Do you accept the view that More was a cruel man with little compassion for others? More was a rarity among political fgures: a man who wouldn’t lie about his principles, even to save his own life. He was Henry VIII’s chancellor, and a loyal and highly effective administrator. A lot can be said either about his cruelty or about his sainthood and loyalty to the King. Using my own knowledge and the information from the sources, I can state that Thomas More was not a cruel man, considering the commonness and customs in which people of that time lived.
More, a major humanist, was acknowledged to be one of England’s greatest thinkers ever, and far ahead of his time. Four centuries before anyone offered women an equal education, More championed that cause, and gave his daughters the same classical education as he gave his son. In Source N Peter Ackroyd tells about J. Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs”. According to this book, “he tied heretics to a tree in his Chelsea garden and whipped them”. This, if it’s true, undoubtedly demonstrates More’s cruelty and shows him as a sadist.
The uote from the book also says: “he watched as newe men were put upon the rack in the Tower and tortured until they confessed” and “he was personally responsible for the burning of several of the brethren in Smithfield”. If we agree to his words that he never tortured people, but only imprisoned heretics in his house, we still can say that he was not a cruel man himself. Even if we accept that he was guilty in burning heretics, it was not an uncommon thing those times. Heretics were being burnt all the time obeying to the word of the Church.
Moreover, by burning heretics More was still carrying Kings and again Churche’s tasks. Therefore we can say that Thomas More stood up as a cruel man, but served his King loyally. When Henry couldn’t get the divorce he wanted, he simply created his own church with himself as the supreme religious fgure, but one which an entire country chose to treat as legitimate, all due to More. More was, in many ways, a man of his time, with some attitudes that reflect the time, and that we can find appalling.
Peter Ackroyd attacks More almost entirely on grounds of his own religious partisanship, pointing out that More, in his official capacity, sent six heretics to burn at the stake, but neglecting to mention that More’s contemporaries enthusiastically killed hundreds of thousands of Catholics. Edward Hall in Source O says: “he… had a great wit, but it was so mingled with taunting and mocking that it seemed… that he thought nothing to be well spoken except ne nad ministered some mock in the communication”.
This explains that ne could never be cruel, but only could have aggressive and offensive manner of peaking, (as far as the source acknowledges) which nobody liked and nothing that could be a hint of cruelty. Therefore, Hall only says about More as about an unpleasant man with a cruel tongue. Of course, we cant deny that Hall could have been biased as he lived at the same time as More and could have been his supporter. R. W. Chambers’ source is probably the most sensible, clear and qualitative one. All this because it includes clear strong evidence: “when More was increasingly in power, there were no death sentences (1520-1531 !!! … ; during the few months he was either in power nor in favour there were three; during the three years of his retirement (1532-1535) there were fifteen of sixteen”. This is why, in my opinion, this source best proves that More could not be a cruel man: it provides certain facts. “The figures do not suggest that the London persecution had anything to do with More”. Therefore, Judging by simple numbers (which are quite convincing) we cannot say that More had little compassion to others, as during the 11 years he was in power, there were no death sentences at all.
Furthermore, the source even states certain eople’s names, who must have been the reasons of this: “it depended upon Stokesley replacing Tunstall as bishop”. Overall, I can confidently say that Thomas More was not a cruel and unfeeling towards others man. My view is backed by qualitative sources, which I think are whose, which either include evidence or are written by the events’ contemporaries. Therefore I believe that all More’s possible cruelty was either related to those times’ common attitudes or the Kings rulings. He was Just an extremely intelligent man, what let him be arrogant and defiant towards others.