Defence of Thomas More
Cardinal Wolsey had planned to send a letter to Rome to request for the Pope to agree to King Henry VIII’s divorce. Since Thomas More had violently opposed to that idea, Wolsey sent for him to read the letter first. More thought that Wolsey’s plan was “devious” but Wolsey felt that it was a “devious situation” so he had to use such a “devious” plan to solve it. However, More believed that there was some other simpler way to solve the problem. Wolsey then scolded More for being so moralistic and told him to be more practical instead.
After that, Wolsey asked More how he planned to give the king a male heir. More said that he would “pray for it daily” but Wolsey wanted to “secure a divorce” so that King Henry VIII could marry Anne Boleyn and most likely produce a male heir, which he felt would solve the issue immediately, since he was making the effort to do something, unlike More, who would rather pray for help.
Area of dispute: More believes that it is not right to ask the Pope to dispense with his dispensation of the Christian law (a man cannot marry his brother’s widow) just for state affairs. However, Wolsey places the country’s interests above his own personal conscience as he feels that it is his job to ensure that the king will have a male heir to ascend the throne in future.
Reason to defend Sir Thomas More: More is just thinks that his private conscience is more important than his public duties and will do what he thinks is right, not what is convenient. This is not considered High Treason as More is not attempting to betray his country in any way.
More: “Well…I believe, when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties…they lead their country by a short route to chaos.” (Page 22)
How I will use it: This quote shows More is a moralistic man. While Wolsey just wants to take the easy way out of problems, More would rather listen and follow his own conscience. More believes that this will ultimately benefit the country’s people since one’s conscience will determine the course of action one will take. If one is morally sound, he will be able to make appropriate decision to lead his country to peace and prosperity.
King Henry VIII made a “surprise visit” to More’s house on his newly launched ship, The Great Harry. After he disembarked, he spoke with More’s daughter, Margaret, for a while before requesting to speak with More in private.
During their private discussion, King Henry VIII asked for More’s opinion on his idea of the divorce, to which More replied that he was not supportive of it. This angered the king but More continued to explain himself. More stated that if he could agree to the divorce with a clear conscience, he would not mind having his arm cut off.
After the king left, Alice, More’s wife, was angry that More had annoyed the king. She then told More to “[b]e ruled” if he did not want to “rule [the king]”. In spite of...