6 July 1535 – The beheading of Sir Thomas More, former Lord Chancellor

Posted By on July 6, 2017

On this day in history, Tuesday 6th July 1535, Henry VIII’s former friend and Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas More, was beheaded on Tower Hill as a traitor.

More had been found guilty of high treason under the Treason Act of 1534 for denying the king’s supremacy and refusing to take the Oath of Succession.

Trivia: Sir Thomas More had once said of Henry VIII “if my head would win him a castle in France, it should not fail to go”.

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Also on this day in history, 6th July 1553, King Edward VI, son of Henry VIII, died at Greenwich Palace. The throne was passed to Lady Jane Grey, daughter of Edward’s cousin, Frances Brandon, but she reigned for just thirteen days, until 19th July when Mary I took the throne and imprisoned Jane.

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6 thoughts on “6 July 1535 – The beheading of Sir Thomas More, former Lord Chancellor”

  1. Globerose says:

    Sir Thomas is known for his wit which never seems to have left him and his comment on Henry, Castles and his head is barbed but perceptive, isn’t it. Did anyone else that you know of speak in this playful but discerning way about Henry’s dangerous personality?

  2. Christine says:

    He certainly was a very witty articulate man and I think he was one of those people who poke fun at themselves, he could never offend anyone he was genial and charming, and his death was very sad, the comment he made as he climbed the steps to his execution shows he was a man of great courage as well of principle, that he could jest as he was about to die says a lot about this extrodinary man who was sacrificed needlessly, Henry I believe regretted his death, he knew he had lost a good man there an honest genuine man, and he knew there were not many of his kind around.

  3. Christine says:

    Also just like to mention about the sad passing of the boy King Edward V1, poor mite he had been the only one of his fathers sons to have survived, yet he too fell a victim of a horrible wasting disease which caused him great suffering, there is a tale that Northumberland payed a female nurse who was really just a quack to prolong his life quite oblivious of his suffering, whilst he set in motion his plan to put his daughter in law on the throne, he had a good deal of influence over Edward being a fervent Protestant and coerced him to write a new will that overrode his fathers wishes, according to the tale after this was drawn up Edward was allowed to die and the quack was murdered, wether this was true or not is debatable but what is certain is that Edward certainly did suffer, his legs ballooned and he was covered in ulcers, he was vomiting up black fluid which sounds like he had a tumour, my mother had terminal cancer and she used to bring up black fluid, sounds horrible but for years he is thought to have had TB and recently a kind of pulmonary infection yet he could well have had cancer, England lost her young king who had been his fathers really only pride and joy in all his wretched marital history, and he was a brilliant boy, a scholar he could well have been a memorable King like his father.

  4. Banditqueen says:

    Rest in peace Thomas More and John Fisher. These two men were loved throughout Europe and England. They had controversial ideas, but they were also fine scholars and humanists. More’s works are widely read and best sellers today. More had been a faithful servant and confidant until Henry found his own ambitious way in the world, by making himself the head of the Church in England. Thomas More couldn’t sign the oath because it destroyed the Unity of the Catholic Church and Parliament had no authority over an accepted principle of the majority of Christendom that Jesus through Saint Peter gave his successors the right to represent Him on Earth. The Pope had thus become the representative of Christ as a secular Head on Earth and the Spiritual Head in matters of faith. Most people believed that in 1535, despite some movement away in Germany and some other places. The reformers argued differently of course, but even they didn’t agree universally with Henry’s new title, let alone his divorce. Henry’s ideas had come from Tyndale but not even Tyndale supported his divorce, even though Anne Boleyn was a patron of his Bible and books.

    More had tried to compromise by signing the Act of Succession, but Henry wanted everything signed. More had been clever in his defence, but a trap set by Richard Rich had condemned him. He had almost won his argument that he had not acted with malice to deprive Henry from a royal title he had no right to, but he was tricked into saying Parliament has not the competence to rule on such a matter. Henry needed him to sign for More had influence and respect. If he was allowed to stay silent or compromise and not sign, others would also grow bold and refuse. However, his death had even more influence for people began to question the oath and the Act afterwards.

    Henry was single minded in his determination nobody would get away with not signing these oaths, regardless of their former loyalty, venerable status, scholarship, friendship, even their age, as Cardinal Fisher must have been in his seventies. Henry had walked with More in his garden, laughing with him over the universe or his sense of humour, had envied him his large family and learned much from him, including astronomy on the roof of Greenwich Palace. Father Sebastian Newgate one of the several monks and friars hung drawn and quartered had been a good friend of the King, a counsellor and renowned scholar. It mattered not who you were. Henry could not accept anyone would not accept his Supremacy which had gone to his head. The law is the law as they say and the new laws had passed via Parliament, but when King and conscience clash heads fall and terrible things happen, regardless of former affection.

    Rest in peace Saint Thomas More and pray that we may have a better understanding of each of our fellow humans. Amen.

    Also today the death of King Edward Vi and shock succession of Lady Jane Grey.

    Also the wonderful coronation of King Richard iii and Queen Anne Neville.

  5. Maryann C Pitman says:

    Clearly, More understood the risks he took. One wonders how well others understood Henry.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      I think Thomas More unfortunately understood Henry long before he turned from his true humanist ideals into the man who defied the Pope and went down a path of destruction. While Henry was still in his prime, in his youth, More’s friend, the scholar saw a potential for danger and in his own unique capacity for wit he said “If my head could win Henry a castle in France, it would come off tomorrow” and warned that if the lion discovered his true strength, there would be no stopping him. With profound irony he was seeing his own future. Few knew Henry well, but few people had the insight of Thomas More.

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