Thomas More


Thomas More : biography

07 February 1478 – 06 July 1535

Poems, epigrams and translations

Thomas More was an author of 280 Latin epigrams, translated works and small poems. He made translations from ancient Greek which was less popular than Latin.

The exact dating of the majority of More’s epigrams is difficult. Nevertheless the main topic in epigrams and in poetic works is the image of an ideal ruler, many epigrams and poems’s ideas are close to Thomas More’s work “Utopia”.


The most considerable and valuable work from all political and literature works of Thomas More was “Utopia” (it was published in 1516 by Dirk Martens), this books remained its importance even for our time not only as a talented novel but as a genius socialistic work. Its literature sources were Plato’s works (“Crito”, “Timaeus” and “The Republic”), adventure novels of XVI century (particularly “Quatuor Navigationes” by Amerigo Vespucci) and some political ballads. From Vespucci’s “Navigations” he took the start for “Utopia”. More created the first orderly socialistic system, although it was utopian.

Thomas More called his book “Golden book, very useful and amusing, about the best organization of the state and the new island Utopia”. “Utopia” has two parts, which differ in content, but logically they are inseparable from each other.

The first part of More’ work is a literary political pamphlet, the most strong moment in it is critics of contemporary social and political order: he criticized “bloody” law for workers, opposed execution and passionately attacked royal despotism and war politics, he sharply ridiculed sponging and depravity of priesthood. But More attacked on enclosure of endources, which ravage peasantry, particularly sharply. In the first part of “Utopia” not only he criticized existing orders, but also gave a program of reforms which was similar to early moderate projects of More. This part evidently was a screen for the second part, where he expressed all his concealed thoughts in a fantastic form. In the second part he revealed his humanistic tends. The head of state in More’s “Utopia” was a “wise” monarch, he conceded slaves for dirty work. He wrote about Greek philosophy a lot, particularly about Plato, and the characters of “Utopia” were also passionate humanists. But in the description of social and economic system of his fictional state More gave key points to understand his position. First of all “Utopia” abolished private property and annihilated exploitation. Instead of it More established socialized production. This was a big step forward because every previous socialist writer’s socialism had exploitative character. Labour was obligatory in “Utopia” for everybody, and every citizens of definite age by turns worked in agriculture, farming was cooperative, but city production was based on family handicraft principle – it was influence of insufficiently developed economic relations in More’s time. Hand labour had dominion in “Utopia”, but it lasted for six hours and wasn’t exhausting. More didn’t say anything about technology development. According to the character of production More’s state didn’t have exchange and money, it existed only for trade relations with other countries, and trade was governmental monopoly. Distribution of products in “Utopia” was conducted according to needs without any strong limitations. State system was a democracy in spite of king’s power, all positions were elected and could be occupied by everyone, but as a humanist More gave intellectuals the leading role. Women had equal rights. Scholl was based on combination of theory and practical training.

“Utopia” had tolerant attitude for all religions, only atheism was forbidden, atheists lost citizen rights. More took a middle position between religious and rationalistic people in question of religion, but in question of society and state he was a rationalist. He admitted that existing society was unreasonable and claimed that it was a plot of rich people against all other members of society. More’s socialism reflected the contemporary situation, aspiration of depressed people from cities and villages. His system put a question about organization of socialistic production in the history of socialistic ideas, besides, in national scale. It was the new period of socialism because More realized the importance of governmental organization for socialism building, but he couldn’t see prospects of classless society (“Utopia” didn’t abolish slavery).

Political views

The main reason of all vices and miseries was private property and caused by it contradictions of personal and social interests. Private property and money caused crimes which couldn’t be stopped by laws and penalties.

Utopia (the ideal state) was an original federation consisting of 54 cities. Organization and administration in every city was similar. The city had 6000 families; every family had 10-16 adult people. Every family had own handicraft (it was allowed to change families). In suburbs “country families” were made in order to work in the country (40 adult people or more), where every citizen must work for two years.

Officials in Utopia were elected. Utopia didn’t have private property, therefore arguments and crimes were not numerous and citizens didn’t need complicated law. War was a savage act in people’s opinion, but in order to be ready for it in the case of necessity they always exercised. Usually they used hirelings for wars.

The fair reason for the war was the case when any nation occupied territory in vane and didn’t use it, but refused to give it for other nations.