Sir Thomas More, also famous as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer attorney, societal logician, theologian, writer, national leader, renowned Renaissance humanitarian and ultimate sacrificial victim. He also served as a key counselor to King Henry VIII of England before he rose to the position of Lord Chancellor.
More is seen as a saint in Anglican and Catholic religions. The Roman Catholic Church sanctified him in 1886 and blessed him as a holy man in later 1935 (2). He also opposed the Protestant Reformation and the activists for the same.
Various quarters have depicted this man as the most eye-catching figure of the early 16th century. Thomas More’s most famed paperback is Utopia and has turned out to be acknowledged as a day after day expression in the English lingo. The term utopian is frequently used to make reference to a thought or notion that is impracticable and very much attractive (1).
Henry VIII was King of England from April 1509 until his death in January 1547. He was the succeeding ruler of the House of Tudor, taking after his father, Henry VII. In addition to his six nuptials, Henry VIII is famed for his part in the disjointing of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church.
His fight backs with Rome directed to the disjointing of the Church of England from pontifical influence, the disbanding of the cloisters, and setting up himself as the ultimate leader of the Church of England (2). He changed spiritual rites and practices and repressed the cloisters, even as he remained a worshipper in core Catholic religious ideas, even after his excision from the Roman Catholic Church.
1 Weir, Alison. 2002. Henry VIII: The King and His Court. New York. Ballantine Books.
2 Eppley, Daniel. 2008. Defending Royal Supremacy and Discerning God’s Will in Tudor England.
London. Ashgate Publishing Group.
Henry also watched over the lawful joining together of England and Wales.
Henry was an eye-catching and enigmatic man in his leading life; he was also well informed and consummate. He was also a writer and a music composer. He led with supreme authority. This man had the wish to endow England with a male successor, and this was to a certain extent as a result of his individual egotism and in part for the reason of his believes that a daughter would not be able to strengthen the Tudor empire.
A delicate harmony was real in the period after the Wars of the Roses and it led to the two things which top the list for what Henry is famed for. These were his spouses and the English Reformation that resulted in the country being mainly Protestant. In his later years, Henry turned out to be ghoulishly overweight and his healthiness suffered.
Born a son to an attorney, Tomas had a good upbringing in his Milk Street home. During this period a few got to be educated and Thomas went to school at St Anthony’s School, one of the best learning institutions in London at the time (3). From 1490 to 1492, Thomas was a pageboy in the in the domestic service of John Morton.
Morton was the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England at the time. Morton wholeheartedly backed learning of the Renaissance to the then young Thomas. Assured of the potential that More had, he made a recommendation for him to join the Oxford College in Canterbury.
Thomas began his studies at the institution in 1492 and obtained a standard teaching. He was a learner of Thomas Linacre and William Grocyn, turning out to be adept in both Greek and Latin languages. In the year 1494 the young More left the college of Oxford following his father’s decision (3).
3 Ackroyd, Peter.1999. The Life of Thomas More. New York, Anchor Books.
He then attended legal education classes in London. This was at one of the Chancery Inns known as the New Inn. He then did his apprenticeship in another Inn known as the Lincoln’s Inn. He continued here until 1502 when he was admitted to the bar.
The theologian Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam was Thomas’ acquaintance during this time and according to his account, Thomas chewed over deserting his legal profession in order to turn into a monk. From the year 1503 to 1504, Thomas could be seen around the Carthusian cloister located in the confines of London where he was an active participant in religious practices presided by monks.
As much as he greatly had a high regard for the piousness of the monks he in due course settled for the life of a layperson following his matrimony and selection to legislature. Regardless of his option to pursue a lay profession, Thomas went on to practice some austere carry outs for the rest of his life. He sporadically got involved in flagellation and at times wore a hair shirt next to his skin (4).
Thomas’ family life
Thomas got married to his first wife, Jane Colt, in 1505. She was close to ten years younger than him and according to his friend Erasmus, Thomas resolved to give her an improved tutoring. He was a private instructor to her in the fields of music and literature. The couple brought forth four children.
Sorry to say, Jane passed away in 1511. Thomas remarried nearly straight away with his second wife being a wealthy widow called Alice Middleton. Thomas’ friends attested that the marriage was a happy one although the couple did not have children together (3).
4 Guy, John. 2008. A Daughter’s Love: Thomas & Margaret More. London: Fourth Estate
3 Ackroyd, Peter.1999. The Life of Thomas More. New York, Anchor Books.
Thomas raised Alice’s daughter from her preceding matrimony as his own. Thomas was also the custodian of young lass called Anne Cresacre. Anne would in due course get married to Thomas’ son, John More (5). Thomas was a loving father and wrote letters to his children whenever he was not at home. His career often required him to be away on lawful or government obligation.
Thomas had a great concern in the edification of women, an outlook that was very much atypical at the time. He was convinced that women were just as competent of educational achievement as men. As a result, he gave his daughters the equivalent conventional learning given to his son.
The intellectual leading light of the family was his eldest daughter Margaret (5). She drew much respect for her intellect, in particular her facility in Greek and Latin. Such accomplishment served as an illustration for other noble families.
Thomas’ early political career and association with King Henry VIII
Thomas got into politics when he became a member of the legislature in 1504. He without a doubt made his score in this specialty as in 1510 Thomas got signed up as Under-Sheriff in the City of London. He not only built up a status in both the legal fraternity and politics, he was also recognized in Western Europe as a Humanitarian scholar. During this period he got the status of a straightforward and effectual civic servant. Thomas grabbed the attention of Henry VIII with his good workmanship (5). In 1515 the ruler sent him on an assignment to the Spanish Netherlands to serve as a business diplomat.
Later on in 1517, Thomas became Master of Requests. Still in the same year he got into the king’s service, taking the position of counsel and personal assistant.
5 Shadan, Ethan H. 2002. Popular Politics and the English Reformation. Cambridge
This led to him being a Privy Counselor to the king. In 1518, Thomas became an associate of the King’s Council.
In 1521, Thomas got knighted and appointed under-treasurer of the treasury in the same year. This was after carrying out an ambassadorial assignment to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. He had also gone along with Thomas Wolsey to Calais and Bruges (6). The king then gave him the responsibility of improving his earlier rejoinder to Martin Luther. With this, their relationship became even closer.
As escritoire and personal counsel to the king, Thomas grew more and more powerful in the administration. He was charged with welcoming foreign envoys, writing down official drafts and serving as a contact linking the king and his Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor at the time was Thomas Wolsey who was also the Cardinal Archbishop of York.
In 1523, Wolsey proposed Thomas for the post of Speaker of the House of Commons. Henry used his influence in the legislative assembly to get Thomas elected for the position. He also chipped in as a steward in universities.
Soon after his stewardship, he became the Duchy of Lancaster chancellor, a position that was much higher than his former position. This was a post that involved directorial and legal power of greater of northern England. Thomas Wolsey fell in 1529 and Henry VIII appointed More to this position. He became the first layman to occupy this influential office.
During this period he settled cases with unparalleled briskness. At this point, he was completely devoted to the king and the administration (6). He at the outset worked together with the king’s new plan, pointing a finger at Wolsey in the House and declaring the view of the
6 Williams, C.H. 1995. English Historical Document. New Jersey. Routledge.
theologians at Oxford and Cambridge that the matrimony of Henry and Catherine had been against the law. However, as Henry VIII embarked on disagreeing with the power of the Pope, Thomas’ apprehensiveness grew.
Disintegration of More and Henry VIII’s relationship
As the disagreement over superiority between the Papacy and the King continued on an upward trend, Thomas carried on with his persistent prop up of the Papal throne over that of the king. In 1530 he declined to sign a correspondence by the foremost English churchmen and nobles soliciting the Pope to invalidate Henry’s matrimony with Catherine. In addition he argued with Henry VIII over the deviation regulations. In 1531, Henry VIII had cut off Thomas by removing the majority of the clergy who gave backing to the Papal stand from higher-ranking posts in the church (7). To add to this, Henry had coagulated his refutation of the Papacy’s power over England by endorsing the Statute of Praemunire which prohibited petitions to the Roman Curia from England. Coming to terms with his out-of-the-way position, Thomas tried to give up his job after being compelled to take a pledge affirming the king as the ultimate leader of the English Church. In addition, the Statute of Praemunire made it illegal to shore up in open or place of work the assertions of the Papacy. As a result he declined to take the vow in the state in which it would forsake all assertions of authority over the church with the exception of the sovereign’s. Even so, the standing and power of Thomas as well as his lengthy association with the king, made certain that his life was safe for the time being and as a result, he was not kicked out of office (7). On the other hand, with his backers in court fast fading away, in 1532 he requested the king to yet again to relieve
7 Robinson, Jon. 2008. Court Politics, Culture and Literature in Scotland and England.
California. Ashgate Publishing Group.
him of his job. He alleged that he was unwell and going through prickly chest aches. This time the king endowed his request. There was little doubt that Thomas stepped down as a result of religious concerns. He understood that all clergy needed autonomy of ethics and devotion to the Pope which were undoubtedly defied by the administration of King Henry VIII (8).
Trial and execution
In 1533 Anne Boleyn was enthroned as the Queen of England and Thomas was conspicuously absent at the ceremony. In principle, this was not a work of sedition, as he had written to the king accepting Anne’s queen ship and articulating his wish for the king’s contentment and the fresh queen’s wellbeing. In spite of this, his absence was broadly taken to mean a rebuff in opposition to Anne and Henry took action against him.
Before long Thomas was charged with agree to bribes, but the blatantly bogus accusations had to be dropped for lack of any substantiation, given Thomas’ repute as an arbitrator who could not be compromised. At the beginning of 1534 he was accused of scheming with Elizabeth Barton who had predicted against the king’s cancellation (8). Thomas was able to bring forth a correspondence in which he had inculcated Barton not to get in the way with national issues.
In April 13 of the same year Thomas was required to appear before a committee and pledge his loyalty to the legislative Act of Succession. He agreed to the legislature’s right to pronounce Anne Boleyn the rightful queen of England, but he unfalteringly declined to vow to the superiority of the Crown in the connection between the Kingdom 8. Marshall, Peter. 2006. Religious Identities in Henry VIII’s England. California. Ashgate Publishing Group.
and the Church in England. He held fast to the olden instruction of Papal superiority. He declined taking the vow and in addition openly declined to support the king’s cancellation from Catherine.
With his negative response to shore up Henry’s cancellation, Thomas’ adversaries had an adequate amount of substantiation to have Henry take him into custody on sedition. He was later imprisoned in the Tower of London. On July 1, of the following year Thomas was tried before a team of judges. He was arraigned in court for his treasonous acts against the law of succession. He was found guilty after Solicitor General, Richard Rich testified against him (7).
Immediately after the sentence had been passed against him, Thomas talked unreservedly about his conviction. He reiterated that no earthly person may claim to be the head of spirituality. Thomas was to be sent to the hangman, be drawn and quartered. The king ordered that his putting to death be through decapitation.
The execution was carried out on July 6, 1535 (7). His headless corpse was buried at the Tower of London while his head was placed at London Bridge for sometime as was requirement for those who were considered as traitors. It is thought that his daughter, Margaret saved it through subornment before it could be thrown into River Thames.
7 Robinson, Jon. 2008. Court Politics, Culture and Literature in Scotland and England. California. Ashgate Publishing Group.
Ackroyd, Peter.1999. The Life of Thomas More. New York, Anchor Books.
Bernard, G. W. 2005. “The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church”: 346 – 712.
Eppley, Daniel. 2008. Defending Royal Supremacy and Discerning God’s Will in Tudor England. London. Ashgate Publishing Group.
Guy, John. 2008. A Daughter’s Love: Thomas & Margaret More. London: Fourth Estate
Marshall, Peter. 2006. Religious Identities in Henry VIII’s England. California. Ashgate Publishing Group.
Robinson, Jon. 2008. Court Politics, Culture and Literature in Scotland and England. California. Ashgate Publishing Group.
Shadan, Ethan H. 2002. Popular Politics and the English Reformation. Cambridge University Press.
Weir, Alison. 2002. Henry VIII: The King and His Court. New York. Ballantine Books.
Williams, C.H. 1995. English Historical Document. New Jersey. Routledge.