and rents of the Duchy of Lancaster...

, a position that entailed administrative and judicial control of much of northern England.

Scholarly and literary work


Between 1512 and 1519, Thomas More worked on a History of King Richard III, which was never finished, but which greatly influenced William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's play Richard III
Richard III (play)
Richard III is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1591. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England. The play is grouped among the histories in the First Folio and is most often classified...

. Both More's and Shakespeare's works are controversial to contemporary historians for their unflattering portrait of King Richard III, a bias partly due to both authors' allegiance to the reigning Tudor dynasty
Tudor dynasty
The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor was a European royal house of Welsh origin that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including the Lordship of Ireland, later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch was Henry Tudor, a descendant through his mother of a legitimised...

 that wrested the throne from Richard III in the Wars of the Roses
Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York...

. More's work, however, little mentions King Henry VII
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

, the first Tudor king, perhaps for having persecuted his father, Sir John More. Some historians see an attack on royal tyranny, rather than on Richard III himself or on the House of York
House of York
The House of York was a branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet, three members of which became English kings in the late 15th century. The House of York was descended in the paternal line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III, but also represented...

.

The History of King Richard III is a Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 history, remarkable more for its literary skill and adherence to classical precepts than for its historical accuracy. More's work, and that of contemporary historian Polydore Vergil
Polydore Vergil
Polydore Vergil was an Italian historian, otherwise known as PV Castellensis. He is better known as the contemporary historian during the early Tudor dynasty. He was hired by King Henry VIII of England, who wanted to distance himself from his father Henry VII as much as possible, to document...

, reflects a move from mundane medieval chronicles to a dramatic writing style; for example, the shadowy King Richard is an outstanding, archetypal tyrant drawn from the pages of Sallust
Sallust
Gaius Sallustius Crispus, generally known simply as Sallust , a Roman historian, belonged to a well-known plebeian family, and was born at Amiternum in the country of the Sabines...

, and should be read as a meditation on power and corruption as well as a history of the reign of Richard III. The History of King Richard III was written and published in both English and Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, each written separately, and with information deleted from the Latin edition to suit a European readership.

Utopia


More sketched out his best known and most controversial work,
Utopia
Utopia (book)
Utopia is a work of fiction by Thomas More published in 1516...

(completed and published in 1516), a novel in Latin. In it a traveller, Raphael Hythlodeaus (in Greek, his name and surname allude to archangel Raphael, purveyor of truth, and mean "speaker of nonsense"), describes the political arrangements of the imaginary island country of Utopia (Greek pun on ou-topos [no place], eu-topos [good place]) to himself and to Pieter Gillis
Pieter Gillis
Pieter Gillis , known by his anglicised name Peter Giles and sometimes the Latinised Petrus Ægidius, was a humanist, printer, and registrar for the city of Antwerp in the early sixteenth century...

. This novel describes the city of Amaurote by saying, "Of them all this is the worthiest and of most dignity".

Utopia contrasts the contentious social life of European states with the perfectly orderly, reasonable social arrangements of Utopia and its environs (Tallstoria, Nolandia, and Aircastle). In Utopia, with communal ownership of land, private property does not exist, men and women are educated alike, and there is almost complete religious toleration
Religious toleration
Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow”. It has also been defined as "to bear or endure" or "to nourish, sustain or preserve"...

. Some take the novel's principal message to be the social need for order and discipline rather than liberty. The country of Utopia tolerates different religious practices but does not tolerate atheists. Hythlodeaus theorises that if a man did not believe in a god or in an afterlife he could never be trusted, because he would not acknowledge any authority or principle outside himself.

More used the novel describing an imaginary nation as a means of freely discussing contemporary controversial matters; speculatively, he based Utopia on monastic communalism, based upon the Biblical communalism in the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

.

Utopia is a forerunner of the utopian literary genre, wherein ideal societies and perfect cities are detailed. Although Utopianism is typically a Renaissance movement, combining the classical concepts of perfect societies of Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 with Roman rhetorical finesse (cf. Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

, Quintilian
Quintilian
Marcus Fabius Quintilianus was a Roman rhetorician from Hispania, widely referred to in medieval schools of rhetoric and in Renaissance writing...

, epideictic
Epideictic
The Epideictic oratory, also called ceremonial oratory, or praise-and-blame rhetoric, is one of the three branches, or "species" , of rhetoric as outlined in Aristotle's Rhetoric, to be used to praise or blame during ceremonies....

 oratory), it continued into the Enlightenment.
Utopias original edition included the symmetrical "Utopian alphabet" that was omitted from later editions; it is a notable, early attempt at cryptography
Cryptography
Cryptography is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties...

 that might have influenced the development of shorthand
Shorthand
Shorthand is an abbreviated symbolic writing method that increases speed or brevity of writing as compared to a normal method of writing a language. The process of writing in shorthand is called stenography, from the Greek stenos and graphē or graphie...

.

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

Religious polemics


In 1520 the reformer Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 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 works Luther set out his doctrine of salvation through grace alone, rejected certain Catholic practices, and attacked the abuses and excesses of the Catholic Church. In 1521, Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 responded to Luther’s criticisms with a work known as the Assertio, written with the editorial assistance of More. In light of this work, Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X , born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was the Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He was the last non-priest to be elected Pope. He is known for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica and his challenging of Martin Luther's 95 Theses...

 rewarded Henry VIII with the title Fidei defensor (“Defender of the Faith”) for his efforts in combating Luther’s heresies.

Martin Luther then attacked Henry VIII in print, calling him a “pig, dolt, and liar”. At the request of Henry VIII, More set about composing a rebuttal: the resulting Responsio ad Lutherum was published at the end of 1523. In the Responsio, More defended the supremacy of the papacy, the sacraments, and other church traditions. More’s language, like Luther’s, was virulent, and he branded Luther an “ape”, a “drunkard”, and a “lousy little friar” amongst other insults.

This confrontation with Luther confirmed More’s theological conservatism, and from then on his work was devoid of all hints of criticism of Church authority. In 1528, More produced another religious polemic, A Dialogue Concerning Heresies that asserted that the Catholic Church was the one true Church, whose authority had been established by Christ and the Apostles, and that its traditions and practices were valid. In 1529, the circulation of Simon Fish
Simon Fish
Simon Fish was a 16th century Protestant reformer and English propagandist. Fish is best known for helping to spread William Tyndale’s New Testament and for authoring the vehemently anti-clerical pamphlet Supplication for the Beggars which was condemned as heretical by the Roman Catholic Church...

’s Supplication for the Beggars provoked a response from More entitled, The Supplication of Souls.

In 1531, William Tyndale
William Tyndale
William Tyndale was an English scholar and translator who became a leading figure in Protestant reformism towards the end of his life. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and by Martin Luther...

 published An Answer unto Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue in response to More’s Dialogue Concerning Heresies. After having read Tyndale’s work, More wrote his half-a-million-word-long Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer over the next several months. The Confutation is written as a dialogue between More and Tyndale in which More responds to each of Tyndale’s criticisms of Catholic rites and doctrines. These literary battles convinced More, who valued structure, tradition, and order in society above all else, that Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 and the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 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. However, as in the case of his friend Erasmus of Rotterdam, only a small portion of his correspondence (about 280 letters), survived. These letters include everything from personal letters to official government correspondence (mostly in English), letters to fellow humanist scholars (in Latin), including several epistolary tracts, verse epistles, prefatory letters (some fictional) to several of More's own works, letters to his children and their tutors (in Latin), and the so-called "Prison-Letters" (in English) which he exchanged with his oldest daughter, Margaret Roper
Margaret Roper
Margaret Roper was an English writer and translator. She was the daughter of Thomas More and wife of William Roper. During More's imprisonment in the Tower of London, she was a frequent visitor to his cell, along with her husband.Roper married William Roper in 1521 in Eltham, Kent...

 while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

 awaiting execution.

More wrote about the more spiritual aspects of religion. This is how he wrote A Treatise on the Passion (Treatise on the Passion of Christ), A Treatise to Receive the Blessed Body (Holy Body Treaty), and De Tristitia Christi (The Agony of Christ), which reads his own hand in the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

 at the time he was confined before his beheading on 6 July 1535. This last manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

, saved from the confiscation decreed by Henry VIII, passed by the will of his daughter Margaret to Spanish hands and through Fray Pedro de Soto, confessor of Emperor Charles V, went to Valencia, home of Luis Vives, a close friend of More. Now kept in the collection of Real Colegio Seminario del Corpus Christi Museum in Valencia, Spain.

Chancellorship


After Wolsey fell, More succeeded to the office of Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

 in 1529. He dispatched cases with unprecedented rapidity. Fully devoted to Henry and the royal prerogative
Royal Prerogative
The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity, recognized in common law and, sometimes, in civil law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy as belonging to the sovereign alone. It is the means by which some of the executive powers of government, possessed by and...

, More initially co-operated with the king's new policy, denouncing Wolsey in Parliament and joining the opinion of the theologians at Oxford and Cambridge that the marriage of Henry to Catherine had been unlawful. But as Henry began to deny the authority of the Pope, More's qualms grew.

Campaign against the Reformation



More supported the Catholic Church and saw the Reformation
Reformation
- Movements :* Protestant Reformation, an attempt by Martin Luther to reform the Roman Catholic Church that resulted in a schism, and grew into a wider movement...

 as heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

, a threat to the unity of both church and society. Believing in the theology, polemics, and ecclesiastical laws of the Church, More "heard Luther's call to destroy the Catholic Church as a call to war."

His early actions against the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 included aiding Wolsey in preventing Lutheran books from being imported into England, spying on and investigating suspected Protestants, especially publishers, and arresting any one holding in his possession, transporting, or selling the books of the Protestant reformation. More vigorously suppressed the travelling country ministers who used Tyndale's
William Tyndale
William Tyndale was an English scholar and translator who became a leading figure in Protestant reformism towards the end of his life. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and by Martin Luther...

 English translation of the New Testament
Tyndale Bible
The Tyndale Bible generally refers to the body of biblical translations by William Tyndale. Tyndale’s Bible is credited with being the first English translation to work directly from Hebrew and Greek texts. Furthermore it was the first English biblical translation that was mass produced as a result...

. This English language translation of the Bible challenged the Catholic monopoly of reading the Latin Bible. It contained translations of certain words—for example Tyndale used "elder" rather than "priest" for the Greek "presbuteros"—and some footnotes which challenged Catholic Doctrine. It was during this time that most of his literary polemics appeared.

Rumours circulated both during More's lifetime and posthumously regarding the treatment of heretics during his time as Lord Chancellor. The popular anti-Catholic polemicist John Foxe
John Foxe
John Foxe was an English historian and martyrologist, the author of what is popularly known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs, , an account of Christian martyrs throughout Western history but emphasizing the sufferings of English Protestants and proto-Protestants from the fourteenth century through the...

, who "placed Protestant sufferings against the background of... the Antichrist" was instrumental in spreading rumours of torture in his famous Book of Martyrs
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
The Book of Martyrs, by John Foxe, more accurately Acts and Monuments, is an account from a Protestant point of view of Christian church history and martyrology...

, claiming that More had often personally used violence or torture while interrogating heretics. More current Protestant authors, such as Brian Moynahan
Brian Moynahan
Brian Moynahan is an English journalist and historical writer. He graduated from the University of Cambridge in history with first class honours. After this time he became a journalist with The Yorkshire Post, Town Magazine, and The Times. He was also European Editor of The Sunday Times...

 and Michael Farris, continue to cite Foxe as a source when repeating these allegations in their own respective works. More himself denied these allegations:
In total there were six heretics burned at the stake during More's Chancellorship: Thomas Hitton
Thomas Hitton
Thomas Hitton is generally considered to be the first English Protestant martyr of the Reformation, although the followers of Wycliffe, the Lollards had been burnt at the stake as recently as 1519. . Hitton was a priest who had joined William Tyndale and the English exiles in the Low Countries...

, Thomas Bilney
Thomas Bilney
Thomas Bilney was an English Christian martyr.- Education :Bilney was born in or after 1495 at or near Norwich. He was educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, graduating LL.B. and taking holy orders in 1519...

, Richard Bayfield
Richard Bayfield
Richard Bayfield was an English Protestant martyr. A graduate of the University of Cambridge, he became a Benedictine monk. Whilst acting as Chamberlain of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, he was approached by the Protestant reformer Robert Barnes and given a copy of the New Testament translated into...

, John Tewkesbery, Thomas Dusgate, and James Bainham
James Bainham
James Bainham was an English lawyer and Protestant reformer, burned as a heretic in 1532.-Life:He was, according to John Foxe, a son of Sir Alexander Bainham, who was sheriff of Gloucestershire in 1497, 1501, and 1516; he was a nephew of William Tracy. He was a member of the Middle Temple, and...

. 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 as well as Protestants during the religious upheaval of the following decades. Ackroyd notes that More explicitly "approved of Burning" After the case of John Tewkesbury, a London leather-seller found guilty by More of harbouring banned books and sentenced to burning for refusing to recant, More declared: he "burned as there was neuer wretche I wene better worthy."

Historians have been long divided over More's religious actions as Chancellor. While biographers such as 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, other equally eminent historians, such as Richard Marius
Richard Marius
Richard Curry Marius was an American academic and writer.He was a scholar of the Reformation, novelist of the American South, speechwriter, and teacher of writing and English literature at Harvard University...

, have been more critical, believing that such persecutions were a betrayal of More's earlier humanist convictions. As Marius writes in his biography of More: "To stand before a man at an inquisition, knowing that he will rejoice when we die, knowing that he will commit us to the stake and its horrors without a moment's hesitation or remorse if we do not satisfy him, is not an experience much less cruel because our inquisitor does not whip us or rack us or shout at us."

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 Papal throne over that of his King. In 1530, More refused to sign a letter by the leading English churchmen and aristocrats asking the Pope to annul Henry's marriage to Catherine, and furthermore, quarrelled with Henry VIII over the heresy laws. In 1531, Henry had isolated More by purging most clergy who supported the Papal stance from senior positions in the Church. In addition, Henry had solidified his denial of the Papacy's control of England by passing the Statute of Praemunire
Praemunire
In English history, Praemunire or Praemunire facias was a law that prohibited the assertion or maintenance of papal jurisdiction, imperial or foreign, or some other alien jurisdiction or claim of supremacy in England, against the supremacy of the Monarch...

 which forbade appeals to the Roman Curia
Roman Curia
The Roman Curia is the administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church, together with the Pope...

 from England. Realizing his isolated position, More attempted to resign after being forced to take an oath declaring the king the Supreme Head of the English Church "as far as the law of Christ allows". Furthermore, the Statute of Praemunire made it a crime to support in public or office the claims of the Papacy. Thus, he refused to take the oath in the form in which it would renounce all claims of jurisdiction over the church except the sovereign's. Nonetheless, the reputation and influence of More as well as his long relationship with Henry, kept his life secure for the time being and consequently, he was not relieved of office. However, with his supporters in court quickly disappearing, in 1532 he asked the king again to relieve him of his office, claiming that he was ill and suffering from sharp chest pains. This time Henry granted his request.

Trial and execution



In 1533, More refused to attend the coronation
Coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

 of Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn ;c.1501/1507 – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of Henry VIII of England and Marquess of Pembroke in her own right. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the...

 as the Queen of England
Queen consort
A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king. A queen consort usually shares her husband's rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles. Historically, queens consort do not share the king regnant's political and military powers. Most queens in history were queens consort...

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

Shortly thereafter, More was charged with accepting bribes, but the patently false charges had to be dismissed for lack of any evidence, given More's reputation as a judge who could not be bribed. In early 1534, More was accused of conspiring with the "Holy Maid of Kent," Elizabeth Barton
Elizabeth Barton
Sr. Elizabeth Barton was an English Catholic nun...

, a nun who had prophesied against the king's annulment, but More was able to produce a letter in which he had instructed Barton not to interfere with state matters.

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
Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn ;c.1501/1507 – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of Henry VIII of England and Marquess of Pembroke in her own right. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the...

 the legitimate queen of England, but he steadfastly refused to take the oath of supremacy of the Crown in the relationship between the Kingdom and the Church in England. Holding fast to the ancient teaching of Papal supremacy
Papal supremacy
Papal supremacy refers to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church that the pope, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ and as pastor of the entire Christian Church, has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered: that, in brief,...

, More refused to take the oath and furthermore publicly refused to uphold Henry's annulment from Catherine. John Fisher
John Fisher
Saint John Fisher was an English Roman Catholic scholastic, bishop, cardinal and martyr. He shares his feast day with Saint Thomas More on 22 June in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and 6 July on the Church of England calendar of saints...

, Bishop of Rochester, refused the oath along with More. The oath reads:
With his refusal to support the King's annulment, More's enemies had enough evidence to have the King arrest him on treason. Four days later, Henry had More imprisoned in the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

. There More prepared a devotional Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation. While More was imprisoned in the Tower, Thomas Cromwell
Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex
Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, , was an English statesman who served as chief minister of King Henry VIII of England from 1532 to 1540....

 made several visits, urging More to take the oath, which More continued to refuse.

On 1 July 1535, More was tried before a panel of judges that included the new Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Audley
Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden
Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden, KG, PC, KS , Lord Chancellor of England, born in Earls Colne, Essex, the son of Geoffrey Audley, is believed to have studied at Buckingham College, Cambridge...

, as well as Anne Boleyn's father
Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire
Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, KG was an English diplomat and politician in the Tudor era. He was born at the family home, Hever Castle, Kent, which had been purchased by his grandfather Geoffrey Boleyn, who was a wealthy mercer. He was buried at St. Peter's parish church in the village of...

, brother, and uncle. He was charged with high treason
High treason
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one's government. Participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state are perhaps...

 for denying the validity of the Act of Succession. More, relying on legal precedent and the maxim "qui tacet consentire videtur" (silence presumes consent), 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. Thomas Cromwell, at the time the most powerful of the king's advisors, brought forth the Solicitor General
Solicitor General for England and Wales
Her Majesty's Solicitor General for England and Wales, often known as the Solicitor General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown, and the deputy of the Attorney General, whose duty is to advise the Crown and Cabinet on the law...

, Richard Rich
Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich
Sir Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich , was Lord Chancellor during the reign of King Edward VI of England. He was the founder of Felsted School with its associated alms houses in Essex in 1564....

, to testify that More had, in his presence, denied that the king was the legitimate head of the church. This testimony was 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." However, the jury knew where their own best interests lay, and took only fifteen minutes to find More guilty.

More was tried, and found guilty, under the following section of the Treason Act 1534:
After the jury's verdict was delivered and before his sentencing, More spoke freely of his belief that "no temporal man may be the head of the spirituality". He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered (the usual punishment for traitors who were not the nobility), but the king commuted this to execution by decapitation. The execution took place on 6 July 1535. When he came to mount the steps to the scaffold, he is widely quoted as saying (to the officials): "I pray you, I pray you, Mr Lieutenant, see me safe up and for my coming down, I can shift for myself"; while on the scaffold he declared that he died "the king's good servant, but God's first."

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 daughter Margaret Giggs be given his headless corpse to bury. 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
London Bridge
London Bridge is a bridge over the River Thames, connecting the City of London and Southwark, in central London. Situated between Cannon Street Railway Bridge and Tower Bridge, it forms the western end of the Pool of London...

 for a month, according to the normal custom for traitors. His daughter Margaret (Meg) Roper
Margaret Roper
Margaret Roper was an English writer and translator. She was the daughter of Thomas More and wife of William Roper. During More's imprisonment in the Tower of London, she was a frequent visitor to his cell, along with her husband.Roper married William Roper in 1521 in Eltham, Kent...

 rescued it, possibly by bribery, before it could be thrown in the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

.

The skull is believed to rest in the Roper Vault of St Dunstan's Church, Canterbury
St. Dunstan's, Canterbury
St. Dunstan's is a church dedicated to St. Dunstan in Canterbury, Kent, slightly out of the city centre. The parish has been held in plurality with others nearby at different times, in a way that is confusing and difficult to document. In 2010 the parish was joined with the parishes of the City...

, though some researchers have claimed it might be within the tomb he erected for himself in Chelsea Old Church (see below). The evidence, however, seems to be in favour of its placement in St Dunstan's, with the remains of his daughter, Margaret Roper, and her husband's family, whose vault it was.

Among other surviving relics is his hair shirt
Cilice
A cilice was originally a garment or undergarment made of coarse cloth or animal hair used in some religious traditions to induce some degree of discomfort or pain as a sign of repentance and atonement...

, presented for safe keeping by Margaret Clements (1508–70), his adopted daughter. This was long in the custody of the community of Augustinian canonesses who until 1983 lived at the convent at Abbotskerswell Priory
Abbotskerswell Priory
Abbotskerswell Priory, on the outskirts of the village of Abbotskerswell, near Newton Abbot, Devon, England, was the home of a community of Augustinian nuns from 1861 until 1983. It has now been converted into apartments for elderly people....

, Devon. It is now preserved at Syon Abbey, near South Brent
South Brent
South Brent is a large village on the southern edge of Dartmoor, England, in the valley of the River Avon, population 2998 , 8 km north-east of Ivybridge, and next to the Devon Expressway which connects Exeter to the north-east and Plymouth to the west.-History:It was originally a woollen...

.

Canonisation


More was beatified
Beatification
Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name . Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process...

 by Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII , born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci to an Italian comital family, was the 256th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903...

 in 1886 and canonised, with John Fisher
John Fisher
Saint John Fisher was an English Roman Catholic scholastic, bishop, cardinal and martyr. He shares his feast day with Saint Thomas More on 22 June in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and 6 July on the Church of England calendar of saints...

, on 19 May 1935 by Pope Pius XI, and his feast day was established as 9 July. This day is still observed as his feast day by traditional [Latin Mass] Catholics. Following a series of post-Vatican II reforms, his feast day was changed and his name was added to the Roman Catholic calendar of saints
Roman Catholic calendar of saints
The General Roman Calendar indicates the days of the year to which are assigned the liturgical celebrations of saints and of the mysteries of the Lord that are to be observed wherever the Roman Rite is used...

 in 1970 for celebration on 22 June jointly with St John Fisher, the only remaining Bishop (owing to the coincident natural deaths of eight aged bishops) who, during the English Reformation
English Reformation
The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....

, maintained, at the King's mercy, allegiance to the Pope. In 2000, Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 declared More the "heavenly patron of statesmen and politicians". In 1980, More was added to the Church of England's calendar of Saints and Heroes of the Christian Church, jointly with John Fisher
John Fisher
Saint John Fisher was an English Roman Catholic scholastic, bishop, cardinal and martyr. He shares his feast day with Saint Thomas More on 22 June in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and 6 July on the Church of England calendar of saints...

. More is commemorated on 6 July.

Influence and reputation


The steadfastness and courage with which More held on to his religious convictions in the face of ruin and death and the dignity with which he conducted himself during his imprisonment, trial, and execution, contributed much to More's posthumous reputation, particularly among Catholics. Many historians argue that his conviction for treason was unjust, and even among some Protestants his execution was viewed as heavy-handed. 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." When he knew of the 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."

More was greatly admired by the Anglican writer Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

. Swift wrote that More was "a person of the greatest virtue this kingdom ever produced". Samuel Johnson is often cited as the origin of that quote, but mistakenly: it is not to be found in his writings or recorded by Boswell.

The English Roman Catholic writer G. K. Chesterton
G. K. Chesterton
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, KC*SG was an English writer. His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction....

 said of More that "He may come to be counted the greatest Englishman, or at least the greatest historical character in English history."

Popular culture


More was portrayed as a wise and honest statesman in the 1592 play Sir Thomas More
Sir Thomas More (play)
Sir Thomas More is a collaborative Elizabethan play by Anthony Munday and others depicting the life and death of Thomas More. It survives only in a single manuscript, now owned by the British Library...

, which was probably written in collaboration by Henry Chettle
Henry Chettle
Henry Chettle was an English dramatist and miscellaneous writer of the Elizabethan era.The son of Robert Chettle, a London dyer, he was apprenticed in 1577 and became a member of the Stationer's Company in 1584, traveling to Cambridge on their behalf in 1588. His career as a printer and author is...

, Anthony Munday
Anthony Munday
Anthony Munday was an English dramatist and miscellaneous writer. The chief interest in Munday for the modern reader lies in his collaboration with Shakespeare and others on the play Sir Thomas More and his writings on Robin Hood.-Biography:He was once thought to have been born in 1553, because...

, William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

, and others, and which survives only in fragmentary form after being censored by Edmund Tylney, Master of the Revels
Master of the Revels
The Master of the Revels was a position within the English, and later the British, royal household heading the "Revels Office" or "Office of the Revels" that originally had responsibilities for overseeing royal festivities, known as revels, and later also became responsible for stage censorship,...

 in the government of Queen Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 (any direct reference to the Act of Supremacy was censored out).

As the author of Utopia, More has attracted the admiration of modern socialists. While Catholic scholars maintain that More's attitude in composing Utopia was largely ironic and that he was an orthodox Christian, Marxist theoretician Karl Kautsky
Karl Kautsky
Karl Johann Kautsky was a Czech-German philosopher, journalist, and Marxist theoretician. Kautsky was recognized as among the most authoritative promulgators of Orthodox Marxism after the death of Friedrich Engels in 1895 until the coming of World War I in 1914 and was called by some the "Pope of...

 argued in the book Thomas More and his Utopia (1888) that Utopia was a shrewd critique of economic and social exploitation in pre-modern Europe and that More was one of the key intellectual figures in the early development of socialist ideas. Others have seen in it an attempt at mythologising Indian cultures in the New World during a time when the Catholic Church was still debating over how to view the decidedly anti-Christian cultures of the Indians.

The 20th-century agnostic
Agnosticism
Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable....

 playwright Robert Bolt
Robert Bolt
Robert Oxton Bolt, CBE was an English playwright and a two-time Oscar winning screenwriter.-Career:He was born in Sale, Cheshire. At Manchester Grammar School his affinity for Sir Thomas More first developed. He attended the University of Manchester, and, after war service, the University of...

 portrayed Thomas More as the tragic hero
Tragic hero
A tragic hero is the main character in a tragedy. Tragic heroes appear in the dramatic works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Seneca, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Webster, Marston, Corneille, Racine, Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Strindberg, and many other writers.-Aristotle's tragic hero:Aristotle...

 of his 1960 play A Man for All Seasons
A Man for All Seasons
A Man for All Seasons is a play by Robert Bolt. An early form of the play had been written for BBC Radio in 1954, and a one-hour live television version starring Bernard Hepton was produced in 1957 by the BBC, but after Bolt's success with The Flowering Cherry, he reworked it for the stage.It was...

. The title being drawn from what Robert Whittington
Robert Whittington
Robert Whittington was an English grammarian. He was a pupil of the grammarian John Stanbridge....

 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 was made into the successful film A Man for All Seasons
A Man for All Seasons (1966 film)
A Man for All Seasons is a 1966 film based on Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons about Sir Thomas More. It was released on December 12, 1966. Paul Scofield, who had played More in the West End stage premiere, also took the role in the film. It was directed by Fred Zinnemann, who had...

 directed by Fred Zinnemann
Fred Zinnemann
Fred Zinnemann was an Austrian-American film director. He won four Academy Awards and directed films like High Noon, From Here to Eternity and A Man for All Seasons.-Life and career:...

, adapted for the screen by the playwright himself, and starring Paul Scofield
Paul Scofield
David Paul Scofield, CH, CBE , better known as Paul Scofield, was an English actor of stage and screen...

 in an Oscar
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

-winning performance. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture
Academy Award for Best Picture
The Academy Award for Best Picture is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to artists working in the motion picture industry. The Best Picture category is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible not only...

 for that year. In 1988, Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston was an American actor of film, theatre and television. Heston is known for heroic roles in films such as The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, El Cid, and Planet of the Apes...

 starred and directed in a made-for-television film that followed Bolt's original play almost verbatim, restoring for example the commentaries of "the common man".

Catholic science fiction writer R. A. Lafferty
R. A. Lafferty
Raphael Aloysius Lafferty was an American science fiction and fantasy writer known for his original use of language, metaphor, and narrative structure, as well as for his etymological wit...

 wrote his novel Past Master
Past Master (novel)
Past Master is a novel by science fiction writer R. A. Lafferty. It was first published in 1968, and was nominated for the 1968 Nebula award and the 1969 Hugo award...

as a modern equivalent to More's Utopia, which he saw as a satire. In this novel, Thomas More is brought through time to the year 2535, where he is made king of the future world of "Astrobe", only to be beheaded after ruling for a mere nine days. One of the characters in the novel compares More favourably to almost every other major historical figure: "He had one completely honest moment right at the end. I cannot think of anyone else who ever had one."

Karl Zuchardt
Karl Zuchardt
Karl Zuchardt was a German writer of historical novels.Zuchardt was born in Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony...

's novel, Stirb du Narr! ("Die you fool!"), about More's struggle with King Henry
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

, portrays More as an idealist bound to fail in the power struggle with a ruthless ruler and an unjust world.

A number of modern historians and writers, such as Richard Marius
Richard Marius
Richard Curry Marius was an American academic and writer.He was a scholar of the Reformation, novelist of the American South, speechwriter, and teacher of writing and English literature at Harvard University...

, have evaluated More in his political capacity and have criticised him for Anti-Protestantism
Anti-Protestantism
Anti-Protestantism is an institutional, ideological or emotional bias, hatred or distrust and against some or all forms and divisions of Protestantism and its followers.- History :...

 and, "intolerance." The historian Jasper Ridley
Jasper Ridley
Jasper Godwin Ridley was a British writer, known for historical biographies. He received the 1970 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his biography Lord Palmerston....

, author of several biographies including one on Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 and another on Mary Tudor
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

, goes much further in his dual biography of More and Cardinal Wolsey, The Statesman and the Fanatic, describing More as "a particularly nasty sadomasochistic pervert," a line of thinking followed by the late Joanna Denny
Joanna Denny
Joanna Denny was a historian and author specialising in the court of Henry VIII of England. Her books include Katherine Howard: A Tudor Conspiracy and Anne Boleyn. Her books are usually considered to be sympathetic towards these women. She was published by Portrait Books, an imprint of Piatkus....

 in her 2004 biography of Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn ;c.1501/1507 – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of Henry VIII of England and Marquess of Pembroke in her own right. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the...

.

Several authors have criticised More for his war against Protestantism. Brian Moynahan
Brian Moynahan
Brian Moynahan is an English journalist and historical writer. He graduated from the University of Cambridge in history with first class honours. After this time he became a journalist with The Yorkshire Post, Town Magazine, and The Times. He was also European Editor of The Sunday Times...

, in his book God's Messenger: William Tyndale
William Tyndale
William Tyndale was an English scholar and translator who became a leading figure in Protestant reformism towards the end of his life. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and by Martin Luther...

, Thomas More and the Writing of the English Bible
, takes a similarly critical view of More, as does the American writer Michael Farris. The novelist Hilary Mantel
Hilary Mantel
Hilary Mary Mantel CBE , née Thompson, is an English novelist, short story writer and critic. Her work, ranging in subject from personal memoir to historical fiction, has been short-listed for major literary awards...

 portrays More as a religious and masochistic fanatic in her 2009 novel Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall is a multi-award winning historical novel by English author Hilary Mantel, published by Fourth Estate. Set in the period from 1500 to 1535, Wolf Hall is a fictionalized biography documenting the rapid rise to power of Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex in the court of Henry VIII of...

. Wolf Hall is told through the eyes of a sympathetic Thomas Cromwell. Literary critic James Wood
James Wood (critic)
James Wood is a literary critic, essayist and novelist. he is Professor of the Practice of Literary Criticism at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine.-Background and education:...

 calls him "cruel in punishment, evasive in argument, lusty for power, and repressive in politics".

Aaron Zelman
Aaron Zelman
Aaron Zelman is an American television writer and producer. He has worked in both capacities on the series Law & Order, Criminal Minds and Damages. He has been nominated for an Emmy Award and a Writers Guild of America Award for his work on Damages.-Career:Zelman began writing for television with...

'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
Police state
A police state is one in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the population...

. Zelman comments, "More is the only Christian saint to be honoured with a statue at the Kremlin
Kremlin
A kremlin , same root as in kremen is a major fortified central complex found in historic Russian cities. This word is often used to refer to the best-known one, the Moscow Kremlin, or metonymically to the government that is based there...

." By this Zelman implies that Utopia influenced Lenin's Bolsheviks, despite their brutal repression of organised religion.

Other biographers, such as Peter Ackroyd
Peter Ackroyd
Peter Ackroyd CBE 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, Charles Dickens, T. S. Eliot and Sir Thomas More he won the Somerset Maugham Award...

, 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
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 over Christendom
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

.

The protagonist of Walker Percy
Walker Percy
Walker Percy was an American Southern author whose interests included philosophy and semiotics. Percy is best known for his philosophical novels set in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, the first of which, The Moviegoer, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1962...

's novels, Love in the Ruins
Love in the Ruins
Love in the Ruins is a novel of speculative or science fiction by author Walker Percy from 1971. It follows its main character, Dr Thomas More, namesake and descendant of Sir Thomas More author of Utopia, a psychiatrist in a small town in Louisiana called Paradise...

and The Thanatos Syndrome
The Thanatos Syndrome
The Thanatos Syndrome was Walker Percy's last novel before his death. It is a sequel to Love in the Ruins. It tells the story of a former psychiatrist who suspects that something or someone is making everyone in the town crazy....

, is "Dr Thomas More", a reluctant Catholic and descendant of More.

More is the focus of the Al Stewart
Al Stewart
Al Stewart is a Scottish singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician.Stewart came to stardom as part of the British folk revival in the 1960s and 1970s, and developed his own unique style of combining folk-rock songs with delicately woven tales of the great characters and events from history.He is...

 song "A Man For All Seasons" from the 1978 album Time Passages
Time Passages
Time Passages is the eighth studio album by Al Stewart, released in 1978. It is the follow-up to his 1976 album Year of the Cat. The album, like its predecessor, was produced by Alan Parsons...

, and of the Far
Far (band)
Far is a band from Sacramento, USA.-Releases :After a number of local releases including their first demo tape Sweat A River, Live No Lies and two independent albums Listening Game and Quick they signed to Epic/Immortal Records and released their first major record, Tin Cans With Strings To You...

 song "Sir", featured on the limited editions and 2008 re-release of their 1994 album Quick
Quick (album)
Quick is the second album by American alternative rock band Far.-Track listing:There was also a limited edition 10 track version released, limited to 500 copies. The 2008 re-release has the same track listing as the limited edition. It also has MP3s of the songs missing from the original release on...

. In addition, the song "So Says I
So Says I
So Says I is a song by American indie rock band The Shins, the third track of their second album Chutes Too Narrow. It was released as a single, one of three from the album, on 21 September 2003 on Sub Pop Records....

" by indie rock outfit The Shins
The Shins
The Shins are an American indie rock band comprising singer, songwriter, and guitarist James Mercer, guitarist/bassist Dave Hernandez, Eric Johnson of Fruit Bats, drummer Joe Plummer and bassist Ron Lewis. Their sound draws on several musical genres, including pop, alternative rock, indie rock,...

 alludes to the socialist interpretation of More's Utopia.

Jeremy Northam
Jeremy Northam
Jeremy Philip Northam is an English actor. He is best known for his roles as Ivor Novello in the 2001 film Gosford Park, as Dean Martin in the 2002 television movie Martin and Lewis, and as Thomas More on the Showtime series The Tudors...

 depicts More in the television series The Tudors
The Tudors
The Tudors is a Canadian produced historical fiction television series filmed in Ireland, created by Michael Hirst and produced for the American premium cable television channel Showtime...

. In The Tudors, More is portrayed as a peaceful man, as well as a devout Roman Catholic and loving family patriarch. He vocally expresses his loathing for Protestantism. By the order of King Henry VIII, More commissions the burning of Martin Luther's books. He is shown exercising his authority as Chancellor by burning English Protestants who have been convicted of heresy. The Tudors shows More engaging in the conversation that Richard Rich testified about regarding the King's title as Supreme Head of the Church of England. More's avowed insistence that Rich's testimony was perjured is excised from the show's depiction of the trial.

The cultus of More has been satirised. In the The Simpsons
The Simpsons
The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its family of the same name, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie...

an episode, "Margical History Tour
Margical History Tour
"Margical History Tour" is the eleventh episode of The Simpsons fifteenth season. The episode was first broadcast on February 8, 2004. This is one of several Simpsons episodes that features mini-stories.-Plot:...

", contains a parody
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 of both Henry VIII and More. King Henry (Homer Simpson
Homer Simpson
Homer Jay Simpson is a fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons and the patriarch of the eponymous family. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta and first appeared on television, along with the rest of his family, in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987...

) is depicted as a gluttonous slob who stuffs his face while singing "I'm Henery the Eighth, I am
I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am
"I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am" is a 1910 British music hall song by Fred Murray and R. P. Weston...

". He then wipes his mouth with the Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

and sets out to dump Queen Catherine (Marge Simpson
Marge Simpson
Marjorie "Marge" Simpson is a fictional main character in the animated television series The Simpsons and part of the eponymous family. She is voiced by actress Julie Kavner and first appeared on television in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987...

). Sir Thomas (Ned Flanders
Ned Flanders
Nedward "Ned" Flanders, Jr. is a recurring fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Harry Shearer, and first appeared in the series premiere episode "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire". He is the next door neighbor to the Simpson family and is generally...

) objects, "Divorce! Well, there's no such thing in the Cath-diddly-atholic Church! But it's the only Church we got, so what are you gonna do?" King Henry retorts, "I'll start my own Church... Where divorce will be so easy, more than half of all marriages will end in it!" When a horrifed Sir Thomas refuses to go along, King Henry has him shot out of a cannon.

Westminster Hall


Visitors to the Houses of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons...

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

Crosby Hall


More's home and estate along the Thames in Chelsea was confiscated by the Crown from his wife Alice after his execution. But in later times Crosby Hall, which formed part of More's London residence, was relocated to the site in his commemoration and reconstructed there by the conservation architect, Walter Godfrey
Walter Godfrey
Walter Hindes Godfrey CBE, FSA, FRIBA , was an English architect, antiquary, and architectural and topographical historian. He was also a landscape architect and designer, and an accomplished draftsman and illustrator...

. Today after further rebuilding in the 1990s it stands out as a white stone building amid modern brick structures that aims to recapture the style of More's manor that formerly occupied the site. Crosby Hall is privately owned and closed to the public. The modern structures face the Thames and include an entry way that displays More's arms, heraldic beasts, and a Latin maxim. Apartment buildings and a park are built over the former locations of his gardens and orchard, and some are named after their former functions: Roper's Garden is the park occupying one of More's gardens, sunken as his was believed to be. Other than these, there are no remnants of the More estate.

Chelsea Old Church


This small park sits between Crosby Hall and Chelsea Old Church
Chelsea Old Church
Chelsea Old Church is on the north bank of the River Thames near Albert Bridge in Chelsea, London, England. It is the church for a parish in the Diocese of London, part of the Church of England. It is located on the corner of Old Church Street and Cheyne Walk. Inside, there is seating for 400...

, an Anglican church on Old Church Street whose southern chapel was commissioned by More and in which he sang with his parish choir. The medieval arch connecting the chapel to the main sanctuary was commissioned by More and displays on its capitals symbols associated with his person and office. On the southern wall of the sanctuary is the tomb and epitaph he erected for himself and his wives, detailing in a lengthy Latin inscription his ancestry and accomplishments, including his role as peacemaker between the Christian nations of Europe and a curiously altered portion detailing his curbing of heresy. This tomb was probably located here because it was his custom to serve Mass and he would leave by the door just to the left of it. He is not, however, buried here, nor is it entirely certain which of his family may be. Except for his chapel, the church was largely destroyed in the Second World War and was rebuilt in 1958. It is open to the public at specific times. Outside the church, facing the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

, is a statue by L. Cubitt Bevis erected in 1969, commemorating him as "saint", "scholar", and "statesman", the back of which displays his coat-of-arms. In the same neighbourhood, on Upper Cheyne Row, is the Catholic Church of the Holy Saviour and St. Thomas More, which honours him according to the Church he defended with his life.

Tower Hill


More was executed on a scaffold erected on Tower Hill, London, just outside the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

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

St Dunstan's Church, Canterbury


St Dunstan's Church, an Anglican parish church in Canterbury, possesses More's head, rescued by his beloved daughter Margaret Roper
Margaret Roper
Margaret Roper was an English writer and translator. She was the daughter of Thomas More and wife of William Roper. During More's imprisonment in the Tower of London, she was a frequent visitor to his cell, along with her husband.Roper married William Roper in 1521 in Eltham, Kent...

. This is sealed in the Roper family vault beneath the altar of the Nicholas Chapel, to the right of the church's sanctuary or main altar. The stone marking the sealed vault is to the immediate left of the altar below which it lies. St Dunstan's Church
St. Dunstan's, Canterbury
St. Dunstan's is a church dedicated to St. Dunstan in Canterbury, Kent, slightly out of the city centre. The parish has been held in plurality with others nearby at different times, in a way that is confusing and difficult to document. In 2010 the parish was joined with the parishes of the City...

 has carefully investigated, preserved and sealed this burial vault of the Roper family who lived in Canterbury. The last archaeological investigation of the Roper Vault revealed that the suspected head of More rests in a niche separate from the other bodies there, possibly due to later interference. A few displays in the chapel record the archaeological findings in written accounts and pictures. The walls of the chapel are host to impressive stained glass donated by Roman Catholics to commemorate the events in More's life. Down and across the street from the parish the facade of the former home of Margaret Roper and her husband William Roper survives and is marked by a small plaque.

Works


NOTE: The reference “CW” is to the relevant volume of the Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More
Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More
The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More is the standard scholarly edition of the works of Thomas More, published by Yale University Press. The first of the fifteen volumes to be published appeared in 1963, and the last in 1997...

 (New Haven and London 1963–1997)

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

  • A Merry Jest (c. 1516) (CW 1)
  • Utopia
    Utopia (book)
    Utopia is a work of fiction by Thomas More published in 1516...

    (1516) (CW 4)
  • Latin Poems (1518, 1520) (CW 3, Pt.2)
  • Letter to Brixius (1520) (CW 3, Pt. 2, App C)
  • Responsio ad Lutherum (1523) (CW 5)
  • A Dialogue Concerning Heresies (1529, 1530) (CW 6)
  • Supplication of Souls (1529) (CW 7)
  • Letter Against Frith (1532) (CW 7)
  • The Confutation of Tyndale's Answer (1532, 1533) (CW 8)
  • Apology (1533) (CW 9)
  • Debellation of Salem and Bizance (1533) (CW 10)
  • The Answer to a Poisoned Book (1533) (CW 11)

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)

Translations

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

Historiography

  • Gushurst-Moore, André. "A Man for All Eras: Recent Books on Thomas More" Political Science Reviewer, 2004, Vol. 33, pp 90-143 online
  • Guy, John. "The Search for the Historical Thomas More," History Review (2000) pp 15+ online edition,

Primary sources


External links