- NAME: Thomas More
- OCCUPATION: Philosopher, Lawyer, Political Leader, Saint, Journalist
- BIRTH DATE: February 07, 1478
- DEATH DATE: July 06, 1535
- EDUCATION: St. Anthony's School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: London, England, United Kingdom
- PLACE OF DEATH: London, England, United Kingdom
- AKA: Saint Thomas More
- Full Name: Sir Thomas More
- AKA: St. Thomas More
Best Known For
Thomas More is known for his 1516 book Utopia and for his untimely death in 1535, after refusing to acknowledge King Henry VIII as head of the Church of England. He was canonized by the Catholic Church as a saint in 1935.
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Born in London, England, in 1478, Thomas More's 1516 book Utopia was the forerunner of the utopian literary genre. More served as an important counselor to King Henry VIII of England, serving as his key counselor in the early 1500s, but after he refused to accept the king as head of the Church of England, he was tried for treason and beheaded (he died in London, England,
"The king's good servant, but God's first."
in 1535). More is noted for coining the word "Utopia," in reference to an ideal political system in which policies are governed by reason. He was canonized by the Catholic Church as a saint in 1935, and has been commemorated by the Church of England as a "Reformation martyr."
Thomas More was born in London, England, on February 7, 1478. He attended St. Anthony's School in London, one of the best schools of his day, and as a youth served as a page in the household of John Morton, archbishop of Canterbury and chancellor of England (and future cardinal). Morton is said to have thought that More would become a "marvellous man."
More went on to study at Oxford University, where he seems to have spent two years mastering Latin and formal logic, writing comedies, and studying Greek and Latin literature.
Around 1494, his father, a prominent attorney, brought More back to London to study common law. And in February 1496, More was admitted to Lincoln's Inn, one of England's four legal societies, to prepare for admission to the bar, and in 1501 he became a full member of the profession. More managed to keep up with his literary and spiritual interests while practicing law, and he read devotedly from both Holy Scripture and the classics.
Also around this time, More became close friends with Erasmus during the latter's first visit to England. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and professional relationship, and the pair worked on Latin translations of Lucian's works during Erasmus' second visit. On Erasmus' third visit, in 1509, he stayed in More's home and wrote Praise of Folly, dedicating it to More.
More was, meanwhile, torn between a life of civil service and a monastic calling, and he made the decision to work toward becoming a monk. To that end, in 1503, he moved to a monastery outside the London city limits and subjected himself to the discipline of the Carthusians, taking part of the monastic life as much as his legal career would allow. The prayer, fasting and partaking in penance would stay with him for the rest of his life (as would the practice of wearing a hair shirt), but his sense of duty to serve his country overcame his desire for monasticism, and he entered Parliament in 1504. He also was married for the first time around this time, either in 1504 or early the following year.
More is thought to have written History of King Richard III (in Latin and in English) between 1513 and 1518. The novel is considered the first masterpiece of English historiography (the study of history, or the study of a particular historical subject), and, despite remaining unfinished, influenced subsequent historians, including William Shakespeare.
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