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Thomas More




Saint Thomas More

Portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger (1527).
Born February 7, 1478, London, England
Died 6 July 1535 (aged 57), London, England
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion
Beatified 1886, near London Hill by Pope Leo XIII
Canonized 1935, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Major shrine Canterbury (head), Tower of London (body)
Feast June 22 (Roman Catholic), July 6 (Anglican & Traditional Roman Catholics)
Attributes Martyr; Axe; dressed in a Chancellor's robe with a neck chain of office
Patronage Adopted children, Arlington, Virginia, civil servants, court clerks, difficult marriages, large families, Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, lawyers, politicians and statesmen, stepparents, widowers, Ateneo de Manila Law School, University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters
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Saint Thomas More (February 7, 1478July 6, 1535), also known as Sir Thomas More, was an

English lawyer, author, and statesman. During his lifetime he earned a reputation as a leading

humanist scholar and occupied many public offices, including that of Lord Chancellor from 1529 to

1532. More coined the word "utopia", a name he gave to an ideal, imaginary island nation whose

political system he described in a book published in 1516. He is chiefly remembered for his principled

refusal to accept King Henry VIII's claim to be Supreme Head of the Church of England, a decision

which ended his political career and led to his execution for treason.

In 1935, four hundred years after his death, St Thomas More was canonized in the Roman Catholic

Church by Pope Pius XI, and was later declared the Patron Saint of politicians and statesmen by

Pope John Paul II. St Thomas More shares his feast day, June 22 on the Roman Catholic calendar

of saints, with Saint John Fisher, the only loyal Bishop left (owing to apparently and coincidentally

the natural deaths of eight elderly bishops [1]) during the English Reformation to maintain at the

mercy of the king his allegiance to the Pope. More was added to the Church of England's calendar

of saints

in 1980. Traditional Roman Catholics continue to celebrate his feast day on July 6, the day of his


 Early political career

From 1510 to 1518, 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.

In 1517 More entered the King's service as counsellor and "personal servant". After undertaking

a diplomatic mission to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, More was knighted and made undertreasurer

in 1521. As secretary and personal advisor 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 Cardinal Wolsey, the Archbishop of York.

In 1523 More became the Speaker of the House of Commons. As such, he expressed the first known

request by a Speaker for free speech[2]. 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.

Marriages and family

Family of Thomas More, by Hans Holbein the Younger
Family of Thomas More, by Hans Holbein the Younger

In 1505, aged twenty-seven, More married his first wife, Jane Colt, ten years his junior.

According to More's son-in-law and first biographer William Roper, More had wanted to marry John Colt's

second daughter, but felt that Jane would be humiliated if one of her younger sisters was married before

she was. The marriage was happy and they had four children; three daughters - Margaret (More's favourite

child, affectionately known as Meg), Elizabeth (Beth), Cicely (Cecy) and a son, John (Jack). In addition to

his own children, More also adopted an orphaned girl, Margaret Giggs. He was a very devoted father,

always asking his children to write to him when he was away, even if they did not have anything particular

to tell him, and unable to bring himself to beat them with anything more than a peacock feather. Unusual for

the time, he put as much effort into educating his daughters as he did his son, declaring that women were

just as intelligent as men.

Jane died in 1511 and More remarried almost immediately, so that his children would have a mother.

His second wife, Alice Middleton, was a widow seven years his senior. She and More had no children

together, although he adopted her daughter, also named Alice. More said that his new wife was

"nec bella nec puella" - literally, "neither a pearl nor a girl", meaning that his wife, Alice possessed neither

beauty nor youth. Erasmus cruelly described her nose as "the hooked beak of the harpy". Despite the fact

that their characters were very different, More and his wife apparently became very affectionate towards

one another, although he was unable to educate her as he had educated Jane. In his epitaph, which he

wrote himself, More praised Jane for bearing him four children, and Alice for being a loving stepmother.

He declared that he could not tell whom he loved best, and expressed the hope that they would all be

reunited in death.


Scholarly and literary work
Woodcut by Ambrosius Holbein for a 1518 edition of Utopia. The traveler Raphael Hythloday is depicted in the lower left-hand corner describing to a listener the island of Utopia, whose layout is schematically shown above him.
Woodcut by Ambrosius Holbein for a 1518 edition of Utopia. The traveler Raphael Hythloday is depicted in the lower left-hand corner describing to a listener the island of Utopia, whose layout is schematically shown above him.

More combined his busy political career with a rich scholarly and literary production. His writing and

scholarship earned him a considerable reputation as a Christian Renaissance humanist in continental

Europe, and his friend Erasmus of Rotterdam dedicated his masterpiece, In Praise of Folly, to More.

(The title of Erasmus's book is partly a play on More's name, the word folly being moria in Greek.)

Erasmus also described More as a model man of letters in his communications with other European

humanists, and Erasmus's description of More as an omnium horarum homo inspired the title of

a play written in the 1950s about the life of More, titled A Man for All Seasons. The humanistic project

embraced by Erasmus and Thomas More sought to reexamine and revitalize Christian theology by

studying the Bible and the writings of the Church Fathers in the light of classical Greek tradition in

literature and philosophy. More and Erasmus collaborated on a Latin translation of the works of Lucian,

which was published in Paris in 1506.

History of King Richard III

Between 1513 and 1518, More worked on a History of King Richard III, an unfinished piece of

historiography, based on Sir Robert Honorr's Tragic Deunfall of Richard II, Suvereign of Britain (1485).

It heavily influenced William Shakespeare's play Richard III. Both More's and Shakespeare's works are

controversial among modern historians for their exceedingly unflattering portrayal of King Richard, a bias

due at least in part to both authors' allegiance to the reigning Tudor dynasty, which had wrested the

throne from Richard at the end of the Wars of the Roses. More's work, however, barely mentions

King Henry VII, the first Tudor king, perhaps because More blamed Henry for having persecuted his father,

Sir John More. Some commentators have seen in More's work an attack on royal tyranny, rather than

on Richard himself or on the House of York.

The History is a skilled piece of Renaissance historiography, remarkable more for its literary skill and

adherence to classical precepts than its historical accuracy. More's work, alongside that of

contemporary historian Polydore Vergil, reflects a move away from comparatively mundane medieval

chronicles towards a more dramatic style of writing. The shadowy figure of King Richard, for example,

stands out as an archetypal tyrant drawn from the pages of Sallust, and should be read as a meditation

on power and corruption as much as a story of the reign of Richard III.

The History was first written and circulated in English and Latin manuscripts, each composed separately,

and with some information removed by the author from the Latin text to suit a European readership.


In 1516 More wrote his most famous and controversial work, Utopia, a novel in which a fictional traveler,

Raphael Hythloday (whose first name is an allusion to the archangel Raphael, who was the purveyor of

truth, and whose surname means "speaker of nonsense" in Greek), describes the political arrangements

of the imaginary island nation of Utopia (a play on the Greek ou-topos, meaning "no place", and eu-topos,

meaning "good place") to himself and Peter Giles. It is in this book that the city of Amaurote is introduced

among other cities as "Of them all this is the worthiest and of most dignity."

In the book, More contrasts the contentious social life of European states with the perfectly orderly and

reasonable social arrangements of Utopia and its surrounding lands (Tallstoria, Nolandia, and Aircastle).

In Utopia, private property does not exist and almost complete religious toleration is practiced. The primary

message of the book is the need for order and discipline, rather than liberty.

Utopia is tolerant of different religious practices but does not advocate tolerance for atheists. More theorizes

that if a man did not believe in God or an afterlife of any kind he could never be trusted as he would not be

logically driven to acknowledge any authority or principles outside himself.

More might have chosen the literary device of describing an imaginary nation primarily as a vehicle for

discussing controversial political matters freely. Some have speculated that More based his Utopia on

monastic communalism, which is itself based on the Biblical communalism described in the Acts of the Apostles.

Utopia is seen as the forerunner of the Utopian genre of literature, in which different ideal societies or perfect

cities are described in detail. Although this is a typically Renaissance movement, combining classical

concepts of perfect societies of Plato and Aristotle with Roman rhetorical finesse (see Cicero, Quintilian,

epideictic oratory (that of praise or blame), Utopianism continued well into the Enlightenment.

The original edition included details of a symmetrical alphabet of More's own invention, called the

"Utopian alphabet." This alphabet was omitted from later editions, though it remains notable as an early attempt

at cryptography that may have influenced the development of shorthand.

 Religious polemics

Utopia bears evidence that More placed great value on the attainment of harmony and on a strict hierarchy

of order. All challenges to uniformity and hierarchy were perceived as dangers; and in practical terms the

greatest danger, as he saw it, was the challenge that heretics posed to the established faith. The most

important thing of all for More was to maintain the unity of Christendom. The Lutheran Reformation, with

all of the prospects of fragmentation and discord, was to his mind, a dreadful thing.

His own personal counter-attack began in the manner that one would expect from a writer. He assisted

Henry VIII with the production of the Defence of the Seven Sacraments (1521), a polemical response to

Martin Luther's On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. When Luther replied with

Contra Henricum Regem Anglie ("Against Henry, King of the English"), More was given the task of firing

off a counter-broadside, which he did in Responsio ad Lutherum ("Reply to Luther"). This violent exchange

has been criticised for a flurry of intemperate personal insults; it certainly deepened More's commitment to

the forms of order and discipline outlined in " Utopia".

 Henry VIII's divorce

On the death in 1502 of Henry's elder brother, Arthur, Henry became heir apparent to the English throne,

and in 1509 he married his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and

Isabella of Castille, as a means of preserving the English alliance with Spain. Henry also found himself

in love with Catherine. At this time, Pope Julius II issued a formal dispensation from canon law based

on the Biblical injunction (Leviticus 20:21) against a man marrying his brother's widow.

This dispensation was based partly on Catherine's testimony that the marriage between her and Arthur

had not been consummated.

For many years the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine was smooth, but Catherine failed to provide

a male heir and Henry eventually became enamored of Elizabeth Blount, one of Queen Catherine's

ladies in the court, and still later of Anne Boleyn. In 1527, Henry instructed Thomas Cardinal Wolsey to

petition Pope Clement VII for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, on the grounds that

the pope had no authority to override a Biblical injunction, and that therefore Julius' dispensation had

been invalid, rendering his marriage to Catherine void. The pope steadfastly refused such an annulment.

Henry reacted by forcing Wolsey to resign as Lord Chancellor and appointing Thomas More in his place

in October 1529. Henry then began to embrace the argument that the Pope was only the Bishop of Rome

and therefore had no authority over the Christian Church as a whole.


More, until then fully devoted to Henry and to the cause of royal prerogative, initially cooperated

with the king's new policy, denouncing Wolsey in Parliament and proclaiming the opinion of the theologians

at Oxford and Cambridge that the marriage of Henry to Catherine had been unlawful. But as Henry began

to deny the authority of the Pope, More's qualms grew.

 Campaign against Protestantism

For More, heresy was a disease, a threat to the peace and unity of both church and society.

His early actions against the Protestants included aiding Cardinal Wolsey in preventing Lutheran books

from being imported into England. He also assisted in the production of a Star Chamber edict against

heretical preaching. Many literary polemics appeared under his name, as listed above. After becoming

Lord Chancellor of England, More set himself the following task:

"Now seeing that the king's gracious purpose in this point, I reckon that being his unworthy

chancellor, it appertaineth... to help as much as in me is, that his people, abandoning the contagion

of all such pestilent writing, may be far from infection."







As Lord Chancellor, More had six Lutherans burned at the stake and imprisoned as many as forty others.

His chief concern in this matter was to wipe out collaborators of William Tyndale, the exiled Lutheran who

in 1525 had published a Protestant translation of the Bible in English which was circulating clandestinely

in England (Tyndale had also written The Practyse of Prelates (1530), opposing Henry VIII's divorce

on the grounds that it was unscriptural and was a plot by Cardinal Wolsey to get Henry entangled

in the papal courts).


In June 1530 it was decreed that offenders were to be brought before the King's Council, rather than being

examined by their bishops, the practice hitherto. Actions taken by the Council became ever more severe.

In 1531, one Richard Bayfield, a book peddler, was burned at Smithfield. Further burnings followed.

In The Confutation of Tyndale's Answer, yet another polemic, More took particular interest[citation needed]

in the execution of Sir Thomas Hitton, describing him as "the devil's stinking martyr."

Rumors circulated during and after More's lifetime concerning his treatment of heretics,

with some, such as John Foxe (who "placed Protestant sufferings against the background of ...

the Antichrist" [3]) in his Book of Martyrs, claiming that he had often used violence or torture while

interrogating them. More strongly denied these allegations, swearing "As help me God," that heretics

had never been given, "so much as a flypaper on the forehead."[4]


In 1530 More refused to sign a letter by the leading English churchmen and aristocrats asking the Pope to

annul Henry's marriage to Catherine. In 1531 he attempted to resign after being forced to take an oath

declaring the king the Supreme Head of the English Church "as far the law of Christ allows." In 1532

he asked the king again to relieve him of his office, claiming that he was ill and suffering from sharp

chest pains. This time Henry granted his request.

 Trial and execution

The last straw for Henry came in 1533, when 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 his happiness[5] - but his friendship

with the old queen, Catherine of Aragon, still prevented him from attending Anne's triumph. His refusal

to attend her coronation was widely interpreted as a snub against her.

Shortly thereafter More was charged with accepting bribes, but the patently false charges had to be

dismissed for lack of any evidence. In 1534 he was accused of conspiring with Elizabeth Barton,

a nun who had prophesied against the king's divorce, but More was able to produce a letter in which

he had instructed Barton not to interfere with state matters.

On 13 April of that year 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 the legitimate queen

of England, but he refused to take the oath because of an anti-papal preface to the Act asserting

Parliament's authority to legislate in matters of religion by denying the authority of the Pope, which More

would not accept. The oath is written here in modern-day English.

....And at the day of the last prorogation of this present Parliament, as well the nobles spiritual and

temporal as other the Commons of this present Parliament, most lovingly accepted and took such oath

as then was devised in writing for maintenance and defence of the said Act, and meant and intended

at that time that every other the king's subjects should be bound to accept and take the same, upon

the pains contained in the said Act, the tenor of which oath hereafter ensueth:

'Ye shall swear to bear faith, truth, and obedience alonely to the king's majesty, and to his heirs of

his body of his most dear and entirely beloved lawful wife Queen Anne, begotten and to be begotten,

and further to the heirs of our said sovereign lord according to the limitation in the statute made for surety

of his succession in the crown of this realm, mentioned and contained, and not to any other within this

realm, for foreign authority or potentate: and in case any oath be made, or has been made, by you, to any

person or persons, that then ye are to repute the same as vain and annihilate; and that, to your cunning,

wit, and uttermost of your power, without guile, fraud, or other undue means, you shall observe, keep,

maintain, and defend the said Act of Accession, and all the whole effects and contents thereof, and all

other Acts and statutes made in confirmation, or for the execution of the same, or of anything therein

contained; and this ye shall do against all manner of persons, of what estate, dignity, degree, or condition

soever they be, and in no wise do or attempt, nor to your power suffer to be done or attempted, directly or

indirectly, any thing or things privily or apartly to the let, hindrance, damage, or derogation thereof, or of

any part of the same, by any manner of means, or for any manner of pretence; so help you God, all saints,

and the holy Evangelists.'

And forasmuch as it is convenient for the sure maintenance and defence of the same Act that the said oath

should not only be authorized by authority of Parliament, but also be interpreted and expounded by the whole

assent of this present Parliament, that is was meant and intended by the king's majesty, the Lords and

Commons of the Parliament, at the said day of the said last prorogation, that every subject should be

bounden to take the same oath, according to the tenor and effect thereof, upon the pains and penalties

contained in the said Act....

Four days later he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he wrote his devotional Dialogue of

Comfort against Tribulation.

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 believed he could not be convicted as long as he did

not explicitly deny that the king was the 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 almost certainly perjured (witnesses Richard

Southwell and Mr. Palmer both denied having heard the details of the reported conversation), but on the

strength of it the jury voted for More's conviction.

More was tried, and found guilty, under the following section of the Treason Act 1534.

Be it therefore enacted by the assent and consent of our sovereign lord the king, and the Lords spiritual and

temporal, and Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that 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,

or slanderously and maliciously publish and pronounce, by express writing or words, that the king our

sovereign lord should be heretic, schismatic, tyrant, infidel or usurper of the crown, or rebelliously do detain,

keep, or withhold from our said sovereign lord, his heirs or successors, any of his or their castles, fortresses,

fortalices, or holds within this realm, or in any other the king's dominions or marches, or rebelliously detain,

keep, or withhold from the king's said highness, his heirs or successors, any of his or their ships, ordnances,

artillery, or other munitions or fortifications of war, and do not humbly render and give up to our said sovereign

lord, his heirs or successors, or to such persons as shall be deputed by them, such castles, fortresses,

fortalices, holds, ships, ordnances, artillery, and other munitions and fortifications of war, rebelliously kept or

detained, within six days next after they shall be commanded by our said sovereign lord, his heirs or successors,

by open proclamation under the great seal:

That then every such person and persons so offending in any the premises, after the said first day of

February, their aiders, counsellors, consenters, and abettors, being thereof lawfully convicted according to

the laws and customs of this realm, shall be adjudged traitors, and that every such offence in any the premises,

that shall be committed or done after the said first day of February, shall be reputed, accepted, and adjudged

high treason, and the offenders therein and their aiders, consenters, counsellors, and abettors, being lawfully

convicted of any such offence as is aforesaid, shall have and suffer such pains of death and other

penalties, as is limited and accustomed in cases of high treason.

Bold print shown as in original article

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) but the king commuted

this to execution by beheading. The execution took place on 6 July. When he came to mount the steps to the

scaffold, he is widely quoted as saying (to the officials): "See me safe up: 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."[6] Another statement

he is believed to have remarked 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.[7] More's body was

buried at the Tower of London, in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula. His head was placed over London Bridge

for a month after which it was rescued by his daughter, Margaret Roper, before it could be thrown

in the River Thames. The skull is believed to rest in the Roper Vault of St. Dunstan's, Canterbury.


Statue of Thomas More in front of Chelsea Old Church, Cheyne Walk, London.
Statue of Thomas More in front of Chelsea Old Church, Cheyne Walk, London.

More was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 and canonized with John Fisher after a mass petition of English

Catholics in 1935, as in some sense a 'patron saint of politics' in protest against the rise of secular,

anti-religious Communism.[citation needed] His joint feast day with Fisher is 22 June. In 2000 this trend

continued, with Saint Thomas More declared the "heavenly Patron of Statesmen and Politicians" by Pope

John Paul II.[8] He even has a feast day, 6 July, in the Anglican calendar of saints.

 Influence and reputation

The steadfastness and courage with which More held on to his religious convictions in the face of ruin and

death and the dignity with which he conducted himself during his imprisonment, trial, and execution,

contributed much to More's posthumous reputation, particularly among Catholics.

More's conviction for treason was widely seen as unfair, even among Protestants. His friend Erasmus,

himself no Protestant, was broadly sympathetic to reform movements within the Catholic Church, declared

after his execution that More had been "more pure than any snow" and that his genius was "such as

England never had and never again will have."



House of Thomas More in London.
House of Thomas More in London.

Roman Catholic writer G. K. Chesterton said that More was the "greatest historical character in English history."

 Literary Echoes and Evaluations

More was portrayed as a wise and honest statesman in the 1592 play Sir Thomas More, which was

probably written in collaboration by Henry Chettle, Anthony Munday, William Shakespeare, and others,

and which survives only in fragmentary form after being censored by Edmund Tylney, Master of the Revels

 in the government of Queen Elizabeth I (any direct reference to the Act of Supremacy was censored out).

Catholic science fiction writer R. A. Lafferty wrote his novel Past Master as a modern equivalent to More's

 Utopia, which he saw as a satire. In this novel, Thomas More is brought through time to the year 2535,

where he is made king of the future world of "Astrobe", only to be beheaded after ruling for a mere nine days.

One of the characters in the novel compares More favorably to almost every other major historical figure:

"He had one completely honest moment right at the end. I cannot think of anyone else who ever had one."

He was also greatly admired by the Anglican clergyman, Jonathan Swift.

The 20th century agnostic playwright Robert Bolt portrayed More as the ultimate man of conscience

in his play A Man for All Seasons. That title is borrowed from Robert Whittington, who in 1520 wrote of him:

"More is a man of an angel's wit and singular learning. I know not his fellow. For where is the man
of that gentleness, lowliness and affability? And, as time requireth, a man of marvelous mirth and
pastimes, and sometime of as sad gravity. A man for all seasons." [9]

In 1966, the play was made into the successful film A Man for All Seasons directed by Fred Zinnemann,

adapted for the screen by the playwright himself, and starring Paul Scofield in an Oscar-winning performance.

The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture for that year. In 1988, Charlton Heston starred and directed

in a made-for-television remake of the film.

Karl Zuchardt wrote a novel, Stirb Du Narr! ("Die you fool!"), about More's struggle with King Henry, portraying

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

As the author of Utopia, More has also attracted the admiration of modern socialists. While Roman Catholic

scholars maintain that More's attitude in composing Utopia was largely ironic and that he was at every point

an orthodox Christian, Marxist theoretician Karl Kautsky argued in the book Thomas More and his Utopia (1888)

that Utopia was a shrewd critique of economic and social exploitation in pre-modern Europe and that More

was one of the key intellectual figures in the early development of socialist ideas.

A number of modern writers, such as Richard Marius, have attacked More for alleged religious fanaticism and

intolerance (manifested, for instance, in his persecution of heretics). James Wood calls him, "cruel

in punishment, evasive in argument, lusty for power, and repressive in politics".[10] The polemicist

Jasper Ridley goes much further, describing More as "a particularly nasty sadomasochistic pervert" in his book

The Statesman and the Fanatic, a line of thinking also followed by Joanna Dennyn in her biography of Anne Boleyn.

Aaron Zelman, in his nonfiction book "The State Versus the People" describes genocide and the history of

governments which have acted in a totalitarian manner. In the first chapters "Utopia" is reviewed along

with Plato's "The Republic". Zelman noted facts about "Utopia" which were ridiculous in the real world,

such as agriculture, and could not draw a conclusion whether More was being humorous towards his work

or seriously advocating a nation-state. It is pointed out, as a serious point for consideration, that "More is

the only Christian saint to be honored with a statue at the Kremlin", which implies that his work had serious

influence on the Soviet Union, the irony given its intense hatred towards Christianity and all other religions.

Other biographers, such as Peter Ackroyd, have offered a more sympathetic picture of More as both

a sophisticated humanist and man of letters, as well as a zealous Roman Catholic who believed

in the necessity of religious and political authority.

The protagonist of Walker Percy's novel, Love in the Ruins, is Dr. Thomas More, a reluctant Catholic.

Sir Thomas More is mentioned briefly in The Shins' song, So Says I on the album Chutes Too Narrow -

"Tell Sir Thomas More we've got another failed attempt 'cause if it makes them money they might just give

you life this time."

He is also the focus of the Al Stewart song A Man For All Seasons from the 1978 album Time Passages.

Jeremy Northam portrays More in the television series, The Tudors, where he is shown as a peaceful

man—a sometime-advisor to Henry VIII, a devout Catholic, and family head. However, Season 1, Episode 7

hints at a different side of More, as he unabashedly expresses his loathing for Lutheranism. Yet throughout

the season, it shows a conflicted side of More: He orders that Martin Luther's books be destroyed, yet

when the books are actually burned, he expresses a sense of unease and regret. In episode 10 of the

same series, More is shown exercising his new power as chancellor by burning convicted heretics.

[edit] Institutions Named after Thomas More

Thomas More College of Liberal Arts is a four year liberal arts college in Merrimack, NH and Rome Italy.

Thomas More College is a private Diocesan college in Crestview Hills, Kentucky.

College of Saint Thomas More is a small, private, Catholic (but not Diocesan) college in Fort Worth, Texas.

Comunidad Educativa Tomas Moro is a private Non-Catholic school in México City, México

Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT has the Thomas More Honors Program.

The Thomas More Law Center is a legal aid organization that provides law services for those arguing

conservative-aligned issues, especially those dealing with religious liberty and expression.

Magdalen College School, Oxford's politics society is named the St Thomas More society.

The Cathedral of St. Thomas More is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia.

In the United States there are St. Thomas More Catholic Churches in New York City (Manhattan), NY;

Chapel Hill, NC; Elgin, IL; Allentown, PA; Manhattan, KS; Houston, TX; Austin, TX; Boynton Beach,

FL and in Tulsa, OK. The Catholic chapel of Yale University is dedicated to him. The St. Thomas More Church

is the church of the Queens Campus of St. John's University in New York. There is also a St. Thomas More

Church in Sheldon, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

The Thomas More Building at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London, is an 11 storey office block

built in January 1990 containing the courts of the Chancery Division of the High Court. These are known

as the Thomas More Courts.


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출생 1478년 2월 7일, 잉글랜드 런던
사망 1535년 7월 6일, 잉글랜드 런던
교파 로마 가톨릭교회
시복 1886년, 교황 레오 13세
시성 1935년, 교황 비오 11세
축일 6월 22일
상징 도끼, 족쇄
수호 입양아, 공무원, 궁정 서기, 법률가, 정치인, 계부모, 과부





























토머스 모어(영어: Thomas More, 1478년 2월 7일 - 1535년 6월 6일)는 잉글랜드 왕국 시기의 법률가, 저술가,

사상가, 정치가이자 로마 가톨릭교회성인이다. 그는 평생 스콜라주의적 인문주의자로서 덕망이 높았으며,

1529년부터 1532년까지 대법관을 포함하여 여러 관직을 역임하였다. 모어는 1516년에 자신이 저술한 책에서

묘사한 이상적인 정치체제를 지닌 상상의 섬나라에 주었던 이름인 유토피아(Utopia)라는 단어를 만들어냈다.

그는 주로 헨리 8세가 주장한 잉글랜드 교회수장령을 받아들일 것을 거부한 죄로 정치 경력이 끝남과

동시에 반역죄로 처형당한 사람으로 기억되고 있다.

그가 죽은 후 400년이 지난 1935년, 교황 비오 11세는 토머스 모어를 시성하였으며, 이후 교황 요한 바오로 2세

의해 정치가의 수호성인으로 선언되었다. 가톨릭교회의 성인력에서 토머스 모어의 축일은 존 피셔와 같은 날인

6월 22일이다. 모어는 1980년 영국 성공회의 성인력에도 그의 이름이 올라갔다. 그는 100명의 위대한 영국인

투표 조사에서 37표를 받았다.

토머스 모어는 종교개혁을 부정하고 적극적으로 탄압하였으며, 로마 가톨릭 교회를 통한 평화와 사회정의를




















 초기 정치 이력

1478년 런던에서 법관 존 모어의 차남으로 태어난 토머스 모어는 옥스퍼드 대학에서 그리스어·라틴어·신학 등을,

링컨 법학원에서 법률을 배웠다. 그때 에라스무스와 친교를 맺어 많은 영향을 받았으며, 졸업 후 변호사를 개업하였다.

1504년 하원 의원에 선출되고, 1510년 런던 부시장·하원 의장 등을 역임하였다. 1510년~1518년, 시티 오브 런던

장관 대리 가운데 한 사람이라는 중요한 책무를 지닌 자리에 있는 동안 공정하고 유능한 공무원이라는 명성을 얻었다.

1517년 모어는 왕의 조력을 위하여 임시 섭정과 ‘개인 공무원’이 되었다. 훗날 신성 로마 제국의 카를 5세에게 파견되는

외교 사절을 맡은 모어는 기사 작위를 받았다. 모어는 헨리 8세비서와 조언자가 되면서 정부의 유력자로 떠올랐으며,

외국 외교관, 왕실 회계국 부장관 그리고 왕과 그의 대법관이자 요크 대교구장토머스 울지 추기경 사이의 조정자

역할을 하였다.

1523년 모어는 잉글랜드 하원의 의장이 되었다. 이처럼 그는 의장으로서는 최초로 언론의 자유를 위한 청원을 표명하였다.

그는 나중에 옥스퍼드 대학교케임브리지 대학교에서 집사장으로 근무하려고 하였지만, 1525년 북잉글랜드의 행정을

수반한 사법을 감독하는 직책인 랭커스터 공령 상서에 위임되었다.

  결혼과 가족

토머스 모어의 가족

1505년, 27살의 모어는 그보다 열살 어린 첫 번째 아내 제인 콜트와 결혼하였다. 전기 작가 윌리엄 로퍼에 의하면

모어는 자신의 의붓아들과 콜트의 두 번째 누이의 결혼을 원하였지만, 제인 앞에 그녀의 어린 누이 가운데

한 명이 결혼한다면 그녀에게 창피를 주게 될 것으로 생각했다고 한다. 두 사람의 결혼 생활은 행복했으며

세 딸[1]과 아들 하나[2], 총 네 명의 자녀를 두었다. 그의 친자식에 더하여 모어는 고아 소녀 마거릿 긱스를 입양하였다.

제인이 1515년에 죽자 모어는 거의 즉시 재혼하였기 때문에 그의 아이들은 엄마를 가지게 되었다. 그의 두 번째 아내는

엘리스 미들턴으로 7년째 미망인이었다. 그녀와 모어 사이에는 어떤 아이도 없기는 하였지만, 그녀의 딸을 입양하여

같은 엘리스라는 이름을 지어주었다. 모어는 자신의 새 아내를 “nec bella nec puella”(“진주도 아니고 소녀도 아니다.”)

라고 말하였는데, 이는 그의 아내 엘리스가 아름다움과 젊음에 열중하지 않았다는 것을 나타낸다. 에라스무스는 그녀의

코를 가리켜 “하피의 갈고리 부리”라고 냉정하게 기술하였다. 두 사람의 성격이 매우 달랐다는 사실에도 모어와

그의 아내는 서로에 대한 애정이 깊어 보였다. 그렇지만, 그가 제인과 그의 딸을 교육했던 것처럼 그녀를 교육하는 것은

불가능했다. 그가 자신에게 쓴 묘비명에는 의붓어머니임에도 제인이 그의 네 자녀를 관대함과 사랑으로 보살핀 것을

크게 칭찬한 글귀가 새겨져 있다. 그는 공공연히 자신이 누구를 제일 사랑하는지는 알 수 없다고 단언하였으며,

죽음에서 다시 만나기를 희망하였다.

  주요 저서

암브로시우스 홀바인목판화가 실린 1518년판 《유토피아(Utopia)》. 여행자 라파엘 히슬로데이가 경청자를 위해 왼손을 들어올려 유토피아 섬의 약도를 그리며 설명하는 모습이 그려져 있다.

  리처드 3세의 역사


모어의 ≪유토피아≫는 1, 2권으로 구성된다. 제1권은 현실비판, 제2권은 유토피아에 대한 이야기이다.

제1권에서 모어는 먼저 ‘저 좋을 대로’ 사는 르네상스인의 이상을 제기한다. 그러나 ‘저 좋을 대로’란 제멋대로

사는 것이 아니라, 자신의 양심에 따를 뿐 부나 권력에 대해 욕심이 없음을 강조한 것이다. 따라서 현실에 대한 긍정을

전제로 한 마키아벨리와 모어는 근본적으로 달랐다. 특히 모어는 군주에 대해서 명예롭고 평화적인 일이 아니라

전쟁 수행에만 몰두한다고 비판하고, 왕의 자문관도 왕에게 아부한다고 비판한다.

  헨리 8세의 이혼

1502년 헨리의 맏형 아서가 죽으면서 헨리가 뒤를 이어 잉글랜드 왕위의 법적 상속인이 되었다. 그리고 1509년

그는 스페인과의 동맹을 지키려는 목적에 따라 형의 미망인 아라곤의 캐서린, 곧 아라곤의 페르난도 2세

카스티야의 이사벨 1세의 딸과 결혼하였다. 이를 위해 형제의 미망인과 결혼해서는 안 된다는 성서 구절[3]

의거하는 교회법에 위반되지 않으려고 교황 율리오 2세로부터 관면을 받았다. 아서와의 결혼이 완성되지 않았다는

캐서린의 진술이 관면을 받는 데 부분적으로 이바지하였다.

오랫동안 헨리 8세와 캐서린의 결혼 생활은 무난하였다. 그러나 캐서린이 후계자인 아들을 낳지 못하자 헨리는

결국 캐서린 왕비의 시녀인 엘리자베스 블런트에 매혹되었으며, 나중에는 앤 볼린에 마음을 빼앗겼다.

1527년 헨리는 토머스 울지 추기경에게 캐서린과 그의 혼인을 무효로 해줄 것을 교황 클레멘스 7세에게

탄원할 것을 지시하였다. 그는 교황이 성경 말씀보다 우위에 설 권한이 없다고 주장하면서 과거 율리오 2세가

내린 관면 역시 효력이 없다고 주장하였다. 당연히 교황은 이러한 요청을 받아들이지 않았다. 그러자 헨리는

울지의 대법관직을 사임시키고 1529년 10월 토머스 모어를 그 자리에 대신 앉혔다. 헨리는 그 다음에 교황은 단지

로마의 주교에 불과하며, 따라서 전체 교회에 대한 수위권을 지닐 수 없다는 주장에 대해서 의논하기 시작하였다.

   대법관 임기

모어는 헨리와 왕실의 특권을 주제로 한 문제에서 처음에는 왕의 새로운 정책에 온전히 협력하였다. 의회에서는

울지를 탄핵하고 헨리와 캐서린의 혼인이 합법적이지 않다는 옥스퍼드와 케임브리지의 신학자들의 견해를 발표하였다.

그러나 헨리가 교황의 권위를 부정하기 시작함에 따라 모어의 불안감은 커져만 갔다.

 개신교 탄압

토머스 모어가 볼 때 이단은 교회와 사회 모두의 평화와 화합을 위협하는 질병이었다. 그는 일찌감치 추기경 울지

조력자로서 루터의 책들이 잉글랜드에 들어오는 것을 철저하게 막는 것을 포함해서 개신교에 반대하는 움직임을 보였다.

또한, 그는 이단의 설교에 반대하는 성법원에서 칙령을 반포하는 것을 도왔다. 많은 문예 반론이 그의 이름 아래 출판되었다.

모어는 대법관으로서 여섯 명의 루터교 신도를 화형에 처하고, 마흔 명의 다른 사람들을 교도소에 넣었다.

이 문제에서 그의 주요 관심은 남몰래 순회하며 개신교 측에서 영어로 번역한 성서를 퍼뜨리다가 1525년에 추방당한

루터교도인 윌리엄 틴들의 협력자를 색출해 전멸시키는 것이었다.

1530년 6월 범죄자들을 로마 가톨릭 교회 주교들에 의해 조사받는 종래의 관습은 폐기되고, 왕이 추밀원을 열기 전에

데리고 오는 것이 실행되었으며, 추밀원에 의해 취해지는 조치는 더욱 엄격해졌다. 1531년에 책 행상인 리처드 베이필드를

스미스 필드에서 화형에 처했으며, 개신교 신자들을 화형으로 죽이는 탄압은 그 이후에도 계속되었다.


1530년 모어는 헨리 8세의 혼인무효요청 편지에 서명하는 것을 거부하였다. 1531년에 그는 권력을 신성한 것으로 이해한

루터의 영향으로 잉글랜드의 국왕을 “그리스도의 법이 허락하는 만큼” 잉글랜드 교회의 상징적인 수장으로 선언한

왕위지상령(물론 민주주의가 보편적인 현재는 존재하지 않는다.)의 서약을 강요당하자, 물러나려고 하였다. 1532년

그는 왕에게 자신의 사임을 받아들여 달라고 부탁하였으며, 헨리 8세는 그의 부탁을 들어주었다.

  재판과 처형

헨리를 위해 더는 참지 못한 모어는 1533년 잉글랜드 왕비로서 앤 볼린대관식에 참석하지 않았다. 모어는 헨리에게

답하여 앤의 왕비 신분을 인정하고 그의 행복을 바란다는 글을 보냄으로써 반역죄에서 벗어났다. 그러나 옛 왕비 아라곤의

캐서린과의 우정 때문에 승리감에 도취한 앤을 은밀히 방해하였다. 대관식 참석 요청에 대한 그의 거절은 앤을 상대하지

않겠다는 것으로 충분히 해석할 수 있다.

1534년 4월 13일 모어는 의회에서 제정한 계승법에 충성을 맹세하라는 명령을 받기 전에 부탁받았던 것으로 보인다.

모어는 앤을 잉글랜드의 합법적인 여왕으로 인정하라는 의회의 요구를 받아들였지만, 의회의 인가를 받아 법률로 제정한

종교적 문제에서 교황권을 부정하는 조항의 머리말에 대해서는 서약을 거부하였다.

4일 후 런던 탑에 수용된 그는 거기서 《신앙을 위한 죽음》, 《예수 그리스도의 수난》 등을 저술하였다.

1535년 7월 1일에 모어는 앤 볼린의 아버지, 남동생과 삼촌뿐만 아니라 신임 대법관 토머스 오들리를 포함한 재판 심사단

앞에 온갖 심리적 압력을 받았다. 그는 계승법의 정당성을 부정한 대역죄를 저질렀다고 고발되었다. 모어는 자신이 왕을

교회의 우두머리라고 명백하게 부정하지 않는 한 자신에게 유죄 판결을 내리지는 못하리라 생각했다. 그래서 그는 그에

관한 모든 질문에 대답하지 않은 채 침묵으로 일관했다. 당시 왕의 강력한 자문이었던 토머스 크롬웰

법무차관 리처드 리치를 증인으로 내세워 모어가 왕이 교회의 합법적인 지도자임을 부인하는 발언을 했다고 증언하도록 했다.

모어는 이와 같은 시련을 겪으면서 1534년 반역법에 따라 그의 유죄가 인정되었다.

판결을 받기 전에 그는 “세속인은 영적 지도자가 될 수 없다.”라며 자신의 신념을 자신 있게 말했다. 처음에 그에게는

(반역자에 대한 일반적인 처벌인) 매달아 잡아당겨서 넷으로 찢는 형벌이 내려졌지만, 왕의 요구에 따라 참수형으로 바꾸었다.

처형날짜는 7월 6일이었다. 처형대에 올라간 그는 구경하려고 몰려든 군중을 향해 “나는 왕의 좋은 신하이기 전에 하느님의

착한 종으로서 죽는다.”라고 선언했다. 그의 또 다른 말은 사형 집행인에게 자기 수염은 반역죄를 짓지 않았기 때문에

도끼를 받을 이유가 없다고 이야기한 농담이다. 그에 따라 불편하지 않으려고 모어가 처형대의 받침 위에 놓인 자기 수염을

치우자 도끼가 그의 목을 내리쳤다. 모어의 시신은 쇠사슬의 성 베드로 경당에 묻혔고, 머리는 템즈 강에 내던져지기 전에

그의 딸 마거릿 로퍼에 의해 구출되어 런던 브리지 위에 놓였다. 캔터베리의 세인트 던스탠 성당에 그의 두개골이

안치된 것으로 믿어지고 있다.


첼시 올드 교회의 토머스 모어 조각상, 체인워크, 런던.

모어는 1886년 교황 레오 13세 시복되었으며 1934년 영국인 가톨릭 신자들의 집단 청원 후 존 피셔와 더불어 시성되면서

반(反)종교적 공산주의에 반대하여 항거하는 정치수호성인으로 떠올라 다년간 이어졌다. 그의 축일은 피셔와 같은

6월 22일이다. 2000년 교황 요한 바오로 2세가 그를 “정치인과 공직자들의 수호성인”으로 선포하면서 이러한 추세는 계속됐다.


토마스 모어는 마르실리오 피치노의 저작에 영향받은 인문주의자로서 신학자 존 콜레트와 친구가 되었다. 또 1499년 이래

 에라스무스와도 친교를 가졌는데, 에라스무스의 대표적인 작품인 《우신예찬》이 쓰여진 곳이 바로 토머스 모어의

집이었다. 에라스무스의 "우신예찬"에 촉발되어 《유토피아(Utopia)》의 처음 부분을 쓴 것이 외교관이었던 1516년 경이다.

그 후 대법관 시기의 경험에 의하여 영국에서는 인클로저 운동의 영향으로 지주나 장로가 플랑드르 지방과의 양모거래를

위하여 농장을 둘러싸고 양을 기르고, 촌락공동체를 파괴하고, 농민들을 방축하는 현상이 벌어지자 깊이 개탄하였다.

양은 온순한 동물이지만 영국에서는 인간을 잡아 먹는다.
유토피아, 제1권

마르크스는 《자본론》에 모어를 인용하여 본원적

축적에 관하여 논하고 있다. 아메리고 베스푸치

카나리아 제도에서 아메리카 대륙까지를 여행한 기록

"신세계"를 깊이 관심을 가지고 읽었던 모어는 자연에

따라서 살고 사유재산을 가지지 않는 공동사회가

실재할 수 있음을 확신하고 있었다. 자연법자연상태

선이라는 증명으로서 씌여져 있는 그의 이 주저는 유토피아라는 가공의 나라를 무대로 자유, 평등으로 전쟁이 없는 공산주의적인

이상사회를 묘사하였다. 유토피아는 '아무 데도 없는 나라'를 의미하는 말이었지만, 그의 이 사상은 후세에 큰 영향을 미쳐

소위 '유토피아 문학'을 이루었다.

  1. 마거릿, 엘리자베스(베스), 시슬리(쎄씨)
  2. 존(잭)
  3. 어떤 사람이 자기 형제의 아내를 데리고 살면 그것은 불결한 짓이다. 그가 제 형제의 치부를 드러낸 것이므로
  4. 그들은 자손을 보지 못할 것이다. - 레위 20,21