Spotlight – Thomas More


Name: Thomas More

Title/s: Lord Chancellor / Knight / Saint

Birth / Death: 7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535

Spouse: Jane Colt 1483-1511 / Alice Harpur 1474-1551

Children: Margaret Roper 1505-1544 / Elizabeth Daunce 1506-1564 / Cecily Heron 1507-? / John 1509-1547 (by Jane Colt)

Parents: John More 1451-1530 & Agnes Graunger ?-1499

Siblings: Joan Staverton 1475-1542 / Agatha More 1479-? / John More 1479-1512 / Edward More 1480-? / Elizabeth Rastell 1482-?

Noble Connections: Thomas More was Lord Chancellor of England under Henry VIII. He was a supporter of Katherine of Aragon in Henry VIII’s divorce to marry Anne Boleyn. More was also a friend of the humanist Erasmus. He was also friendly with Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.

Events of their Lifetime: Thomas More saw the accessions of Richard III in 1483, Henry VII in 1485, and Henry VIII in 1509. He saw the fall of Cardinal Wolsey in 1529 and the execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536. He also saw the births of Mary I in 1516 and Elizabeth I in 1533. He also saw the deaths of Prince Arthur in 1502 and Elizabeth of York in 1503.

Controversy: The main controversy surrounding Thomas More is about his execution. Did Henry VIII really want to execute him, or did Anne Boleyn persuade him to do so? Did Thomas More really speak out in the alleged manner to Sir Richard Rich against the Act of Supremacy?

Works of Fiction:

  • Mantel, Hilary, Wolf Hall (2009)
  • Plaidy, Jean, St Thomas’s Eve (1954)
  • Zuchardt, Karl, Stirb du Narr! (1989)

Portrayals on Screen:

  • Michael Goodliffe, Henry VIII and his Six Wives, 1972, directed by Waris Hussein
  • Charlton Heston, A Man for All Seasons, 1988, directed by Charlton Heston
  • Ryan Kiggell, Henry VIII: Mind of a Tyrant, 2009, 2 episodes
  • Anton Lesser, Wolf Hall, 2015, 4 episodes
  • Kurt Meissel, Thomas More, 1964, directed by Gerhard Klingenberg
  • Jeremy Northam, The Tudors, 2007-2008, 15 episodes
  • Paul Schofield, A Man for All Seasons, 1966, directed by Fred Zinnemann
  • William Squire, Anne of the Thousand Days, 1969, directed by Charles Jarrott

Further Reading:

  • Ackroyd, Peter, The Life of Thomas More (1991)
  • Goodrich, Jaime, ‘Thomas More and Margaret More Roper a Case for Re-Thinking Women’s Participation in the Early Modern Public Sphere’, Sixteenth Century Journal, 39 (2008)
  • Guy, John, A Daughter’s Love: Thomas and Margaret More (2008)
  • Rockett, William, ‘The Case Against Thomas More’, Sixteenth Century Journal, 39 (2008)

Portraits:

Thomas More by Hans Holbein.
Thomas More by Hans Holbein.
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