Thomas More

Thomas More At the last debating whereof he made such arguments and reasons there against, that the King’s demands were thereby overthrown.

So that one of the King’s privy chamber, named Mr. Tyler, being present thereat, brought word to the King out of the Parliament house, that a beardless boy had disappointed all his purposes. Whereupon the King conceiving great indignation towards him could not be satisfied until he had some way revenged it. And forasmuch as he nothing having, nothing could lose, his grace devised a causeless quarrel against his Father, keeping him in the Tower until he had paid him an hundred pounds fine.Shortly hereupon it fortuned that this Sir Thomas More coming in a suit to Dr. Fox, Bishop of Winchester, one of the King’s privy council, they called him aside, and pretending great favour towards him, promised him that if he would be ruled by him, he would not fail but into the King’s favour again to restore him, meaning, as it was after conjectured, to cause him thereby to confess his offence against the King, whereby his Highness might with better colour have occasion to revenge his displeasure against him. But when he came from the Bishop, he fell in communication with one Mr.

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Witford, his familiar friend, then chaplain to that Bishop and after a Father of Sion, and showed him what the Bishop had said unto him, desiring to have his advice therein, who for the passion of God prayed him in no wise to follow his counsel “for my Lord my Master (quoth he) to serve the King’s turn will not stick to agree to his own father’s death.” So Sir Thomas More returned to the Bishop no more when Sir Thomas More had remained in the Tower a little more than a month, my wife, longing to see her father, by her earnest suit at length gat leave to go to him. At whose coming (after the seven psalms and litany said, which whensoever she came to him, ere he fell in talk of any worldly matters, he used accustomably to say with her) among other communication he said unto her, prolific letter writer Since More was a practising lawyer and politician for most of his adult life he was allowed to correspond with his eldest daughter Margaret Roper (who was also allowed to visit him in prison) Within two weeks of More’s death (6 July 1535), an eye-witness account of More’s final trial and execution written , for a different view of the relationships between the various accounts of More’s execution.] More served Henry faithfully in some of the most trying times the English court has ever known, and when he refused to attend Anne Boleyn’s coronation ceremony he knew what was in store. He was later requested to take an oath acknowledging Henry the supreme head of the Church in England, and when he (as a loyal Roman Catholic) refused he was tried and convicted of treason.This essay has indicated that the humanists were concerned with developing a noble style in their oral and written communication.

They were also concerned with their style of behavior. They valued witty behavior, and especially a witty jest ; and they immensely admired a quality of polished urbanity when it was manifest in difficult situations. One way of summing this up would be to say that the humanists admired a man who never “lost his cool.” According to William Roper, More’s son-in-law and biographer, Sir Thomas More even quipped at the time of his death. To one of his attendants at the foot of the shaky scaffold More said, “I pray you, Master Lieutenant, see me safe up, and for my coming down let me shift for myself.” And when the executioner begged his pardon, More embraced him and said to him “pluck up thy spirits, man, and be not afraid to do thine office.” Finally, as he was laying his head upon the block, he begged the executioner stay until he had removed his beard, saying that it had never committed any treason.

The execution of More in 1535 shocked and dismayed humanists throughout Europe. Their hopes blasted by nationalism, religious faction and royal pride, it became impossible for men like More and Erasmus, to prevail.The succeeding generation of humanists tended, like Francis Petrarch earlier, to be more cautious, more deferential to established power and doctrine. Sir Thomas More considered becoming a Carthusian monk, but chose instead the active life of law and public service. After writing Utopia, Sir Thomas More served in the court of Henry VIII, and his service there, as some of you know, cost him his life. One can hardly blame earlier and later humanists, then, for seeking political accommodation. The end of Henry’s VIII’s reign brought complete frustration to the humanists.

In addition to More, Henry slew Dr.Richard Reynolds and John Fisher, both very prominent churchmen, as well as John Houghton and a whole monastery of Carthusian monks under Houghton’s care. As a young man More had seriously considered joining the Carthusian order. Henry also imprisoned two of his country’s greatest humanist, courtier poets, Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey.

Wyatt he imprisoned and broke; Surrey he killed.

Thomas More

Thomas More G.D. Ramsay. A Saint in the City: Thomas More at Mercers Hall, English Historical Review.

April, 1982. 267-288.Lawyer. Negotiator. Legislator. Humanist.

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Scholar. Sir Thomas More served the English people in each one of these capacities.Mores intellectual skill, when combined with his sharp personality, made him Englands most versatile public servant in the early sixteenth century. More was one of the most successful men in English history, as his efforts for various causes propelled him to the forefront of English society. The article, A Saint in the City: Thomas More at Mercers Hall, tells the story of Mores rise to power and his role in Englands trade policy. Born the son of a lawyer in 1478, More was schooled at St. Anthonys and then worked as a servant for Cardinal Morton, archbishop of Canterbury.Morton subsequently sent More to study at Canterbury College.

After a short stay at the school, More returned to London, becoming a member of Lincolns Inn. This was the beginning of Mores great legal career. In 1504, More began his service in Parliament, which sat at Westminster. From the beginning, Mores talents were recognized by the leaders of the country: King Henry VII and his minister, Edmund Dudley. In 1509, More was admitted membership into the privileged Mercers Company.

More was returned to a new parliament in 1510 and was elevated to the position of burgess of the city. In September of the same year, More took the position of under-sheriff, continuing to follow in the legal footsteps of his famed father. This position entailed appearing in the royal lawcourts for the city when it was engaged in litigation and sitting as judge in the Sheriffs Court.

While these various positions add to Mores genius, it was his work for the Mercers that brought him his greatest fame. The Mercers were comprised mainly from two groups of the cloth industry: the Merchant Adventurers, shippers of cloth to the Netherlands, and the Staplers. Conflict between those two groups first developed in 1493, when a fallout between Henry VII and the house of Burgundy caused the Englishmen who sold cloths in the Netherlands to relocate to the safety of Calais. Friction between the two companies endured until it came to a peak in 1512. That year, each company was summoned to speak its case before the kings council in the Star Chamber. The council allowed eight representatives from both the Merchant Adventurers and the Staplers to speak.The list of speakers for the Merchant Adventurers included the governor of their fellowship, two other Mercers, a haberdasher, a skinner, a draper, a grocer, and a taylor.

The list of speakers for the Staplers included seven wool merchants and Thomas More. It was clear throughout the meetings that More was the most articulate and persuasive member of either group of representatives. Mores goal was to resolve the differences of the two companies. The efforts of more were met with success, as the two groups conciliated and conflicts between the two would be non-existent for several years.Mores negotiating skills were needed again by England in 1510. This time, international trade was the focus of events. A conflict with the Netherlands ensued in the city of Antwerp.

The collections of customs and the lack of warehousing space in the city were the source of the problems. A Pensionary was called in to arbitrate the meeting between the English officials and those from the Netherlands. The meetings took place at Mercers Hall in London. Because the Pensionary was unable to speak English, the negotiations were in Latin.Records of the minutes from this meeting show that, once again, More dominated the negotiations. More served in many capacities throughout the meeting, acting as both a negotiator and as an interpreter.

The results of the meeting stood heavily in Englands favor. The Pensionary assured that the clothing fleets from England would sail freely from the Thames River to Antwerp for the next mart. For the next five years, More continued his work as a lawyer and a city officer. England, however, once again needed his skills in the spring of 1515.The relations between the Netherlands and the English were once again coming to a boil. More was persuaded and pushed by English merchants to participate in the conference at Bruges. Just as he had done in the meetings at Mercers Hall, More dominated the conference. More possessed the most rarest combination of talents.

His fluency in Latin, his skills as a lawyer, and his intense knowledge of the cloth and wool trade industries enabled great success at the conference for England. During this conference, More was subject to long periods of leisure.It was in these times when More wrote much of his masterpiece, Utopia. Mores success at Bruges once again brought his skills to the attention of English leadership. This time, it was King Henry VIII and Thomas Wolsey who recognized Mores abilities and extended him an invitation to move from working for the city to working for the king. This article chronicled the life of Thomas More very favorably. The author made Mores skills and talents very clear.

However, the writing in the article was very difficult to follow.It was obvious that the intended audience for the article consisted of scholars of English history. Nevertheless, I found More to be a very intriguing character.

Mores personal, negotiating, legal, labor, and linguistic skills seem to show that he represented all that was good within the borders of England.


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