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  • Writer's pictureRM Anderson

Thomas More

In 1478 this guy Tom is born. He gets a good education and flirts with the idea of becoming a monk. Eventually he decides against this but does continue for the rest of his life to wear a hair shirt under his clothes at all times, and periodically engage in the practice of flagellation. (A discipline that sounds so much more titillating than it is in actuality). h

He gets married to a woman who by all accounts is extremely dull because he decides to educate her himself, she undoes all his hard work by selfishly dying early but does leave him some children, including some daughters who he also educates (a practice that was seen as extremely unusual at the time). He enters politics and becomes Lord Chancellor.

Now Tom loves hairy shirts. He loves beating himself black and blue. But what he really loves, what really gets his juices flowing, is persecuting Protestants. He can't stand the buggers. He stops their books from being imported, he arrests printers, he blocks translations of the New Testament. Why? Well because they use the word 'elder' instead of 'priest' and 'congregation' instead of 'church', and you can't be having that.

He interrogates and tortures heretics, apparently tying a few of them up to a tree in his garden in Chelsea where he has them whipped - charges he later refutes, going on records stating "I never imprisoned people in my home, and the only people I ever tortured was a kid and an old man with dementia". That's fair enough. I hate dementia..

Tom burns a few Protestants, he racks up a few points with the Pope and especially does a number when he states publicly and boldly that the Pope rules over the King. Now at any other time in history that would have been fine. That would have been cool. But this King is King Henry viii and he doesn't like that kind of chit chat.

Thomas resigns from his post, refuses to sign an oath saying that Henry was better than the Pope and doesn't turn up to Anne Boleyn's coronation. He simply refuses to play ball. Eventually he's removed from his Chelsea torture garden and holed up in the Tower of London. He puts that time to extremely good use by writing his prison memoir 'Comfort against Tribulation' (which is harder to read than Mark 'Chopper' Read's equivalent and a lot less entertaining, but it has stood the test of time).

Eventually he's tried, he's executed and his head is stuck on a spike at London Bridge. His daughter Margaret, putting that education to very good use, devises a plan, steals the head back, preserves it in spices and then buries it along with the rest of his body and his most prized possession. His hair shirt.

Now Thomas Moore is remembered today as a saint by some but he was also revered in the old Soviet Union which honored him for his communist attitude displayed in his book 'Utopia'. An honor he would no doubt be overjoyed with today.

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