Hans Holbein portrait of Sir Thomas More.

Thomas More

(1478 - 1535)

In an epitaph he wrote in 1532, Thomas More described himself as “of no noble family, but of an honest stock, somewhat brought up in learning.” By his thirties, More was employed in royal service and went to Belgium to broker a commercial treaty; while there he conceived of his best-known work, Utopia, and it was published to much acclaim one year later. He served as lord chancellor from 1529 to 1532, resigning his position when he refused to recognize King Henry VIII as the head of the Church of England. Convicted in 1535 on four counts of treason and sedition, More was beheaded, his sentence having been commuted from a traitor’s death—hanging, drawing, and quartering.

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What delight can there be, and not rather displeasure, in hearing the barking and howling of dogs? Or what greater pleasure is there to be felt when a dog followeth a hare than when a dog followeth a dog?

—Thomas More, 1516

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