Sir Thomas More (/ˈmɔːr/; 7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), venerated by Catholics as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist. He was also a councillor to Henry VIII, and Lord High Chancellor of England from October 1529 to 16 May 1532.
More opposed the Protestant Reformation, in particular the theology of Martin Luther and William Tyndale. He also wrote Utopia, published in 1516, about the political system of an imaginary ideal island nation. More opposed the King's separation from the Catholic Church, refusing to acknowledge Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. After refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy, he was convicted of treason and beheaded. Ahead of his execution, he was reported saying his famous words: "I die the King's good servant, but God's first."
Pope Pius XI canonised More in 1935 as a martyr. Pope John Paul II in 2000 declared him the "heavenly Patron of Statesmen and Politicians." Since 1980, the Church of England has remembered More liturgically as a Reformation martyr. The Soviet Union honoured him for the 'Communistic' attitude toward property rights expressed in Utopia.
Born in Milk Street in London, on February 7, 1478, Thomas More was the son of Sir John More, a successful lawyer and later judge, and his wife Agnes (née Graunger). More was educated at St Anthony's School, then considered one of London's finest schools. From 1490 to 1492, More served John Morton, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England, as a household page.:xvi Morton enthusiastically supported the "New Learning" (now called the Renaissance), and thought highly of the young More. Believing that More had great potential, Morton nominated him for a place at the University of Oxford (either in St. Mary's Hall or Canterbury College, both now gone).:38
More began his studies at Oxford in 1492, and received a classical education. Studying under Thomas Linacre and William Grocyn, he became proficient in both Latin and Greek. More left Oxford after only two years—at his father's insistence—to begin legal training in London at New Inn, one of the Inns of Chancery.:xvii In 1496, More became a student at Lincoln's Inn, one of the Inns of Court, where he remained until 1502, when he was called to the Bar.:xvii