Thomas More

Thomas  More

Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), dubbed Saint Thomas More by Catholics since 1935, was an English barrister, social philosopher, author, statesman, and famous Renaissance humanist. He served as Lord Chancellor from October 1529 to May 16th, 1532, and was an important adviser to Henry VIII of England. In 1935, Pope Pius XI canonized him as one of the early martyrs of the 16th-century schism that split the English Church from Catholicism. He was named Patron of Catholic Statesmen and Politicians by Pope John Paul II in 2000. Thomas More was a staunch opponent of Martin Luther and William Tyndale, as well as the Protestant Reformation as a whole.

He has been remembered by the Anglican Church since 1980. More created the term utopia, which he used to an ideal and hypothetical island kingdom whose political structure he detailed in his 1516 book Utopia. He resisted the King's departure from the Catholic Church and refused to recognize him as the Supreme Head of the Church of England, a position conferred by parliament in 1534 through the Act of Supremacy. In 1534, he was imprisoned for refusing to take the oath required by the First Succession Act, which slandered the Pope and Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

He was tried for treason in 1535, convicted on the basis of perjured testimony, and killed. In Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, he also helped coin the expression grab at straws to describe a desperate attempt at even meaningless things. More's death astounded intellectuals and leaders all over Europe. Erasmus praised him as a man with a spirit as pure as snow and a brilliance that England had never seen before and will never see again.

Jonathan Swift remarked two centuries later that he was the personification of the greatest goodness this kingdom had ever produced, a opinion shared by Samuel Johnson. More was the first great Englishman whom we feel that we know, historian Hugh Trevor-Roper said in 1977, the most holy of humanists, the most human of saints, the universal man of our chilly northern renaissance.