Sir Thomas More- was his sacrfice worth it?

Discussion in 'History' started by JoeB131, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. JoeB131
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    JoeB131 Diamond Member

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    Watched the TNT version of "A Man for All Seasons" today. Not quite as good as the 1966 version with Paul Scofield, to be honest, but this one had Charlton Heston being all epic and biblical like he tended to be.

    But it got me to thinking, was More really acting on principle or his own ego?

    Look at it from Henry VIII's point of view. The lack of a clear line of succession a century before lead to the War of the Roses, which dragged on for 30 years and devastated England. He needed an heir and Catherine of Aragone was barren.

    The Catholic Church wasn't standing on a moral issue. They had happily granted Henry's sister an annulement from an unhappy marriage. The only reason why they were getting all obstinent with Henry was because Catherine's Nephew, Charles V, had an Army double-parked outside the Vatican.

    A lot of people have been admirers of More's principles, but I guess I just don't see it. I just see a religious fanatic trying to justify a Church's bad behavior.
     
  2. Dragon
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    Dragon Senior Member

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    Was Catherine barren? She had already borne Henry a daughter.

    I agree dynastic concerns were Henry's main priority. He wanted a son to succeed him, so as avoid civil war after his death. Jane Seymour remained his favorite long after her death, I'm convinced, mainly because she was the only wife he had who bore a son. That it had nothing to do with sincere religious conviction can be seen by Henry's "Defense of the Seven Sacraments" which he earlier wrote in criticism of Luther. Henry VIII. Excerpt from "Defense of the Seven Sacraments", treatise against Luther.

    The irony is that it was Henry's daughter by Anne Boleyn who is judged by most historians to be the greatest of the Tudors and possibly the greatest English monarch in history.

    As for Sir Thomas More, I have very mixed feelings about him. On the one hand, he claimed to be a humanist and had a positive influence on Henry in his early years. On the other, he burned Protestants at the stake, and you can't get much less "humanistic" than that! I'm afraid I don't regard him with the reverence the play offers.
     
  3. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    Probably not for Tommy, personally.

    It worked out for Henry pretty well though.

    He gave himself a new job description which also (probably not coincidently) gave him control of the wealth of the English Catholic church.

     
  4. JoeB131
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    JoeB131 Diamond Member

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    Yes, he did have Mary, who turned out to be the worst monarch to ever sit on the throne. Seriously, getting called "Bloody Mary" is never a good thing. (Then again, given the way she was treated through her life, can you imagine her not turning out to be a sociopath?)

    I suspect that there are a lot of motivations that were going on not only with Henry, but those around him. Nearly everyone around Henry met a bad end, either during his reign or in during the reigns of one of his three children.

    There were also economic concerns (The Church owned about 1/3 of the land in England, and the nobility wanted it back!) as well as idealogical concerns (The church was really corrupt) and regional concerns (the North revolted against Henry's reforms.)

    A fascinating period of history, overall, which is why so many movies, TV series and plays have been written about it.
     

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