Man For All Seasons


Sir Thomas More (1478 - 1535)

English saint and diplomat, More was the author or Utopia and lord chancellor from 1529 to 1532.

More had been one of Henry VIII's primary councilors. He began to fall out of favor with the king when he did not sign a letter urging the pope to declare Henry's marriage to Catherine void.

In 1533 the Act of Restraint of Appeals cut judicial ties between England and Rome. Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury, declared the king's marriage to Catherine void on May 23, 1533. Anne Boleyn was crowned June 1.

More was called to Lambeth on April 13, 1534 to confirm by oath the Act of Succession (March 1534) which, in part, declared the king's marriage to Catherine void and the one to Anne valid. More was willing to accept this. But he refused the oath because it also entailed a repudiation of papal supremacy.

On April 17 he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

In 1534 the Act of Supremacy established the king as the supreme head of the Church of England. Denying this authority was considered high treason.

More was tried in Westminster hall on July 1, 1535. He was convicted of treason for his refusal to affirm the king's supremacy. He was beheaded on Tower Hill July 6.

More was beatified on December 29, 1886, and was canonized on May 19, 1935.