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14    <Metadata name="Page_topic">Sir Thomas More: Biography, Portraits, Primary Sources</Metadata>
15    <Metadata name="Content">Sir Thomas More: Biography, Portraits, Primary Sources</Metadata>
16    <Metadata name="Author">Marilee Mongello</Metadata>
17    <Metadata name="Title">Sir Thomas More: Biography, Portraits, Primary Sources</Metadata>
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22    <Metadata name="dc.Subject">Tudor period|Citizens</Metadata>
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37
38&lt;table border=&quot;0&quot; cellpadding=&quot;3&quot; width=&quot;100%&quot; height=&quot;667&quot;&gt;
39  &lt;tr&gt;
40    &lt;td width=&quot;25%&quot; height=&quot;29&quot;&gt;&lt;/td&gt;
41    &lt;td valign=&quot;top&quot; width=&quot;50%&quot; height=&quot;29&quot;&gt;&amp;nbsp;&lt;/td&gt;
42    &lt;td width=&quot;25%&quot; height=&quot;29&quot;&gt;&lt;/td&gt;
43  &lt;/tr&gt;
44  &lt;tr&gt;
45    &lt;td width=&quot;25%&quot; height=&quot;3&quot;&gt;&lt;/td&gt;
46    &lt;td width=&quot;50%&quot; height=&quot;3&quot;&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;3&quot;&gt;&lt;/font&gt;&lt;/td&gt;
47    &lt;td width=&quot;25%&quot; height=&quot;3&quot;&gt;&lt;/td&gt;
48  &lt;/tr&gt;
49  &lt;tr&gt;
50    &lt;td width=&quot;25%&quot; height=&quot;610&quot;&gt;&lt;/td&gt;
51    &lt;td valign=&quot;top&quot; width=&quot;50%&quot; height=&quot;610&quot;&gt;
52    &lt;p align=&quot;center&quot;&gt;
53
54&lt;IMG height=51 alt=&quot;Sir Thomas More&quot;
55
56src=&quot;_httpdocimg_/more.gif&quot; width=310&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
57    &lt;p align=&quot;center&quot;&gt;
58    &lt;img border=&quot;2&quot; src=&quot;_httpdocimg_/more.jpg&quot; alt=&quot;portrait of Sir Thomas More&quot; width=&quot;250&quot; height=&quot;315&quot;&gt;&lt;p&gt;&lt;FONT size=-1&gt;Thomas More's most famous literary
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60work, &lt;I&gt;Utopia&lt;/I&gt;, was first conceived in 1515 when More was sent on a
61
62diplomatic mission to Flanders.&amp;nbsp; The story, inspired by and modeled upon
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64Plato's &lt;I&gt;Republic&lt;/I&gt;, has given its name to a whole genre of
65
66literature.&amp;nbsp; I do not wish to ignore More's literary and philosophical
67
68accomplishments at this page, but I simply don't have the time to discuss
69
70&lt;I&gt;Utopia&lt;/I&gt; within the context of the following biography.&amp;nbsp; I urge
71
72readers to visit the following links to learn about More's work:&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;2&quot;&gt; &lt;BR&gt;
73    &lt;/font&gt;&lt;FONT size=-1&gt; &lt;A
74
75href=&quot;gopher://gopher.cc.columbia.edu:71/11/miscellaneous/cubooks/offbooks/more&quot;&gt;Read
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77the entire text of &lt;I&gt;Utopia&lt;/I&gt; at this link&lt;/A&gt;&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;2&quot;&gt; &lt;BR&gt;
78    &lt;/font&gt;&lt;FONT
79
80size=-1&gt; &lt;A
81
82href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=0&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fwww.d-holliday.com%2ftmore%2futopia.htm&quot;&gt;Another electronic version of
83
84the text&lt;/A&gt;&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
85    &lt;p&gt;&lt;FONT
86
87size=-1&gt; &lt;br&gt;This website lists various
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89essays on &lt;I&gt;Utopia&lt;/I&gt; available in electronic format:&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;2&quot;&gt;
90    &lt;/font&gt; &lt;FONT
91
92size=-1&gt;&amp;nbsp;&lt;A
93
94href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=0&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fwww.d-holliday.com%2ftmore%2fmore.htm&quot;&gt;More about More&lt;/A&gt;&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;2&quot;&gt;
95
96&lt;BR&gt;&lt;/font&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=0&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fwww.d-holliday.com%2ftmore%2ferasmus.htm&quot;&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;-1&quot;&gt;Click
97    here to read
98    Erasmus's famous description of More in a letter from 1519&lt;/font&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;2&quot;&gt;.&lt;/font&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
99    &lt;p&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;2&quot;&gt;&lt;br&gt;
100    &lt;/font&gt;
101    &lt;b&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;2&quot;&gt;Other online biographies of Sir Thomas More:&lt;/font&gt;&lt;/b&gt;&lt;FONT size=-1&gt;&lt;br&gt;William
102    Roper was More's son-in-law;
103    &lt;a href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=0&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fwww.fordham.edu%2fhalsall%2fmod%2f16Croper-more.html&quot;&gt;click here
104    to read his famous biography&lt;/a&gt; of More.&lt;br&gt;John Farrow's
105    &lt;a href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=0&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fwww.cin.org%2ffarmor.html&quot;&gt;biography of More&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br&gt;The
106    Catholic Encyclopedia's
107    &lt;a href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=0&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fwww.newadvent.org%2fcathen%2f14689c.htm&quot;&gt;biography of More&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
108    &lt;p&gt;&lt;FONT size=-1&gt;&lt;br&gt;An &lt;A
109
110href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=1&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fenglishhistory.net%2ftudor%2f1535exec.html&quot;&gt;eyewitness account of
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112More's execution&lt;/A&gt; can be read at the Primary Sources section.&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;2&quot;&gt;
113
114&lt;BR&gt;&lt;/font&gt;&lt;FONT size=-1&gt;You can also read &lt;A
115
116href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=1&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fenglishhistory.net%2ftudor%2fprimore.html&quot;&gt;More's final letter&lt;/A&gt;,
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118written to his beloved daughter Margaret while he was imprisoned in the
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120Tower.&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
121
122    &lt;blockquote&gt;
123
124&lt;P align=&quot;left&quot;&gt;&amp;nbsp;&lt;P align=&quot;left&quot;&gt;&lt;u&gt;&lt;b&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;-1&quot;&gt;Chronology of major events in More's life:&lt;br&gt;&lt;/font&gt;
125&lt;/b&gt;&lt;/u&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;2&quot;&gt;Born 7
126
127  February 1478 at Milk Street, London &lt;BR&gt;Entered Parliament in 1504
128
129  &lt;BR&gt;Appointed undersheriff of London in 1510 &lt;BR&gt;Became a member of the Privy
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131  Council in 1518 &lt;BR&gt;Knighted in 1521 &lt;BR&gt;Made Speaker of the House of Commons
132
133  in 1523 &lt;BR&gt;Made Lord Chancellor of England in 1529 &lt;BR&gt;Imprisoned in the
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135  Tower of London on charges of treason in 1534 &lt;BR&gt;Executed 6 July 1535 at
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137  Tower Hill, the Tower of London &lt;BR&gt;Canonized as a saint by the Catholic
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139  Church in 1935&lt;/font&gt;&lt;P align=&quot;left&quot;&gt;&amp;nbsp;&lt;/blockquote&gt;
140    &lt;/td&gt;
141    &lt;td width=&quot;25%&quot; height=&quot;610&quot;&gt;&lt;/td&gt;
142  &lt;/tr&gt;
143&lt;/table&gt;
144
145&lt;blockquote&gt;
146  &lt;hr&gt;
147  &lt;p&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;4&quot;&gt;'[E]ven though we should have no word or deed to charge upon
148  you, yet we have your silence, and that is a sign of your evil intention and a
149  sure proof of malice.'&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp; &lt;/font&gt;&lt;i&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;2&quot;&gt;Henry
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151    VIII's attorney-general at the trial of Thomas More, 1535&lt;/font&gt;&lt;/i&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
152  &lt;hr&gt;
153  &lt;blockquote&gt;
154
155
156
157&lt;BLOCKQUOTE&gt;
158  &lt;p&gt;Thomas More is perhaps the most famous victim of Henry VIII's
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160  perverse judicial policies.&amp;nbsp; He was England's most famous and respected
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162  intellectual, close friends with the great philosopher Erasmus, and beloved by
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164  his closely-knit family and wide circle of friends.&amp;nbsp; He was that most
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166  rare of intellectuals - one who was humble, patient, and truly kind; he spent
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168  his life in ceaseless study, both intellectual and spiritual, and was a
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170  dedicated public servant.&amp;nbsp; He was also an astute judge of character, and
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172  capable of witty, trenchant observations - he once said of his famous king,
173
174  'If a lion knew his strength, it were hard for any man to hold him.'&amp;nbsp;
175
176  And, of course, when his son-in-law mentioned Henry VIII's fondness for More,
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178  the philosopher noted even more famously that if the king thought 'my head
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180  could win him a castle in France it should not fail to go!' &lt;/p&gt;
181
182  &lt;P&gt;
183
184  &lt;IMG height=236 alt=&quot;sketch of Thomas More as Lord Chancellor, by Holbein&quot;
185
186  src=&quot;_httpdocimg_/moresketch1.jpg&quot; width=175 align=left border=0&gt;In the end, Henry did not want More's head in exchange for any French
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188  castles; he wanted it because More refused to recognize the king's sovereignty
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190  over the English church.&amp;nbsp; But Henry had wanted More's approval
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192  desperately, and kept his former Lord Chancellor imprisoned for months in
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194  increasingly dire conditions, alternating between threats and flattery in
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196  desperate attempts to secure More's acknowledgment of the king's new
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198  role.&amp;nbsp; Henry knew, none better, that More's approval would carry great
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200  weight throughout Europe, and he offered More his life in return for a few
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202  simple words.&amp;nbsp; But More refused, and he learned the truth of the medieval
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204  adage that 'the king's wrath is death'.
205
206  &lt;P&gt;More was the sole surviving son of Sir John More, a prominent lawyer and
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208  later judge, and Agnes Graunger.&amp;nbsp; He was born on 7 February 1478 (some
209
210  sources say 1477), and entered Parliament in 1504.&amp;nbsp; One of his first acts
211
212  in public life was to speak against one of Henry VII's more austere financial
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214  policies; as a result, Sir John was imprisoned and only released after a fine
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216  was paid and Thomas retired from public life.&amp;nbsp; After the king's death in
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218  1509, however, Thomas once again entered public service.&amp;nbsp; His early
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220  education had prepared him well for such a life.&amp;nbsp; His father had sent him
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222  to St Anthony's School at Threadneedle Street, under the direction of Nicholas
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224  Holt; upon reaching adolescence, More was sent to the household of Cardinal
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226  Morton, then archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England.&amp;nbsp; As
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228  Morton was the most powerful man in England next to the king, and the most
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230  prominent ecclesiastic, his household was an invigorating blend of political
231
232  and religious life.&amp;nbsp; It was undoubtedly here that More first learned how
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234  to reconcile a deeply spiritual character with a devotion to secular
235
236  affairs.&amp;nbsp; Morton was living proof that a religious leader did not have to
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238  be monkish or retiring; he was also an inveterate gossip, and his twisted tale
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240  of Richard III's brief reign inspired More's awful &lt;I&gt;Life&lt;/I&gt; of the last
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242  Plantagenet king.&amp;nbsp; That biography is the only blight upon More's literary
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244  career.
245
246  &lt;P&gt;Morton was sufficiently impressed with his young charge to sponsor More at
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248  Oxford.&amp;nbsp; The young man entered Canterbury Hall (now part of Christ
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250  Church) probably around 1492.&amp;nbsp; His time at Oxford was well-spent; under
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252  the tutelage of great scholars such as Thomas Linacre, More studied the
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254  classics and classical languages, as well as the other liberal arts.&amp;nbsp; He
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256  was a bright and engaging student, enthusiastic about learning but also
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258  accustomed to more basic pleasures (he loved to play upon the flute and viol,
259
260  and began his lifelong passion for collecting pets - apparently his adult home
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262  in Chelsea was a veritable zoo.)&amp;nbsp; But like many university students, More
263
264  found himself constantly short of money, a ploy his father used to keep the
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266  young man's mind upon his studies and not other, less academic pursuits.
267
268  &lt;P&gt;He returned to London after about two years at Oxford, and entered as a law
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270  student at the New Inn in late 1494; in early 1496 he was admitted to
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272  Lincoln's Inn as well, and then called to the outer bar and made a
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274  bencher.&amp;nbsp; He was once again a successful student, now following in his
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276  father's footsteps.&amp;nbsp; He was made a 'reader' (or tutor) at Furnival's Inn,
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278  and was successful enough to retain the appointment for three years.&amp;nbsp; But
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280  the law was not his true passion, and perhaps More already recognized this
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282  fact; he wrote poetry in his spare time, and entered into correspondence with
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284  the great English intellectuals of his age.&amp;nbsp; Most of these men were
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286  introduced to him through his former professor at Oxford, Thomas
287
288  Linacre.&amp;nbsp; More's own reputation as a man of learning and wit was already
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290  begun, but he was beginning to suffer great spiritual conflict.&amp;nbsp; The law
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292  was not wholly satisfying to his character, but religious study might be, or
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294  so he thought.&amp;nbsp; Perhaps his introduction to the famous Dutch humanist
295
296  Desiderius Erasmus in 1497 spurred his intense personal examination; the men
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298  became fast friends, and corresponded until More's execution.&amp;nbsp; Whatever
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300  the cause, it is certain that around the turn of the century, More turned his
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302  attention to religious matters; he delivered well-attended lectures on St
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304  Augustine's &lt;I&gt;The City of God&lt;/I&gt;, and was seriously considering becoming a
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306  priest.&amp;nbsp; He underwent a dramatic personal struggle, debating whether he
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308  had a true vocation, or calling, to be a priest; he left his comfortable home
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310  in Chelsea and moved near the London Charterhouse.
311
312  &lt;P&gt;At the Charterhouse, More began to examine the possibility of a wholly
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314  religious life.&amp;nbsp; He joined the monks in daily prayer, and wore a hair
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316  shirt; he wavered between joining the Franciscans or Carthusians, and both
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318  orders were particularly dedicated to lives of strictness and denial.&amp;nbsp;
319
320  Perhaps their extreme fervor dismayed More, for he possessed an ironic wit
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322  which would not rest easy with their single-minded worship.&amp;nbsp; Or perhaps
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324  he remembered his comfortable home and lifestyle in London.&amp;nbsp; Whatever the
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326  case, he decided to abandon his brief dream of becoming a priest.
327
328  &lt;P&gt;(It is worth noting that Erasmus later referred to his friend's decision in
329  a letter, writing that More 'chose, therefore, to be a chaste husband rather
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331  than an impure priest.'&amp;nbsp; The implication is obvious, but sexual desires
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333  are normal enough in young men, and - even if Erasmus is correct - it does not
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335  speak ill of More's character.)
336
337  &lt;P&gt;After finally deciding that the priesthood was not his true vocation, More
338
339  returned to his law practice with a vengeance.&amp;nbsp; He was soon enough
340
341  elected to Parliament, and found himself firmly on the side of his friends,
342
343  mostly London merchants, as they battled Henry VII's unjust 'grants'.&amp;nbsp; As
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345  mentioned at the beginning of this biography, his speeches in defense of the
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347  merchants irked the king; as a result of More's persuasive oratory, Parliament
348
349  lessened the amount from Henry's request of over £100,000 to about
350
351  £30,000.&amp;nbsp; Immediately, the temperamental king imprisoned More's father
352
353  upon some pretext, and demanded that the hefty sum of £100 as a fine.&amp;nbsp;
354
355  More paid the fine, and thought it wise to disappear a bit from public
356
357  life.&amp;nbsp; He had other, more personal matters to occupy him anyway; in 1505,
358
359  he married Jane, the eldest daughter of Master John Colte.&amp;nbsp; It was a
360
361  happy marriage, and Jane bore four children before her untimely death in 1511
362
363  (daughters Margaret, Elizabeth, and Cecilia, and son John.)&amp;nbsp; His
364
365  son-in-law William Roper's biography implies that More married Jane out of
366
367  pity; he preferred her younger sister, but thought it would bring shame upon
368
369  the eldest daughter for her younger sister to be married before her.&amp;nbsp;
370
371  This anecdote was perhaps Roper's attempt to further enshrine More's generous
372
373  character.&amp;nbsp; In truth, More loved his wife deeply, and two decades after
374
375  her death he called her 'uxorcula Mori'.
376
377  &lt;P&gt;In any case, More was not a widower for long.&amp;nbsp; He was left with four
378
379  young children to care for, and soon decided to marry again.&amp;nbsp; This time
380
381  he chose a widow, Alice Middleton, seven years his senior.&amp;nbsp; She had a
382
383  good dowry and became exceptionally devoted to More and his children.&amp;nbsp; The
384
385  marriage was quite happy, and Alice maintained the household in London as a
386
387  refuge for her busy, scholarly husband.&amp;nbsp; More became a renowned 'family
388
389  man', loathe to leave his home and kin, and truly dedicated to their
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391  happiness.&lt;P align=&quot;center&quot;&gt;
392  &lt;img border=&quot;0&quot; src=&quot;_httpdocimg_/morefamilysmall.jpg&quot; alt=&quot;Holbein's famous portrait of Sir Thomas More and his family&quot; width=&quot;550&quot; height=&quot;370&quot;&gt;&lt;P align=&quot;center&quot;&gt;
393  &lt;i&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;2&quot;&gt;Rowland Lockey's 1593 copy of Holbein's famous portrait of
394  Sir Thomas More and his family&lt;/font&gt;&lt;/i&gt;&lt;P&gt;But More's love of family and learning were soon to become secondary to the
395
396  desires of his king.&amp;nbsp; Henry VIII was crowned in 1509, and More's
397
398  reputation for learning and wit was already well-known.&amp;nbsp; In 1510, he was
399
400  made Under-Sheriff of London, and four years later the Lord Chancellor,
401
402  &lt;a href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=1&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fenglishhistory.net%2ftudor%2fcitizens%2fwolsey.html&quot;&gt;Cardinal Thomas Wolsey&lt;/a&gt;, appointed More as ambassador to Flanders.&amp;nbsp; The
403
404  mission was close to More's heart for it involved the rights of London
405
406  merchants.&amp;nbsp; But he was unhappy in Flanders; the salary was insufficient
407
408  for his needs, and he missed his family.&amp;nbsp; But it was in Flanders that he
409
410  first began his most famous literary work, &lt;I&gt;Utopia&lt;/I&gt;; it was published
411
412  shortly after his return to England and helped secure his fame throughout
413
414  Europe.
415
416  &lt;P&gt;Wolsey and Henry VIII were impressed enough by More's services that they
417  offered him a position at Court.&amp;nbsp; In 1516, after returning from Flanders,
418  he was officially granted a pension of £100 for life, a significant sum at the
419  time.&amp;nbsp; In 1517, the government
420
421  duties began in earnest - missions to the all-important Calais, and
422
423  appointment to the Privy Council.&amp;nbsp; Other honors soon followed; he
424
425  attended Henry personally at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, was knighted and
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427  made treasurer to the king in 1521, and secured lands in Kent and
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429  Oxford.&amp;nbsp; In 1523 Wolsey secured More's appointment as Speaker of the
430
431  House of Commons, and a few years later More was appointed High Steward of
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433  Cambridge University and Chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, all honorable
434
435  and important offices.
436
437  &lt;P&gt;It is obvious that both Henry VIII and Wolsey greatly favored More, though
438
439  how More himself thought of his government service is unclear.&amp;nbsp; He
440
441  performed his offices with aplomb, but undoubtedly wished for
442
443  more time with his family - and even more time with his studies.&amp;nbsp; Life at
444
445  court held little attraction for him; he was not ambitious (which intrigued
446
447  the king and Wolsey) and he thought little of the gossip and mad scramble for
448
449  power which characterized the Tudor court.&amp;nbsp; But he did admire Henry and
450
451  the king's intelligent and pious wife, Katharine of Aragon.&amp;nbsp; For her
452
453  part, Henry's queen once commented that, of all her husband's ministers, only
454
455  Thomas More had deserved the title 'Lord Chancellor', a remarkable comment
456
457  considering More was the first layman to hold the office.
458
459  &lt;P&gt;More first purchased the land for his famous home in Chelsea in 1523; soon
460
461  enough his mansion upon the Thames was built, complete with a large garden
462
463  bordering the river.&amp;nbsp; It was here that he retreated as often as possible
464
465  from court; here, too, that he entertained his many friends, including
466
467  Erasmus.&amp;nbsp; Often the king would arrive unannounced for dinner and stroll
468
469  about the garden with More.&amp;nbsp; Despite his later decision to imprison and
470
471  execute More, it is clear that the king was truly fond of his councilor.&amp;nbsp;
472
473  Henry enjoyed intellectual debate and More was arguably the most learned man
474
475  in England; he was also witty and kind-hearted.&amp;nbsp; And for a long while, he
476
477  basked in the king's service.
478
479  &lt;P&gt;The conflict within More between government service and personal time was
480
481  never fully resolved, though for many successful years he remained a respected
482
483  and influential friend to the king and an independent philosopher.&amp;nbsp; It
484
485  was simply that he and Henry, for a long while, shared similar philosophical
486
487  and religious views.&amp;nbsp; Henry had, after all, jumped to the defense of the
488
489  Catholic faith with a religious treatise of his own, and thus won the title
490
491  'Defender of the Faith' from the pope.&amp;nbsp; More had little reason to suspect
492
493  that Henry, originally raised as the second son destined for the church, would
494
495  one day force papal power from England.&amp;nbsp; But in the mid-1520s, More was
496
497  aware - like everyone in England - that the king's long marriage to
498  &lt;a href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=1&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fenglishhistory.net%2ftudor%2fmonarchs%2faragon.html&quot;&gt;Katharine
499
500  of Aragon&lt;/a&gt; was unlikely to produce a male heir.&amp;nbsp; Of the four sons
501
502  Katharine had borne, all had died - and only the Princess Mary, born in 1516,
503
504  survived as a viable heir for the Tudor throne.&amp;nbsp; It was clear to everyone
505
506  - especially the king - that something had to be done, though Henry never
507
508  envisioned anything as drastic as what has come to be known as the '&lt;a href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=1&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fenglishhistory.net%2ftudor%2ffaq.html&quot;&gt;Henrician
509
510  Reformation&lt;/a&gt;'.&amp;nbsp; It was only after years of frustration, delays,
511
512  double-talk, and interference from Charles V that Henry finally denounced the
513
514  pope's authority on religious matters.
515
516  &lt;P&gt;Both the king and More had responded to the growing threat of Lutheranism
517
518  with religious works (as mentioned above, Henry's work won special praise from the
519
520  pope.)&amp;nbsp; Today More's work strike us as bigoted and narrow-minded, but
521
522  it should be read within the context of his time and beliefs, and it is often less inflammatory than other Catholic polemics.&amp;nbsp; Also, the
523
524  Lutherans were hardly decorous in their prose.&amp;nbsp; More was eventually
525
526  persuaded to write in English so he could reach a wider audience; he had also
527
528  watched as the Lutheran 'heretics' wrote in the vernacular and attracted
529
530  numerous followers.
531
532  &lt;P&gt;But More's response to this new heresy was reinforced by the fall of
533
534  Cardinal Wolsey, once his great patron.&amp;nbsp; Henry's decision to annul his
535
536  marriage to Katharine of Aragon was simple enough, and quite common among
537
538  monarchs and other high nobles in Europe.&amp;nbsp; It was a necessary way to end
539
540  unsuccessful (i.e., childless) unions.&amp;nbsp; Henry had every reason to expect
541
542  that the pope would grant his petition for an annulment; he even had a
543
544  stronger claim that most men.&amp;nbsp; Henry could quote liberally from
545
546  Leviticus, particularly the injunction against marrying a brother's
547
548  wife.&amp;nbsp; On grounds of strict theology, he certainly had a case for
549
550  annulment.&amp;nbsp; But he had two problems - a stubborn wife who refused to see
551
552  reason, and her very powerful nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who
553
554  virtually controlled the pope.&amp;nbsp; As a result, the simple matter of an
555
556  annulment became a major European political issue.
557
558  &lt;P&gt;
559  &lt;img border=&quot;0&quot; src=&quot;_httpdocimg_/anne2.jpg&quot; alt=&quot;portrait of Anne Boleyn, whose marriage to King Henry VIII brought about More's downfall&quot; align=&quot;left&quot; width=&quot;139&quot; height=&quot;194&quot;&gt;Matters were complicated by Henry's growing - and
560  scandalously open - passion for
561  &lt;a href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=1&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fenglishhistory.net%2ftudor%2fmonarchs%2fboleyn.html&quot;&gt;Anne
562
563  Boleyn&lt;/a&gt;, the daughter of Thomas Boleyn and niece of the duke of Norfolk.&amp;nbsp; More knew
564
565  the Boleyns well enough for Thomas was an ambassador and well-liked; like
566
567  More, he was from humble beginnings but used his skill and intelligence to
568
569  rise quickly in Henry's service.&amp;nbsp; His eldest daughter Mary had been
570  Henry's mistress, and possibly borne his son.&amp;nbsp; Anne, however, was more
571  ambitious than her sister.&amp;nbsp; She recognized
572
573  the king's predicament; he needed heirs, and she was young and healthy.&amp;nbsp;
574
575  And Henry loved her passionately, at least for a time.&amp;nbsp; But it is far too
576
577  simplistic to argue, as many biographers have, that Henry defied the Catholic
578
579  Church because of Anne Boleyn.&amp;nbsp; The king was dissatisfied with his
580
581  marriage before they met and there had been talk of an annulment as
582
583  well.&amp;nbsp; His love for Anne simply gave new impetus to an existing desire to
584
585  break with Katharine.
586
587  &lt;P&gt;
588
589  Wolsey's hatred of the Boleyns was spurred by jealousy.&amp;nbsp; He had been the king's closest advisor and confidante
590
591  until his failure to secure an annulment earned royal displeasure.&amp;nbsp;  Anne and her supporters were quick to put distance between Henry
592
593  and the elderly cardinal.&amp;nbsp; Wolsey's time had passed, and he died while on
594
595  the way to the Tower for trial.&amp;nbsp; And so, in October of 1529, Thomas More
596
597  became the first layperson appointed Lord Chancellor of England.&amp;nbsp; He was
598
599  now Keeper of the Great Seal, and second only to the king in power.&amp;nbsp; It
600
601  was a heady appointment, but More probably greeted the appointment with his
602
603  usual ironic stance - particularly since he had just witnessed Wolsey's fall
604
605  from grace.
606
607  &lt;P&gt;More did not like the Boleyns.&amp;nbsp; They represented a new generation at
608
609  court - greedy, flamboyant, and openly ambitious.&amp;nbsp; They were quick to
610
611  make enemies, and difficult to please.&amp;nbsp; More, who had no love of gossip
612
613  and admired Katharine of Aragon's deep piety (the old queen spent several
614
615  hours a day on her knees in prayer), was aware that Henry was drifting from
616
617  him intellectually and spiritually.&amp;nbsp; Anne Boleyn had come to represent
618
619  the Lutheran cause in More's mind as well, though not because she was a
620
621  Lutheran.&amp;nbsp; It was simply that her marriage to Henry would mean defiance
622
623  of papal law, and would place England in spiritual jeopardy.&amp;nbsp; And so, to
624
625  More and most Englishmen, Katharine represented the piety and virtues of the
626
627  old faith, and Anne represented the startling spiritual changes sweeping
628
629  throughout Europe.
630
631  &lt;P&gt;More used his position as Lord Chancellor to wipe out as much of the new
632
633  heresy as possible; he had always been a great lawyer and judge, and he used
634
635  these talents formidably.&amp;nbsp; He never equaled Wolsey's power or prestige,
636
637  simply because Henry had temporarily lost his taste for all-powerful political
638
639  advisors.&amp;nbsp; But More was completely successful in ridding the English
640
641  court of cases - he actually exhausted the case log!&amp;nbsp; And, of course, he
642
643  didn't simply judge cases; he also enforced the existing heresy laws with
644
645  great zeal.&amp;nbsp; One cannot condemn More for following the tenets of his own
646
647  religious convictions, and it is worth noting that he specifically
648
649  distinguished between the vice of heresy and the actual heretic.&amp;nbsp; He
650
651  hesitated to bring the full force of the law against heretics; he was
652
653  scrupulous about offering them every possible opportunity to recant.&amp;nbsp; In
654
655  this he was successful, and only four people were actually executed for heresy
656
657  during his tenure as Lord Chancellor.
658
659  &lt;P&gt;More's religious views were shortly to conflict with his king's
660
661  desires.&amp;nbsp; Henry was frustrated with the pope's endless delays in deciding
662
663  his case, and he was determined to establish some control over the church in
664
665  England.&amp;nbsp; He did not tell More of his plans, preferring to confide in
666
667  more liberal members of his council and parliament.&amp;nbsp; And so, just a few
668
669  months after More's elevation to the position of lord chancellor, a new
670
671  parliament began to pass the sweeping laws which would end the supremacy of
672
673  the Roman Catholic Church in England.&amp;nbsp; First there was a royal
674
675  proclamation that all members of the clergy must acknowledge the king as
676
677  'Supreme Head' of English affairs 'as far as the law of God will
678
679  permit'.&amp;nbsp; More realized the threat to his own spiritual beliefs and
680
681  immediately proffered his resignation.&amp;nbsp; Henry refused angrily, and
682
683  promised More that he would never have to agree to anything proclamation that
684
685  went against his conscience.&amp;nbsp; Was this promise a deliberate lie on the
686
687  king's part?&amp;nbsp; Probably not, for Henry truly believed in the religious
688
689  righteousness of his own cause and undoubtedly expected all to do the same.
690
691  &lt;P&gt;But More could not hold out for long, and nor could Henry - whose designs
692
693  were becoming more sweeping and offensive to the old faith - ignore his chief
694
695  minister's open opposition.&amp;nbsp; It was an embarrassment, and in May 1532 he
696
697  finally accepted More's resignation.&amp;nbsp; By this time, More had lost his
698
699  close friendship with the king; there were no more impromptu dinner visits, or
700
701  intense conversations about philosophical matters.&amp;nbsp; It was clear to
702
703  everyone that a line would soon be clearly drawn, and everyone would be either
704
705  for or against the king - always remembering, of course, the old adage that
706
707  'the king's wrath is death'.
708
709  &lt;P&gt;More still had powerful friends and allies, and Henry was always far more
710
711  eager to have More's cooperation than his disobedience.&amp;nbsp; More was still,
712
713  after all, the most famous English philosopher, widely read and respected on
714
715  the continent.&amp;nbsp; And in England he even had the friendship of Thomas
716
717  Cranmer, the very Protestant archbishop of Canterbury and, along with Thomas
718
719  Cromwell, the chief advisor to the king.&amp;nbsp; But English Catholics, feeling
720
721  their faith under siege, were also looking to More as their most prominent
722
723  champion.&amp;nbsp; And so he was faced with the simple fact that despite his own
724
725  longing for retirement and personal peace, he was too much a public figure to
726
727  fade into the background.&amp;nbsp; His opinion mattered too much, and was sought
728
729  by too many.
730
731  &lt;P&gt;After resigning from the lord chancellorship, More had immediately lost a
732
733  great deal of his income but he scaled back his lifestyle and happily returned
734
735  to Chelsea.&amp;nbsp; His greatest wish was to simply stay at home with his
736
737  beloved family and write; he wanted no part in the politics of Henry's
738
739  court.&amp;nbsp; But he couldn't escape so easily.&amp;nbsp; Still, it is worth
740
741  remembering that More did not hurry toward his fate; he did not accept death
742
743  as inevitable and put himself directly in opposition to the king.&amp;nbsp; He
744
745  wanted to live, and in the following years he did much to avoid his eventual
746
747  fate - everything except betray his conscience.
748
749  &lt;P&gt;For about eighteen months he was able to escape the king's wrath.&amp;nbsp; He
750
751  stayed away from Anne Boleyn's coronation, deliberately avoiding a public
752
753  confrontation with the king.&amp;nbsp; And when his nephew, William Rastell, wrote
754
755  a pro-Catholic treatise, More immediately wrote to Cromwell and Henry denying
756
757  any involvement.&amp;nbsp; More specifically stressed that he knew his duty as a
758
759  citizen, and supported his prince completely - too completely to criticize any
760
761  of his decisions.&amp;nbsp; But such dissembling - and from such a famous man -
762
763  would not please Henry for long.&amp;nbsp; Soon enough More's name was included in
764
765  the Bill of Attainder against the Catholic mystic Elizabeth Barton, the Holy
766
767  Maid of Kent.&amp;nbsp; More had once visited the woman, but was too skeptical to
768
769  believe in her increasingly dramatic 'visions'.&amp;nbsp; He was brought before
770
771  the Council and asked about his religious views; he explained that he had
772
773  discussed his feelings to the king on various occasions, and never incurred
774
775  Henry's wrath.&amp;nbsp; More was popular enough, and quite innocent, and so Henry
776
777  grudgingly removed his name from the bill.&amp;nbsp; But he had intended the
778
779  measure as a warning to More, and it was well-taken.&amp;nbsp; The duke of
780
781  Norfolk, Anne Boleyn's uncle, warned More that 'the king's wrath is death' and
782
783  More replied wittily, 'Is that all, my lord?&amp;nbsp; Then, in good faith,
784
785  between your grace and me is but this - that I shall die today, and you
786
787  tomorrow'.&lt;/BLOCKQUOTE&gt;
788
789  &lt;/blockquote&gt;
790  &lt;hr&gt;
791
792    &lt;P&gt;&lt;font size=&quot;4&quot;&gt;'Thou wilt give me this day a greater benefit than ever any mortal man
793
794    can be able to give me.&amp;nbsp; Pluck up thy spirits, man, and be not afraid
795
796    to do thine office.&amp;nbsp; My neck is very short: take heed, therefore, thou
797
798    strike not awry for saving of thine honesty.'&lt;/font&gt;&amp;nbsp; &lt;i&gt; &lt;FONT size=-1&gt;&amp;nbsp;Thomas
799
800    More's last words to his executioner, 6 July
801
8021535&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;/i&gt;&lt;/P&gt;&lt;hr&gt;
803  &lt;blockquote&gt;
804
805
806
807&lt;BLOCKQUOTE&gt;
808
809  &lt;P&gt;Today came quickly for More; in March of 1534, just months after the birth
810
811  of Henry and Anne's
812  &lt;a href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=1&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fenglishhistory.net%2ftudor%2fmonarchs%2feliz.html&quot;&gt;daughter&lt;/a&gt;, the Act of Succession was passed which ordered
813
814  everyone the government called upon to swear an oath acknowledging the
815
816  legitimacy of Anne and Henry's heirs, and - most significantly - including a
817
818  clause which repudiated the power of any 'foreign authority' in English
819
820  affairs.&amp;nbsp; On the 14th of April More was summoned from Chelsea to take the
821
822  oath at Lambeth; he refused.&amp;nbsp; He was turned over to the custody of the
823
824  abbot of Westminster, and four days later taken to the Tower of London where he was
825
826  lodged in the Bell Tower.&amp;nbsp; Months passed, and the king both threatened
827
828  and cajoled his former friend, sending various emissaries while also keeping
829
830  More in increasingly dire conditions.&amp;nbsp; More did not break.&amp;nbsp;
831
832  Imprisoned with John Fisher, the bishop of Rochester, More took strength from
833
834  that great man's equal courage.
835
836  &lt;P&gt;When not entertaining a rare visitor with his wit and charm, More engaged
837
838  in prayer and writing.&amp;nbsp; In the spring of 1535 Cromwell visited the Tower
839
840  personally to ask More's opinion of recently-passed statutes which gave Henry
841
842  the title 'Supreme Head of the Church of England'.&amp;nbsp; More judiciously
843
844  replied that he was a faithful servant of the king; in June, the
845
846  solicitor-general interviewed him and reported to Henry and Cromwell that More
847
848  had denied parliament's power to confer supreme ecclesiastical authority upon
849
850  the king.&amp;nbsp; Henry now turned both petty and cruel - he used the pretext of
851
852  More and Fisher's occasional letters to one another to confiscate all of
853
854  More's writing materials.&amp;nbsp; He was now reduced to writing upon scraps with
855
856  a stick of charcoal.
857
858  &lt;P&gt;The king was further angered when the pope made Fisher a cardinal,
859
860  essentially a prince of the church, even while the bishop was imprisoned for
861
862  treason.&amp;nbsp; The king caustically remarked that he would soon send Fisher's
863
864  head to Rome so it could wear the red cardinal's hat.&amp;nbsp; By now, Henry had
865
866  pushed aside all thought of popular reaction; he was flush with his own power,
867
868  and determined to have his way.&amp;nbsp; More refused to submit to royal
869
870  authority, and he would pay the ultimate price.&amp;nbsp; And so, on the 1st of
871
872  July 1535, he was indicted for high treason at Westminster Hall.&amp;nbsp; More
873
874  denied the chief charges and defended himself ably, but it was of no
875
876  matter.&amp;nbsp; The jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to hang at
877
878  Tyburn.&amp;nbsp; A few days later news arrived that the king would be merciful -
879
880  More would instead be beheaded at Tower Hill.&amp;nbsp; On the 6th of July, a bit
881
882  before nine o'clock in the morning, More was executed; he met his end with
883
884  great dignity, grace, and courage.&amp;nbsp; His body was buried at the Tower
885
886  church of St Peter ad Vincula, but his head was parboiled and stuck on a pike
887
888  in Tower Bridge.&amp;nbsp; His beloved daughter Margaret bribed a worker to give
889
890  it to her and it was interred in the Roper family vault in Canterbury,
891
892  Margaret having married William Roper some years before.
893
894  &lt;P&gt;King Henry VIII was increasingly tyrannical and hated as his reign
895  progressed.&amp;nbsp; Anne Boleyn was beheaded less than a year after More on
896  false charges of witchcraft, adultery and incest; the king would eventually
897  marry four more times.&amp;nbsp; His fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was also
898  executed.&lt;/P&gt;
899
900  &lt;P&gt;On 29 December 1886, Pope Leo XIII formally beatified Thomas More, and his
901
902  reputation for learning and saintliness has only grown.&lt;/P&gt;&lt;/BLOCKQUOTE&gt;
903
904&lt;HR width=&quot;100%&quot;&gt;
905
906    &lt;p&gt;
907
908&lt;font size=&quot;-1&quot;&gt;&lt;b&gt;Note:&lt;/b&gt; Modern studies of More often discuss his religious
909conservatism and intolerance of more progressive views.&amp;nbsp; He openly
910denounced and persecuted members of the Protestant faith, and much of his
911writing was both vitriolic and inflammatory on this point.&amp;nbsp; But to condemn
912More for his religious intolerance is unfair.&amp;nbsp; He (and Bishop Fisher, et
913al) represented the last gasp of Catholicism in England.&amp;nbsp; After his death,
914the faith never regained its intellectual breadth and stature.&lt;/font&gt; &lt;BR&gt;&lt;FONT
915
916size=-1&gt;In our own increasingly secular age, it is easy to be cynical and
917
918dismissive of deeply held religious beliefs.&amp;nbsp; But to judge More by modern
919
920standards is obviously wrong; the following books do an admirable job of placing
921
922More in the context of his time, and I recommend them to students for further
923
924study:&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
925
926&lt;CENTER&gt;
927&lt;p&gt;&lt;i&gt;&lt;FONT size=-1&gt;The Life of Thomas More&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;BR&gt;&lt;/i&gt;&lt;FONT size=-1&gt;by Peter
928
929Ackroyd.&lt;/FONT&gt; &lt;BR&gt;&lt;i&gt;&lt;FONT size=-1&gt;The King's Good Servant but God's First: The
930
931Life and Writings of Saint Thomas More&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;BR&gt;&lt;/i&gt;&lt;FONT size=-1&gt;by James
932
933Monti.&lt;/FONT&gt; &lt;BR&gt;&lt;i&gt;&lt;FONT size=-1&gt;Thomas More: A Biography&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;BR&gt;&lt;/i&gt;&lt;FONT
934
935size=-1&gt;by Richard Marius.&lt;/FONT&gt; &lt;BR&gt;&lt;i&gt;&lt;FONT size=-1&gt;Thomas More: A Portrait of
936
937Courage&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;BR&gt;&lt;/i&gt;&lt;FONT size=-1&gt;by Gerard B. Wegemer.&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
938    &lt;/CENTER&gt;
939
940&lt;p align=&quot;center&quot;&gt;&lt;FONT
941
942size=-1&gt;&lt;A href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=1&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fenglishhistory.net%2ftudor%2fcitizens.html&quot;&gt;to Tudor
943
944Citizens&lt;/A&gt;&lt;A
945
946href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=1&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fenglishhistory.net%2ftudor.html&quot;&gt;&lt;br&gt;to Tudor England&lt;/A&gt;&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;p align=&quot;center&quot;&gt;
947&lt;font size=&quot;-1&quot;&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;_httpextlink_&amp;amp;rl=0&amp;amp;href=http:%2f%2fwww.marileecody.com%2fimages.html&quot;&gt;Visit &lt;i&gt;Tudor
948England: Images&lt;/i&gt; to view portraits of the Tudor monarchs and their courtiers&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/font&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;
949&lt;/blockquote&gt;
950
951
952
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955</Content>
956</Section>
957</Archive>
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