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General information  

  • Place of birth : London
  • Date of birth : 07/02/1478
  • Date of death : 06/07/1535

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  • More Thomas
  • Moro
  • Tommaso

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Thomas More (1478)

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  Summary  

July 2011

Sir Thomas More (; 7 February 1478 –6 July 1535), also known by Catholics as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councilor to Henry VIII of England and, for three years toward the end of his life, Lord Chancellor. He is recognized as a saint within the Catholic Church and is commemorated by the Church of England as a "Reformation martyr". He was an opponent of the Protestant Reformation and in particular of Martin Luther and William Tyndale.

More coined the word "utopia" – a name he gave to the ideal and imaginary island nation, the political system of which he described in Utopia published in 1516. He opposed the king's separation from the Catholic Church and refused to accept the king as Supreme Head of the Church of England, a status the king had been given by a compliant parliament through the Act of Supremacy of 1534. He was imprisoned in 1534 for his refusal to take the oath required by the First Succession Act because the act disparaged the power of the Pope and Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. In 1535, he was tried for treason, convicted on perjured testimony and beheaded.

Intellectuals and statesmen across Europe were stunned by More's execution. Erasmus saluted him as one "whose soul was more pure than any snow". Two centuries later Jonathan Swift said he was "the person of the greatest virtue this kingdom ever produced", a sentiment with which Samuel Johnson agreed. Historian Hugh Trevor-Roper said in 1977 that More was "the first great Englishman whom we feel that we know, the most saintly of humanists, the most human of saints, the universal man of our cool northern renaissance." The Catholic Church proclaimed him a saint in 1935. The Franciscan order has the tradition that he was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis and venerates his memory as a member of the order.

  Biography  

 early life
Born in Milk Street in London on 7 February 1478, Thomas More was the son of Sir John More, a successful lawyer, and his wife Agnes (née Graunger). More was educated at St Anthony's School, considered one of the finest schools in London at that time. He later spent the years 1490 to 1492 as a page in the household service of John Morton, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England. Morton enthusiastically supported the "New Learning" of the Renaissance, and thought highly of the young More. Believing that More showed great potential, Morton nominated him for a place at Oxford University (either in St. Mary's Hall or Canterbury College), where More began his studies in 1492. More may have lived and studied at nearby St. Mary’s Hall. Both Canterbury College and St Mary’s Hall have since disappeared; part of Christ Church College is on the site of Canterbury, and part of Oriel College is on the site of St Mary’s. More received a classical education at Oxford and was a pupil of Thomas Linacre and William Grocyn, becoming proficient in both Greek and Latin. He left Oxford in 1494 – after only two years – at the insistence of his father, to begin his legal training in London at New Inn, one of the Inns of Chancery. In 1496, he became a student at Lincoln’s Inn, one of the Inns of Court, where he remained until 1502, when he was called to the bar.

According to his friend, the theologian Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, More once seriously contemplated abandoning his legal career to become a monk. Between 1503 and 1504 More lived near the Carthusian monastery outside the walls of London and joined in the monks' spiritual exercises. Although he deeply admired the piety of the monks, he ultimately decided on the life of a layman upon his marriage and election to Parliament in 1504. In spite of his choice to pursue a secular career, More continued to observe certain ascetical practices for the rest of his life, such as wearing a hair shirt next to his skin and occasionally engaging in flagellation.

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  • Novel
  • Utopia
    134 p.
    1551

    ISBN : 9781907727283

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Thomas More", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.