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Thomas More: Learning, Politics and Religion in England, 1500-35

Tutor: John Cooper

Module type: Special Subject

Module code: HIS00031H

Thomas More has been the subject of several recent biographies and continues to be a controversial figure in English historiography. Much of the recent scholarship has emerged as archival sources in the public records have been examined more thoroughly, but a great deal has been stimulated by the Yale edition of the Complete Works, available in the library. This course will exploit these sources to engage students in a much-studied period of English history which continues to produce scholarly work of a vigorously contested nature, and thus the relationship between source material and historiography is one which can be very clearly drawn out. The course will follow a broadly chronological framework, placing More’s intellectual history in the context of his own career and of political and religious developments in England and Europe in the early 16th century.

Seminar topics are likely to include the following:

  • Humanism in England
  • Texts: Erasmus, In Praise of Folly; More, Letter to Dorp
  • History and Politics: More and early Tudor historiography
  • Text: More, History of King Richard the Third
  • Political thought? Utopia
  • Text: More, Utopia
  • The legacy of medieval piety: the four last things
  • Text: More, The Last Things
  • The challenge of Luther
  • Text: More, Responsio ad Lutherum, book 1
  • English Protestants: More against Tyndale and Barnes
  • Texts: More, The Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer, books 2 and 8; R Barnes, A Supplication
  • Religion, Parliament and the law: More, Fish and St German
  • Texts: C St German, Salem and Bizance (extracts); More, The Debellation of Salem and Bizance (extracts);
    S Fish, A Supplication for the Beggars; More, The Supplication of Souls
  • Trial, prison and execution
  • Text: More, A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, book 3
  • The fashioning of a reputation. Texts: W Roper, The Life of Thomas More; R Bolt, A Man for All Seasons 


For more information, please visit the module catalogue.