Born in England.
He was sent to the university when he was 13. After 2 years, he was asked to come home again, and went to a school closer to home, where he became a lawyer. He was well-liked by a variety of people.
When he was 26, he entered Parliament.
After taking the time to discern his vocation, he married a woman named Jane when he was 27. They had four children together (3 girls and 1 boy).
He made his home a domestic university, making sure that his girls were as well-educated as his son. He often had the most learned religious and seculars over for visits.
In 1509, when he was 31, Henry VIII became King.
When he was 32, just after 5 years of marriage, his wife died. Since he had four very young children, he decided to remarry.
His second wife Alice was older than he, had strength in character, and was very good with the children. At this time he also wrote Utopia.
He became the Lord Chancellor amidst political upheaval in 1529. He was sent on diplomatic errands and became well-traveled. At first King Henry was supported by the Church, especially when he supported their cause to hold fast to Christian unity despite what Martin Luther was doing.
But soon, ironically, and very sadly, King Henry made himself the head of the Church and of all religious, spiritual matters; with his new powers, he sought to divorce his wife. She was sequestered in a dilapidated castle for the rest of her life. He also deigned himself worthy of picking bishops for the people, and would have tantrums when people would hold meetings about “his” church without him. Under the advisement of a seditious archbishop, he burned down monasteries, libraries, and schools and sent out propaganda about the evil of Church leaders in Rome(does this sound like a familiar cycle?). After many such disputes with Henry, Thomas resigned his position as Lord Chancellor in 1532.
His resignation reduced him to poverty, so he had to let a lot of those who worked for him go. He drew back quietly and concentrated on writing, refusing to attend Henry’s wedding to Anne Boleyn.
Henry was not done abusing his power, though. He began making people sign the Act of Succession in 1534, which was an oath to support the king and his heirs, and which stated that the person who signed agreed that his marriage with Catherine was not real, and which also agreed to not listen to any message coming from Rome. To not sign it would be treason—a person would condemn himself to death if he did not sign. Thomas and others (John Fisher) refused to sign the document.
Thomas was imprisoned in the Tower of London for the next 15 months: he was serene and continued to give emotional support to his family. Some of his family tried to persuade him to give in, but he still would not. Visitors were soon not allowed to come to him. He began writing his work the Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation.
His family’s lands were taken and his wife had to sell her clothes to feed their family.
Since he still refused to sign the document which stated Henry as the head of the Church and spiritual matters, he was beheaded.
Many others were martyred, persecuted for their faith, and barred from education for the next few centuries under the legacy of Henry’s will to make himself the supreme authority on spiritual matters so that he could have a divorce. Thomas More, on the other hand, he has left a legacy of love, loyalty, and courage.
see “Authentic Masculinity, Lived” tab for references