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Thomas More



НазваниеThomas More
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Thomas More


About Sir Thomas More Thomas More rose from humble origins to achieve the highest politicaland judicial office of England, second only to that of the king. He wasrecognized throughout early sixteenth-century Europe as one of the greatlawyers, Christian humanists, and classical scholars of his day. ,Even at avery early age, More gave clear evidence of his uncommon gifts. Because ofthis, a family friend successfully persuaded his father to allow him toattend Oxford University. More so enjoyed his studies there that his fatherbecame alarmed. Two years into the program, he decided that his son shouldlearn something useful. Under what seems to have been considerablecoercion, Thomas returned to London to study law at New Inn. Although thislaw program was among the best and most demanding in London, More foundtime to continue his study of Greek, philosophy, literature, and theologywith such world-renowned teachers as Linacre, Grocyn, and Colet, as well aswith the pious and learned Carthusians. Meanwhile, More excelled at his legal studies at the New Inn. Oncefinished, he read through the law again at Lincoln's Inn for two moreyears, after which he was chosen as reader at Furnivall's Inn andreappointed for three successive years - a considerable honor for such ayoung man. During these years of studying and teaching, More continued anintense life of prayer, during which time he sought to discern his vocationin life. By the age of 25, More was convinced that his place was with cityand family, not monastery and cell. At 26 he was elected to Parliament; at27 he married Jane Colt and fathered four children in the next five years.Jane died when More was 33, leaving him with four young children during theheight of his career as a lawyer. Despite his deep sorrow, he married againwithin one month for the sake of his children. He married the best woman heknew, Alice Middleton, who had neither his interests nor his playfultemperament and who was six or seven years his senior. As Erasmus recounts,she was "neither a pearl nor a girl ... but a shrewd and carefulhousewife."He marvels that More's" life with her is as pleasant andagreeable as if she had all the charm of youth, and with his buoyant gaietyhe wins her to more compliance than he could by severity." With his gifts of intellectual genius and endearing wit plus hisreputation for virtue, More was much sought after as a lawyer and diplomat.He was chosen, for example, by the London merchants to represent them onthree major embassies to foreign countries. At the age of 32, he began hiswork as a judge, a position that made him well-known and loved among thegeneral London citizenry. Throughout these years, More was also active in the areas ofliterature and philosophy. The Utopia, a work considered by some to be oneof the finest Socratic dialogues of all time, has long been recognized ashis masterpiece.
After fifteen years of prosperous civic life, More wascalled to serve the King at court, a position he did not and would not seekout. Early on, he was well aware of the dangers of political life; hevalued his freedom for family and writing, and he knew that giving up hislucrative law practice to enter public service would cost him aconsiderable portion of his income. Yet as a loyal citizen, More consideredit the "duty of every good man" to contribute to the service of hiscountry. Once in the King's service, More commanded Henry VIII'sfriendship and trust, serving primarily as his personal secretary, but withsome administrative and diplomatic responsibilities. He rose steadily overthe next ten years, finally becoming Chancellor in 1529, at the age offifty- one. As Chancellor, More concentrated on two major tasks: (1)streamlining and improving the judicial system; (2) addressing andpersonally refuting errors which he considered seditious and destructive ofboth state and church. In fulfilling this latter task, he collectedevidence which resulted in the execution of three persons. Although theseexecutions have captured the imagination of many scholars today, More spentmost of his working hours trying to fulfill his function as chief justiceof the land. In the assessment of Tudor historian John Guy, More madesubstantial contributions in this area, reforming the legal system far moreeffectively than Cromwell would later, in his far reaching legislativereforms of the 1530s. More was Chancellor for only thirty-one months. Heresigned on May 16, 1532, the day after Henry VIII and Cromwell manipulatedthe Parliament to take away the traditional freedom of the Church, afreedom that had been written into English law since the Magna Carta. Atissue was the survival of the Church as well as the nature of law and thescope of the state's legitimate authority. Imprisoned in the Tower ofLondon for fifteen months before his execution, More was heavily pressuredby his family and friends to sign the oath accepting Henry VIII as theSupreme Head of the Church in England. More steadfastly refused but neverexpressed animosity towards those who complied. During this time, he wrotea number of devotional and exegetical works, including а Dialogue ofComfort Against Tribulation, аTreatise on the Passion, and The Sadness ofChrist. That More was God's servant first and foremost was readily seenin his life of prayer and penance. From the time he was a young man, Morestarted each day with private prayer, spiritual reading, and Mass,regardless of his many duties. He lived demanding mortifications in hischaracteristically discreet and merry manner. He generously cared for thepoor and needy, and involved his own children in this same work. He hadspecial devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, to frequent meditation on thePassion, and to the rosary. More was executed on July 6, 1535, andcanonized on May 19, 1935. He has become a symbol of professionalintegrity, famous for the balanced judgment, ever-present humor, andundaunted courage that led him to be known, even in his own lifetime, asthe "man for all seasons.The Trial of Sir Thomas More, 1535The following, sadly, is a true story. It is the story of Sir Thomas More,beheaded in London in 1535. Thomas More was born in London on February 7, 1478. He was educatedat St. Anthony's School in London, then the best in the city. More managedto get a placement with the family of the Archbishop of Canterbury throughhis father's influence. Sir Thomas More, Senior, was a prominent localbarrister. Thomas Junior went on to study at Oxford where he wanted tolearn Greek. But Greek was frowned upon by the elite because it was thoughtthat it would give young people access to "novel and dangerous ways ofthinking." Couldn't have that. More's father removed him from Oxford andsent him to tutor in law. More soon became a lawyer (barrister) like hisfather but he did not lose his interest in Greek studies and he read allthe Greek books that he could. When he was about twenty, he toyed with theidea of becoming a monk, fasting every Friday, sleeping on the ground withonly a log as pillow. But he soon bored of that and then befriendedErasmus, then an "prince of learning" and More renewed his learning ofGreek. He began to translate Greek publications in English. He alsocontinued his career as a barrister and was elected to Parliament in 1504.In 1515, Thomas More published Utopia, in which he theorized about theperfect world. In Utopia, More foresaw cities of 100,000 inhabitants asbeing ideal. In his Utopia, there was no money, just a monthly market wherecitizens bartered for what they needed. Persons engaged to each other wereallowed to see each other naked before marriage so that they would know ifthe other was "deformed". Six years before Utopia was published, Henry the7th died and he was replaced by son, Henry the 8th. King Henry took aliking to Thomas More although More did not reciprocate. The King was knownto put his arm around More. "This growing favour, by which many men wouldhave been carried away," writes the Encyclopedia Britannica "did not imposeupon More. He discouraged the king's advances, showed reluctance to go tothe palace and seemed constrained when he was there. Then the King began tocome to More's house and would dine with him without previous notice."Privately, More did not like Henry the 8th and told his oldest son-in-lawthat "if my head would win him a castle in France, it should not fail togo." More was right. Henry the 8th failed miserably as King. He divorcedhis first wife (and his brother's widow), Catherine of Aragon, the daughterof the King of Spain and married Anne Boleyn, without the blessing of thePope. More was a devout Catholic and believed deeply in the supremacy ofthe Pope and the impropriety of this marriage. It would be his downfall. Henry promoted More until More became Lord Chancellor. As such he wasmaster of equity law and of the Court of Chancery, the most powerfuljudicial office in the land. But, in 1532, when he saw that King Henry wasdetermined to marry Anne Boleyn and that divorce was in the air, ratherthan stay in the King's cabinet, he claimed ill health and was allowed toretire from the bench. That's when things started to deteriorate for him. The King invitedhim to the marriage with Boleyn and More declined to attend. His refusalwas a kiss of death. Once it became public knowledge, all the king's brown-nosers kicked into high gear. He was summoned to the court to answer anobscure charge of accepting a bribe while Lord Chancellor. When hisdaughter brought him news that the charge was dismissed, he said "quoddiffertur, non aufertur" or "that which is postponed is not dropped." SirThomas More was a marked man. In 1534, Henry enacted a law which declared him supreme ruler of theworld, bar none, including the Pope. All citizens were to accept this byoath. More said thanks, but no thanks. Henry threw him into the Tower ofLondon where for a whole year he was locked up, denied pen, paper or books.His wife and children visited and begged him to submit to the oath but Morerefused on principle. More was questioned several times by friends of theking but he was always careful never to say anything against the Kingpersonally; just that he could not stomach the oath required by the Act ofSupremacy. It was on May 7, 1535 that More was dragged to trial, chargedwith treason for failing to take the oath. He could barely walk from his 14-month confinement. There were seven judges including the new Lord Chancellor, ThomasAudley. More was immediately told that he could even yet take the oath andbeg the King's pardon and be saved. Sir Thomas More declined. More, stillone of the country's best barristers, complained first of his longimprisonment and how he was in no condition to defend himself. а chair wasbrought in for him and he was allowed to sit down. More made an impassioneddefence, saying that he had always told the King his personal opinions whenasked. He then complained about the Act which seemed to allow convictionfrom silence. "Neither can any one word or action of mine be alleged orproduced to make me culpable. By all which I know, I would not transgressany law, or become guilty of any treasonable crime for no law in the worldcan punish any man for his silence. This God only that is the judge of thesecrets of the hearts." And then Sir Thomas More's trials took a dramaticturn. The King's solicitor general was sworn in as witness and testifiedthat More has "confessed" to him, in a private conversation in the Tower ofLondon several months earlier. According to Richard Rich, More had linkedthe King's supposed "supremacy" with the right of Parliament to depose ofthe sovereign. How, then, could Parliament depose of a King if he weresupreme, More had allegedly asked? This was sensational testimony and wouldsuffice to convict More. More was taken by surprise but put on his bravestface and went on the offensive. "If I were a man, my lords, that has noregards to my oath, (and) I had no occasion to be here at this time, as iswell known to every body, as a criminal; and if this oath, Mr. Rich, whichyou have taken, be true, then I pray I may never see God's face which, wereit otherwise, is an impression I would not be guilty of to gain the wholeworld." More did not seem to have a mean bone in his body. Erasmus oncesaid that "What did nature ever create milder, sweeter and happier than thegenius of Thomas More? All the birds come to him to be fed. There is notany man living so affectionate to his children as he, and he loveth hiswife as if she were a girl of fifteen." But More faced perjury which couldconvict him. "In good faith, Mr. Rich, I am more concerned for your perjurythan my own danger," he rebutted. "I must tell you that neither myself noranybody else to my knowledge ever took you to be a man of such reputationthat I or any other would have anything to do with you in a matter ofimportance. I am sorry I am forced to speak it (but) you always lay underthe odium of a very lying tongue." More's efforts to discredit Rich werepart of the package the jury of 12 took with them to consider. But theysoon returned with a verdict: guilty. The Lord Chancellor began to read thesentence when More interjected. "My lord, the practice in such cases was toask the prisoner before sentence whether he had any thing to offer whyjudgment should not be pronounced against him." The Lord Chancellorabruptly stopped his sentence reading and asked More what he was "able tosay to the contrary." More was now on borrowed time. He protested againstthe charge as best he could. "а son is only by generation. We are byregeneration made spiritual children of Christ and the Pope." The sentencefor treason was then handed down: "That he should be carried back to theTower of London and from thence drawn on a hurdle through the City ofLondon to Tyburn there to be hanged till he should be half dead; that thenhe should be cut down alive, his privy parts cut off, his belly ripped, hisbowels burnt, his four quarters set up over four gates of the City, and hishead upon London Bridge." When the sentence was read out, More said he mayas well speak freely now and revealed that he was totally unable to see thesense of the oath of supremacy. To this, the Lord Chancellor replied thatwhy, then, had so many bishops and academics taken the oath of supremacy?"I am able to produce against one bishop which you can produce, a hundredholy and Catholic bishops for my opinion; and against one realm, theconsent of Christendom for a thousand years." And upon those desperatewords, More rejoined that "albeit your lordships have been my judges tocondemnation, yet we may hereafter meet joyfully together in Heaven to oureverlasting salvation." Thomas More was then led back to London Tower, butthis time with the Tower's axe before him, pointed edge leading theprocession and towards the convict as was the custom. Henry the 8th latercommuted the sentence to a quick beheading. The day of execution was July6, 1535 and the procession left London Tower at nine in the morning. Thiswas a big spectacle for Londoners, a parade of sorts. Persons who had lostlaw suits before him when he was Lord Chancellor, seized the opportunity toheckle the condemned man. To one wretched woman he yelled back: "I verywell remember the case and if I were to decide it now, I would make thesame decree." Brought up to the scaffold, Thomas More said to hisexecutioner. ""Pluck up thy spirits, man, and be not afraid to do thineoffice. My neck is very short. Take heed, therefore, thou not strike awryfor saving thine honesty."Sir Thomas More was no more. His head was stuck on London Bridge where it stayed for severalmonths (his daughter later bought it). When news came of More death, KingHenry abruptly left his game of cards and scowled at his new wife AnneBoleyn: "Thou art the cause of this man's death." But Henry the 8th, then44 years old, was still a child and as good an argument one can makeagainst monarchy as can be found in history. He quickly confiscated all ofMore's property and forced More's wife and family to start anew. He evennegated special legal assignments that More had devised to provide for hisfamily in case he was executed. Anne Boleyn was beheaded eleven months after More, on charges ofadultery. Henry the 8th went on to marry four more wives, another of whichwas also beheaded. Henry died in 1547. During his rein, there had been anaverage of 120 executions a month in England. More was named a Catholicsaint in 1866.аChronology of More's Life1477, Feb. 7 - Born in London to John and Agnes More1484-1489 - Attends St. Anthony's School, London (More's age: 7-12)1489-1491 - Page for Archbishop and Chancellor Morton (12-14)1491-1493 - Student at Oxford (14-16)1493-1495 - Pre-law student, New Inn, London (16-18)1496-1501 - Law student, Lincoln's Inn; called to bar (18-23)1499 - Meets Erasmus for the first time (22)1501-1504 - Frequents Charterhouse (Carthusians) (24-27)1501 - Lectures on St. Augustine's City of God; begins Greek (24)1503-1506 - Reader at Furnival's Inn (26-29)1504 - Elected to Parliament (27)1505 - Marries Jane Colt; Margaret born (28)1506 - Studies intensely; visits Coventry; Elizabeth born (29)1507 - Financial secretary of Lincoln's Inn; Cecily born (30)1508 - Visits universities at Paris and Louvain (31)1509 - Member of Mercers' Guild; John born; Henry VIII crowned (32)1510 - Elected to Parliament (33)1510-1518 - Undersheriff of London (33-41)1511 - After Jane's death, marries Alice Middleton; Autumn Reader atLincoln's Inn (34)1512 - Governor and treasurer of Lincoln's Inn (35)1513 - Henry VIII leads an army against France; to Henry, Erasmus dedicateshis translation of Plutarch's essay on flattery (36)1514 - Elected to Doctors' Common; serves on sewers commission (37)1515 - Embassy to Bruges and Antwerp for commercial treaties; Lenten Readerat Lincoln's Inn; refuses royal pension (38)1516 - Continues to study history and political philosophy (39)1517 - Embassy to Calais; counsel to pope's ambassador in England; Evil MayDay; Wolsey's Treaty of Universal Peace; Luther's "Ninety-five Theses" (40)1518 - Joins King Henry's service; Master of Requests (41)1520 - Field of Cloth of Cold: peace with France (43)1521 - Knighted; undertreasurer; ambassador to Bruges and Calais; cautionsHenry not to exaggerate the pope's secular authority; Margaret marriesRoper; Buckingham executed (44)1522 - Gives public oration welcoming Emperor Charles V; serves as Henry'ssecretary and cautions against war; war with France resumed (45)1523 - Speaker of the House of Commons, proposes free speech; leases CrosbyHall; truce with France (46)1524 - High Steward, Oxford; moves to Chelsea; war with France resumes: "Ifmy head could win [the King] a castle in France, . . . it would not fail togo." (47)1525 - High Steward, Cambridge; chancellor of Lancaster; Peasants' Revolt;peace treaty with France; Cecily marries Heron; Elizabeth marries Dauncey(48)1526 - Appointed to royal council's subcommittee of four; urges Erasmus tocomplete writings against Luther; Turks invade Hungary; Tyndale's NewTestament secretly distributed (49)1527 - Accompanies Wolsey to France; sack of Rome; Henry consults Moreabout divorce; More's daughters' dispute before Henry; Holbein paints theMore family (50)1528 - Tunstall asks More to defend Church in English; Margaret almostdies; More chosen as alternate Master of Revels, Lincoln's Inn; More'sthree great wishes (51)1529 - Delegate, Peace of Cambrai; fire at Chelsea; appointed LordChancellor; addresses Parliament; John marries Anne Cresacre (52)1530 - More almost dismissed for his opposition to Henry; Cranmer completeshis defense of caesaropapism (53)1531 - Henry declared Supreme Head of the Church in England (54)1532 - Counters Cromwell's and St. German's attacks on the clergy; reportsuniversities' approval of royal divorce; Henry enraged by undiplomaticclerics; Submission of Clergy (May 15); More resigns his office (May 16)(55)1533 - Restraint of Appeals to Rome; England declared an empire (April);Cranmer authorizes royal divorce (May); Anne Boleyn's coronation (June 1);Pope Clement VII condemns the divorce (July); to defend his reputation,More writes to Erasmus (56)1534 - Henry asks for More's indictment (Feb. 21), but House of Lordsrefuses three times; More questioned by royal commission (March),interrogated at Lambeth Palace (Apr. 13), and finally imprisoned(illegally) for refusal to take Cromwell's oath regarding the Act ofSuccession (Apr. 17); Chancellor Audley sends a warning to More (August)(57)1535 - Margaret visits while monks are led to execution (May 4); Moreinterrogated on May 7, June 3, and June 14; Richard Rich removes writingmaterials (June 12); More's trial (July 1) and execution July 6) (58)аChronology of More's WritingsEnglish poems (c. 1496-1504)Correspondence (Latin and English, 1499-1535)Latin verses to Holt's Lac Puerorum (c. 1500)"Letter to John Colet" (c. 1504)The Life of John Picus (c, 1504; published 1510)Translations of Lucian (1505-1506; published 1506)Latin poems, Epigrammata (1496-1516; published 1518)Coronation ode (1509)Epigrams on Brixius (1513)The History of King Richard III (c. 1513-1518)"Letter to Dorp" (1515)Utopia (1516)Poem and letters to his children, and letter to their tutor (1517-1522)Letters to Oxford (1518), to a Monk (1519), and to Brixius (1520)Quattuor Novissima (The Four Last Things] (c. 1522)Responsio ad Lutherum (1523)"Letter to Bugenhagen" (1526; published 1568)аDialogue Concerning Heresies (June 1529)Supplication of Souls (September 1529)аDialogue Concerning Heresies, 2nd edition (May 1531)Confutation of Tyndale's Answer I-III (March 1532)"Letter against Frith" (December 1532; published December(1533)Confutation of Tyndale IV-VIII (Spring 1533)The Apology of Sir Thomas More (April 1533)The Debellation of Salem and Bizance (October 1533)The Answer to a Poisoned Book (December 1533)аTreatise upon the Passion; аTreatise to Receive the Blessed Body; ADialogue of Comfort against Tribulation; "аDialogue on Conscience" (1534)"Imploring Divine Help against Temptation"; "аGodly Instruction [on How toTreat Those Who Wrong Us]'; "аGodly Meditation [on Saving One's Life]"; "AGodly Meditation [on Detachment]" (1534-1535)De Tristitia Christi (The Sadness of Christ) (1535)"аDevout Prayer [before Dying]" (July 1535)




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