Thursday, May 29, 2008

Question from Tabitha - Regret of Thomas More's execution

Thanks to all for your help, sorry I have asked alot of questions, I am just really getting into this time period, and it is so FASCINATING!!!

Did Henry VIII ever have regrets in executing Sir Thomas More? I know he was very fond of him.


1 comment:

Foose said...

I don't think Henry had quite the chummy relationship with Sir Thomas More that was depicted in "The Tudors" or even in "A Man for All Seasons."

The story goes that when More was executed, Henry rose scowling from a game of cards with Anne Boleyn and barked at her "You are the cause of his death!" and went off and brooded, presumably to Anne's ultimate detriment. However, this was reported in the Life of Thomas More written by his great-grandson, so there is a strong potential for bias.

More did help Henry write his "Defense of the Seven Sacraments," was a prominent figure in the intellectual flowering of Renaissance England, and served later as his chosen chancellor, so there may have been some sort of emotional relationship. He was middle-class and a public servant, rather than a great aristocrat whom Henry might have regarded with more respect. In addition, Henry seems to have been one of those people who, once he feels betrayed, has little compunction about getting rid of the betrayer. The pressure put on More seems more to have been to get him to acquiesce in the Supremacy and Henry's second marriage for reasons of public and foreign relations, rather than that Henry himself just couldn't stand not having More's consent. It looks bad when a former Chancellor (a Great Office and in charge of the courts and judicial business in England) does not approve of a king's wholesale change in religion and the royal succession.

It is interesting to speculate whether Henry, in his later years (when most people really remember most vividly the people they grew up with and knew when they were young) may have missed all those he had killed -- Catherine of Aragon (not exactly killed, but you know what I mean), his cousin Henry Courtenay, Margaret Pole, Wolsey, Anne Boleyn, More, etc. Historians seem to indicate Henry was always interested in young people at court, possibly because he had relatively fewer contemporaries and intimates as time went on.