Sir Thomas More and Utopia
One of my favorite movies of all time is Ever After: A Cinderella Story. It is a 1998 film adaption of the fairy tale Cinderella and stars Drew Barrymore as the lead female character named Danielle de Barbarac. Danielle’s mother dies very early in her life and as a result Danielle and her father are very close. Her father remarries a baroness with two daughters. Shortly after, her father dies of a heart attack. Danielle now has very few possessions to call her own: a beautiful gown and slippers that had belonged to her mother, the loyalty of the manor's three remaining servants, and her father's copy of Utopia, by Thomas More. The story ends happily ever after, with Danielle marrying the handsome prince and ridding of her terrible step-mother and step-sisters. The one thing I wanted to know more about in the movie was the book Danielle’s father gave her. Why was Utopia so inspiring to her? Who was the man who wrote this book? Was the book fiction or fact? After reading my syllabus for History 101, I knew right away that I’d like to find out more about Thomas More and Utopia. Thomas More was more than just an author. He was also a lawyer and statesman. Throughout his lifetime, More earned a reputation as a leading humanist scholar and occupied many public offices, including that of Lord Chancellor from 1529 to 1532. He was married twice and had five children, including one adoptive child. More was a devoted father and husband and cared deeply for his family. His writings and novels sometimes contrasted with what people thought were his personal religious beliefs. In October 1529, King Henry VIII appointed More to Lord Chancellor after Cardinal Wolsey failed to convince Pope Clement VII to give the King an annulment of his marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon. Henry began to convince himself that the Pope was only the Bishop of Rome and therefore had no authority of the Christian Church as a whole. More was fully devoted to Henry until then, and fully cooperated with the King’s new policy. More absolutely hated heresy. He thought it was a threat to peace and unity of both society and the church. According to an article from Masters of World Literature, he did all he could to prevent the spread of Lutheranism, including “burning at least six people at the stake and imprisoning as many as forty others” (par. 6). Many people thought More’s actions against heretics were too violent and torturous, but he strongly denied these allegations. As the King continued to deny authority to the Pope, More’s doubts grew. In the early 1530’s, he made a few decisions that would anger the King to a point of extreme measures. First he refused to sign a letter asking the Pope to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine. He then asked to resign after being forced to take an oath declaring Henry VIII as the supreme head of the English church. The King finally granted his request when More told him he was suffering from chest pains. The last straw for Henry came in 1533 when More decided not to attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn as the Queen of England. More did not technically do an act of treason because he wrote the King a letter acknowledging Anne’s queenship and expressing his happiness and congratulations. However his failure to attend the coronation was widely interpreted as a failure to acknowledge her. After failing to take another oath declaring the King as the head of the Church of England, More was convicted of what could be considered false crimes against the King and he was imprisoned. After what is widely thought to be a biased trial, More was convicted of high treason and sentenced to be beheaded. Throughout his life, More always stood up for what he believed in and he proved to be steadfast and courageous. Although his death was because of treason, it is commonly thought by historians and especially Roman Catholics that More was a great man and did not deserve the death that King Henry VIII declared...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document