By Dr. Bob Turknett
Sir Thomas More, 1478-1535
Sir Thomas More was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted humanist. He was influenced by Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato and served Henry VIII as Lord High Chancellor of England from October 1529 to May 1532.
After refusing to accept King Henry VIII as head of the church of England, More was convicted of treason and executed. On his execution, he was reported to have said: “I die the King’s good servant, and God’s first.”
Despite More’s scathing denial of this perjured evidence, the jury’s unanimous verdict was “guilty.”
Before the sentence was pronounced, More spoke with an eloquent and masterful discharge of his conscience.
When in my late teens, the movie about Sir Thomas More’s trial and execution, (Robert Bolt’s, A Man for All Seasons), had a very dramatic and lasting impact on my life.
Though the courage required to choose death for one’s beliefs seems beyond most of us, to see this leader grapple with his conscience and ultimately choose death was a profound experience that I have never forgotten!
In G. K. Chesterson’s, “A Turning Point in History” he said that More “may come to be counted as the greatest historical character in English history, that few people in history have faced their trials and deaths as squarely, calmly, and with as much integrity as did More.”