Thomas More: A Biography

Thomas More: A Biography

Richard Marius

Language: English

Pages: 592

ISBN: 0674885252

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Over the centuries, biographers of Thomas More have always praised him and made him an example for their own times. He was a man for all seasons. This Tudor prelate and Lord Chancellor of England shared human qualities identifiable in all ages—pride, love, ambition, generosity, hypocrisy, and greed. He was less than common because he was witty and a great storyteller—the best between Chaucer and Shakespeare. Truly, he was a Renaissance man with the contradictions such praise imposes on a towering figure. In Richard Marius's authoritative and engaging portrait, Sir Thomas More, the martyr and brilliant public figure, is a lesson for our season.

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legacy of his father. When John More died at last in 1530, Thomas held the old man in his arms and kissed him and wept. 2. FROM EARLY LIFE TO THE INNS OF COURT THOMAS MORE lived his first twenty-two years in the fifteenth century, and his character was formed by that time. The details of his youth that are known for certain could be set down on a single page. The times must have left their mark, and his associations must have influenced him, but we can only speculate about how

royal secretary when Thomas More was put to death. Painting by Hans Holbein. Frick Museum, New York. JOHN FISHER, conservative bishop of Rochester, who with More supported the Catholic Church against Henry VIII and died two weeks before him on Tyburn Hill. Painted terracotta bust by Pietro Torrigiano, sixteenth century. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. A page from “De Tristitia Christi,” More’s last work, written while he was in the Tower of London, and the only work, aside from

seems quite likely that More learned of Frith’s whereabouts through spies and successfully took him into custody. On March 22, 1531—a date that fell in Lent that year and would thus place Frith in England—Chapuys wrote to the emperor about a conversation he had had shortly before with the Duke of Norfolk. Norfolk had mentioned that on the previous day “the finest and most learned preacher” among the Lutherans in England “had been arrested and was in danger of being publicly burnt alive.” The

into the surrounding air by inhaling and exhaling? In 1519, when Erasmus described More’s abstemious nature, he probably—without quite knowing it himself—gave us a man whose views on sensual pleasure were much like St. Augustine’s; it was not that the pleasures of the senses were harmful merely when they were taken in excess; they were a sign of wickedness merely by their being, and the Christian should limit indulgence in them as much as possible. The worst of the sensual sins, according to

seen in his Lucian translations, but even in Utopia he vigorously upheld the belief that God continually performed miracles in the world. It may be that Erasmus wrote the work at first in the playful spirit that, he always said, impelled him to begin it. Perhaps he did read it to a number of friends who laughed and encouraged him to go on with it—without expecting him to publish it. Perhaps some of them told him that he could not publish it without reprisal from the authorities. His dedicatory

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