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What would you do instead of Thomas More?
June 21, 2012
6:28 pm
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AmandineR
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I was wondering what would I do if I were Thomas More. Die for my opinions or keep them to save my life? And in fact, it’s a real question. So, what would you do instead of Thomas More?

June 21, 2012
6:34 pm
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AmandineR
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Ohhh my English is very bad. What would you do if you were Thomas More? I think it’s more correct.

June 21, 2012
9:11 pm
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Sharon
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What a great question. I have often wondered about this myself. More showed so much strength in his faith. He profoundly believed in the Catholic doctrine. When everyone else around him fell into line with the new religious reforms, he held onto his Catholic beliefs. I admire him for his committment.
To answer your question….If I was Thomas More, and I believed as strongly as he said he did that the pope was the only head of the Church, and no one else could claim that title, then I would have done exactly as he did.
England, up until this time, had always been Catholic. I can’t imagine what Thomas must have thought when he was told that he had to swear an oath to his king who was replacing the pope as the head of the church. How do you give your allegiance to a king when you believe the only person who can lead your Church is an annointed pope? Thomas had believed in the pope his whole life. I think he was a true believer in the Catholic Church, and could not give up his beliefs for Henry.

I do love what Elizabeth said…”There is only one Christ, Jesus, one faith. All else is a dispute over trifles.” Of course, when she made this remark, she had the power of the throne behind her, and she was the Head of the Church. Frown

June 21, 2012
9:44 pm
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Boleyn
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Good question Mon Ami
Thomas More was a man of tremedious courage. At one point in his life I believe he considered taking Holy Orders, and he think he followed certain obeyances to do with the church (such as self flogging, fasting and being at prayer for nights on end) after his marriage. He was a man ahead of his time.
If he had just rolled over and agreed with Henry’s ripping the church to shreds he would have been betraying himself and he couldn’t have lived with that guilt. He was like COA in his convictions towards the Catholic faith and the Pope. For him it was always a case of death before dishonour.
In the film Anne of a Thousand days, as he’s at the block, He says “I die the king’s servent, but God’s first”. Thomas was as saintly in life as he is in death..

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

June 22, 2012
6:55 pm
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Sharon
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Yes, Katherine was strong in her convictions also. She never doubted that she was married to Henry and would stay married to him forever. A woman standing alone in her religious beliefs, and against her king’s demands. You have to admire that. I can sit here and say maybe she should have given in and gone to a nunnery in the beginning when Campaggio asked it of her. Henry may have been kinder to her. Mary would not have been so messed up. However, she did what her religion asked of her. She believed in her marriage vows. She believed she would lose her immortal soul if she gave in. She believed Henry would lose his immortal soul if he went forward with the anullment. She had absolute faith in her God.
Now, Thomas, as much as I believe he wanted to die in the faith he believed in, I question his burning other human beings at the stake. I know that was the law in his time period, but did he never question it? It just bugs me. Even if he thought it was his duty, I have to wonder if he had any second thoughts that destroying fellow human beings in this manner was not what his God would want. Okay I’m thinking like a 21st century liberal (and liberated) woman again and I’m babbling. I’ll stop now.

June 23, 2012
2:02 pm
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Boleyn
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I’m not sure, (as I don’t really understand the Catholic Doctorine) but I think the reason behind burning people was to give the person a taste of what was to come. In short they would burn in Hell. All those who went against the Catholic Church were selling the souls to the Devil. Fire destroyed the body so their bodies couldn’t rise from the dead and be used by the Devil to entice others to go against the Catholic Church.

Thomas would have believed whole heartely that he was doing right by God and his faith by burning people.

Sharon You don’t babble, you make some very interesting points, that make a person think. Isn’t what this forum is all about to challenge everybody’s mind and throw in ideas for us to debate?

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

June 25, 2012
11:55 am
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Boleyn
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Sharon there is no harm whatsoever in trying to apply 21st century logics to something that happened in 15th and 16th century.
But things back then were very black and white. You were either Catholic or a heretic. you were either right or wrong. There was no shades of grey, things were not open to debate, or leeway for compromise.
Certainly I feel if Thomas had our educational and live as we do, he would perhaps see it’s better for a person to make up their own minds about religion etc and not have beliefs forced apon them. Being a Muslim, Jew, Mormon, Hindu, etc doesn’t mean that that person is evil it just means that they believe in God is different to what is written in and whole heartedly believed in the Catholic religion.
I read this somewhere years ago, can’t remember where.. But it goes something like this. Follow what you believe in your heart we all come to God in our own way.

KOA going into a Convent, in some ways I think I would have wanted to hit her round the head and shout at her. “You silly woman take what you have been offered”, but though this forum I’ve seen yet another side to KOA and understand why she didn’t take this option. She believed that her marriage was legal. She believed that it was God’s will that she was Queen. To give up and go into a nunery would be against all her beliefs, it would also be playing into Henry’s hands by admitting that her marriage to Arthur was consumated (that’s how Henry would see it).
I have to admit I admire her for the strength of her convictions, she was formidable woman. She wouldn’t let Henry bully or threaten her into submission, and basically backed him into a corner, but through all their fights and arguements, she still loved him. Personally I would have wanted to rip his head off and shove it somewhere the sun don’t shine. Good old Katherine.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

June 27, 2012
4:07 am
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Janet
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Please don’t get out the iron maiden or thumb screws, but I’m not really a fan of More. He knew what would happen and in a way, committed suicide. It was a very selfish choice and a choice that he alone made. He had no regard at all for the family that he was supposed to care for. “Only God knows the hearts of men”, so More could have made a different choice because God would know he didn’t mean it. I think More saw himself as a martyr. I hope I could never be that selfish, leaving my children to fend for themselves in such a dangerous time.

June 27, 2012
1:46 pm
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DuchessofBrittany
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Janet said

Please don’t get out the iron maiden or thumb screws, but I’m not really a fan of More. He knew what would happen and in a way, committed suicide. It was a very selfish choice and a choice that he alone made. He had no regard at all for the family that he was supposed to care for. “Only God knows the hearts of men”, so More could have made a different choice because God would know he didn’t mean it. I think More saw himself as a martyr. I hope I could never be that selfish, leaving my children to fend for themselves in such a dangerous time.

I must concur with Janet. There is something about More I find unsettling. I know he was a product of his time, but I cannot help feeling he chose martyrdom for himself, which would be in line with his hardline stance on religion. Simply my opinio, so please don’t hate me.

"By daily proof you shall find me to be to you both loving and kind" Anne Boleyn

June 27, 2012
4:45 pm
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Boleyn
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Janet said

Please don’t get out the iron maiden or thumb screws, but I’m not really a fan of More. He knew what would happen and in a way, committed suicide. It was a very selfish choice and a choice that he alone made. He had no regard at all for the family that he was supposed to care for. “Only God knows the hearts of men”, so More could have made a different choice because God would know he didn’t mean it. I think More saw himself as a martyr. I hope I could never be that selfish, leaving my children to fend for themselves in such a dangerous time.

I agree Janet in a way More did indeed commit suicide, by going against the King’s wishes was his Death Warrant. But I still think the outcome would have been the same even if he had gone along with Henry’s scheme of things. Personally I can’t see why he didn’t swear the oath as his family did, and simply retire to the country and live the life of a country bumpkin. But Thomas was a man of deep piety and for him to swear the oath of something he truly didn’t believe would have damnned his soul for etenity. Margaret Roper his daughter didn’t do too badly her husband Will Roper was quite a wealthy man, and Alice Thomas’s second wife was a rich widow when Thomas married her, so they weren’t too badly off. But yes to commit suicide in such a manner was unfair to them
I think the children would have been put in a dangerous position if they had anything to do with court life, but as far as I can tell the only one who had anything to do with the court in any shape or form was Will Roper.
An interesting point to note is that Will bribed the guard who buisness was to chuck the severed heads in the river after a month, to give him Thomas More’s head. Margaret preserved in it spices and kept it for the rest of her life. When she died Will had it intererred with Thomas’s body.
It is also thought that when Margaret lay dying she held his head in her hands until she passed away.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

June 29, 2012
4:48 am
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Olga
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I agree with Janet and Duchess. At the end of the day the man abandoned his family for his principles, and that is not putting God before all else, but yourself, in my opinion. Of course I would have lied through my teeth to save my family.

June 29, 2012
9:13 pm
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Sharon
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I was raised a Catholic. Although I no longer belong to the Church I still remember the teachings.
Let me first say that I agree with all of you, he did abandon his family, but isn’t that the case with all martyrs of the Catholic faith? They forsake hearth and home for their God. At that time, if you believed that you were being asked by anyone, to go against the teachings of the Church, and you refused, and you were put to death, the Catholic Church and its followers believed you were a martyr. Are you saying that he was willing to die just so he could be called a martyr? I’m not sure I would agree with that; and dying for his belief in his faith would never be considered a suicide by the Catholic Church. So if he knew he would be a martyr, I don’t particularly think he was looking forward to the way in which he would gain that title.

Although I’m not a fan of More’s, I believe that he believed he could not sign that oath. I think he should have signed it, but I understand his belief that it would have been wrong in the eyes of his Church, and in the eyes of his God. Today we could interpret his actions as selfish and suicidal, but the Catholic Church would not agree. To the Church and their believers, Thomas More is/was a hero who died for his refusal to go against the Church’s teaching. To say that he could have sworn the oath and God would know he didn’t mean it, makes a great deal of sense to us, but a true believer in the Catholic faith would never compromise with their God. To die for one’s belief in God was the ultimate sacrifice. And if Thomas believed that the Catholic Church was the ‘one true Church’ he also believed that the Pope was the only one to lead it.
Even though many of the people including his family did save themselves by signing the oath, I think More had a genuine belief that by doing so, he would be condemned.

June 29, 2012
9:51 pm
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Boleyn
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Nicely put Sharon, and yes what you have said is true. Thomas couldn’t have signed the oath to do so would be his death, or should I say his spiritral death. Catholics were at that time more concerned with their souls welfare than that of their body’s welfare, to suffer in this life meant that you would have a better life in the next. Hence the reason why people had fast days, wore hair shirts and whipped themselves it was all a way of them telling God that they were prepared to suffer as Christ had on the cross for the love of God. Hope that makes sence.
The only thing I never understood and still don’t with the Catholic doctorine is the need for confession? Sharon can I scramble you brain for an explaination?

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

June 30, 2012
12:25 pm
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Olga
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Sharon I’m not sure I believe he was willing to die just to become a martyr, but as with KOA, I have a hard time agreeing with actions that put God before family. I do understand why they felt the need to and I do understand the Catholic Church, but there were a lot of others who lived in Catholic faith and made different choices and I would say they thought they were true believers in their faith.

I’m not Catholic Boleyn, but Orthodox Christian, which is similar. In brief, sinning causes a break in your relationship with God and confession is supposed to help heal the break and bring you closer to God again.

June 30, 2012
12:44 pm
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Boleyn
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Thank you Olga.
Religion is a funny thing there are so many different thoughts and feelings being thrown this way and that, that at times if difficult to know what is truth (Pontus Pirate).

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

June 30, 2012
6:51 pm
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Sharon
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Olga,
In the Catholic religion, God came first, before family, before country, before everything.
Those who did take the oath went against that teaching.
I’m sure the people who signed the oath, and remained Catholic in their hearts, did make their own peace with their God. They did what they felt was right in order to survive in a world turned upside down. They were thinking for themselves, and not the way the Church dictated they should think. But Thomas and Katherine did not feel that way. They believed God came first, above all others. I may not agree with them, but they were strict adherents to Catholic doctrine.
Boleyn,
Catholics believe that before they may receive the body and blood of Jesus, they must be free of sin. There are quotes from the Bible in the article below in which the founder’s of the Church believed Jesus meant for Catholics to do penance, (reconcilliation or confession) to a priest.

http://www.ourcatholicfaith.or…..ssion.html

July 1, 2012
1:30 am
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Olga
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Sharon, thank you. I know you’ve had a conversation with me about KOA before on the same topic and I do understand where they were coming from, I guess I just have a hard time empathising as we are so different 500 years on.
Also I have to admit I have personal feelings about religion being used for war and putting people to death but that’s a whole other topic which is far too flammable for polite conversation I think. I still shudder when I have to read about or watch depictions of people being burned or tortured for heresy.

July 1, 2012
2:52 pm
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Boleyn
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Thank you Sharon.
I think I understand the reason to why confession was so important now. If you take the sacrement and you haven’t confessed you are in short making a mockery of what the sacrement stands for. Is that right?
Recieving the sacrement after confession means that God has excepted that you have sinned but are truly penitent, your sins are forgiven and basically you are to go with God and allow him to guide you to a better life?

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

July 1, 2012
8:43 pm
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AmandineR
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What a great debate! Smile
Faith is not the same as the 16th century. Thomas More was at the same time selfish and admirable. At the time God and the King were more important than the family. He had the choice between the death of his body or the death of his conscience and he chose the death of his body for the salvation of his soul ( I don’t know if my sentence is corrrect). For the Catholics More was a hero and they admire him but I don’t know if I could do the same to save my opinions. I think he should have sworn the oath and keep his faith at the same time. But it was impossible for him because he was a whole man and devoted to his political and religious beliefs.
Yes Boleyn, in the Catholic Church, you have to confess fisrt and then take the sacrement. But nowadays, in France, I don’t know in other countries most people don’t confess. Religion has really changed since the 16th century.

July 2, 2012
1:56 am
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Bill1978
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This is a great thread and I think I now fully understand where Thomas More was coming form.But as a person looking back, his actions still make me scratch my head to a certain degree. I shall admit that my ‘full understanding’ of Thomas More is based on his representation on The Tudors. The but that makes me scratch my head is that a) Other Catholics took the oath, pretended and then secretly practised their faith and b) his family begged him to take the faith, so he could live and help support his family. Those two bits of information paint him as a selfish person who only cared about himself and not others especially his family. It’s almost like he was driven to be made a matyr so he could be ‘famous’ and he didn’t care about his family. And to me tht goes against what God would have wanted from Thomas More. Maybe cause I’m a wuss or something, but I definitely would be taking the oath, practice in secret and then make my peace with God. The way he decides in The Tudors I can’t help but sit there and think he is an arrogant, selfish man for making the decision that he did, I now understand his thinking but I personally would be putting my family first and I think even God back then would prefer a man to look after his family than make a statement. But I will admit in all my reading about this time period, the whole religion debate that rages through the pages confuses me and I am glad I live today.

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