Saint Thomas More Was Only Human

Thomas More was born on 7 February 1478. He was on of the great European scholars of his age, and served Henry VIII both loyally and well. More was the reluctant Chancellor of England and was relieved of the office of the Chancellorship on March 16, 1532 after he could not swear in good conscience that Henry VIII’s first marriage was invalid.  This able academic would be beheaded by the king who once loved him as a mentor and friend not long after in July of 1534.

Thomas More by Hans_Holbein,_the_Younger

More was a polarizing figure during his lifetime, and he has been as lauded and vilified as much after his execution as before it. Some want him to truly have been the Man For All Seasons, a saint in life as well as in death, a person as perfect as the Utopia he dreamed of. Others have taken a darker view of More, repelled by his eagerness to burn Protestants at the stake. In some cases, such as in Hilary Mantel’s excellently written historical fiction,  More is presented as a near-incestuous and fatuous git … a worldview as accurate as her depiction of Thomas Cromwell as a sweetie-pie who was only sin was being too devoted to those he loved.

In truth, Thomas More was a human being, one with moments of greatness who could hold pure ideals while simultaneously being plagued by human foibles, and thus imperfect and capable of committing evil acts which he sincerely believed to be good.

How do you see More? Rather more sinned against than sinning? Rather more sincere than saint?

   

   

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  1. I’ve read that he was keen to give enemas to his daughter Meg. Yikes!

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