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The Great Dissembler

James Wood: Thomas More’s Bad Character

16 April 1998
The Life of Thomas​ More 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 435 pp., £20, March 1998, 1 85619 711 5
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... ThomasMore, the scrupulous martyr, is the complete English saint. But no man can be a saint in God’s eyes, and no man should be one in ours; and certainly not ThomasMore. He is seen as a Catholic martyr because he died opposing Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and the King’s robbery from the Pope of the leadership of the English Church. But he is ...

Midwinter

J.B. Trapp

17 November 1983
Thomas MoreHistory and Providence 
by Alistair Fox.
Blackwell, 271 pp., £19.50, September 1982, 0 631 13094 2
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The Statesman and the Fanatic: Thomas​ Wolsey and Thomas More 
by Jasper Ridley.
Constable, 338 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 9780094634701
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English Reformation Literature: The Tudor Origins of the Protestant Tradition 
by John King.
Princeton, 539 pp., £30.70, December 1982, 0 691 06502 0
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Seven-Headed Luther: Essays in Commemoration of a Quincentenary, 1483-1983 
edited by Peter Newman Brooks.
Oxford, 325 pp., £22.50, July 1983, 0 19 826648 0
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The Complete Works of St Thomas More. Vol. VI: A Dialogue concerning Heresies. Part 1: The Text, Part 2: Introduction, Commentary, Appendices, Glossary, Index 
edited by T.M.C. Lawler, Germain Marc’hadour and Richard Marius.
Yale, 435 pp., £76, November 1981, 0 300 02211 5
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... poet laureate and satirist Ulrich von Hutten received a long letter from Erasmus of Rotterdam, still at that time his friend. What sort of man, he had asked Erasmus, was this kindred poetic spirit ThomasMore, fellow-condemner of court life and author of the diverting Utopia, as well as admirably an admirer of Hutten’s own satire on monkish blankness and obscurantism, Letters from Nonentities ...

How to Twist a Knife

Colin Burrow: Wolf Hall

30 April 2009
Wolf Hall 
by Hilary Mantel.
Fourth Estate, 653 pp., April 2009, 978 0 00 723018 1
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... There was no shortage of bastards in the early 16th century, but Thomas Cromwell stands out as one of the biggest bastards of them all. His surviving correspondence shows the energy, efficiency and brutality of someone born to get things done. Whenever he says, ‘I ...
4 September 1980
Studies in the Reformation: Luther to Hooker 
by W.D.J. Cargill Thompson.
Athlone, 259 pp., £18, July 1980, 9780485111873
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... Towards the end of 1533, Sir ThomasMore turned to write the last of his harsh rejoinders to a pamphlet attack, printed abroad, on the Catholic doctrine of the eucharist. He did not know who the author was, though he guessed it to be his ...
17 December 1992
Tyndale’s New Testament 
edited by David Daniell.
Yale, 429 pp., £18.95, September 1989, 0 300 04419 4
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Tyndale’s Old Testament, being the Pentateuch of 1530, Joshua to II Chronicles of 1537 and Jonah 
edited by David Daniell.
Yale, 643 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 300 05211 1
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... Vulgate of St Jerome, made largely from the Greek Septuagint, translated from the Hebrew for the Old Testament and from the original Greek of the New, was sanctified by use in the Western Church for more than a thousand years. It was a translation into Latin, which required learning and the help of interpreters to construe. Vernacular versions existed, in various European languages, but most were ...

Utopia in Texas

Glen Newey: Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’

19 January 2017
Utopia 
by Thomas More, edited by George M. Logan, translated by Robert M. Adams.
Cambridge, 141 pp., £9.99, August 2016, 978 1 107 56873 0
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Utopia 
by Thomas More, translated by Gilbert Burnet.
Verso, 216 pp., £8.99, November 2016, 978 1 78478 760 8
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... In William Morris’s News from Nowhere (1890), which unearths utopia in 21st-century Hammersmith, the Houses of Parliament have been repurposed as a store for dung, while in Utopia itself, ThomasMore specifies that Utopians use gold, which is abundant, for chamber pots. Shit, like nothing, happens anywhere, these utopian writers seem to say, but what matters is keeping it localised. Utopia is now ...

Malice! Malice!

Stephen Sedley: Thomas More’s Trial

5 April 2012
Thomas More’s Trial by Jury 
edited by Henry Ansgar Kelly, Louis Karlin and Gerard Wegemer.
Boydell, 240 pp., £55, September 2011, 978 1 84383 629 2
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... Beatification, which finally came to ThomasMore in 1886, and canonisation, which had to wait until 1935, were only the icing on the commemorative cake. He had had, both during his life and since, a deserved measure of admiration as a scholar, a ...

Out of this World

David Armitage

16 November 1995
Utopia 
by Thomas More, edited by George Logan, Robert M. Adams and Clarence Miller.
Cambridge, 290 pp., £55, February 1995, 0 521 40318 9
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Utopias of the British Enlightenment 
edited by Gregory Claeys.
Cambridge, 305 pp., £35, July 1994, 0 521 43084 4
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... of utopianism has declined. The very idea that utopias, those rose-tinted cities stranded outside time, might have a history is itself a recent discovery, and has largely sprung from assessments of More’s Utopia, the work that revived the ancient genre of the ideal commonwealth for the modern world. More’s work has been heralded as both a harbinger of Communism and as the intellectual first ...

Simon Agonistes

Randolph Quirk

5 November 1981
Paradigms Lost: Reflections on Literacy and its Decline 
by John Simon.
Chatto, 222 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 7011 2601 9
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... How do you measure decline in literacy? Despite his subtitle, John Simon seems to sidestep this one completely. As well he might. Bombastic English has been vigorously deplored since the time of Sir ThomasMore, and it would be difficult to demonstrate that there was relatively more (or less) of it around today. Bad spelling is certainly no measure. As a popular touchstone of literacy standards, it has ...

Two Poems

Michael Symmons Roberts

17 May 2017
... room. This is an elegy whichever way I spin it, to call to mind a city without you in it. What’s Yours Is Mine ‘Doors which yield to a touch of the hand … permit anyone to enter.’ ThomasMore, Utopia It was our game, to drive at night into their city, scan the streets, choose a house at random and stroll in mid-evening as the householders were finishing, say, a birthday dinner. We ...

A Very Active Captain

Patrick Collinson: Henricentrism

22 June 2006
The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church 
by G.W. Bernard.
Yale, 736 pp., £29.95, November 2005, 0 300 10908 3
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Writing under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation 
by Greg Walker.
Oxford, 556 pp., £65, October 2005, 0 19 928333 8
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... Like J.A. Froude, balancing the books on Henry’s daughter Elizabeth, Elton believed that all Henry’s achievements were those of others, and above all the towering achievement of his minister Thomas Cromwell, whose idea it was to declare UDI on the pope, and, in effect, the rest of Europe. Not all of those who came next, including his own pupils, agreed with Elton. Some very publicly disagreed ...
16 July 1981
The Lisle Letters 
edited by Muriel St Clare Byrne.
Chicago, 744 pp., £125, June 1981, 0 226 08801 4
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... to Cardinal Wolsey’s unquestionably massive, and unquestionably confiscated, correspondence, a remnant of which was acquired by Sir Robert Cotton? Where are the papers of Bishop Fisher and Sir ThomasMore? Perhaps the former kept none; the latter, practising his famous discretion, very likely destroyed his in the months during which, still free, he could confidently look forward to his arrest. Of ...

La Bolaing

Patrick Collinson: Anne Boleyn

18 November 2004
The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn 
by Eric Ives.
Blackwell, 458 pp., £25, July 2004, 0 631 23479 9
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... past is another country where they do things differently, we may well ask whether we are abroad if we visit the England of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. In September 1528, Henry wrote to Anne: ‘No more to you at this present, mine own darling, for lack of time, but that I would you were in mine arms or I in yours, for I think it long since I kissed you.’ This doesn’t sound much like another ...
27 May 1993
The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, c.1400-c.1580 
by Eamon Duffy.
Yale, 704 pp., £29.95, November 1992, 0 300 05342 8
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... literate and the illiterate. Incantatory prayers, supernatural promises, and invocations against the Devil were characteristic of late medieval religion. In Religion and the Decline of Magic Keith Thomas asserted that the medieval Church had done a great deal to weaken the fundamental distinction between a prayer and a charm, and to encourage the belief that there was a virtue in the mere incantation ...

Why did Lady Mary care about William Cragh?

Maurice Keen: A medieval miracle

5 August 2004
The Hanged Man: A Story of Miracle, Memory and Colonialism in the Middle Ages 
by Robert Bartlett.
Princeton, 168 pp., £16.95, April 2004, 0 691 11719 5
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... it appears, of the Welsh patriot Rhys ap Maredudd. Cragh had been captured by the men of William de Briouze, Lord of Gower, and sentenced by him to hang as a rebel and a homicide. The saint was Thomas de Cantilupe, former bishop of Hereford, who had died in 1282. From soon after his death posthumous miracles had begun to be attributed to him, and he was officially canonised by Pope John XXII in ...

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