Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog: Materialism, Psalms 34:8-13, Second Corinthians 12:1-10, Matthew 6:24-34, Pope Francis Daily Homily - The idolatry of materialism choke the Word of God, St. Thomas More, Kingdom of England, Catholic Catechism Part Three: Life In Christ Section 1 The Dignity of the Human Person Article 7:2 The Virtues - Theological Virtues

Saturday,  June 22, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog:

Materialism, Psalms 34:8-13, Second Corinthians 12:1-10, Matthew 6:24-34, Pope Francis Daily Homily - The idolatry of materialism choke the Word of God, St. Thomas More, Kingdom of England, Catholic Catechism Part Three: Life  In Christ Section 1 The Dignity of the Human Person Article 7:2 The Virtues - Theological Virtues

Year of Faith - October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift of knowledge, reason and free will, make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone to our eternal home in Heaven. The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, wonder and awe (fear of the Lord) , counsel, knowledge, fortitude, and piety (reverence) and shun the seven Deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony...Its your choice whether to embrace the Gifts of the Holy Spirit rising towards eternal light or succumb to the Seven deadly sins and lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to the Darkness, Purgatory or Heaven is our Soul...it's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...~ Zarya Parx 2013

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Prayers for Today: Saturday in Ordinary Time

Rosary - Joyful Mysteries


 Papam Franciscus
(Pope Francis)

Pope Francis June 22 General Audience Address :

  The idolatry of materialism choke the Word of God

(2013-06-22 Vatican Radio)
The idolatry of materialism choke the Word of God,” said Pope Francis at Mass this morning at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope pointed out that our life is set on three pillars: election, covenant, and promise, adding that we must trust the Father in living in the present without worrying about what will happen.

“No one can serve two masters.” Pope Francis began his homily with the words of Christ in today’s Gospel, where He focuses on the theme of riches and cares. Jesus, the Pope said, “has a clear idea on this subject”: they are “the riches and cares of the world” that choke the Word of God, they are the thorns spoken of in the Parable of the Sower, that choke the seed that has fallen on the ground:

“The riches and cares of the world choke the Word of God and do not allow it to grow. And the Word dies, because it is not cared for: it is choked. In that case you serve riches or you serve cares, but you don’t serve the Word of God. And this also has a temporal sense, because the Parable is somewhat constructed – the discourse of Jesus in the Parable – in time, is it not? Don’t worry about tomorrow, about what you will do tomorrow. . . . And also the Parable of the Sower is built on time: he sows, then the rain comes and it grows. Simply, we remove from time.”

The Pope emphasized that our life is founded on three pillars: the past, the present and the future. The pillar of the past, he explained, “is that of the election of the Lord.” Every one of us can say “the Lord has chosen me, has loved me,” “He has said to me ‘come’,” and with Baptism “he has chosen me to go along a road, the Christian road.” The future, on the other hand, concerns “walking towards a promise”, the Lord “has made us a promise.” Finally, the present “is our response to the God Who is so good that He has chosen me.” The Pope said, “He makes a promise, he proposes a covenant with me, and I make a covenant with Him.” So these are the three pillars: “election, covenant, and promise”:

“The three pillars of the whole story of the Salvation. But when our heart enters into what Jesus explains to us, it takes away time: it takes away the past, it takes away the future, and one is confused in the present. For one who is attached to riches, neither the past nor the future is important; he has everything here. Wealth is an idol. I don’t need a past, a promise, an election: nothing. He who is worried about what will happen, takes away his relation with the future – “but can one do this?” – and the future becomes futuristic, but no, it doesn’t direct you to any promise: you remain confused, you remain alone.”
This is why Jesus tells us we must either follow the Kingdom of God or the riches and cares of the world. The Pope said with Baptism “we are chosen in love” by Him, we have “a Father that has sent us along a road.” And so “even the future is joyful,” because “we are walking towards a promise.” The Lord “is faithful, He does not disappoint” and so we too are called to do “what we can” without disappointment, “without forgetting that we have a Father who chose us in the past.” Riches and cares, he warned, are the two things “that make us forget our past,” that make us live as if we didn’t have a Father. And even our present is a present that doesn’t work”:

“Forgetting the past, not accepting the present, disfiguring the future: that’s what riches and cares do. The Lord tells us: “But be calm! Seek the Kingdom of God, and everything else will come.’ Let us ask the Lord for the grace not to fool ourselves with worries, with the idolatry of riches, and to always remember that we have a Father Who has chosen us; to remember that this Father promises us a good thing, which is walking towards that promise; and having courage to take the present as it comes. Let us ask this grace from the Lord.”


Liturgical Celebrations to be presided over by Pope: Summer

Vatican City, Summer2013 (VIS)
Following is the calendar of celebrations scheduled to be presided over by the Holy Father for the Summer of 2013:

29 Saturday, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul: 9:30am, Mass and imposition of the pallium upon new metropolitans in the papal chapel.

The Prefecture of the Papal Household has released Pope Francis' agenda for the summer period, from July through to the end of August. Briefing journalists, Holy See Press Office director, Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed that the Pope will remain 'based ' at the Casa Santa Marta residence in Vatican City State for the duration of the summer.

As per tradition, all private and special audiences are suspended for the duration of the summer. The Holy Father's private Masses with employees will end July 7 and resume in September. The Wednesday general audiences are suspended for the month of July to resume August 7 at the Vatican.

7 July, 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time: 9:30am, Mass with seminarians and novices in the Vatican Basilica.

14 July Sunday , Pope Francis will lead the Angelus prayer from the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.

Pope Francis will travel to Brazil for the 28th World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro from Monday July 22 to Monday July 29.  


  • Vatican News. From the Pope. © Copyright 2013 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed 06/22/2013.


June 2, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World: "Dear children, in this restless time, anew I am calling you to set out after my Son - to follow Him. I know of the pain, suffering and difficulties, but in my Son you will find rest; in Him you will find peace and salvation. My children, do not forget that my Son redeemed you by His Cross and enabled you, anew, to be children of God; to be able to, anew, call the Heavenly Father, "Father". To be worthy of the Father, love and forgive, because your Father is love and forgiveness. Pray and fast, because that is the way to your purification, it is the way of coming to know and becoming cognizant of the Heavenly Father. When you become cognizant of the Father, you will comprehend that He is all you need. I, as a mother, desire my children to be in a community of one single people where the Word of God is listened to and carried out.* Therefore, my children, set out after my Son. Be one with Him. Be God's children. Love your shepherds as my Son loved them when He called them to serve you. Thank you." *Our Lady said this resolutely and with emphasis.

May 25, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World:“Dear children! Today I call you to be strong and resolute in faith and prayer, until your prayers are so strong so as to open the Heart of my beloved Son Jesus. Pray little children, pray without ceasing until your heart opens to God’s love. I am with you and I intercede for all of you and I pray for your conversion. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

May 2, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World: "Dear children; Anew, I am calling you to love and not to judge. My Son, according to the will of the Heavenly Father, was among you to show you the way of salvation, to save you and not to judge you. If you desire to follow my Son, you will not judge but love like your Heavenly Father loves you. And when it is the most difficult for you, when you are falling under the weight of the cross do not despair, do not judge, instead remember that you are loved and praise the Heavenly Father because of His love. My children, do not deviate from the way on which I am leading you. Do not recklessly walk into perdition. May prayer and fasting strengthen you so that you can live as the Heavenly Father would desire; that you may be my apostles of faith and love; that your life may bless those whom you meet; that you may be one with the Heavenly Father and my Son. My children, that is the only truth, the truth that leads to your conversion, and then to the conversion of all those whom you meet - those who have not come to know my Son - all those who do not know what it means to love. My children, my Son gave you a gift of the shepherds. Take good care of them. Pray for them. Thank you."


Today's Word:  materialism  ma·te·ri·al·ism  [muh-teer-ee-uh-liz-uhm]  

Origin:  1740–50;  < Neo-Latin māteriālismus.
1.  preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.
2. the philosophical theory that regards matter and its motions as constituting the universe, and all phenomena, including those of mind, as due to material agencies.


Today's Old Testament Reading - Psalms 34:8-13

8 Taste and see that Yahweh is good. How blessed are those who take refuge in him.
9 Fear Yahweh, you his holy ones; those who fear him lack for nothing.
10 Young lions may go needy and hungry, but those who seek Yahweh lack nothing good.
11 Come, my children, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of Yahweh.
12 Who among you delights in life, longs for time to enjoy prosperity?
13 Guard your tongue from evil, your lips from any breath of deceit.


Today's Epistle -   Second Corinthians 12:1-10

1 I am boasting because I have to. Not that it does any good, but I will move on to visions and revelations from the Lord.
2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago -- still in the body? I do not know; or out of the body? I do not know: God knows -- was caught up right into the third heaven.
3 And I know that this man -- still in the body? or outside the body? I do not know, God knows-
4 was caught up into Paradise and heard words said that cannot and may not be spoken by any human being.
5 On behalf of someone like that I am willing to boast, but I am not going to boast on my own behalf except of my weaknesses;
6 and then, if I do choose to boast I shall not be talking like a fool because I shall be speaking the truth. But I will not go on in case anybody should rate me higher than he sees and hears me to be, because of the exceptional greatness of the revelations.
7 Wherefore, so that I should not get above myself, I was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to batter me and prevent me from getting above myself.
8 About this, I have three times pleaded with the Lord that it might leave me;
9 but he has answered me, 'My grace is enough for you: for power is at full stretch in weakness.' It is, then, about my weaknesses that I am happiest of all to boast, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me;
10 and that is why I am glad of weaknesses, insults, constraints, persecutions and distress for Christ's sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.


Today's Gospel Reading -  Matthew 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples: 'No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money. 'That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing!
Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Can any of you, however much you worry, add one single cubit to your span of life? And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of these. Now if that is how God clothes the wild flowers growing in the field which are there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you who have so little faith? So do not worry; do not say, "What are we to eat? What are we to drink? What are we to wear?" It is the gentiles who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all.
Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God's saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.'

• Today’s Gospel helps us to review the relationships with material goods and presents two themes of diverse importance: our relationship with money (Mt 6, 24) and our relationship with Divine Providence (Mt 6, 25-34). The advice given by Jesus gave rise to several questions of difficult response. For example, how can we understand today the affirmation: “You cannot serve God and money” (Mt 6, 24)? How can we understand the recommendation not to worry about food, about drink and about dress (Mt 6, 25)?

• Matthew 6, 24: You cannot serve God and money. Jesus is very clear in his affirmation: “No one can serve two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot serve God and money… Each one has to make his/her own choice. They should ask themselves: “To what do I give the first place in my life: to God or to money?” On this choice will depend the understanding of the advice which follow on Divine Providence (Mt 6, 25-34). It is not a question of a choice made only in one’s head, but rather of a very concrete choice of life that has something to do also with attitudes.

• Matthew 6, 25: Jesus criticises the excessive worry about eating and drinking. This criticism of Jesus, even in our days, causes great fear in people, because the great worry of all parents is how to get food and clothing for their children. The reason for the criticism is that life is worth more than food and the body more than the clothes. In order to clarify or explain his criticism Jesus presents two parables: the birds of the air and the flowers.

• Matthew 6, 26-27: The parable of the birds of the air: life is worth more than food. Jesus orders them to look at the birds. They do not sow, or reap or gather into barns, but they always have something to eat because the Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are?” Jesus criticises the fact that the worry about food occupies the whole horizon of the life of persons, without leaving space to experience and relish gratuity of the fraternity and of the sense of belonging to the Father. This is why the neo-liberal system is criminal because it obliges the great majority of persons to live 24 hours a day, worried about food and clothing, and produces in a rich minority, quite limited one, the anguish of buying and consuming up to the point of not leaving space for nothing else. Jesus says that life is worth more than the goods to be consumed! The neo-liberal system prevents from living the Kingdom.

• Matthew 6, 28-30: the Parable of the lilies in the fields: the body is worth more than clothing. Jesus asks to look at the flowers, the lilies of the fields. How elegant and beautiful God dresses them! “Now if that is how God clothes the wild flowers growing in the field which are there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you who have so little faith?” Jesus says to look at the things of nature, because seeing the flowers and the field, people will remember the mission which we have: to struggle for the Kingdom and to create a new life living together which can guarantee the food and the clothes for everybody.

• Matthew 6, 31-32: Do not be like the Gentiles. Jesus once again criticises the excessive worry for food, drink and clothing. And he concludes: “The Gentiles are concerned about these things!” There should be a difference in the life of those who have faith in Jesus and those who do not have faith in Jesus. Those who have faith in Jesus share with him the experience of the gratuity of God the Father, Abba. This experience of paternity should revolutionize the life together. It should generate a community life which is fraternal, and the seed of a new society.

• Matthew 6, 33-34: Set your hearts on the Kingdom first. Jesus indicates two criteria: “To seek first the Kingdom of God” and not to worry about tomorrow”. To seek first the Kingdom and its justice is a means to seek to do God’s Will and allow God to reign in our life. The search for God is concretely expressed in the search of a fraternal and just life together. And from this concern for the Kingdom springs a community life in which all live as brothers and sisters and nobody is lacking anything. Here there will be no worry of tomorrow, that is, there will be no worry to store up things.

Seek first of all the Kingdom of God and its justice. The kingdom of God should be in the centre of all our concerns. The Kingdom demands a life together, where there is no storing up of things, but sharing in such a way that all have what is necessary to live. The Kingdom is the new fraternal life together, in which each person feels responsible for others. This way of seeing the Kingdom helps to understand better the parables of the birds and the flowers, because for Jesus Divine Providence passes through the fraternal organization. To be concerned about the Kingdom of God and its justice is the same as to be concerned about accepting God, the Father and of being brother and sister of others. Before the growing impoverishment caused by economic neo-liberalism, the concrete form which the Gospel presents to us and thanks to which the poor will be able to live is the solidarity and the organization.

• A sharp knife in the hands of a child can be a mortal weapon. A sharp knife in the hand of a person hanging on a cord can be an arm which saves. The words of God on Divine Providence are like this. It would not be evangelical to say to a jobless father, who is poor, who has eight children and a sick wife: “Do not worry about food or drink! Because why worry about health and clothes?” (Mt 6, 25-28). We can say this only when we ourselves imitate Jesus, organize ourselves to share, guaranteeing in this way to the brother the possibility to survive. Otherwise, we are like the three friends of Job, that in order to defend God they told lies on human life (Job 13, 7). It would be like “abandoning an orphan and betraying a friend” (Job 7, 27). In the mouth of the system of the rich, these words can be a mortal arm against the poor. In the mouth of the poor they can be a real and concrete outlet for a better life together, more just and more fraternal.

Personal questions
• What do I understand by Divine Providence? Do I trust in Divine Providence?
• We Christians have the mission of giving a concrete expression to what we have within. In which way are we expressing our trust in Divine Providence?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites, www.ocarm.org.


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  St Thomas More

Feast DayJune 22

Patron Saint:  n/a
Attributes:  n/a

 (Saint) Sir Thomas More
Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), known to Roman Catholics as Saint Thomas More since 1935,[1][2] was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England and was Lord Chancellor from October 1529 to 16 May 1532.[3] He was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1935 as one of the early martyrs of the schism that separated the Church of England from Rome in the 16th century. In 2000, Pope John Paul II declared him "the heavenly Patron of Statesmen and Politicians".[4]

More was an opponent of the Protestant Reformation, in particular of Martin Luther and William Tyndale. However, since 1980, he is also commemorated by the Church of England as a reformation martyr.[5]

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 Roman Catholic Church and refused to accept him as Supreme Head of the Church of England, a title which had been given by 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 Papal Authority 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, whose genius was such that England never had and never again will have its like".[6] There was a more controversial side to More's life, because he advocated the persecution and execution of Protestants who refused to recant their faith. However, the judgement of history has been largely willing to forgive this in light of the times he lived in and his martyrdom in the Roman Catholic cause. Two centuries later Jonathan Swift said More was "the person of the greatest virtue this kingdom ever produced",[7] 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."[8]

Early life

Born in Milk Street in London, on 7 February 1478, Thomas More was the son of Sir John More,[9] 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.[10]:xvi 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 (Oriel) or Canterbury College), where More began his studies in 1492.[11]:38 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.[10]:xvii[12] 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.[10]:xvii

According to his friend, the theologian Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, More once seriously contemplated abandoning his legal career to become a monk.[13] 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.[10]:xxi 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.[10]:xxi

Family life

More married Jane Colt in 1505.[11]:118 She was nearly ten years his junior and was said by More's friends to be quiet and good-natured.[11]:119 Erasmus reported that More had taken an interest early on in giving his young wife a better education than she had previously received at home, and became a personal tutor to her in the areas of music and literature.[11]:119 More had four children with Jane: Margaret, Elizabeth, Cicely, and John.[11]:132 When Jane died in 1511, More remarried almost immediately, choosing as his second wife a rich widow named Alice Middleton. Alice More did not enjoy the reputation for docility that her predecessor had and was instead known as a strong and outspoken woman. More's friend Andrew Ammonius derided Alice as a "hook-nosed harpy", although Erasmus attested that the marriage was a happy one.[11]:144 More and Alice did not have children together, although More raised Alice's daughter from her previous marriage as his own. More became the guardian of a young girl named Anne Cresacre, who would eventually marry his son, John More.[11]:146 More was an affectionate father who wrote letters to his children whenever he was away on legal or government business, and encouraged them to write to him often.[11]:150[14]:xiv

More took a serious interest in the education of women, an attitude that was highly unusual at the time. Believing women to be just as capable of academic accomplishment as men, More insisted upon giving his daughters the same classical education given to his son.[11]:146–47 The academic star of the family was More's eldest daughter Margaret, who attracted much admiration for her erudition, especially her fluency in Greek and Latin.[11]:147 More recounted a moment of such admiration in a letter to Margaret in September 1522, when the Bishop of Exeter was shown a letter written by Margaret to More:
When he saw from the signature that it was the letter of a lady, his surprise led him to read it more eagerly... he said he would never have believed it to be your work unless I had assured him of the fact, and he began to praise it in the highest terms... for its pure Latinity, its correctness, its erudition, and its expressions of tender affection. He took out at once from his pocket a portague [A Portuguese gold coin]... to send to you as a pledge and token of his good will towards you.[14]:152
The success More enjoyed in educating his daughters set an example for other noble families. Even Erasmus became much more favourable towards the idea once he witnessed the accomplishments of More's daughters.[11]:149

Early political career

Study for a portrait of Thomas More's family, c. 1527, by Hans Holbein the Younger
In 1504 he was elected to Parliament to represent Great Yarmouth and in 1510 to represent London.[15]

From 1510, More served as one of the two undersheriffs of the City of London, a position of considerable responsibility in which he earned a reputation as an honest and effective public servant. More became Master of Requests in 1514,[16] the same year in which he was appointed as a Privy Councillor, a member of His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council.[17] After undertaking a diplomatic mission to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, accompanying Thomas Wolsey to Calais and Bruges, More was knighted and made under-treasurer of the Exchequer in 1521.[17]

As secretary and personal adviser to King Henry VIII, More became increasingly influential in the government, welcoming foreign diplomats, drafting official documents, and serving as a liaison between the King and his Lord Chancellor: Thomas Wolsey, the Cardinal Archbishop of York.

In 1523 he was elected as knight of the shire (MP) for Middlesex and, recommended by Wolsey, was elected the Speaker of the House of Commons.[17]

He later served as High Steward for the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In 1525 he became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a position that entailed administrative and judicial control of much of northern England.[17]

Scholarly and literary work

History of King Richard III

Woodcut by Ambrosius Holbein for a 1518 edition of Utopia. The traveller Raphael Hythlodeaus is depicted in the lower left-hand corner describing to a listener the island of Utopia, whose layout is schematically shown above him.
Between 1512 and 1519, Thomas More worked on a History of King Richard III, which was never finished, but which greatly influenced William Shakespeare's play Richard III.

Both More's and Shakespeare's works are controversial to contemporary historians for their unflattering portrait of King Richard III, a bias partly due to both authors' allegiance to the reigning Tudor dynasty that wrested the throne from Richard III in the Wars of the Roses. More's work, however, little mentions King Henry VII, the first Tudor king, perhaps for having persecuted his father, Sir John More. Some historians see an attack on royal tyranny, rather than on Richard III himself or on the House of York.

The History of King Richard III is a Renaissance history, remarkable more for its literary skill and adherence to classical precepts than for its historical accuracy. More's work, and that of contemporary historian Polydore Vergil, reflects a move from mundane medieval chronicles to a dramatic writing style; for example, the shadowy King Richard is an outstanding, archetypal tyrant drawn from the pages of Sallust, and should be read as a meditation on power and corruption as well as a history of the reign of Richard III.

The History of King Richard III was written and published in both English and Latin, each written separately, and with information deleted from the Latin edition to suit a European readership.


More sketched out his best known and most controversial work, Utopia (completed and published in 1516), a novel in Latin. In it a traveller, Raphael Hythlodeaus (his name alludes to the archangel Raphael, "God heals" in Hebrew; his surname means "speaker of nonsense" in Greek), describes the political arrangements of the imaginary island country of Utopia (Greek pun on ou-topos [no place], eu-topos [good place]) to himself and to Pieter Gillis. This novel describes the city of Amaurote by saying, "Of them all this is the worthiest and of most dignity".

Utopia contrasts the contentious social life of European states with the perfectly orderly, reasonable social arrangements of Utopia and its environs (Tallstoria, Nolandia, and Aircastle). In Utopia, with communal ownership of land, private property does not exist, men and women are educated alike, and there is almost complete religious toleration. Some take the novel's principal message to be the social need for order and discipline rather than liberty. The country of Utopia tolerates different religious practices but does not tolerate atheists. Hythlodeaus theorises that if a man did not believe in a god or in an afterlife he could never be trusted, because he would not acknowledge any authority or principle outside himself.

More used the novel describing an imaginary nation as a means of freely discussing contemporary controversial matters; speculatively, he based Utopia on monastic communalism, based upon the biblical communalism in the Acts of the Apostles.

Utopia is a forerunner of the utopian literary genre, wherein ideal societies and perfect cities are detailed. Although Utopianism is typically a Renaissance movement, combining the classical concepts of perfect societies of Plato and Aristotle with Roman rhetorical finesse (cf. Cicero, Quintilian, epideictic oratory), it continued into the Enlightenment. Utopia's original edition included the symmetrical "Utopian alphabet" that was omitted from later editions; it is a notable, early attempt at cryptography that might have influenced the development of shorthand.

Utopia ironically points out, through Raphael, More's ultimate conflict between his beliefs as a humanist and a servant of the King at court. More tries to illustrate how he can try to influence courtly figures including the King to the humanist way of thinking but, as Raphael points out, one day they will come into conflict with the political reality.

Religious polemics

In 1520 the reformer Martin Luther published three works in quick succession: An Appeal to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (Aug.), Concerning the Babylonish Captivity of the Church (Oct.), and On the Liberty of a Christian Man (Nov.).[11]:225 In these works Luther set out his doctrine of salvation through grace alone, rejected certain Catholic practices, and attacked the abuses and excesses of the Catholic Church.[11]:225–6 In 1521, Henry VIII responded to Luther’s criticisms with a work known as the Assertio, written with the editorial assistance of More. In light of this work, Pope Leo X rewarded Henry VIII with the title Fidei defensor (“Defender of the Faith”) for his efforts in combating Luther’s heresies.[11]:226–7

Martin Luther then attacked Henry VIII in print, calling him a “pig, dolt, and liar”.[11]:227 At the request of Henry VIII, More set about composing a rebuttal: the resulting Responsio ad Lutherum was published at the end of 1523. In the Responsio, More defended the supremacy of the Papacy, the sacraments, and other Church traditions. More’s language, like Luther’s, was virulent, and he branded Luther an “ape”, a “drunkard”, and a “lousy little friar” amongst other insults.[11]:230 While writing under the pseudonym of Rosseus, More mirrors Luther's own unscholarly use of language. At one point More offers to "throw back into your paternity's shitty mouth, truly the shit-pool of all shit, all the muck and shit which your damnable rottenness has vomited up".[18]

This confrontation with Luther confirmed More’s theological conservatism, and from then on his work was devoid of all hints of criticism of Church authority.[11]:230 In 1528, More produced another religious polemic, A Dialogue Concerning Heresies that asserted that the Catholic Church was the one true church, whose authority had been established by Christ and the Apostles, and that its traditions and practices were valid.[11]:279–81 In 1529, the circulation of Simon Fish’s Supplication for the Beggars provoked a response from More entitled, The Supplication of Souls.

In 1531, William Tyndale published An Answer unto Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue in response to More’s Dialogue Concerning Heresies. After having read Tyndale’s work, More wrote his half-a-million-word-long Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer over the next several months. The Confutation is written as a dialogue between More and Tyndale in which More responds to each of Tyndale’s criticisms of Catholic rites and doctrines.[11]:307–9 These literary battles convinced More, who valued structure, tradition, and order in society as safeguards against tyranny and error, that Lutheranism and the Protestant Reformation in general were dangerous, not only to the Catholic faith but to the stability of society as a whole.[11]:307–9


Most major humanists were prolific letter writers, and Thomas More was no exception. However, as in the case of his friend Erasmus of Rotterdam, only a small portion of his correspondence (about 280 letters), survived. These letters include everything from personal letters to official government correspondence (mostly in English), letters to fellow humanist scholars (in Latin), including several epistolary tracts, verse epistles, prefatory letters (some fictional) to several of More's own works, letters to his children and their tutors (in Latin), and the so-called "prison-letters" (in English) which he exchanged with his oldest daughter, Margaret Roper while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London awaiting execution.[19] More also engaged in controversies, most notably with the French poet Germain de Brie, which culminated in the publication of de Brie's attack Antimorus (1519). Erasmus intervened to end the dispute.[20]

More wrote about the more spiritual aspects of religion. This is how he wrote A Treatise on the Passion (Treatise on the Passion of Christ), A Treatise to Receive the Blessed Body (Holy Body Treaty), and De Tristitia Christi (The Agony of Christ), which reads his own hand in the Tower of London at the time he was confined before his beheading on 6 July 1535. This last manuscript, saved from the confiscation decreed by Henry VIII, passed by the will of his daughter Margaret to Spanish hands and through Fray Pedro de Soto, confessor of Emperor Charles V, went to Valencia, home of Luis Vives, a close friend of More. It is now kept in the collection of Real Colegio Seminario del Corpus Christi Museum in Valencia, Spain.


After Wolsey fell, More succeeded to the office of Chancellor in 1529. He dispatched cases with unprecedented rapidity. Fully devoted to Henry and the royal prerogative, More initially co-operated with the King's new policy, denouncing Wolsey in Parliament and joining the opinion of the theologians at Oxford and Cambridge that the marriage of Henry to Catherine had been unlawful. But as Henry began to deny Papal Authority, More's qualms grew.

Campaign against the Reformation

Sir Thomas More is commemorated with a sculpture at the late-19th-century Sir Thomas More House, opposite the Royal Courts of Justice, Carey Street, London.
More supported the Catholic Church and saw the Protestant Reformation as heresy, a threat to the unity of both church and society. Believing in the theology, polemics, and ecclesiastical laws of the church, More "heard Luther's call to destroy the Catholic Church as a call to war."[21]

His early actions against the Reformation included aiding Wolsey in preventing Lutheran books from being imported into England, spying on and investigating suspected Protestants, especially publishers, and arresting any one holding in his possession, transporting, or selling the books of the Protestant reformation. More vigorously suppressed the travelling country ministers who used Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament.[citation needed] It contained translations of certain words—for example Tyndale used "elder" rather than "priest" for the Greek "presbyteros"—and some footnotes which challenged Catholic doctrine.[22] It was during this time that most of his literary polemics appeared.

Rumours circulated during and after More's lifetime regarding ill-treatment of heretics during his time as Lord Chancellor. The popular anti-Catholic polemicist John Foxe, who "placed Protestant sufferings against the background of... the Antichrist"[23] was instrumental in publicising accusations of torture in his famous Book of Martyrs, claiming that More had often personally used violence or torture while interrogating heretics. Later authors, such as Brian Moynahan and Michael Farris, cite Foxe when repeating these allegations.[24] More himself denied these allegations:
Stories of a similar nature were current even in More's lifetime and he denied them forcefully. He admitted that he did imprison heretics in his house – 'theyr sure kepynge' – he called it – but he utterly rejected claims of torture and whipping... 'so helpe me God.'[11]:298
In total there were six burned at the stake for heresy during More's chancellorship: Thomas Hitton, Thomas Bilney, Richard Bayfield, John Tewkesbery, Thomas Dusgate, and James Bainham.[11]:299–306 More's influential role in the burning of Tyndale is reported by Moynahan.[25] Burning at the stake had long been a standard punishment for heresy—about thirty burnings had taken place in the century before More's elevation to Chancellor, and burning continued to be used by both Catholics and Protestants during the religious upheaval of the following decades.[26] Ackroyd notes that More explicitly "approved of Burning"[11]:298 R.W. Chambers is also noted as saying that "More, while denying indignantly the cruelties attributed to him, 'wills all the world to wit on the other side' that he believes that it is necessary to prohibit 'the sowing of seditious heresies', and to punish them, in extreme cases with death, those who defy such prohibition." And he goes on to say "It was the view, held by all parties alike, that open defiance of authority in spiritual matters, of such a kind as to lead to tumult and civil war, might be punished with death."[27]:274–275 After the case of John Tewkesbury, a London leather-seller found guilty by More of harbouring banned books and sentenced to burning for refusing to recant, More declared: he "burned as there was neuer wretche I wene better worthy."[28]

Historians have been long divided over More's religious actions as Chancellor. While biographers such as Peter Ackroyd, a Catholic English biographer, have taken a relatively tolerant view of More's campaign against Protestantism by placing his actions within the turbulent religious climate of the time, other equally eminent historians, such as Richard Marius, a somewhat controversial American scholar of the Reformation, have been more critical, believing that persecutions—including what he perceives as the advocacy of extermination for Protestants—were a betrayal of More's earlier humanist convictions. As Marius writes in his biography of More: "To stand before a man at an inquisition, knowing that he will rejoice when we die, knowing that he will commit us to the stake and its horrors without a moment's hesitation or remorse if we do not satisfy him, is not an experience much less cruel because our inquisitor does not whip us or rack us or shout at us. . . More believed that they (Protestants) should be exterminated, and while he was in office he did everything in his power to bring that extermination to pass."[29] Many Protestants take a very different view from that of Marius – in 1980, despite being an opponent of the English Reformation that created the Church of England, More was added to the Church of England's calendar of Saints and Heroes of the Christian Church, jointly with John Fisher, to be commemorated every 6 July (the date of More's execution) as "Thomas More, Scholar, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, Reformation Martyrs, 1535".[5]

The six executions for heresy should perhaps also be seen in the context of More trying to prevent a repetition in England of the up to 100,000 deaths in the German Peasants' Revolt of 1524–25. More and other conservatives (including Henry VIII at this time) openly blamed these deaths on the socially destabilising effects of Luther's heresy,[30] though clearly such conservatives were also trying to prevent other supposed ills less easily understood by our modern secular and ecumenical world, such as alleged eternal agony in Hell[31] for the souls of those allegedly misguided into heresy, as well as the suffering of souls in Purgatory supposedly caused by Luther's abolition of indulgences, as argued in More's 1529 work Supplication of Souls. It seems unlikely that modern Catholics, Protestants, and others, could ever easily agree on how many eventually died in Britain, Ireland, and elsewhere as an arguable result of the English Reformation that More was unsuccessfully trying to prevent, and whether or not this cost could be justified by arguable offsetting benefits. The modern Catholic attitude on the issue was probably best expressed by Pope John Paul II when honouring him by making him patron saint of statesmen and politicians in October 2000, when he stated "It can be said that he demonstrated in a singular way the value of a moral conscience ... even if, in his actions against heretics, he reflected the limits of the culture of his time".[4]


As the conflict over supremacy between the Papacy and the King reached its apogee, More continued to remain steadfast in supporting the supremacy of the Pope as Successor of Peter over that of the King of England. In 1530, More refused to sign a letter by the leading English churchmen and aristocrats asking Pope Clement VII to annul Henry's marriage to Catherine, and also quarrelled with Henry VIII over the heresy laws. In 1531, Henry had isolated More by purging most clergy who supported the papal stance from senior positions in the church. In addition, Henry had solidified his denial of the Papacy's control of England by passing the Statute of Praemunire which forbade appeals to the Roman Curia from England. Realizing his isolated position, More attempted to resign after being forced to take an oath declaring the King the Supreme Head of the English Church "as far as the law of Christ allows". Furthermore, the Statute of Praemunire made it a crime to support in public or office the claims of the Papacy. Thus, he refused to take the oath in the form in which it would renounce all claims of jurisdiction over the Church except the sovereign's. Nonetheless, the reputation and influence of More as well as his long relationship with Henry, kept his life secure for the time being and consequently, he was not relieved of office. However, with his supporters in court quickly disappearing, in 1532 he asked the King again to relieve him of his office, claiming that he was ill and suffering from sharp chest pains. This time Henry granted his request.

Trial and execution

Rowland Lockey after Hans Holbein the Younger, The Family of Sir Thomas More, c. 1594
In 1533, More refused to attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn as the Queen of England. Technically, this was not an act of treason, as More had written to Henry acknowledging Anne's queenship and expressing his desire for the King's happiness and the new Queen's health.[32] Despite this, his refusal to attend was widely interpreted as a snub against Anne, and Henry took action against him.

Shortly thereafter, More was charged with accepting bribes, but the charges had to be dismissed for lack of any evidence. In early 1534, More was accused of conspiring with the "Holy Maid of Kent," Elizabeth Barton, a nun who had prophesied against the king's annulment, but More was able to produce a letter in which he had instructed Barton not to interfere with state matters.

On 13 April 1534, More was asked to appear before a commission and swear his allegiance to the parliamentary Act of Succession. More accepted Parliament's right to declare Anne Boleyn the legitimate Queen of England, but he steadfastly refused to take the oath of supremacy of the Crown in the relationship between the kingdom and the church in England. Holding fast to the teaching of papal supremacy, More refused to take the oath and furthermore publicly refused to uphold Henry's annulment from Catherine. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, refused the oath along with More. The oath reads:
...By reason whereof the Bishop of Rome and See Apostolic, contrary to the great and inviolable grants of jurisdictions given by God immediately to emperors, kings and princes in succession to their heirs, hath presumed in times past to invest who should please them to inherit in other men's kingdoms and dominions, which thing we your most humble subjects, both spiritual and temporal, do most abhor and detest;[33]
With his refusal to support the King's annulment, More's enemies had enough evidence to have the King arrest him on treason. Four days later, Henry had More imprisoned in the Tower of London. There More prepared a devotional Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation. While More was imprisoned in the Tower, Thomas Cromwell made several visits, urging More to take the oath, which More continued to refuse.

On 1 July 1535, More was tried before a panel of judges that included the new Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Audley, as well as Anne Boleyn's father, brother, and uncle. He was charged with high treason for denying the validity of the Act of Succession. More, relying on legal precedent and the maxim "qui tacet consentire videtur" (literally, who (is) silent is seen to consent), understood that he could not be convicted as long as he did not explicitly deny that the King was Supreme Head of the Church, and he therefore refused to answer all questions regarding his opinions on the subject. Thomas Cromwell, at the time the most powerful of the King's advisors, brought forth the Solicitor General, Richard Rich, to testify that More had, in his presence, denied that the King was the legitimate head of the church. This testimony was extremely dubious: witnesses Richard Southwell and Mr. Palmer both denied having heard the details of the reported conversation, and as More himself pointed out:
Can it therefore seem likely to your Lordships, that I should in so weighty an Affair as this, act so unadvisedly, as to trust Mr. Rich, a Man I had always so mean an Opinion of, in reference to his Truth and Honesty, ...that I should only impart to Mr. Rich the Secrets of my Conscience in respect to the King's Supremacy, the particular Secrets, and only Point about which I have been so long pressed to explain my self? which I never did, nor never would reveal; when the Act was once made, either to the King himself, or any of his Privy Councillors, as is well known to your Honours, who have been sent upon no other account at several times by his Majesty to me in the Tower. I refer it to your Judgments, my Lords, whether this can seem credible to any of your Lordships.
However, the jury took only fifteen minutes to find More guilty.
More was tried, and found guilty, under the following section of the Treason Act 1534:
If any person or persons, after the first day of February next coming, do maliciously wish, will or desire, by words or writing, or by craft imagine, invent, practise, or attempt any bodily harm to be done or committed to the king's most royal person, the queen's, or their heirs apparent, or to deprive them or any of them of their dignity, title, or name of their royal estates...

That then every such person and persons so offending... shall have and suffer such pains of death and other penalties, as is limited and accustomed in cases of high treason.[34]
After the jury's verdict was delivered and before his sentencing, More spoke freely of his belief that "no temporal man may be the head of the spirituality". He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered (the usual punishment for traitors who were not the nobility), but the King commuted this to execution by decapitation. The execution took place on 6 July 1535. When he came to mount the steps to the scaffold, he is widely quoted as saying (to the officials): "I pray you, I pray you, Mr Lieutenant, see me safe up and for my coming down, I can shift for myself"; while on the scaffold he declared that he died "the king's good servant, but God's first."[35]


Sir Thomas More family's vault
Another comment he is believed to have made to the executioner is that his beard was completely innocent of any crime, and did not deserve the axe; he then positioned his beard so that it would not be harmed.[36] More asked that his foster/adopted daughter Margaret Clement (née Giggs) be given his headless corpse to bury.[37] He was buried at the Tower of London, in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in an unmarked grave. His head was fixed upon a pike over London Bridge for a month, according to the normal custom for traitors. His daughter Margaret (Meg) Roper rescued it, possibly by bribery, before it could be thrown in the River Thames.

The skull is believed to rest in the Roper Vault of St Dunstan's Church, Canterbury, though some researchers have claimed it might be within the tomb he erected for More in Chelsea Old Church (see below). The evidence, however, seems to be in favour of its placement in St Dunstan's, with the remains of his daughter, Margaret Roper, and her husband's family, whose vault it was.

Among other surviving relics is his hair shirt, presented for safe keeping by Margaret Clements (1508–70), his adopted daughter.[38] This was long in the custody of the community of Augustinian canonesses who until 1983 lived at the convent at Abbotskerswell Priory, Devon. It is now preserved at Syon Abbey, near South Brent.


Statue of Thomas More by Leslie Cubitt Bevis in front of Chelsea Old Church, Cheyne Walk, London.
More was beatified by Pope Leo XIII with John Fisher and 52 other English Martyrs on 29 December 1886 and canonised, with John Fisher, on 19 May 1935 by Pope Pius XI, and his feast day was established as 9 July. This day is still observed as his feast day by traditionalist Catholics [Latin Mass]. Following a series of post-Vatican II reforms, his feast day was changed and his name was added to the Catholic calendar of saints in 1970 for celebration jointly with St John Fisher on 22 June (the date of Fisher's execution). Fisher was the only remaining bishop (owing to the coincident natural deaths of eight aged bishops) who, during the English Reformation, maintained, at the King's mercy, allegiance to the Pope.[39] In 2000, Pope John Paul II declared More "the heavenly Patron of Statesmen and Politicians".[4] In 1980, despite being an opponent of the English Reformation that created the Church of England, More was added to the Church of England's calendar of Saints and Heroes of the Christian Church, jointly with John Fisher, to be commemorated every 6 July (the date of More's execution) as "Thomas More, Scholar, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, Reformation Martyrs, 1535".[5]

Influence and reputation

The steadfastness and courage with which More held on to his religious convictions in the face of ruin and death and the dignity with which he conducted himself during his imprisonment, trial, and execution, contributed much to More's posthumous reputation, particularly among Catholics, although his zealous persecution of Protestants while Lord Chancellor makes him a poor example for modern notions of religious liberty. Many historians argue that his conviction for treason was unjust, and even among some Protestants his execution was viewed as heavy-handed.His friend Erasmus defended More's character as "more pure than any snow" and described his genius as "such as England never had and never again will have." When he knew of the execution, Emperor Charles V said: "Had we been master of such a servant, we would rather have lost the best city of our dominions than such a worthy councillor."[40]

More was greatly admired by the Anglican writer Jonathan Swift. Swift wrote that More was "a person of the greatest virtue this kingdom ever produced".[41][42] Samuel Johnson is often cited as the origin of that quote,[43][44] but mistakenly: it is not to be found in his writings or recorded by Boswell.

The English Roman Catholic writer G. K. Chesterton said of More that "He may come to be counted the greatest Englishman, or at least the greatest historical character in English history."[45]

Popular culture

William Roper's biography of More was one of the first biographies in Modern English.

More was portrayed as a wise and honest statesman in the 1592 play Sir Thomas More, which was probably written in collaboration by Henry Chettle, Anthony Munday, William Shakespeare, and others, and which survives only in fragmentary form after being censored by Edmund Tylney, Master of the Revels in the government of Queen Elizabeth I (any direct reference to the Act of Supremacy was censored out).

As the author of Utopia, More has attracted the admiration of modern socialists. While Catholic scholars maintain that More's attitude in composing Utopia was largely ironic and that he was an orthodox Christian, Marxist theoretician Karl Kautsky argued in the book Thomas More and his Utopia (1888) that Utopia was a shrewd critique of economic and social exploitation in pre-modern Europe and that More was one of the key intellectual figures in the early development of socialist ideas. Others have seen in it an attempt at mythologising Indian cultures in the New World during a time when the Catholic Church was still debating over how to view the decidedly non-Christian cultures of the Indians.

The 20th-century agnostic playwright Robert Bolt portrayed Thomas More as the tragic hero of his 1960 play A Man for All Seasons. The title is drawn from what Robert Whittington in 1520 wrote of More:

More is a man of an angel's wit and singular learning. I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness and affability? And, as time requireth, a man of marvelous mirth and pastimes, and sometime of as sad gravity. A man for all seasons.[8]
In 1966, the play was made into the successful film A Man for All Seasons directed by Fred Zinnemann, adapted for the screen by the playwright himself, and starring Paul Scofield in an Oscar-winning performance. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture for that year. In 1988, Charlton Heston starred in and directed a made-for-television film that followed Bolt's original play almost verbatim, restoring for example the commentaries of "the common man".

Catholic science fiction writer R. A. Lafferty wrote his novel Past Master as a modern equivalent to More's Utopia, which he saw as a satire. In this novel, Thomas More is brought through time to the year 2535, where he is made king of the future world of "Astrobe", only to be beheaded after ruling for a mere nine days. One of the characters in the novel compares More favourably to almost every other major historical figure: "He had one completely honest moment right at the end. I cannot think of anyone else who ever had one."

Karl Zuchardt's novel, Stirb du Narr! ("Die you fool!"), about More's struggle with King Henry, portrays More as an idealist bound to fail in the power struggle with a ruthless ruler and an unjust world.

A number of modern historians and writers, such as Richard Marius, have evaluated More in his political capacity and have criticised him for Anti-Protestantism and, "intolerance." The historian Jasper Ridley, author of several biographies including one on Henry VIII and another on Mary Tudor, goes much further in his dual biography of More and Cardinal Wolsey, The Statesman and the Fanatic, describing More as "a particularly nasty sadomasochistic pervert," a line of thinking followed by the late Joanna Denny in her 2004 biography of Anne Boleyn.

Several authors have criticised More for his war against Protestantism. Brian Moynahan, in his book God's Messenger: William Tyndale, Thomas More and the Writing of the English Bible, takes a similarly critical view of More, as does the American writer Michael Farris. The novelist Hilary Mantel portrays More as a religious and masochistic fanatic in her 2009 novel Wolf Hall. Wolf Hall is told through the eyes of a sympathetic Thomas Cromwell. Literary critic James Wood calls him "cruel in punishment, evasive in argument, lusty for power, and repressive in politics".[46]

Aaron Zelman's non-fiction book The State Versus the People includes a comparison of Utopia with Plato's Republic. Zelman is undecided as to whether More was being ironic in his book or was genuinely advocating a police state. Zelman comments, "More is the only Christian saint to be honoured with a statue at the Kremlin."[citation needed] By this Zelman implies that Utopia influenced Vladimir Lenin's Bolsheviks, despite their brutal repression of organised religion.

Other biographers, such as Peter Ackroyd, have offered a more sympathetic picture of More as both a sophisticated philosopher and man of letters, as well as a zealous Catholic who believed in the authority of the Holy See over Christendom.

The protagonist of Walker Percy's novels, Love in the Ruins and The Thanatos Syndrome, is "Dr Thomas More", a reluctant Catholic and descendant of More.

More is the focus of the Al Stewart song "A Man For All Seasons" from the 1978 album Time Passages, and of the Far song "Sir", featured on the limited editions and 2008 re-release of their 1994 album Quick. In addition, the song "So Says I" by indie rock outfit The Shins alludes to the socialist interpretation of More's Utopia.

Jeremy Northam depicts More in the television series The Tudors. In The Tudors, More is portrayed as a peaceful man, as well as a devout Roman Catholic and loving family patriarch. He vocally expresses his loathing for Protestantism. By the order of King Henry VIII, More commissions the burning of Martin Luther's books. He is shown exercising his authority as Chancellor by burning English Protestants who have been convicted of heresy, and, unhistorically, directly causing and personally attending the burning of the heretic Simon Fish, who actually died of bubonic plague in 1531 before he could stand trial (More's The Supplycatyon of Soulys, published in October 1529, is a reply to Fish's pamphlet Supplication for the Beggars).[47][48] The Tudors shows More engaging in the conversation that Richard Rich testified about regarding the King's title as Supreme Head of the Church of England. More's avowed insistence that Rich's testimony was perjured is excised from the show's depiction of the trial.

The cultus of More has been satirised. In the The Simpsons an episode, "Margical History Tour", contains a parody of both Henry VIII and More. King Henry (Homer Simpson) is depicted as a gluttonous slob who stuffs his face while singing "I'm Henery the Eighth, I am". He then wipes his mouth with the Magna Carta and sets out to dump Queen Catherine (Marge Simpson). Sir Thomas (Ned Flanders) objects, "Divorce! Well, there's no such thing in the Cath-diddly-atholic Church! But it's the only Church we got, so what are you gonna do?" King Henry retorts, "I'll start my own Church... Where divorce will be so easy, more than half of all marriages will end in it!" When a horrifed Sir Thomas refuses to go along, King Henry has him shot out of a cannon.


Institutions named after More

Historic sites

Westminster Hall

Visitors to the Houses of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London will notice a plaque in the middle of the floor of Westminster Hall commemorating More's trial for treason and condemnation to execution in that original part of the Palace. This building would have been well known to More, who served as Speaker of the House of Commons prior to becoming Lord Chancellor of England.

Crosby Hall

More's home and estate along the Thames in Chelsea was confiscated by the Crown from his wife Alice after his execution. But in later times Crosby Hall, which formed part of More's London residence, was relocated to the site in his commemoration and reconstructed there by the conservation architect, Walter Godfrey. Today after further rebuilding in the 1990s it stands out as a white stone building amid modern brick structures that aims to recapture the style of More's manor that formerly occupied the site. Crosby Hall is privately owned and closed to the public. The modern structures face the Thames and include an entry way that displays More's arms, heraldic beasts, and a Latin maxim. Apartment buildings and a park are built over the former locations of his gardens and orchard, and some are named after their former functions: Roper's Garden is the park occupying one of More's gardens, sunken as his was believed to be. Other than these, there are no remnants of the More estate.

Chelsea Old Church

This small park sits between Crosby Hall and Chelsea Old Church, an Anglican church on Old Church Street whose southern chapel was commissioned by More and in which he sang with his parish choir. The medieval arch connecting the chapel to the main sanctuary was commissioned by More and displays on its capitals symbols associated with his person and office. On the southern wall of the sanctuary is the tomb and epitaph he erected for himself and his wives, detailing in a lengthy Latin inscription his ancestry and accomplishments, including his role as peacemaker between the Christian nations of Europe and a curiously altered portion detailing his curbing of heresy. This tomb was probably located here because it was his custom to serve Mass and he would leave by the door just to the left of it. He is not, however, buried here, nor is it entirely certain which of his family may be. Except for his chapel, the church was largely destroyed in the Second World War and was rebuilt in 1958. It is open to the public at specific times. Outside the church, facing the River Thames, is a statue by L. Cubitt Bevis erected in 1969, commemorating him as "saint", "scholar", and "statesman", the back of which displays his coat-of-arms. In the same neighbourhood, on Upper Cheyne Row, is the Catholic Church of the Holy Saviour and St. Thomas More, which honours him according to the Church he defended with his life.

Tower Hill

More was executed on a scaffold erected on Tower Hill, London, just outside the Tower of London. A plaque and small garden commemorate the famed execution site and all those who were executed there, many as religious martyrs or as prisoners of conscience. His body, minus his head, was unceremoniously buried in an unmarked grave in the Royal Chapel of St. Peter Ad Vincula, within the walls of the Tower of London. It was the custom for traitors executed at Tower Hill to be buried in the mass grave beneath this chapel, which is accessible to visitors to the Tower.

St Dunstan's Church, Canterbury

St Dunstan's Church, an Anglican parish church in Canterbury, possesses More's head, rescued by his daughter Margaret Roper. This is sealed in the Roper family vault beneath the altar of the Nicholas Chapel, to the right of the church's sanctuary or main altar. The stone marking the sealed vault is to the immediate left of the altar below which it lies. St Dunstan's Church has carefully investigated, preserved and sealed this burial vault of the Roper family who lived in Canterbury. The last archaeological investigation of the Roper Vault revealed that the suspected head of More rests in a niche separate from the other bodies there, possibly from later interference.[citation needed] A few displays in the chapel record the archaeological findings in written accounts and pictures. The walls of the chapel feature stained glass donated by Catholics to commemorate the events in More's life. Down and across the street from the parish the facade of the former home of Margaret Roper and her husband William Roper survives and is marked by a small plaque. There is another house built near the original site entitled Roper House which is now a home for the deaf.

Published Works

Published during More’s life (with dates of publication)

  • A Merry Jest (c. 1516) (CW 1)
  • Utopia (1516) (CW 4)
  • Latin Poems (1518, 1520) (CW 3, Pt.2)
  • Letter to Brixius (1520) (CW 3, Pt. 2, App C)
  • Responsio ad Lutherum (1523) (CW 5)
  • A Dialogue Concerning Heresies (1529, 1530) (CW 6)
  • Supplication of Souls (1529) (CW 7)
  • Letter Against Frith (1532) (CW 7)
  • The Confutation of Tyndale's Answer (1532, 1533) (CW 8)
  • Apology (1533) (CW 9)
  • Debellation of Salem and Bizance (1533) (CW 10)
  • The Answer to a Poisoned Book (1533) (CW 11)

Published after More’s death (with likely dates of composition)

  • The History of King Richard III (c. 1513–1518) (CW 2 & 15)
  • The Four Last Things (c. 1522) (CW 1)
  • A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation (1534) (CW 12)
  • Treatise Upon the Passion (1534) (CW 13)
  • Treatise on the Blessed Body (1535) (CW 13)
  • Instructions and Prayers (1535) (CW 13)
  • De Tristitia Christi (1535) (CW 14)


  • Translations of Lucian (many dates 1506–1534) (CW 3, Pt.1)
  • The Life of Pico della Mirandola (c. 1510) (CW 1)
  NOTE: The reference “CW” is to the relevant volume of the Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More (New Haven and London 1963–1997)



  1. ^ St. Thomas More, 1478–1535 at Savior.org
  2. ^ Homily at the Canonization of St. Thomas More at The Center for Thomas More Studies at the University of Dallas, 2010, citing text "Recorded in The Tablet, June 1, 1935, pp. 694–695"
  3. ^ Linder, Douglas O. The Trial of Sir Thomas More: A Chronology at University Of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School Of Law
  4. ^ a b c Apostolic letter issued motu proprio proclaiming Saint Thomas More Patron of Statesmen and Politicians, 31 October 2000 Vatican.va
  5. ^ a b c "Holy Days". Worship – The Calendar. Church of England. 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  6. ^ Daniel J. Boorstin (1999). The Seekers: The Story of Man's Continuing Quest to Understand His World. Random House Digital, Inc. p. 154.
  7. ^ Jonathan Swift, Prose Works of Jonathan Swift v. 13, Oxford UP, 1959, p. 123)
  8. ^ a b Cited in Marvin O'Connell, "A Man for all Seasons: an Historian's Demur," Catholic Dossier 8 no. 2 (March–April 2002): 16–19 online
  9. ^ Jokinen, A. (13 June 2009). "The Life of Sir Thomas More." Luminarium. Retrieved on: 19 September 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d e Rebhorn, Wayne A, ed. (2005), "Introduction", Utopia, Classics, New York: Barnes & Noble.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Ackroyd, Peter (1999), The Life of Thomas More, New York: Anchor Books.
  12. ^ Harpsfield, Nicholas (1931), The Life and Death of Sr Thomas More, London: Early English Text Society, pp. 12–3.
  13. ^ Erasmus, "Letter to Ulrich von Hutten", in Adams, Robert M, Utopia, New York: WW Norton & Co, p. 125.
  14. ^ a b More, St Thomas (1961), Rogers, Elizabeth Frances, ed., Selected Letters, New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
  15. ^ "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  16. ^ Magnusson (ed.) Chambers Biographical Dictionary (1990) pg 1039
  17. ^ a b c d Rebhorn, W. A. (ed.) pg xviii
  18. ^ More, Thomas. Complete Works of Thomas More, 5:310-11, Yale University Press, cited in George Logan (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Thomas More, p103.
  19. ^ Romuald I. Lakowski, "Sir Thomas More's Correspondence: A Survey and a Bibliography," in: The Late Medieval Epistle, ed. Carol Poster and Richard Utz (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1996), pp. 162–79.
  20. ^ Peter G. Bietenholz, Thomas Brian Deutscher, Contemporaries of Erasmus: A Biographical Register of the Renaissance and Reformation, Volume 1, University of Toronto Press, 2003, p.200
  21. ^ Gerard B. Wegemer, "Portrait of Courage", p. 136.
  22. ^ Moynahan, Brian, God's Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Writing of the English Bible – A Story of Martyrdom and Betrayal, St Martin's Press; 1st edition (23 August 2003).
  23. ^ Diarmaid MacCulloch, 277.
  24. ^ Farris, Michael (2007), From Tyndale to Madison.
  25. ^ Moynahan, B., William Tyndale: If God Spare My Life, Abacus, London, 2003
  26. ^ Guy, John A. Tudor England Oxford, 1988. pg 26
  27. ^ Chambers, R.W., Thomas More, Jonathan Cape, London, 1976,
  28. ^ More, Thomas (1973), Schuster, LA; Marius, RC; Lusardi, JP et al., eds., The Confutation of Tyndale's Answer, Complete Works 8, Yale, p. 20 .
  29. ^ Marius, R (1986), Thomas More: A Biography, Fount Paperbacks, London: Collins, p. 407.
  30. ^ Marius (1999), p.307 and p.437
  31. ^ See, for example, 'To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of Hell.' from A Prayer by St. Thomas More
  32. ^ Eric W. Ives, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn (2004), p. 47. More wrote on the subject of the Boleyn marriage that "[I] neither murmur at it nor dispute upon it, nor never did nor will... I faithfully pray to God for his Grace and hers both long to live and well, and their noble issue too..."
  33. ^ Elton, Geoffrey Rudolph (1982). "The Crown". The Tudor constitution: documents and commentary (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Cambridge University Press. p. 7. ISBN 0-521-24506-0. OCLC 7876927. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
  34. ^ "Annotated original text".
  35. ^ "Account of trial". Retrieved 27 July 2007.
  36. ^ David Hume, The history of England (1813) p 632
  37. ^ Guy, John, A Daughter's Love: Thomas & Margaret More, London: Fourth Estate, 2008, ISBN 978-0-00-719231-1, p. 266.
  38. ^ Catholic Encyclopaedia.
  39. ^ Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation, (New York: Viking, 2004), 194
  40. ^ Quoted in Britannica – The Online Encyclopedia, article: Sir Thomas More
  41. ^ Writings on Religion and the Church, Chapter 14 "Concerning that Universal Hatred which prevails against the Clergy" by Jonathan Swift, 1736
  42. ^ Reputation, Thomas More Studies.
  43. ^ Kenny, Jack (2011). "A Man of Enduring Conscience". Resource Center. Catholic Culture via Trinity Communications.
  44. ^ Chambers, R. W. (1929). Sir Thomas More's Fame Among His Countrymen. London: Sheed & Ward. p. 13.
  45. ^ Chesterton, G. K. (1929). The Fame of Blessed Thomas More. London: Sheed & Ward. p. 63.
  46. ^ Wood, James (2000). The Broken Estate, Essays on Literature and Belief (softcover). New York: Random House. p. 16. ISBN 0-7126-6557-9.
  47. ^ Online Text Version of Fish's Supplycacion for the Beggar
  48. ^ see Fish, Simon. Supplycacion for the Beggar. 1529 in Carroll, Gerald L. and Joseph B. Murray. The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More. Vol. 7. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990, pp1-10. See also Pineas, Rainer. “Thomas More’s Controversy with Simon Fish.” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, Vol. 7, No. 1, The English Renaissance, Winter, 1967, 13–14.


  • Ackroyd, Peter (1999). The Life of Thomas More.
  • Basset, Bernard, S.J. (1965). Born for Friendship: The Spirit of Sir Thomas More. London: Burns and Oates.
  • Berglar, Peter (2009). Thomas More: a lonely voice against the power of the state. New York: Scepter Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59417-073-7.
  • Brady, Charles A. (1953). Stage of Fools: A Novel of Sir Thomas More. Dutton.
  • Chambers, R.W. (1935). Thomas More. Harcourt, Brace.
  • Guy, John (1980). The Public Career of Sir Thomas More. ISBN 978-0-300-02546-0.
  • Guy, John (2000). Thomas More. ISBN 978-0-340-73138-3.
  • Guy, John (2009). A Daughter's Love: Thomas More and his daughter Meg.
  • Marius, Richard (1984). Thomas More: A Biography.
  • Marius, Richard (1999). Thomas More: a biography. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674885257.
  • More, Cresacre. The Life of Sir Thomas More by His Great-Grandson.[1]
  • Reynolds, E. E. (1964). The Trialet of St Thomas More.
  • Reynolds, E. E. (1965). Thomas More and Erasmus.
  • Ridley, Jasper (1983). Statesman and Saint: Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas More, and the Politics of Henry VIII. ISBN 0-670-48905-0.
  • Wegemer, Gerard (1985). Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage. ISBN 978-1-889334-12-7.
  • Wegemer, Gerard. Thomas More on Statesmanship (1996)


  • Gushurst-Moore, André. "A Man for All Eras: Recent Books on Thomas More" Political Science Reviewer, 2004, Vol. 33, pp 90–143 online
  • Guy, John. "The Search for the Historical Thomas More," History Review (2000) pp 15+ online edition,

    Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane


    Today's Snippet I:  Kingdom  of England

    The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe from 927 to 1707, spanning at its height the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain, including modern-day England and Wales, and several smaller outlying islands. It had a land border with the Kingdom of Scotland to the north. At the start of the period its capital and chief royal residence was Winchester, but Westminster and Gloucester were accorded almost equal status, with Westminster gradually gaining preference.

    The kingdom broadly traces its origins to the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain and the Heptarchy of petty states that followed. The territory of what became England was united into a single kingdom by 927. The Norman invasion of Wales from 1067 and the completion of its conquest by Edward I (formalised with the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284) put Wales under England's control, and Wales came under English law with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542. On 1 May 1707, England was united with Scotland to create the Kingdom of Great Britain[1][2] under the terms of the Acts of Union 1707. Although it is no longer a sovereign state, modern England continues as one of the countries of the United Kingdom.


    The kingdom has no specific founding date. It emerged out of the gradual unification of the various kingdoms that were established following the Anglo-Saxon settlement of the former Roman province of Britannia. The minor kingdoms in time coalesced into the seven kingdoms known as the Heptarchy: East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, Kent, Essex, Sussex, and Wessex. The Viking invasions shattered the pattern of the English kingdoms. The English lands were unified in the 10th century in a reconquest completed by King Athelstan in 927.

    The Anglo-Saxons knew themselves as the Angelcynn, Englisc or Engle, originally names of the Angles, that came to refer to Saxons, Jutes, and Frisii alike, at least in English. They called their lands Engla land, meaning "Land of the Angles" (and when unified also Engla rice; "the Kingdom of the English"). In time the name Englaland became England.

    During the Heptarchy, the most powerful king among the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms might become acknowledged as Bretwalda, a high king over the other kings. The decline of Mercia allowed Wessex to become more powerful. It absorbed the kingdoms of Kent and Sussex in 825. The kings of Wessex became increasingly dominant over the other kingdoms of England during the 9th century. In 827, Northumbria submitted to Egbert of Wessex at Dore. It has been claimed that Egbert thereby became the first king to reign over a united England, however briefly.

    In 886, Alfred the Great retook London, which he apparently regarded as a turning point in his reign. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says that "all of the English people (all Angelcyn) not subject to the Danes submitted themselves to King Alfred."[3] Asser added that "Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, restored the city of London splendidly ... and made it habitable once more."[4] Alfred's "restoration" entailed reoccupying and refurbishing the nearly deserted Roman walled city, building quays along the Thames, and laying a new city street plan.[5] It is probably at this point that Alfred assumed the new royal style 'King of the Anglo-Saxons.'

    During the following years Northumbria repeatedly changed hands between the English kings and the Norwegian invaders, but was definitively brought under English control by Eadred in 954, completing the unification of England. At about this time, Lothian, the northern part of Northumbria (Roman Bernicia), was ceded to the Kingdom of Scotland. On 12 July 927 the monarchs of Britain gathered at Eamont in Cumbria to recognise Athelstan as king of the English. This can be considered England's 'foundation date', although the process of unification took almost 100 years.

    England has remained in political unity ever since. During the reign of Ethelred the Unready (978–1016), a new wave of Danish invasions was orchestrated by Sweyn I of Denmark, culminating after a quarter-century of warfare in the Danish conquest of England in 1013. But Sweyn died on 2 February 1014, and Ethelred was restored to the throne. In 1015, Sweyn's son Canute the Great launched a new invasion. The ensuing war ended with an agreement in 1016 between Canute and Ethelred's successor, Edmund Ironside, to divide England between them, but Edmund's death on 30 November of that year left England united under Danish rule. This continued for 26 years until the death of Harthacanute in June 1042. He was the son of Canute and Emma of Normandy (the widow of Ethelred the Unready) and had no heirs of his own; he was succeeded by his half-brother, Ethelred's son, Edward the Confessor. The Kingdom of England was once again independent.

    Norman conquest

    The peace lasted until the death of the childless Edward in January 1066. His brother-in-law was crowned King Harold, but his cousin William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, immediately claimed the throne for himself. William launched an invasion of England and landed in Sussex on 28 September 1066. Harold and his army were in York following their victory against the Norwegians at the Battle of Stamford Bridge (25 September 1066) when the news reached him. He decided to set out without delay and confront the Norman army in Sussex so marched southwards at once, despite the army not being properly rested following the battle with the Norwegians. The armies of Harold and William faced each other at the Battle of Hastings (14 October 1066), in which the English army, or Fyrd, was defeated, Harold and his two brothers were slain, and William emerged as victor. William was then able to conquer England with little further opposition. He was not, however, planning to absorb the Kingdom into the Duchy of Normandy. As a mere duke, William owed allegiance to Philip I of France, whereas in the independent Kingdom of England he could rule without interference. He was crowned on 25 December 1066.

    Magna Carta in 1215 .
    In 1092, William II led an invasion of Strathclyde, a Celtic kingdom in what is now southwest Scotland and Cumbria. In doing so, he annexed what is now the county of Cumbria to England; this was the last major expansion by England into what is now considered a part of England. Later, the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542 annexed Wales to England.

    In 1124, Henry I ceded what is now southeast Scotland (called Lothian) to the Kingdom of Scotland, in return for the King of Scotland's loyalty. This area of land had been English since its foundation in 927 AD, and before that had been a part of the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria. Lothian contained what later became the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. This arrangement was later finalised in 1237 by the Treaty of York.

    The Duchy of Aquitaine came into personal union with the Kingdom of England upon the accession of Henry II, who had married Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine. The Kingdom of England and the Duchy of Normandy remained in personal union until 1204. John Lackland, Henry II's son and fifth-generation descendant of William I, lost the continental possessions of the Duchy to Philip II of France during that year. A few remnants of Normandy, including the Channel Islands, remained in John's possession, together with most of the Duchy of Aquitaine.

    Norman conquest of Wales

    Up to the Norman conquest of Anglo-Saxon England, Wales had remained for the most part independent of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, although some Welsh kings did sometimes acknowledge the Bretwalda.

    However, soon after the Norman conquest of England, some of the Norman lords began to attack Wales. They conquered parts of it, which they ruled, acknowledging the overlordship of the Norman kings of England, but with considerable local independence. Over many years these "Marcher Lords" conquered more and more of Wales, against considerable resistance led by various Welsh princes, who also often acknowledged the overlordship of the Norman kings of England.

    Edward I defeated Llywelyn the Last, and so effectively conquered Wales, in 1282. He created the title Prince of Wales for his eldest son, the future Edward II, in 1301. Edward I's conquest was brutal and the subsequent repression considerable, as the magnificent Welsh castles such as Conwy, Harlech and Caernarfon attest; but this event re-united under a single ruler the lands of Roman Britain for the first time since the establishment of the Kingdom of the Jutes in Kent in the 5th century AD, some 700 years before.

    Accordingly, this was a highly significant moment in the history of medieval England, as it re-established links with the pre-Saxon past. These links were exploited for political purposes to unite the peoples of the kingdom, including the Anglo-Normans, by popularising Welsh legends.

    The Welsh language—derived from the British language, with significant Latin influences—continued to be spoken by the majority of the population of Wales for at least another 500 years, and is still a majority language in parts of the country.

    Loss of the Angevin Empire and the Wars of the Roses

     Battle of Agincourt.
    Edward III was the first English king to have a claim to the throne of France. Edward III pursued this claim, which resulted in the Hundred Years' War (1337–1453). The war pitted five kings of England of the House of Plantagenet against five kings of France of the Capetian House of Valois. Though the English had numerous celebrated victories, they were unable to overcome the numerical superiority of the French. England was defeated, retaining only a single town in France, Calais. During the Hundred Years War an English identity began to develop in place of the previous division between the Norman lords and their Anglo-Saxon subjects, in consequence of sustained hostility to the increasingly nationalist French, whose kings and other leaders (notably the charismatic Joan of Arc) used a developing sense of French identity to help draw people to their cause. The Anglo-Normans became separate from their cousins, who held lands mainly in France, who mocked the former for their archaic and bastardised spoken French. English also became the language of the law courts during this period.

    The Kingdom had little time to recover before entering the Wars of the Roses (1455–1487), a series of civil wars over possession of the throne between the House of Lancaster (whose heraldic symbol was the red rose) and the House of York (whose symbol was the white rose), each led by different branches of the descendants of Edward III. The end of these wars found the throne held by the descendant of an initially illegitimate member of the House of Lancaster, married to the eldest daughter of the House of York: Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. They were the founders of the Tudor dynasty, which ruled the Kingdom from 1485 to 1603.

    Tudors and Stuarts

    Portrait of Elizabeth I (1588)
    Wales had retained a separate legal and administrative system, which had been established by Edward I in the late 13th century. Under the Tudor monarchy, Henry VIII replaced the laws of Wales with those of England (under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542). Wales now ceased to be a personal fiefdom divided between the Prince of Wales and the Earl of March, and was instead annexed to the Kingdom of England, and henceforth was represented in the Parliament of England.

    During the 1530s, Henry VIII overthrew the power of the Roman Catholic Church within the kingdom, replacing the pope as head of the English church and seizing the church's lands, thereby facilitating the creation of a new Protestant religion. This had the effect of aligning England with Scotland, which also gradually adopted a Protestant religion, whereas the most important continental powers, France and Spain, remained Roman Catholic.

    In 1541, during Henry VIII's reign, the Parliament of Ireland proclaimed him king of Ireland, thereby bringing the Kingdom of Ireland into personal union with the Kingdom of England.

    Calais, the last remaining continental possession of the Kingdom, was lost in 1558, during the reign of Philip and Mary I. Their successor, Elizabeth I, consolidated the new Protestant Church of England. She also began to build up the Kingdom's naval strength, on the foundations Henry VIII had laid down. In 1588, her new navy was strong enough to defeat the Spanish Armada, which had sought to invade England in order to put a Catholic monarch on the throne in her place.

    The House of Tudor ended with the death of Elizabeth I on 24 March 1603. James I ascended the throne of England and brought it into personal union with the Kingdom of Scotland. Despite the Union of the Crowns, the kingdoms remained separate and independent states: a state of affairs which lasted for more than a century.

    The Stuart kings overestimated the power of the English monarchy, and were cast down by Parliament in 1645 and 1688. In the first instance, Charles I's introduction of new forms of taxation in defiance of Parliament led to the English Civil War (1641–45), in which the king was defeated, and to the abolition of the monarchy under Oliver Cromwell during the interregnum of 1649–1660. Henceforth, the monarch could reign only at the will of Parliament.

    Following the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, an attempt by James II to reintroduce Roman Catholicism—a century after its suppression by the Tudors—led to the Glorious Revolution of 1688, in which he was deposed by Parliament. The Crown was then offered by Parliament to James II's Protestant daughter and son-in-law/nephew, William III and Mary II.

    In 1707, Acts of Union were passed by both Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England, to ratify the 1706 Treaty of Union, and bring into being the new Kingdom of Great Britain. Anne, the last monarch of the House of Stuart, became the first monarch of the new kingdom. The English and Scottish Parliaments were merged into the Parliament of Great Britain, located in Westminster, London. At this point England ceased to exist as a separate political entity, and since then has had no national government. The laws of England were unaffected, with the legal jurisdiction continuing to be that of England and Wales, while Scotland continued to have its own laws and law courts. This continued after the Act of Union of 1800 between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland, which created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (later the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).

    Commonwealth and Protectorate

    England was a monarchy for the entirety of its political existence, except for the 11 years of the English Interregnum (1649 to 1660), which followed the English Civil War.

    The rule of the executed Charles I was replaced by that of a republic known as the Commonwealth of England (1649–1653). The most prominent general of the republic's New Model Army, Oliver Cromwell, extended its rule to Ireland and Scotland.

    Cromwell eventually turned against the republic, and established a new form of government known as The Protectorate, with himself as Lord Protector until his death on 3 September 1658. He was succeeded by his son Richard Cromwell. However, anarchy eventually developed, as Richard proved unable to maintain his rule. He resigned his title and retired into obscurity.

    The Commonwealth was then re-established, but proved to be unstable, so the exiled claimant, Charles II, was recalled to the throne by Parliament in 1660 in the English Restoration.

    Union with Scotland

    In the Scottish case, the attractions were partly financial and partly to do with removing English trade sanctions put in place through the Alien Act 1705. The English were more anxious about the royal succession. The death of William III in 1702 had led to the accession of his sister-in-law Anne to the thrones of England and Scotland, but her only surviving child had died in 1700, and the English Act of Settlement 1701 had given the succession to the English crown to the Protestant House of Hanover. Securing the same succession in Scotland became the primary object of English strategic thinking towards Scotland. By 1704, the Union of the Crowns was in crisis, with the Scottish Act of Security allowing for the Scottish Parliament to choose a different monarch, which could in turn lead to an independent foreign policy during a major European war. The English establishment did not wish to risk a Stuart on the Scottish throne, nor the possibility of a Scottish military alliance with another power.

    A Treaty of Union was agreed on 22 July 1706, and following the Acts of Union of 1707, which created the Kingdom of Great Britain, the independence of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland came to an end on 1 May 1707. The Acts of Union created a customs union and monetary union and provided that any "laws and statutes" that were "contrary to or inconsistent with the terms" of the Acts would "cease and become void."

    The City of Westminster, near London, had become the de facto capital of the Kingdom of England by the beginning of the 12th century, and later of the Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1801).


    1. ^ Acts of Union 1707 parliament.uk, accessed 27 January 2011
    2. ^ Making the Act of Union 1707 scottish.parliament.uk, accessed 27 January 2011
    3. ^ The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Freely licensed version at Gutenberg Project. Note: This electronic edition is a collation of material from nine diverse extant versions of the Chronicle. It contains primarily the translation of Rev. James Ingram, as published in the Everyman edition.
    4. ^ Asser's Life of King Alfred, ch. 83, trans. Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge, Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred & Other Contemporary Sources (Penguin Classics) (1984), pp. 97–8.
    5. ^ Vince, Alan, Saxon London: An Archaeological Investigation, The Archaeology of London series (1990).



     Catechism of the Catholic Church

    Part Three: Life in Christ

    Section One: Man's Vocation Life in The Spirit


    Article 7:2  The Virtues- Theological Virtues

    1699 Life in the Holy Spirit fulfills the vocation of man (chapter one). This life is made up of divine charity and human solidarity (chapter two). It is graciously offered as salvation (chapter three).

    1700 The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God (article 1); it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude (article 2). It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment (article 3). By his deliberate actions (article 4), the human person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and attested by moral conscience (article 5). Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth; they make their whole sentient and spiritual lives into means of this growth (article 6). With the help of grace they grow in virtue (article 7), avoid sin, and if they sin they entrust themselves as did the prodigal son Lk 15:11-32 to the mercy of our Father in heaven (article 8). In this way they attain to the perfection of charity.

    Article 7
    1803 "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."Phil 4:8  A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. the virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions. The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.St. Gregory of Nyssa, De beatitudinibus, 1: PG 44, 1200D

    II. The Theological Virtues
    1812 The human virtues are rooted in the theological virtues, which adapt man's faculties for participation in the divine nature:2 Pet 1:4 for the theological virtues relate directly to God. They dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have the One and Triune God for their origin, motive, and object.
    1813 The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.1 Cor 13:13

    1814 Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God."DV 5 For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work(s) through charity."Rom 1:17; Gal 5:6
    1815 The gift of faith remains in one who has not sinned against it.Council of Trent (1547): DS 1545 But "faith apart from works is dead":Jas 2:26 when it is deprived of hope and love, faith does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of his Body.
    1816 The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: "All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks."LG 42; cf. DH 14 Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: "So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."Mt 10:32-33

    1817 Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."Heb 10:23 "The Holy Spirit . . . he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life."
    1818 The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.
    1819 Christian hope takes up and fulfills the hope of the chosen people which has its origin and model in the hope of Abraham, who was blessed abundantly by the promises of God fulfilled in Isaac, and who was purified by the test of the sacrifice.Gen 17:4-8; 22:1-18 "Hoping against hope, he believed, and thus became the father of many nations."Rom 4:18
    1820 Christian hope unfolds from the beginning of Jesus' preaching in the proclamation of the beatitudes. the beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. But through the merits of Jesus Christ and of his Passion, God keeps us in the "hope that does not disappoint."Rom 5:5 Hope is the "sure and steadfast anchor of the soul . . . that enters . . . where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf."Heb 6:19-20 Hope is also a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation: "Let us . . . put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation."1 Thess 5:8 It affords us joy even under trial: "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation."Rom 12:12 Hope is expressed and nourished in prayer, especially in the Our Father, the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire.
    1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will.Rom 8:28-30; Mt 7:21 In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere "to the end"Mt 10:22; cf. Council of Trent DS 1541 and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for "all men to be saved."1 Tim 2:4 She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:
    Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.St. Teresa of Avila, Excl. 15:3

    1822 Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.
    1823 Jesus makes charity the new commandment.Jn 13:34 By loving his own "to the end,"Jn 13:1 he makes manifest the Father's love which he receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive. Whence Jesus says: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love." and again: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."n 15:9, 12
    1824 Fruit of the Spirit and fullness of the Law, charity keeps the commandments of God and his Christ: "Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love."Jn 15:9-10; cf. Mt 22:40; Rom 13:8-10
    1825 Christ died out of love for us, while we were still "enemies."Rom 5:10 The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself.Mt 5:44; Lk 10:27-37; Mk 9:37; Mt 25:40, 45
    The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: "charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."1 Cor 13:4-7
    1826 "If I . . . have not charity," says the Apostle, "I am nothing." Whatever my privilege, service, or even virtue, "if I . . . have not charity, I gain nothing."1 Cor 13:1-4 Charity is superior to all the virtues. It is the first of the theological virtues: "So faith, hope, charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity."1 Cor 13:13
    1827 The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which "binds everything together in perfect harmony";Col 3:14 it is the form of the virtues; it articulates and orders them among themselves; it is the source and the goal of their Christian practice. Charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love.
    1828 The practice of the moral life animated by charity gives to the Christian the spiritual freedom of the children of God. He no longer stands before God as a slave, in servile fear, or as a mercenary looking for wages, but as a son responding to the love of him who "first loved us":Jn 4:19
    If we turn away from evil out of fear of punishment, we are in the position of slaves. If we pursue the enticement of wages, . . . we resemble mercenaries. Finally if we obey for the sake of the good itself and out of love for him who commands . . . we are in the position of children.St. Basil, Reg. fus. tract., prol. 3 PG 31, 896 B
    1829 The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion:
    Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.St. Augustine, In ep. Jo. 10, 4: PL 35, 2057