1478 (7th February)
Thomas More was born to Sir John More and his wife Agnes Graunger in Milk Street, Cheapside, London. His father was a lawyer. He was the couple’s second child, his sister, Joanna, had been born in 1475.
Thomas’s sister, Agatha, was born. She died at a young age.
1480 (6th June)
Thomas’s brother, John, was born.
Thomas’s brother, Edward, was born. He died at a young age.
1482 (22nd September)
Thomas’s sister, Elizabeth, was born.
Thomas began his education. He attended St Anthony’s School in Threadneedle Street, London, one of the best schools in Tudor London.
1485 (22nd August)
30th October 1485
Henry Tudor was crowned Henry VII of England.
Thomas’s father secured a position for him as page to John Morton
, Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor. Morton was a humanist and his thinking influenced More.
Thomas More attended Oxford University where he studied classics.
More’s father wanted his son to become a lawyer and persuaded, or told, Thomas to leave university. More duly entered New Inn, London.
1496 (12th February)
Thomas More attended Lincoln’s Inn where he continued his training as a lawyer.
Thomas More’s mother died.
Thomas More met the Humanist Desiderius Erasmus.
1499 (late Summer)
Thomas had lunch with the royal children and Erasmus.
Thomas More completed his training and was ‘called to the bar’.
Thomas More seriously considered becoming a monk. However, he ultimately decided that he not have the discipline to take holy vows. He remained deeply religious, a committed Catholic, for the rest of his life and generally wore a hair shirt under his clothes.
More became a Member of Parliament representing Great Yarmouth.
Thomas More married Jane Colt, daughter of his friend, John Colt. He felt that his wife should be better educated and gave her lessons in music and literature. The couple made their home at the Old Barge, Bucklersbury, London.
A daughter, Margaret, was born to Thomas More and Jane Colt.
Thomas More adopted Margaret Giggs, the orphaned daughter of a deceased neighbour.
A daughter, Elizabeth, was born to Thomas More and Jane Colt.
A daughter, Cecily, was born to Thomas More and Jane Colt.
A son. John, was born to Thomas More and Jane Colt at the ‘Old Barge’, Bucklersbury, London.
More was appointed Justice of the Peace for Middlesex.
1509 (21st April)
King Henry VII died of tuberculosis at Richmond Palace. He was succeeded by his son, Henry who took the throne as King Henry VIII
1509 (11th June)
King Henry VIII married his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon
, at the Church of Observant Friars.
In keeping with his Humanist ideas, More was the first Englishman to give his daughters the same education as his son.
More was appointed Under-Sheriff for London. He also now represented London in Parliament.
More’s wife, Jane Colt, died. Within 30 days of his wife’s death he married Alice Middleton, widow of John Middleton. More treated Alice’s daughter, Alice, as his own child.
More began work on his ‘History of King Richard III’. In the book, More criticises Richard as a tyrant. The work was never finished but was published after his death. Shakespeare was influenced by More’s book when he wrote his play ‘Richard III’.
Thomas Wolsey sent Thomas More as part of a delegation to Bruges to secure an Anglo-Flemish commercial treaty.
Thomas More wrote ‘Utopia’. He wrote the book in Latin because it was intended for an intellectual audience. The book compares Medieval Europe with a fictitious ideal state.
Thomas’s father, John, was knighted by king Henry VIII.
Thomas More was made a member of the King’s Council and by the end of the year was working as the King’s secretary.
More was made Treasurer of the Exchequer.
Thomas More worked with King Henry VIII on ‘Assertio’ his response to Martin Luther
. After publication the Pope rewarded Henry with the title ‘Fidei defensor’.
Thomas More was knighted by King Henry VIII.
1521 (2nd July)
Thomas More’s daughter, Margaret, married William Roper.
Thomas More was elected Speaker of the House of Commons.
More wrote ‘Responsio ad Lutherum’ at King Henry VIII’s request after Martin Luther had called him a ‘pig, dolt and liar’. More wrote under the pseudonym Gulielmus Rosseus defending the Pope’s supremacy and the tradition of the Catholic Church.
More was appointed Chancellor of Lancaster.
1525 (29th September)
Thomas More’s daughters, Elizabeth and Cecily were married. Elizabeth married William Daunce and Cecily married Giles Heron who was More’s ward.
William Tyndale’s English New Testament was first published in Germany.
1527 (22nd June)
Henry VIII separated from Catherine of Aragon. Henry had decided that his lack of a male heir was a punishment from God for marrying his brother’s widow. He also wanted to marry Anne Boleyn
. However, obtaining a divorce was more difficult than he thought.
Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of London, commissioned More to put a stop to heretics that were printing Protestant books in English.
Thomas More published ‘Dialogue Concerning Heresies’ which criticised Lutherans through a dialogue between More and a student who has been influenced by reformers.
1529 (2nd February)
‘Supplication for the Beggars’ written by Simon Fish first appeared in England. The book criticised the clergy arguing that church money should be used to help the poor and that the Bible should be available in English. It is believed that Anne Boleyn had a copy of the 5,000 word pamphlet and showed it to Henry VIII.
Thomas More published ‘Supplication of Souls’ which was a response to Simon Fish’s ‘Supplication of the Beggars’. Soon after More’s publication Simon Fish was charged with heresy.
1529 (17th October)
Henry VIII removed Cardinal Wolsey
from the post of Chancellor due to his failure to secure his divorce from Catherine of Aragon.
1529 (26th October)
More was appointed Lord Chancellor. He was reluctant to accept the post and did so only after Henry promised not to involve him in the divorce process. Once appointed he used the position to deal with heretics and six men were burnt at the stake on his order while he was Chancellor.
Thomas More’s son, John, married Anne Cresacre who was More’s ward.
A letter signed by leading churchmen and nobles was sent to Pope Clement VII asking him to annul Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. More refused to add his signature to the letter.
William Tynedale published ‘An Answer unto Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue’ which dealt with the points raised by More in his ‘Dialogue Concerning Heresies’.
Thomas More published the first volume of his ‘Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer’. The book, written in the style of a dialogue between More and Tynedale, criticised Tyndale’s New Testament and argued for the traditional Catholic faith.
1532 (18th March)
Supplication Against Ordinaries
This was a list of grievances against the Church and included questions regarding the right of the Church to make its own laws and the legality of ecclesiastical courts. Henry VIII was proclaimed Head of the Church in England.
1532 (15th May)
Thomas More and Bishop Fisher refused to sign the Submission of the Clergy which made Henry head of the Church in England.
1532 (16th May)
Thomas More resigned his post as Lord Chancellor.
Thomas More published the second volume of his ‘Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer’. The book criticised Tyndale’s New Testament and argued for the traditional Catholic faith.
Thomas More published ‘Apology’ which defended his use of corporal punishment for heretics arguing that the punishments inflicted could not be called torture.
Thomas More published ‘Debellacyon’.
1533 (25th January)
Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn in the private chapel in Whitehall Palace.
1533 (30th March)
1533 (1st June)
Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen of England in St Peter’s Abbey, Westminster. Thomas More refused to attend the ceremony.
Thomas More was accused of aiding the nun Elizabeth Barton, who had prophesied that the king would die and would be denied entry to heaven for divorcing Catherine of Aragon.
The Act of Annates was passed. The act determined that bishops in England would be chosen by the King.
1534 (23rd March)
The Act of Succession settled the succession on the children of Henry and Anne Boleyn. There was also a requirement for all of the king’s subjects to swear an oath to uphold the act.
1534 (13th April)
Thomas More refused to swear the Oath of Succession because doing so meant denying the supremacy of the Pope. He did not have a problem with acknowledging Anne Boleyn as Queen, but signing the Oath of Succession would declare Henry’s first marriage invalid and as this had been sanctioned as valid by a papal dispensation would therefore deny the supremacy of the Pope.
1534 (17th April)
Thomas More was imprisoned in the Tower of London for refusing to swear the Oath of Succession.
1534 (3rd November)
The Act of Supremacy declared that Henry VIII was Head of the Church in England. The reigning monarch has held the title ever since.
This act made it a treasonable offence to deny any of the King’s titles. It stated that any malicious wish, will or desire to deprive the King or Queen of title or name of their royal estates was to be deemed treason. Slanderous publication of writing or words uttered describing the King as heretic, schismatic, tyrant, infidel or usurper would also be deemed treason.
1534 (late November)
A bill of attainder was passed against Thomas More under the terms of the Treason Act for refusing to take the Oath of Succession. His property and goods were to be forfeited to the King.
1535 (22nd June)
Bishop John Fisher
was beheaded on Tower Hill for refusing to sign the Act of Succession and accept Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church in England.
1535 (1st July)
Thomas More was put on trial. The Solicitor General, Richard Rich, testified that More had refused to acknowledge the King as Supreme Head of the Church in England. Although More denied this he was found guilty and sentenced to death.
1535 (6th July)
Sir Thomas More spoke to the crowd declaring that he died ‘the king’s good servant but God’s first’. He was then executed by beheading.
1886 (29th December)
Pope Leo XIII made Thomas More a saint.