Cover image for The last letters of Thomas More
The last letters of Thomas More
More, Thomas, Saint, 1478-1535.
Uniform Title:
Correspondence. Selections
Publication Information:
Grand Rapids, Mich. : W.B. Eerdmans, [2000]

Physical Description:
viii, 214 pages ; 25 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
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DA334.M8 A4 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Based on the critical edition of More's prison correspondence, this volume begins with letters to Cromwell and Henry VIII in February 1534, and ends with his last words to his daughter, Margaret Roper, on the eve of his execution. More writes on a host of topics, including prayer and penance, the ri

Author Notes

Born in London, the son of a judge, More became an important statesman and scholar. He was also one of the most eminent humanists of the Renaissance. Educated at Oxford, More became an under-sheriff of London and, later, a member of Parliament. Under King Henry VIII he served as Treasurer of the Exchequer, speaker of the House of Commons, and, finally, Lord Chancellor.

More is probably best known for his Utopia, which was written in Latin (then the language of literary and intellectual Europe). It was translated into English in 1551. As the first part of this small masterpiece indicates, when More was weighing the offer to be an adviser to Henry VIII he was well aware of the compromises, bitterness, and frustration that such an office involved. In the second part, More develops his famous utopia---a Greek word punning on the meanings "a good place" and "no place"---a religious, communistic society where the common ownership of goods, obligatory work for everyone, and the regular life of all before the eyes of all ensure that one's baser nature will remain under control. Inspired by Plato's (see Vols. 3 and 4) Republic, More's Utopia became in turn the urbane legacy of the humanistic movement (in which More's friends were most notably Erasmus (see Vol. 4), John Colet, and William Grocyn) to succeeding ages. More also wrote a history, Richard III, which, if arguably the first instance of modern historiography in its attention to character and its departure from chronicle, is also, in its responsiveness to the Tudor polemic of divine rights, largely responsible for the notorious reputation of Richard as an evil ruler. More's refusal to recognize Henry VIII as Head of the Church led to a sentence of high treason. Imprisoned for more than a year, he was finally beheaded. Eventually, More was granted sainthood.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

De Silva (theology, Thomas More Coll. of Liberal Arts) has gathered together the letters Thomas More wrote to Margaret Roper, Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, Dr. Wilson, and others two years before his execution. Any More enthusiast will treasure this collection beyond measure, as it offers a clear window onto the soul of one of history's noblest figures. The statesman's plight becomes the reader's very own: confined in the Tower of London, awaiting the inevitable chopping block. What emerges most poignantly from the letters is More's selfless integrity as distinct from the stubborn individualism so often attributed to him. According to de Silva's own lucid and informative introduction, "More did not exhibit an individualism or an autonomy of the `I' that has no room for anything else...he simply knew that to take the oath [to Henry VIII] would mean the loss of his own self, his own spiritual integrity." Endnotes elaborate on cultural, political, and religious allusions that would otherwise confuse one unfamiliar with the time period. This book makes for a fine supplement to Peter Ackroyd's recent biography, The Life of Thomas More (LJ 6/1/98). Essential for academic libraries; highly recommended for large public libraries.DLoren Rosson III, Nashua P.L., NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
A Note on the Textp. viii
Introduction: Good Companyp. 1
1 To Thomas Cromwell, Chelsea, 1 February 1533/4p. 31
2 To Thomas Cromwell, Chelsea, February-March 1533/4p. 34
3 To Thomas Cromwell, March 1534p. 36
4 To Henry VIII, Chelsea, 5 March 1534p. 45
5 To Thomas Cromwell, Chelsea, 5 March 1534p. 48
6 To Margaret Roper, Tower, circa 17 April 1534p. 57
7 To Margaret Roper, Tower of London, April-May? 1534p. 62
8 To Margaret Roper, Tower, May 1534p. 64
9 From Margaret Roper, May? 1534p. 66
10 To All His Friends, Tower, 1534p. 68
11 Alice Alington to Margaret Roper, 17 August 1534p. 69
12 Margaret Roper to Alice Alington, August 1534p. 72
13 To Dr. Nicholas Wilson, Tower, 1534p. 90
14 To Dr. Nicholas Wilson, Tower, 1534p. 91
15 From Margaret Roper, 1534p. 97
16 To Margaret Roper, Tower, 1534p. 99
17 To Margaret Roper, Tower, 1534p. 104
18 Lady More to Henry VIII, around Christmas 1534p. 108
19 To Master Leder, Tower, 16 January 1534/5p. 110
20 To margaret Roper, Tower, 2/3 May 1535p. 112
21 Lady More to Thomas Cromwell, May 1535p. 116
22 To Margaret Roper, Tower, 3 June 1535p. 118
23 To Antonio Bonvisi, Tower, 1535p. 123
24 To Margaret Roper, Tower, 5 July 1535p. 127
Commentaryp. 131
Glossaryp. 195
Bibliographyp. 203
Indexp. 211