Thomas More

Thomas More  bigraphy, stories - An English thinker and writer

Thomas More : biography

07 February 1478 – 06 July 1535


Thomas More was born on the 7th of February in 1478 in a family of Sir John More who was a London judge and was known for his honesty. More got his primary education in the Saint Antony School. At the age of thirteen he was sent to John Morton, an archbishop of Canterbury and for some time he served as a page for him. Thomas’ cheerful character, wit and desire for knowledge astonished Morton and he predicted that More would become “a wonderful man”. More continued his education in Oxford where his teachers were Thomas Linacre and William Grocyn who were famous lawyers of that time. In 1494 Thomas More returned in London and in 1501 he became a barrister.

To all appearances More didn’t intend to make a lawyer’s career for the whole life. Particularly, he hesitated between civil and church service for a long time. During his education in Lincoln’s inn (one of the four law corporations which trained lawyers) More decided to become a monk and live near a monastery. Till the end of his life he kept to monastic way of life with constant prayers and fasting. Nevertheless, More’s desire to serve for his country put an end to his monastic aspiration. In 1504 More was elected in Parliament and in 1505 he married.

Family life

At the first time More married Jane Colt in 1505. She was nearly ten years younger than he and all friends described her as a calm and kind person. Desiderius Erasmus advised her to get additional education to that she got at home and he became her personal mentor in fields of music and literature. More and Jane had four children: Margaret, Elizabeth, Cicely and John. When Jane died in 1511 he married practically at once – he chose as a second wife a rich widow Alice Middleton. Alice didn’t have a reputation of a submissive woman as her predecessor had, on the contrary, she was known as a strong and straight woman, but Erasmus told their marriage was happy. More and Alice didn’t have children together, but Alice had a daughter from her first marriage. Besides, More became a tutor of a young girl named who in the end married Thomas More. More was a loving father, he often wrote letters to his children when he was away on his law or governmental business, he also asked them to write him more often. More was seriously interested in women’s education; this attitude was very unusual for that time. He thought that women were capable for scientific achievements as men and he insisted that his daughters received higher education as sons.

Religious polemics

In 1520 a reformer Martin Luther published three works: “To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation”, “On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church”, “On the Christian freedom”. In this works Luther committed to paper his teaching about salvation with the help of faith, he rejected sacraments and other catholic practices and pointed on malusage and pernicious influence of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1521 Henry VIII reacted on Luther’s critics with the work of a writer who was known as Assertio. It was written and edited by More. Martin Luther answered Henry VIII and called him “a pig, blockhead and liar”. Henry VIII asked More to make a refutation: “Responsio Lutherum”. It was published at the end of 1523. In Responsio More defended Pope’s leadership and sacrament other church ceremonies. This confrontation with Luther confirmed conservative religious tends of More and since that time his artwork was written without critics and satire which could be considered as harm to the church authority.

In Parliament

More’s first dead in Parliament was speech for reduction of duties for king Henry VII. As a revenge for it Henry arrested More’s father and set him free only after the payment of considerable ransom and Thomas More’s dissociation from social life. After Henry VII death in 1509 More returned to career of a politician and became one of two London juniour sheriffs. In 1511 his first wife died during the childbirth and More married for the second time.