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Sir Thomas More and Religious Liberty. Gary B. Doxey International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU June 13, 2012. Sir Thomas More, 1478-1535. The Medieval World. The Renaissance—a Rebirth of Learning Inspired by Greece and Rome. The Medieval Skyline. Medieval Reformers.

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Sir thomas more and religious liberty

Sir Thomas Moreand Religious Liberty

Gary B. Doxey

International Center for Law and

Religion Studies at BYU

June 13, 2012






Medieval reformers
Medieval Reformers and Rome

Waldo of Lyon

(1140-1218)

Jan Hus (1369-1415)

John Wycliffe (1328-1384)



The praise of folly 1511
The Praise of Folly and Rome, 1511


Martin luther 1483 1546
Martin Luther, 1483-1546 and Rome

“Erasmus laid an egg, and Luther hatched it.”

--Popular saying of the day





Rise of nation state
Rise of Nation State and Rome

  • Emergence of strong rulers in 15th and 16th centuries

  • “National churches”

  • Economic prosperity and new royal revenues

  • Standing armies not dependent on feudal nobility

  • Bureaucratic government institutions




More s life and career
More’s Life and Career and Rome

  • Born in London, 1478

  • Studied classics at Oxford, 1492-1494 (age 15)

  • Clerk at New Inn and later Lincoln’s Inn

  • Called to bar, 1502 (age 24)

  • Elected to Parliament, 1504

  • Joined Privy Council, 1514


Utopia 1516
Utopia and Rome, 1516






Foxe s acts and monuments aka foxe s book of martyrs 1563
Foxe’s and RomeActs and Monuments akaFoxe’s Book of Martyrs, 1563


The context summary
The Context--Summary and Rome

  • Renaissance—the new learning of humanism

  • Reformation—conflict and schism, a danger to the powers who ruled the status quo

  • Rise of modern nation state—stronger, more centralized government


Context continued
Context Continued and Rome

  • More was at the center of all these developments as a high governmental officer and confidant of the king; one of his special assignments was to bend his considerable intellectual and legal authority to put down Protestant subversives and insurgents who threatened the king’s stability


An additional element dynastic problems
An Additional Element and RomeDynastic Problems



Anne boleyn
Anne Boleyn and Rome





Key events in his later life
Key Events in his Later Life and Rome

  • 1527—Henry first expresses doubts about his marriage

  • 1529—Wolsey falls from grace and Henry appoints More as Lord Chancellor

  • 1531– Convocation of Canterbury grants Henry title of Supreme Head of the English Church “as far as the law of Christ allows.”

  • 1532—More resigns as Lord Chancellor


Key events in his later life1
Key Events in his Later Life and Rome

  • 1533—More refuses to attend coronation of Anne Bolyn

  • 1534—More refuses to affirm the oath of succession. He is placed in custody.

  • 1535—More is tried and executed for treason




“He spoke little before his execution. Only he asked the bystanders to pray for him in this world, and he would pray for them elsewhere. He then begged them earnestly to pray for the King, that it might please God to give him good counsel, protesting that he died the King’s good servant but God’s first.”

-- Paris Newsletter, July 1535


“Had bystanders to pray for him in this world, and he would pray for them elsewhere. He then begged them earnestly to pray for the King, that it might please God to give him good counsel, protesting that we been master of such a servant, we would rather have lost the best city of our dominions than such a worthy counselor.”

--Charles V, HRE

“…more pure than any snow…such as England never had and never again will have.”

--Erasmus


A Man for All Purposes? bystanders to pray for him in this world, and he would pray for them elsewhere. He then begged them earnestly to pray for the King, that it might please God to give him good counsel, protesting that


The religious freedom legacy
The Religious Freedom Legacy? bystanders to pray for him in this world, and he would pray for them elsewhere. He then begged them earnestly to pray for the King, that it might please God to give him good counsel, protesting that

  • Perception is reality? A martyr for conscience

  • Whose conscience? A deeper debate than meets the eye

  • Practical reality: an example of the painful nature of Europe’s conflict with pluralism and the practical accommodations that eventually led to begrudging toleration.


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