["\n\n\n\n\n\n \n \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n \n Thomas More (1478 - 1535) - Genealogy\n \n \n \n\n \n\n\n\n \n \n \n \n\n \n \n\n \n \n \n\n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n \n\n \n\n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n \n\n \n \n\n \n\n\n\n\n \n\n \n\n\t\n\n \n \n \n\n \n \n\n \n\n \n \n \n \n\n \n\n \n \n \n \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n \n\n \n \n \n\n
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\n \n \n \n \t Thomas More\n \r\n\r\n\r\n\"\"\n \n (1478 - 1535) \n MP\n \n \n

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Sir Thomas More, Chancellor of England and Saint's Geni Profile

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Birthplace:\n Milk Street, Cheapside, London, England\n \n \n \n \n \n \n \n \n \n
Death:\n \n Died\n \n \n \n \n in \n \n Tower Hill, London, England\n \n \n \n \n \n \n \n \n \n \n \n \n
Cause of death:\n Executed\n
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About Thomas More

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Sir Thomas More ( /ˈmɔr/; 7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), known by Catholics as Saint Thomas More since 1935, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England and was Lord Chancellor from October 1529 to 16 May 1532. He is commemorated by the Church of England as a "Reformation martyr". He was an opponent of the Protestant Reformation and in particular of Martin Luther and William Tyndale.

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More coined the word "utopia" – a name he gave to the ideal and imaginary island nation, the political system of which he described in Utopia published in 1516. He opposed the King's separation from the Catholic Church and refused to accept the King as Supreme Head of the Church of England, a title which had been given by parliament through the Act of Supremacy of 1534. He was imprisoned in 1534 for his refusal to take the oath required by the First Succession Act, because the act disparaged papal power and Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. In 1535, he was tried for treason, convicted on perjured testimony and beheaded.

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Intellectuals and statesmen across Europe were stunned by More's execution. Erasmus saluted him as one "whose soul was more pure than any snow, whose genius was such that England never had and never again will have its like". Two centuries later Jonathan Swift said he was "the person of the greatest virtue this kingdom ever produced.", a sentiment with which Samuel Johnson 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."

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Born in Milk Street in London on 7 February 1478, Thomas More was the son of Sir John More, 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 and Lord Chancellor of England. Morton enthusiastically supported the "New Learning" 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), 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 and William Grocyn, 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.

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According to his friend, the theologian Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, More once seriously contemplated abandoning his legal career to become a monk. Between 1503 and 1504 More lived near the Carthusian monastery outside the walls of London and joined in the monks' spiritual exercises. Although he deeply admired 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 next to his skin and occasionally engaging in flagellation.

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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, Elizabeth, Cecily, 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.

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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:

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"When he saw from the signature that it was the letter of a lady, his surprise led him to read it more eagerly... he said he would never have believed it to be your work unless I had assured him of the fact, and he began to praise it in the highest terms... for its pure Latinity, its correctness, its erudition, and its expressions of tender affection. He took out at once from his pocket a portague [A Portuguese gold coin]... to send to you as a pledge and token of his good will towards you."

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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.

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In 1504 he was elected to Parliament to represent Great Yarmouth and in 1510 to represent London. From 1510, More served as one of the two undersheriffs of the City of London, a position of considerable responsibility in which he earned a reputation as an honest and effective public servant. More became Master of Requests in 1514, 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, Charles V, accompanying Thomas Wolsey to Calais and Bruges, More was knighted and made under-treasurer of the Exchequer in 1521.

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As secretary and personal adviser to King Henry VIII, 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 Archbishop of York. In 1523 he was elected as knight of the shire (MP) for Middlesex and, recommended by Wolsey, was elected the Speaker of the House of Commons. He later served as High Steward for the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In 1525 he became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a position that entailed administrative and judicial control of much of northern England.

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Between 1512 and 1519, Thomas More worked on a History of King Richard III, which was never finished, but which greatly influenced William Shakespeare's play Richard III. 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 that wrested the throne from Richard III in the Wars of the Roses. More's work, however, little mentions King Henry VII, 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.

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The History of King Richard III is a Renaissance 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, 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, 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, each written separately, and with information deleted from the Latin edition to suit a European readership

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More sketched out his best known and most controversial work, Utopia (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. This novel describes the city of Amaurote by saying, "Of them all this is the worthiest and of most dignity".

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In 1520 the reformer Martin Luther published three works in quick succession: An Appeal to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (Aug.), Concerning the Babylonish Captivity of the Church (Oct.), and On the Liberty of a Christian Man (Nov.). 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 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 rewarded Henry VIII with the title Fidei defensor (“Defender of the Faith”) for his efforts in combating Luther’s heresies.

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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. While writing under the pseudonym of Rosseus, More mirrors Luther's own unscholarly use of language. At one point More offers to:

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"throw back into your paternity's shitty mouth, truly the shit-pool of all shit, all the muck and shit which your damnable rottenness has vomited up".

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

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In 1531, William Tyndale 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 and the Protestant Reformation in general were dangerous, not only to the Catholic faith but to the stability of society as a whole.

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More supported the Catholic Church and saw the Reformation as heresy, 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."

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Rumours circulated during and after More's lifetime regarding ill-treatment of heretics during his time as Lord Chancellor. The popular anti-Catholic polemicist John Foxe, who "placed Protestant sufferings against the background of... the Antichrist" was instrumental in publicising accusations of torture in his famous Book of Martyrs, claiming that More had often personally used violence or torture while interrogating heretics. Later authors, such as Brian Moynahan and Michael Farris, cite Foxe when repeating these allegations. More himself denied these allegations and they have since proved to have little or no foundation in fact..

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Stories of a similar nature were current even in More's lifetime and he denied them forcefully. He admitted that he did imprison heretics in his house – 'theyr sure kepynge' – he called it – but he utterly rejected claims of torture and whipping... 'so helpe me God.

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In 1533, More refused to attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn as the Queen of England. Technically, this was not an act of treason, as More had written to Henry 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.

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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, 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.

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On 13 April 1534, More was asked to appear before a commission and swear his allegiance to the parliamentary Act of Succession. More accepted Parliament's right to declare Anne Boleyn the legitimate Queen of England, 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, More refused to take the oath and furthermore publicly refused to uphold Henry's annulment from Catherine. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, refused the oath along with More. The oath reads:

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...By reason whereof the Bishop of Rome and See Apostolic, contrary to the great and inviolable grants of jurisdictions given by God immediately to emperors, kings and princes in succession to their heirs, hath presumed in times past to invest who should please them to inherit in other men's kingdoms and dominions, which thing we your most humble subjects, both spiritual and temporal, do most abhor and detest.

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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. There More prepared a devotional Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation. While More was imprisoned in the Tower, Thomas Cromwell made several visits, urging More to take the oath, which More continued to refuse.

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On 1 July 1535, More was tried before a panel of judges that included the new Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Audley, as well as Anne Boleyn's father, brother, and uncle. He was charged with high treason for denying the validity of the Act of Succession. More, relying on legal precedent and the maxim "qui tacet consentire videtur" (literally, who (is) silent consent shows), 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, Richard Rich, 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:

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"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."

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However, the jury took only fifteen minutes to find More guilty under the following section of the Treason Act 1534:

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If any person or persons, after the first day of February next coming, do maliciously wish, will or desire, by words or writing, or by craft imagine, invent, practise, or attempt any bodily harm to be done or committed to the king's most royal person, the queen's, or their heirs apparent, or to deprive them or any of them of their dignity, title, or name of their royal estates...That then every such person and persons so offending... shall have and suffer such pains of death and other penalties, as is limited and accustomed in cases of high treason.

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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."

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Another comment he is believed to have made to the executioner is that his beard was completely innocent of any crime, and did not deserve the axe; he then positioned his beard so that it would not be harmed. More asked that his foster/adopted daughter Margaret Clement (née Giggs) be given his headless corpse to bury. He was buried at the Tower of London, in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in an unmarked grave. His head was fixed upon a pike over London Bridge for a month, according to the normal custom for traitors. His daughter Margaret (Meg) Roper rescued it, possibly by bribery, before it could be thrown in the River Thames.

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The skull is believed to rest in the Roper Vault of St Dunstan's Church, Canterbury, though some researchers have claimed it might be within the tomb he erected for More 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.

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Among other surviving relics is his hair shirt, 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, Devon. It is now preserved at Syon Abbey, near South Brent.

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[For more information about the family and the descendants of Thomas More see: "The Family and Descendants of St. Thomas More". BY Martin Wood. Published in the UK by 'Gracewing'. April 2008. ISBN 978 0 85244 681 2.

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Scholarly and literary work::

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Between 1512 and 1518, Thomas More worked on a History of King Richard III, an unfinished work, based on Sir Robert Honorr's Tragic Deunfall of Richard III, Suvereign of Britain (1485), which greatly influenced William Shakespeare's play Richard III. Both Thomas'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 that wrested the throne from Richard III with the Wars of the Roses. More's work, however, little mentions King Henry VII, 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. The History of King Richard III is a Renaissance 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, 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, 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, each written separately, and with information deleted from the Latin edition to suit a European readership.

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Utopia: More sketched out his most well-known and controversial work, Utopia (completed and published in 1516), a novel in Latin. In it a traveller, Raphael Hythloday (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. At the time, most literate people could understand the actual meaning of the word "utopia" because of the relatively widespread knowledge of the Greek language. 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. 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. Hythloday theorizes 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. 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 and Aristotle with Roman rhetorical finesse (cf. Cicero, Quintilian, epideictic oratory), it continued into the Enlightenment. Utopia's original edition included the symmetrical "Utopian alphabet" that was omitted from later editions; it is a notable, early attempt at cryptography that might have influenced the development of shorthand.

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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.

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Religious polemics: In 1520 the reformer Martin Luther published three works in quick succession: An Appeal to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation; Concerning the Babylonish Captivity of the Church; and On the Liberty of a Christian Man. In these works Luther set out his doctrine of salvation through faith alone, rejected the sacraments and other Catholic practices, and attacked the abuses and excesses of the Catholic Church. In 1521, Henry VIII 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 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 conservative religious tendencies, and from then on his work was devoid of all criticism or satire that could be seen as harmful to the authority of the Church. In 1528 More produced another religious polemic, A Dialogue Concerning Heresies. This work again 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’s Supplication for the Beggars came to the attention of More, who responded with a polemic entitled The Supplication of Souls.

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In 1531, William Tyndale wrote An Answer unto Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue as a response to More’s earlier Dialogue Concerning Heresies. After having seen 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 and the Protestant Reformation in general were dangerous not only to the Catholic faith, but to the stability of society as a whole.

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Sir Thomas More, Chancellor of England and Saint's Timeline

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\n \n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n\n\n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n\n\n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n\n\n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n\n\n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n\n\n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n\n\n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n\n\n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n\n\n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n\n\n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n\n\n
\n \n 1478\n \n \n
February 7, 1478
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London, England
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    \n \n \n
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\n \n 1505\n \n \n
January, 1505
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Age 26
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London, , England
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    \n \n \n
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1505
\n \n
Age 26
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\n \n \n
England
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    \n \n \n
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1505
\n \n
Age 26
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London, England
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    \n \n \n
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\n \n 1506\n \n \n
1506
\n \n
Age 27
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Kent, , England
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    \n \n \n
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\n \n 1507\n \n \n
1507
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Age 28
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\n \n \n
England
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    \n \n \n
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\n \n 1509\n \n \n
1509
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Age 30
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London, England
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    \n \n \n
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\n \n 1511\n \n \n
1511
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Age 32
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London, Middlesex, England
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    \n \n \n
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\n \n 1535\n \n \n
July 6, 1535
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Age 57
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Tower Hill, London, England
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    \n \n \n
\n
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\n \n ????\n \n \n
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Wrote Utopia 1517
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\n
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\n
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\n app001
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