The One Thomas More
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The Catholic University of America Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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I am pleased to express my gratitude to those who have made this book possible. The One Thomas More benefited from the careful reading and judicious advice of many friends and colleagues, especially Gerard Wegemer, Marc Guerra, Scott Crider, and David Williams. For commenting on chapter 5 with tremendous insight, I thank Henry...
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Introduction: Non Sum Oedipus Sed Morus
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“Non sum Oedipus, sed Morus,” More tells his daughter, Margaret, while in the Tower, “which name of mine what is signifieth in Greek, I need not tell you.” The word mōrus means “fool,” a joke More made often, and the lines in Latin allude to a stock character Terence depicts, a servant who cannot understand riddles like Oedipus can, for...
1. Profitable Learning and Pietas: The Life of Pico della Mirandola, ca. 1504–10
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More’s Life of Pico is a Christian guidebook, a translation of the Latin original Vita Pici, but how and in what ways More found Pico a Christian paradigm remains contested. For some, Pico represents a personal model to More as a brilliant lay scholar; others read the text for insight into More’s own vocational crisis of whether or not to marry...
2. Humanist Realism and the History of Richard III, ca. 1514–15
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A. F. Pollard identifies a significant problem of Thomas More’s The History of Richard III, which he calls “the motive of its conception,” a problem that closely allies with the question of More’s intellectual identity.1 Does More write the History to provide a factual account of Richard’s rise to power, or to practice his skills of declamation, or...
3. Si Moro Credimus: The "Dialogue of Counsel" in Utopia, ca. 1516
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Given the political limitations the History demonstrates, the question of More’s ideas of social reform appears best addressed in the debate over counsel from book I of Utopia rather than in the revolutionary ideas of an ideal regime like the kind Hythloday describes.1 Because of the appetite of kings for power, unless a courtier abides...
4. Humanism, Heresy, and the One Thomas More, ca. 1523–33
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If Utopia is Thomas More’s most contested humanist text, how More addresses heresy proves the most difficult issue of his controversial writings, a topic that degrades the “man for all seasons” in the minds of some. Jasper Ridley accuses More of turning from a “brilliant intellectual” to “a sycophantic courtier and then into a persecuting bigot"...
5. Inquisition, Equity, and the "Battle of the Books," ca. 1532–33
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Like the war of words between More and Tyndale, disputes between the laity and the Church, especially over how inquisitorial trials functioned in England, involve More in a “battle of the books” with the common law attorney Christopher St. German.1 More’s part begins with the Apology of Sir Thomas More, Knight, published in 1533, which...
Conclusion: Iconic Thomas Mores on Trial
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A “man of singular virtue” and paragon of the “dignity of human conscience” are descriptions of Thomas More whose laudatory tone Robert Bolt captures in his famous play, A Man for all Seasons.1 So, too, “poet without shame” or “plaster saint created by the worshippers” embody Hilary Mantel’s already influential version of...
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Page Count: 247
Publication Year: 2012