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Thomas More

Sir Thomas More ( /ˈmɔr/; 7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), known by Catholics as Saint Thomas More since 1935,[1][2]was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and HP 640892-001 Keyboard 

was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England and was Lord Chancellor from October 1529 to 16 May 1532.[3] He is commemorated by the Church of England as a "Reformation martyr".[4] He was an opponent of the Protestant Reformation and in particular of Martin Luther and William Tyndale. HP 643263-001 Keyboard 

More coined the word "utopia" – a name he gave to the ideal and imaginary island nation, the political system of which he described in Utopia published in 1516. He opposed the King's separation from the Catholic Church and refused to accept the King as Supreme Head of the Church of England, HP 646568-001 Keyboard 

a title which had been given by parliament through the Act of Supremacy of 1534. He was imprisoned in 1534 for his refusal to take the oath required by the First Succession Act, because the act disparaged papal power and Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. In 1535, he was tried for treason, convicted on perjured testimony and beheaded. HP 7F0844 Keyboard 

Intellectuals and statesmen across Europe were stunned by More's execution. Erasmus saluted him as one "whose soul was more pure than any snow, whose genius was such that England never had and never again will have its like".[5] Two centuries laterJonathan Swift said he was "the person of the greatest virtue this kingdom ever produced." HP 9J.N0182.101 Keyboard 

[6], a sentiment with which Samuel Johnson agreed. Historian Hugh Trevor-Roper said in 1977 that More was "the first great Englishman whom we feel that we know, the most saintly of humanists, the most human of saints, the universal man of our cool northern renaissance."[7] HP 9J.N0E82.A01 Keyboard 

Born in Milk Street in London on 7 February 1478, Thomas More was the son of Sir John More,[8] a successful lawyer, and his wife Agnes (née Graunger). More was educated at St Anthony's School, considered one of the finest schools in London at that time. HP 9J.N0L82.L01 Keyboard 

He later spent the years 1490 to 1492 as a page in the household service of John Morton, the Archbishop of Canterburyand Lord Chancellor of England.[9]:xvi Morton enthusiastically supported the "New Learning" of the Renaissance, and thought highly of the young More. HP 9J.N0Y82.H01 Keyboard 

Believing that More showed great potential, Morton nominated him for a place at Oxford University (either in St. Mary's Hall (Oriel) or Canterbury College), where More began his studies in 1492.[10]:38 More may have lived and studied at nearby St. Mary’s Hall. Both Canterbury College and St Mary’s Hall have since disappeared; HP 9J.N1B82.201 Keyboard 

part of Christ Church College is on the site of Canterbury, and part of Oriel College is on the site of St Mary’s. More received a classical education at Oxford and was a pupil of Thomas Linacre and William Grocyn, becoming proficient in both Greek and Latin. He left Oxford in 1494 – after only two years – at the insistence of his fatherHP 9J.N1U82.M01 Keyboard 

to begin his legal training in London at New Inn, one of the Inns of Chancery.[9]:xvii[11] In 1496, he 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.[9]:xviiHP 9J.N8682.501 Keyboard 

According to his friend, the theologian Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, More once seriously contemplated abandoning his legal career to become a monk.[12] Between 1503 and 1504 More lived near the Carthusian monastery outside the walls of London and joined in the monks' spiritual exercises. HP 9J.NOL82.W01 Keyboard 

Although he deeply admired the piety of the monks, he ultimately decided on the life of a layman upon his marriage and election to Parliament in 1504.[9]:xxi In spite of his choice to pursue a secular career, More continued to observe certain ascetical practices for the rest of his life, such as wearing ahair shirt next to his skin and occasionally engaging in flagellation.[9]:xxiHP 9Z.N4CUQ.001 Keyboard 

Family life

More married Jane Colt in 1505.[10]:118 She was nearly ten years his junior and was said by More's friends to be quiet and good-natured.[10]:119 Erasmus reported that More had taken an interest early on in giving his young wife a better education than she had previously received at home, HP 9Z.N4DUQ.001 Keyboard 

and became a personal tutor to her in the areas of music and literature.[10]:119More had four children with Jane: Margaret, Elizabeth, Cicely, and John.[10]:132 When Jane died in 1511, More remarried almost immediately, choosing as his second wife a rich widow named Alice Middleton. HP 9Z.N4DUQ.201 Keyboard 

Alice More did not enjoy the reputation for docility that her predecessor had and was instead known as a strong and outspoken woman. More's friend Andrew Ammonius derided Alice as a "hook-nosed harpy", although Erasmus attested that the marriage was a happy one.[10]:144HP 9Z.N6WSV.001 Keyboard 

More and Alice did not have children together, although More raised Alice's daughter from her previous marriage as his own. More became the guardian of a young girl named Anne Cresacre, who would eventually marry his son, John More.[10]:146HP AEAT1U00010 Keyboard 

More was an affectionate father who wrote letters to his children whenever he was away on legal or government business, and encouraged them to write to him often.[10]:150[13]:xivHP AE0P7U00010 Keyboard 

More took a serious interest in the education of women, an attitude that was highly unusual at the time. Believing women to be just as capable of academic accomplishment as men, More insisted upon giving his daughters the same classical education given to his son. HP AEAT5U00010 Keyboard 

The academic star of the family was More's eldest daughter Margaret, who attracted much admiration for her erudition, especially her fluency in Greek and Latin.[10]:147 More recounted a moment of such admiration in a letter to Margaret in September 1522, when the Bishop of Exeter was shown a letter written by Margaret to More: HP AEAT8TPU017 Keyboard 

When he saw from the signature that it was the letter of a lady, his surprise led him to read it more eagerly... he said he would never have believed it to be your work unless I had assured him of the fact, and he began to praise it in the highest terms... for its pure Latinity, its correctness, its erudition, and its expressions of tender affection. HP AEAT8TPU319 Keyboard 

He took out at once from his pocket a portague [A Portuguese gold coin]... to send to you as a pledge and token of his good will towards you.[13]:152HP AEAX8U00010 Keyboard 

The success More enjoyed in educating his daughters set an example for other noble families. Even Erasmus became much more favourable towards the idea once he witnessed the accomplishments of More's daughters.[10]:149HP AECT1TPR010 Keyboard 

In 1504 he was elected to Parliament to represent Great Yarmouth and in 1510 to represent London.[14]

From 1510, More served as one of the two undersheriffs of the City of London, a position of considerable responsibility in which he earned a reputation as an honest and effective public servant. More became Master of Requests in 1514,[15] the same year in which he was appointed as a Privy Councillor, HP AECT1TPU015 Keyboard 

a member of His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council.[16] After undertaking a diplomatic mission to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, accompanying Thomas Wolsey to Calais and Bruges, More was knighted and made under-treasurer of the Exchequer in 1521.[16] HP AECT1TPU112 CT1A Keyboard 

As secretary and personal adviser to King Henry VIII, More became increasingly influential in the government, welcoming foreign diplomats, drafting official documents, and serving as a liaison between the King and his Lord Chancellor: Thomas Wolsey, the Cardinal Archbishop of York. HP AECT1TPU112CT1A Keyboard 

In 1523 he was elected as knight of the shire (MP) for Middlesex and, recommended by Wolsey, was elected the Speaker of theHouse of Commons.[16] HP AECT6TPU013 Keyboard 

He later served as High Steward for the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In 1525 he became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a position that entailed administrative and judicial control of much of northern England.[16] HP AEDB3STU012 Keyboard 

Between 1512 and 1519, Thomas More worked on a History of King Richard III, which was never finished, but which greatly influenced William Shakespeare's play Richard III. Both More's and Shakespeare's works are controversial to contemporary historians for their unflattering portrait of King Richard III, HP AEFP8R00210 Keyboard 

a bias partly due to both authors' allegiance to the reigningTudor dynasty that wrested the throne from Richard III in the Wars of the Roses. More's work, however, little mentions King Henry VII, the first Tudor king, perhaps for having persecuted his father, Sir John More. Some historians see an attack on royal tyranny, rather than on Richard III himself or on the House of York. HP AELX6U00210 Keyboard 

The History of King Richard III is a Renaissance history, remarkable more for its literary skill and adherence to classical precepts than for its historical accuracy. More's work, and that of contemporary historian Polydore Vergil, reflects a move from mundane medieval chronicles to a dramatic writing style; HP AELX7U00410 Keyboard 

for example, the shadowy King Richard is an outstanding, archetypal tyrant drawn from the pages of Sallust, and should be read as a meditation on power and corruption as well as a history of the reign of Richard III. The 'History of King Richard III was written and published in both English and Latin, each written separately, and with information deleted from the Latin edition to suit a European readership. HP AELX9U00110 Keyboard


More sketched out his best known and most controversial work, Utopia (completed and published in 1516), a novel in Latin. In it a traveller, Raphael Hythlodeaus (in Greek, his name and surname allude to archangel Raphael, purveyor of truth, and mean "speaker of nonsense"), HP AELX9U00210 Keyboard

describes the political arrangements of the imaginary island country of Utopia (Greek pun on ou-topos[no place], eu-topos [good place]) to himself and to Pieter Gillis. This novel describes the city of Amaurote by saying, "Of them all this is the worthiest and of most dignity".HP AENM7U00210 Keyboard

Utopia contrasts the contentious social life of European states with the perfectly orderly, reasonable social arrangements of Utopia and its environs (Tallstoria, Nolandia, and Aircastle). In Utopia, with communal ownership of land, private property does not exist, men and women are educated alike, and there is almost complete religious toleration. Some take the novel's principal message to be the social need for order and discipline rather than liberty. HP AEQT6U00030 Keyboard

The country of Utopia tolerates different religious practices but does not tolerate atheists. Hythlodeaus theorises that if a man did not believe in a god or in an afterlife he could never be trusted, because he would not acknowledge any authority or principle outside himself. HP AER15U00510 Keyboard

More used the novel describing an imaginary nation as a means of freely discussing contemporary controversial matters; speculatively, he based Utopia on monastic communalism, based upon the biblical communalism in the Acts of the Apostles. HP AER18U001100 Keyboard

Utopia is a forerunner of the utopian literary genre, wherein ideal societies and perfect cities are detailed. Although Utopianism is typically a Renaissance movement, combining the classical concepts of perfect societies of Plato and Aristotle with Roman rhetorical finesse (cf. Cicero, Quintilian, epideicticoratory), HP AESP7R00110 Keyboard

it continued into the Enlightenment. Utopia's original edition included the symmetrical "Utopian alphabet" that was omitted from later editions; it is a notable, early attempt at cryptography that might have influenced the development of shorthand. HP AESP7U00110 Keyboard

Utopia ironically points out, through Raphael, More's ultimate conflict between his beliefs as a humanist and a servant of the King at court. More tries to illustrate how he can try to influence courtly figures including the King to the humanist way of thinking but, as Raphael points out, one day they will come into conflict with the political reality. HP AESP7U00120 Keyboard

Religious polemics

In 1520 the reformer Martin Luther published three works in quick succession: An Appeal to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (Aug.), Concerning the Babylonish Captivity of the Church (Oct.), and On the Liberty of a Christian Man (Nov.).[10]:225HP AESX7U00110 Keyboard

In these works Luther set out his doctrine of salvation through grace alone, rejected certain Catholic practices, and attacked the abuses and excesses of the Catholic Church.[10]:225–6 In 1521, Henry VIII responded to Luther’s criticisms with a work known as the Assertio, written with the editorial assistance of More. HP AESX7U00210 Keyboard

In light of this work, Pope Leo X rewarded Henry VIII with the title Fidei defensor (“Defender of the Faith”) for his efforts in combating Luther’s heresies.[10]:226–7HP AETT3U00010 Keyboard

Martin Luther then attacked Henry VIII in print, calling him a “pig, dolt, and liar”.[10]:227 At the request of Henry VIII, More set about composing a rebuttal: the resulting Responsio ad Lutherum was published at the end of 1523. In the Responsio, More defended the supremacy of the papacy, HP AETT8TPR120 Keyboard

the sacraments, and other church traditions. More’s language, like Luther’s, was virulent, and he branded Luther an “ape”, a “drunkard”, and a “lousy little friar” amongst other insults.[10]:230 While writing under the pseudonym of Rosseus, More mirrors Luther's own unscholarly use of language. At one point More offers to: HP AETT9U00010 Keyboard

"throw back into your paternity's shitty mouth, truly the shit-pool of all shit, all the muck and shit which your damnable rottenness has vomited up".[17] HP AEUT3U00020 Keyboard

This confrontation with Luther confirmed More’s theological conservatism, and from then on his work was devoid of all hints of criticism of Church authority.[10]:230 In 1528, More produced another religious polemic, A Dialogue Concerning Heresies that asserted that the Catholic Church was the one true church, HP AEUT3U00140 Keyboard

whose authority had been established by Christ and the Apostles, and that its traditions and practices were valid.[10]:279–81 In 1529, the circulation ofSimon Fish’s Supplication for the Beggars provoked a response from More entitled, The Supplication of Souls. HP AEUT5U00010 Keyboard

In 1531, William Tyndale published An Answer unto Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue in response to More’s Dialogue Concerning Heresies. After having read Tyndale’s work, More wrote his half-a-million-word-long Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer over the next several months. HP AEUT7U00010 Keyboard

The Confutation is written as a dialogue between More and Tyndale in which More responds to each of Tyndale’s criticisms of Catholic rites and doctrines.[10]:307–9 These literary battles convinced More, who valued structure, tradition, and order in society above all else, HP AUT5USM2XL41U Keyboard

hat Lutheranism and the Protestant Reformation in general were dangerous, not only to the Catholic faith but to the stability of society as a whole.[10]:307–9HP C090614001J Keyboard


Most major humanists were prolific letter writers, and Thomas More was no exception. However, as in the case of his friend Erasmus of Rotterdam, only a small portion of his correspondence (about 280 letters), survived. These letters include everything from personal letters to official government correspondence (mostly in English), letters to fellow humanist scholars (in Latin), HP CT1A Keyboard

including several epistolary tracts, verse epistles, prefatory letters (some fictional) to several of More's own works, letters to his children and their tutors (in Latin), and the so-called "prison-letters" (in English) which he exchanged with his oldest daughter, Margaret Roper while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London awaiting execution.[18] HP K031202I1 Keyboard

More wrote about the more spiritual aspects of religion. This is how he wrote A Treatise on the Passion (Treatise on the Passion of Christ), A Treatise to Receive the Blessed Body (Holy Body Treaty), and De Tristitia Christi (The Agony of Christ), which reads his own hand in the Tower of London at the time he was confined before his beheading on 6 July 1535. This last manuscript, HP K031802E4US Keyboard

saved from the confiscation decreed by Henry VIII, passed by the will of his daughter Margaret to Spanish hands and through Fray Pedro de Soto, confessor of Emperor Charles V, went to Valencia, home of Luis Vives, a close friend of More. It is now kept in the collection of Real Colegio Seminario del Corpus Christi Museum in Valencia, Spain. HP K031926M1 Keyboard

After Wolsey fell, More succeeded to the office of Chancellor in 1529. He dispatched cases with unprecedented rapidity. Fully devoted to Henry and the royal prerogative, More initially co-operated with the King's new policy, denouncing Wolsey in Parliament and joining the opinion of the theologians at Oxford and Cambridge that the marriage of Henry to Catherine had been unlawful. But as Henry began to deny papal authority, More's qualms grew. HP K032046A1 Keyboard

Campaign against the Reformation

More supported the Catholic Church and saw the Reformation as heresy, a threat to the unity of both church and society. Believing in the theology, polemics, and ecclesiastical laws of the church, More "heard Luther's call to destroy the Catholic Church as a call to war."[19] HP K061026Q1 Keyboard

His early actions against the Reformation included aiding Wolsey in preventing Lutheran books from being imported into England, spying on and investigating suspected Protestants, especially publishers, and arresting any one holding in his possession, transporting, HP K061130A1 Keyboard

or selling the books of the Protestant reformation. More vigorously suppressed the travelling country ministers who used Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament. This English language translation of the Bible challenged the Catholic monopoly of reading the Latin Bible.[citation needed] HP MH-505999-00 Keyboard

It contained translations of certain words—for example Tyndale used "elder" rather than "priest" for the Greek "presbuteros"—and some footnotes which challenged Catholic doctrine.[20] It was during this time that most of his literary polemics appeared. HP MP-04513US-6982 Keyboard

Rumours circulated during and after More's lifetime regarding ill-treatment of heretics during his time as Lord Chancellor. The popular anti-Catholic polemicist John Foxe, who "placed Protestant sufferings against the background of... the Antichrist"[21] HP MP-05583US-920 Keyboard

was instrumental in publicising accusations of torture in his famous Book of Martyrs, claiming that More had often personally used violence or torture while interrogating heretics. Later authors, such as Brian Moynahan and Michael Farris, cite Foxe when repeating these allegations.[22] More himself denied these allegations: HP MP-05583US69201 Keyboard

Stories of a similar nature were current even in More's lifetime and he denied them forcefully. He admitted that he did imprison heretics in his house – 'theyr sure kepynge' – he called it – but he utterly rejected claims of torture and whipping... 'so helpe me God.'[10]:298HP MP-06703VS-9201 Keyboard

In total there were six burned at the stake for heresy during More's chancellorship: Thomas Hitton, Thomas Bilney, Richard Bayfield, John Tewkesbery, Thomas Dusgate, and James Bainham.[10]:299–306 More's influential role in the burning of Tyndale is reported by Moynahan.[23] HP MP-07F13US-920 Keyboard

Burning at the stake had long been a standard punishment for heresy—about thirty burnings had taken place in the century before More's elevation to Chancellor, and burning continued to be used by both Catholics and Protestants during the religious upheaval of the following decades.[24] HP MP-08K33US-930 Keyboard

Ackroyd notes that More explicitly "approved of Burning"[10]:298 After the case of John Tewkesbury, a London leather-seller found guilty by More of harbouring banned books and sentenced to burning for refusing to recant, More declared: he "burned as there was neuer wretche I wene better worthy."[25] HP MP-08K33US6930 Keyboard

Historians have been long divided over More's religious actions as Chancellor. While biographers such as Ackroyd have taken a relatively tolerant view of More's campaign against Protestantism by placing his actions within the turbulent religious climate of the time, other equally eminent historians, HP MP-09M63US6920 Keyboard

such as Richard Marius, have been more critical, believing that such persecutions were a betrayal of More's earlier humanist convictions. HP MP-10N63US-920 Keyboard

As Marius writes in his biography of More: "To stand before a man at an inquisition, knowing that he will rejoice when we die, knowing that he will commit us to the stake and its horrors without a moment's hesitation or remorse if we do not satisfy him, is not an experience much less cruel because our inquisitor does not whip us or rack us or shout at us."[26] HP NSK-C6C01 Keyboard


As the conflict over supremacy between the papacy and the King reached its apogée, More continued to remain steadfast in supporting the supremacy of the papal throne over that of his King. In 1530, More refused to sign a letter by the leading English churchmen and aristocrats asking Pope Clement VII to annul Henry's marriage to Catherine, HP NSK-CG0SV Keyboard

and also quarrelled with Henry VIII over the heresy laws. In 1531, Henry had isolated More by purging most clergy who supported the papal stance from senior positions in the church. HP NSK-H3K01 Keyboard

In addition, Henry had solidified his denial of the papacy's control of England by passing the Statute of Praemunirewhich forbade appeals to the Roman Curia from England. Realizing his isolated position, More attempted to resign after being forced to take an oath declaring the king the Supreme Head of the English Church "as far as the law of Christ allows".HP NSK-H5501 Keyboard

Furthermore, the Statute of Praemunire made it a crime to support in public or office the claims of the papacy. Thus, he refused to take the oath in the form in which it would renounce all claims of jurisdiction over the church except the sovereign's. HP NSK-H7A01 Keyboard

Nonetheless, the reputation and influence of More as well as his long relationship with Henry, kept his life secure for the time being and consequently, he was not relieved of office. However, with his supporters in court quickly disappearing, in 1532 he asked the King again to relieve him of his office, claiming that he was ill and suffering from sharp chest pains. This time Henry granted his request. HP NSK-H8101 Keyboard

In 1533, More refused to attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn as the Queen of England. Technically, this was not an act of treason, as More had written to Henry acknowledging Anne's queenship and expressing his desire for the King's happiness and the new Queen's health.[27] Despite this, his refusal to attend was widely interpreted as a snub against Anne, and Henry took action against him. HP NSK-H8N01-US Keyboard

Shortly thereafter, More was charged with accepting bribes, but the patently false charges had to be dismissed for lack of any evidence, given More's reputation as a judge who could not be bribed. In early 1534, More was accused of conspiring with the "Holy Maid of Kent," HP NSK-HB201 Keyboard

Elizabeth Barton, a nun who had prophesied against the king's annulment, but More was able to produce a letter in which he had instructed Barton not to interfere with state matters. HP NSK-HEM01 Keyboard

On 13 April 1534, More was asked to appear before a commission and swear his allegiance to the parliamentary Act of Succession. More accepted Parliament's right to declare Anne Boleyn the legitimate Queen of England, but he steadfastly refused to take the oath of supremacy of the Crown in the relationship between the kingdom and the church in England. HP PK1303V01X0 Keyboard

Holding fast to the ancient teaching of papal supremacy, More refused to take the oath and furthermore publicly refused to uphold Henry's annulment from Catherine. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, refused the oath along with More. The oath reads: HP PK1303X0500 Keyboard

...By reason whereof the Bishop of Rome and See Apostolic, contrary to the great and inviolable grants of jurisdictions given by God immediately to emperors, kings and princes in succession to their heirs, hath presumed in times past to invest who should please them to inherit in other men's kingdoms and dominions, which thing we your most humble subjects, both spiritual and temporal, do most abhor and detest;[28] HP PK13ZK30100 Keyboard

With his refusal to support the King's annulment, More's enemies had enough evidence to have the King arrest him on treason. Four days later, Henry had More imprisoned in the Tower of London. There More prepared a devotional Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation. While More was imprisoned in the Tower, Thomas Cromwell made several visits, urging More to take the oath, which More continued to refuse. HP PK13ZK31000 Keyboard

On 1 July 1535, More was tried before a panel of judges that included the new Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Audley, as well as Anne Boleyn's father, brother, and uncle. He was charged with high treason for denying the validity of the Act of Succession. HP QT6D Keyboard

More, relying on legal precedent and the maxim "qui tacet consentire videtur" (literally, who (is) silent consent shows), understood that he could not be convicted as long as he did not explicitly deny that the King was Supreme Head of the Church, HP SG-46100-XUA Keyboard

and he therefore refused to answer all questions regarding his opinions on the subject. Thomas Cromwell, at the time the most powerful of the King's advisors, brought forth the Solicitor General, Richard Rich, to testify that More had, in his presence, HP UI 378248-001 Keyboard

denied that the King was the legitimate head of the church. This testimony was extremely dubious: witnesses Richard Southwell and Mr. Palmer both denied having heard the details of the reported conversation, and as More himself pointed out: HP V061130AS1 Keyboard

"Can it therefore seem likely to your Lordships, that I should in so weighty an Affair as this, act so unadvisedly, as to trust Mr. Rich, a Man I had always so mean an Opinion of, in reference to his Truth and Honesty, ...that I should only impart to Mr. Rich the Secrets of my Conscience in respect to the King's Supremacy, HP V100103AS1 Keyboard

the particular Secrets, and only Point about which I have been so long pressed to explain my self? which I never did, nor never would reveal; when the Act was once made, either to the King himself, or any of his Privy Councillors, as is well known to your Honours, HP V107046AS1 Keyboard

who have been sent upon no other account at several times by his Majesty to me in the Tower. I refer it to your Judgments, my Lords, whether this can seem credible to any of your Lordships." HP V121026AS1 Keyboard

However, the jury took only fifteen minutes to find More guilty.

More was tried, and found guilty, under the following section of the Treason Act 1534:

If any person or persons, after the first day of February next coming, do maliciously wish, will or desire, by words or writing, or by craft imagine, invent, practise, or attempt any bodily harm to be done or committed to the king's most royal person, the queen's, or their heirs apparent, or to deprive them or any of them of their dignity, title, or name of their royal estates... Listed by HP Laptop Model.

That then every such person and persons so offending... shall have and suffer such pains of death and other penalties, as is limited and accustomed in cases of high treason.[29] HP 540 Keyboard

After the jury's verdict was delivered and before his sentencing, More spoke freely of his belief that "no temporal man may be the head of the spirituality". He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered (the usual punishment for traitors who were not the nobility), HP 550 Keyboard

but the King commuted this to execution by decapitation. The execution took place on 6 July 1535. When he came to mount the steps to the scaffold, he is widely quoted as saying (to the officials): "I pray you, I pray you, Mr Lieutenant, see me safe up and for my coming down, I can shift for myself"; while on the scaffold he declared that he died "the king's good servant, but God's first."[30] HP Business Notebook 2210b Keyboard

Another comment he is believed to have made to the executioner is that his beard was completely innocent of any crime, and did not deserve the axe; he then positioned his beard so that it would not be harmed.[31] More asked that his foster/adopted daughter Margaret Clement (née Giggs) be given his headless corpse to bury.[32] He was buried at the Tower of London, HP Business Notebook nx9000 Keyboard

n the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in an unmarked grave. His head was fixed upon a pike over London Bridge for a month, according to the normal custom for traitors. His daughter Margaret (Meg) Roper rescued it, possibly by bribery, before it could be thrown in the River Thames. HP Business Notebook nx9005 Keyboard

The skull is believed to rest in the Roper Vault of St Dunstan's Church, Canterbury, though some researchers have claimed it might be within the tomb he erected for More in Chelsea Old Church (see below). The evidence, however, seems to be in favour of its placement in St Dunstan's, with the remains of his daughter, Margaret Roper

, and her husband's family, whose vault it was. HP Business Notebook nx9008 Keyboard

Among other surviving relics is his hair shirt, presented for safe keeping by Margaret Clements (1508–70), his adopted daughter.[33] This was long in the custody of the community of Augustinian canonesses who until 1983 lived at the convent at Abbotskerswell Priory, Devon. It is now preserved at Syon Abbey, near South Brent. HP Business Notebook nx9010 Keyboard


More was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 and canonised, with John Fisher, on 19 May 1935 by Pope Pius XI, and his feast day was established as 9 July. This day is still observed as his feast day bytraditionalist Catholics [Latin Mass]. Following a series of post-Vatican II reforms, HP Envy 15 Keyboard

his feast day was changed and his name was added to the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1970 for celebration on 22 June jointly with St John Fisher, the only remaining bishop (owing to the coincident natural deaths of eight aged bishops) who, HP Envy 15-1000 Keyboard

during the English Reformation, maintained, at the King's mercy, allegiance to the pope.[34] In 2000, Pope John Paul II declared More the "heavenly patron of statesmen and politicians".[35] In 1980, More was added to the Church of England's calendar of Saints and Heroes of the Christian Church, jointly with John Fisher. More is commemorated on 6 July.[36] HP Envy 15-1000se Keyboard

The steadfastness and courage with which More held on to his religious convictions in the face of ruin and death and the dignity with which he conducted himself during his imprisonment, trial, and execution, contributed much to More's posthumous reputation, particularly among Catholics. Many historians argue that his conviction for treason was unjust, and even among some Protestants his execution was viewed as heavy-handed.[citation needed]HP Envy 15-1001tx Keyboard

His friend Erasmus defended More's character as "more pure than any snow" and described his genius as "such as England never had and never again will have. HP Envy 15-1001xx Keyboard

More was greatly admired by the Anglican writer Jonathan Swift. Swift wrote that More was "a person of the greatest virtue this kingdom ever produced".[38][39] Samuel Johnson is often cited as the origin of that quote,[40][41] but mistakenly: it is not to be found in his writings or recorded by Boswell. HP Envy 15-1002tx Keyboard

The English Roman Catholic writer G. K. Chesterton said of More that "He may come to be counted the greatest Englishman, or at least the greatest historical character in English history."[42]

William Roper's biography of More was one of the first biographies in the English language. HP Envy 15-1002xx Keyboard

More was portrayed as a wise and honest statesman in the 1592 play Sir Thomas More, which was probably written in collaboration by Henry Chettle, HP Envy 15-1003tx Keyboard

Anthony Munday, William Shakespeare, and others, and which survives only in fragmentary form after being censored by Edmund Tylney, Master of the Revels in the government of Queen Elizabeth I (any direct reference to the Act of Supremacy was censored out). HP Envy 15-1007ev Keyboard

As the author of Utopia, More has attracted the admiration of modern socialists. While Catholic scholars maintain that More's attitude in composing Utopia was largely ironic and that he was an orthodox Christian, Marxist theoretician Karl Kautsky argued in the book Thomas More and his Utopia (HP Envy 15-1007tx Keyboard

Utopia was a shrewd critique of economic and social exploitation in pre-modern Europe and that More was one of the key intellectual figures in the early development of socialist ideas. Others have seen in it an attempt at mythologising Indian cultures in the New World during a time when the Catholic Church was still debating over how to view the decidedly non-Christian cultures of the Indians. HP Envy 15-1008xx Keyboard

The 20th-century agnostic playwright Robert Bolt portrayed Thomas More as the tragic hero of his 1960 play A Man for All Seasons. The title being drawn from what Robert Whittington in 1520 wrote of More: HP Envy 15-1009tx Keyboard

"More is a man of an angel's wit and singular learning. I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness and affability? And, as time requireth, a man of marvelous mirth and pastimes, and sometime of as sad gravity. A man for all seasons."[7] HP Envy 15-1011tx Keyboard

In 1966, the play was made into the successful film A Man for All Seasons directed by Fred Zinnemann, adapted for the screen by the playwright himself, and starring Paul Scofield in an Oscar-winning performance. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture for that year. In 1988, Charlton Heston starred and directed in a made-for-television film that followed Bolt's original play almost verbatim, restoring for example the commentaries of "the common man".HP Envy 15-1013tx Keyboard

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Catholic science fiction writer R. A. Lafferty wrote his novel Past Master as a modern equivalent to More's Utopia, which he saw as a satire. In this novel, Thomas More is brought through time to the year 2535, where he is made king of the future world of "Astrobe", HP Envy 15-1015tx Keyboard

only to be beheaded after ruling for a mere nine days. One of the characters in the novel compares More favourably to almost every other major historical figure: "He had one completely honest moment right at the end. I cannot think of anyone else who ever had one." HP Envy 15-1018tx Keyboard

Karl Zuchardt's novel, Stirb du Narr! ("Die you fool!"), about More's struggle with King Henry, portrays More as an idealist bound to fail in the power struggle with a ruthless ruler and an unjust world. HP Envy 15-1019tx Keyboard

A number of modern historians and writers, such as Richard Marius, have evaluated More in his political capacity and have criticised him for Anti-Protestantismand, "intolerance." The historian Jasper Ridley, author of several biographies including one on Henry VIII and another on Mary Tudor, HP Envy 15-1020er Keyboard

goes much further in his dual biography of More and Cardinal Wolsey, The Statesman and the Fanatic, describing More as "a particularly nasty sadomasochistic pervert," a line of thinking followed by the late Joanna Denny in her 2004 biography of Anne Boleyn. HP Envy 15-1021tx Keyboard

Several authors have criticised More for his war against Protestantism. Brian Moynahan, in his book God's Messenger: William Tyndale, Thomas More and the Writing of the English Bible, takes a similarly critical view of More, as does the American writer Michael Farris. HP Envy 15-1022tx Keyboard

The novelist Hilary Mantel portrays More as a religious and masochistic fanatic in her 2009 novel Wolf HallWolf Hall is told through the eyes of a sympathetic Thomas Cromwell. Literary critic James Woodcalls him "cruel inpunishment, evasive in argument, lusty for power, and repressive in politics".[43] HP Envy 15-1030ef Keyboard

Aaron Zelman's non-fiction book The State Versus the People includes a comparison of Utopia with Plato's Republic. Zelman isundecided as to whether More was being ironic in his book or was genuinely advocating a police state. Zelman comments," HP Envy 15-1040er Keyboard

More is the only Christian saint to be honoured with a statue at theKremlin."[citation needed] By this Zelman implies that Utopia influenced Vladimir Lenin's Bolsheviks, despite their brutal repression of organised religion. HP Envy 15-1050ca Keyboard

Other biographers, such as Peter Ackroyd, have offered a more sympathetic picture of More as both a sophisticated philosopher and man of letters, as well as a zealous Catholic who believed in the authority of the Holy See over Christendom. HP Envy 15-1050es Keyboard

The protagonist of Walker Percy's novels, Love in the Ruins and The Thanatos Syndrome, is "Dr Thomas More", a reluctant Catholic and descendant of More. HP Envy 15-1050nr Keyboard

More is the focus of the Al Stewart song "A Man For All Seasons" from the 1978 album Time Passages, and of the Far song "Sir", featured on the limited editions and 2008 re-release of their 1994 album Quick. In addition, the song "So Says I" by indie rock outfit The Shins alludes to the socialist interpretation of More's Utopia. HP Envy 15-1060ea Keyboard

Jeremy Northam depicts More in the television series The Tudors. In The Tudors, More is portrayed as a peaceful man, as well as a devout Roman Catholic and loving family patriarch. He vocally expresses his loathing for Protestantism. By the order of King Henry VIII, HP Envy 15-1066nr Keyboard

More commissions the burning of Martin Luther's books. He is shown exercising his authority as Chancellor by burning English Protestants who have been convicted of heresy. The Tudors shows More engaging in the conversation that Richard Rich testified about regarding the King's title as Supreme Head of the Church of England. More's avowed insistence that Rich's testimony was perjured is excised from the show's depiction of the trial. HP Envy 15-1067nr Keyboard

The cultus of More has been satirised. In the The Simpsons an episode, "Margical History Tour", contains a parody of both Henry VIII and More. King Henry (Homer Simpson) is depicted as a gluttonous slob who stuffs his face while singing "I'm Henery the Eighth, I am". HP Envy 15-1080ea Keyboard

He then wipes his mouth with the Magna Carta and sets out to dump Queen Catherine (Marge Simpson). Sir Thomas (Ned Flanders) objects, "Divorce! Well, there's no such thing in the Cath-diddly-atholic Church! But it's the only Church we got, so what are you gonna do?" HP Envy 15-1090eg Keyboard

King Henry retorts, "I'll start my own Church... Where divorce will be so easy, more than half of all marriages will end in it!" When a horrifed Sir Thomas refuses to go along, King Henry has him shot out of a cannon. HP Envy 15-1099eo Keyboard

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Crosby Hall

More's home and estate along the Thames in Chelsea was confiscated by the Crown from his wife Alice after his execution. But in later times Crosby Hall, which formed part of More's London residence, was relocated to the site in his commemoration and reconstructed there by the conservation architect, HP Envy 15-1100 Series Keyboard

Walter Godfrey. Today after further rebuilding in the 1990s it stands out as a white stone building amid modern brick structures that aims to recapture the style of More's manor that formerly occupied the site. Crosby Hall is privately owned and closed to the public. HP Envy 15-1200 Series Keyboard

The modern structures face the Thames and include an entry way that displays More's arms, heraldic beasts, and a Latin maxim. Apartment buildings and a park are built over the former locations of his gardens and orchard, and some are named after their former functions: Roper's Garden is the park occupying one of More's gardens, sunken as his was believed to be. Other than these, there are no remnants of the More estate. HP Envy 15-1970ez Keyboard

This small park sits between Crosby Hall and Chelsea Old Church, an Anglican church on Old Church Street whose southern chapel was commissioned by More and in which he sang with his parish choir. The medieval arch connecting the chapel to the main sanctuary was commissioned by More and displays on its capitals symbols associated with his person and office. HP Envy 15t-1000 Keyboard

On the southern wall of the sanctuary is the tomb and epitaph he erected for himself and his wives, detailing in a lengthy Latin inscription his ancestry and accomplishments, including his role as peacemaker between the Christian nations of Europe and a curiously altered portion detailing his curbing of heresy. HP G42 Keyboard

This tomb was probably located here because it was his custom to serve Mass and he would leave by the door just to the left of it. He is not, however, buried here, nor is it entirely certain which of his family may be. Except for his chapel, the church was largely destroyed in the Second World War and was rebuilt in 1958. It is open to the public at specific times. HP G42-101XX Keyboard

Outside the church, facing the River Thames, is a statue by L. Cubitt Bevis erected in 1969, commemorating him as "saint", "scholar", and "statesman", the back of which displays his coat-of-arms. In the same neighbourhood, on Upper Cheyne Row, is the Catholic Church of the Holy Saviour and St. Thomas More, which honours him according to the Church he defended with his life. HP G42-154CA Keyboard

More was executed on a scaffold erected on Tower Hill, London, just outside the Tower of London. A plaque and small garden commemorate the famed execution site and all those who were executed there, many as religious martyrs or as prisoners of conscience. HP G42-161LA Keyboard

His body, minus his head, was unceremoniously buried in an unmarked grave in the Royal Chapel of St. Peter Ad Vincula, within the walls of the Tower of London. It was the custom for traitors executed at Tower Hill to be buried in the mass grave beneath this chapel, which is accessible to visitors to the Tower. HP G42-163LA Keyboard

St Dunstan's Church, Canterbury

St Dunstan's Church, an Anglican parish church in Canterbury, possesses More's head, rescued by his beloved daughter Margaret Roper. This is sealed in the Roper family vault beneath the altar of the Nicholas Chapel, to the right of the church's sanctuary or main altar. HP G42-164LA Keyboard

The stone marking the sealed vault is to the immediate left of the altar below which it lies. St Dunstan's Church has carefully investigated, preserved and sealed this burial vault of the Roper family who lived in Canterbury. The last archaeological investigation of the Roper Vault revealed that the suspected head of More rests in a niche separate from the other bodies there, possibly due to later interference.[citation needed]HP G42-165LA Keyboard

A few displays in the chapel record the archaeological findings in written accounts and pictures. The walls of the chapel are host to impressive stained glass donated by Roman Catholics to commemorate the events in More's life. Down and across the street from the parish the facade of the former home of Margaret Roper and her husband William Roper survives and is marked by a small plaque. HP G42-200XX Keyboard

The series has been produced by Peace Arch Entertainment for Showtime in association with Reveille Productions,Working Title Television, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and was filmed in Ireland. The first two episodes debuted on DirecTV, Time Warner Cable OnDemand, HP G42-212BR Keyboard

Netflix, Verizon FiOS On Demand, Internet Movie Databaseand on the series' website before the official series premiere on Showtime. The Tudors' premiere on 1 April 2007, was the highest-rated Showtime series in three years.[3] In April 2007, the show was renewed for a second season,[3] HP G42-214BR Keyboard

and in that month the BBC announced it had acquired exclusive United Kingdom broadcast rights for the series, which it started to broadcast on 5 October 2007. Canada's CBC had begun broadcasting the show on 2 October 2007.[4] HP G42-215BR Keyboard

Season Two debuted on Showtime on 30 March 2008, and on BBC 2 on 1 August 2008. Production on Season Three began on 16 June 2008 in Bray, County Wicklow Ireland,[5][6] and that season premiered on Showtime on 5 April 2009, and debuted in Canada on CBC on 30 September 2009. The day after broadcast, downloadable episodes debuted in Canada onMoboVivo.[7] HP G42-220BR Keyboard

Showtime announced 13 April 2009, that it had renewed the show for a fourth and final season. The network ordered 10 episodes that were first broadcast on 11 April 2010.[8][9] The series finale was broadcast on 20 June 2010. The final season was shown in Canada on CBC starting 22 September 2010, and ending on 23 November 2010. HP G42-221BR Keyboard

International distribution rights are owned by Sony Pictures Television International.


Season One chronicles the period of Henry VIII's reign in which his effectiveness as king is tested by international conflicts as well as political intrigue in his own court, while the pressure of fathering a male heir compels him to reject his wife, Katherine of Aragon,[10]HP G42-224CA Keyboard

in favour of Anne Boleyn. He also has a string of affairs and fathers an illegitimate son with his mistress, Elizabeth "Bessie" Blount. The son, Henry FitzRoy, later dies. HP G42-228CA Keyboard

Season Two finds Henry as the head of the Church of England, the result of his break with the Catholic Church over its refusal to grant him a divorce from Katherine.[10] During his battle with Rome, he secretly marries a pregnant Anne, who later gives birth to his second daughter Elizabeth I. Anne's own failure to produce a son dooms her as Henry's attention shifts toward Jane Seymour. HP G42-230BR Keyboard

Season Three focuses on Henry's marriages to Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves, the birth of his son Edward VI, his ruthless suppression of the Pilgrimage of Grace, the downfall of Thomas Cromwell, and the beginnings of Henry's relationship with the free-spirited Katherine Howard. Henry reconciles with his daughters Mary and Elizabeth.[11][12] HP G42-230US Keyboard

Season Four focuses on Henry's ill-fated marriage to Katherine Howard and his final, more congenial, marriage toKatherine Parr. The ageing king seeks military glory by capturing Boulogne, France. In his final hours, he is troubled by the ghosts of his dead wives.[13] HP G42-232NR Keyboard

Departures from history

Many events in the series differ from events as they actually happened in history. Liberties are taken with character names, relationships, physical appearance and the timing of events.[1] As creator Hirst noted, "Showtime commissioned me to write an entertainment, a soap opera, HP G42-240BR Keyboard

and not history ... And we wanted people to watch it."[2] He added that some changes were made for production considerations and some to avoid viewer confusion, and that "any confusion created by the changes is outweighed by the interest the series may inspire in the period and its figures."[2] HP G42-240LA Keyboard

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Time is compressed in the series, giving the impression that things happened closer together than they actually did or along a different timeline. By the time of most of the events in this series, King Henry VIII was already in his mid-to-late 30s and at least a decade older than Anne Boleyn; HP G42-241HE Keyboard

they were not married until he was in his early 40s. In The Tudors, the two are cast younger (and seemingly closer in age) and the courtship lasts about ten episodes.[2] Historically,Cardinal Wolsey died in Leicester en route to London to answer charges of treason, HP G42-241LA Keyboard

while in the series he is imprisoned and commits suicide.[2] Wolsey's death came in 1530, three years before the death of Henry's sister; in the series, the two events are juxtaposed. The assassination attempt on Anne during her coronation procession was also invented by Hirst "to illustrate how much the English people hated her."[2] HP G42-243CL Keyboard

The character of Henry's sister, called "Princess Margaret" in the series, is actually a composite of his two sisters: the life events of his younger sister,Princess Mary Tudor, coupled with the name of his elder sister, Margaret Tudor, to avoid confusion with Henry's daughter, Mary I of England.[2][15]HP G42-245BR Keyboard

Historically, Henry's sister Princess Mary first married the French King Louis XII. The union lasted approximately three months, until his death; Louis was succeeded by his cousin Francis I, who was married to Louis' daughter, Claude of France. Mary subsequently married Charles Brandon, HP G42-247SB Keyboard

1st Duke of Suffolk. As The Tudors begins, Henry is already negotiating a peace treaty with Francis; the series' Princess Margaret thus marries a fictional very elderly Portuguese king, who lives only a few days until she smothers him in his sleep.[2][16]HP G42-250BR Keyboard

By the time of the events of this series, the historical Brandon (who was already in his early 40s) and Princess Mary were long married with three children. Henry's eldest sister, Margaret Tudor, was in fact married to King James IV of Scotland and was grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots. HP G42-250LA Keyboard

The king's natural son Henry Fitzroy was shown dying at a very young age, when in fact he lived long enough to be a witness to Anne Boleyn's execution. HP G42-265LA Keyboard

Charles V, King of the Romans, whose parents were rulers of Castille, is given a Spanish accent when dealing with the king of England (S1E3), when in fact he was Flemish born and French educated; indeed, it seems he never mastered Castilian, let alone spoke with a strong Spanish accent. HP G42-268LA Keyboard

Thomas More is seen ordering the death of Simon Fish by burning at the stake. However, Simon Fish while arrested for heresy died in prison of bubonic plague. His widow married James Bainham (another outspoken religious reformer), who was ultimately burned at the stake by Thomas More. It appears that the writers have conflated Simon Fish with James Bainham. HP G42-270LA Keyboard

Neither of Henry VIII's sisters, Margaret or Mary, was betrothed to the King of Portugal. Margaret died of a stroke as the Queen Dowager of Scotland, mother of James V. Mary returned after her French husband King Louis XII (Valois), who was 30 years her senior, died only two months after their marriage. HP G42-271BR Keyboard

The Countess of Salisbury (Princess Mary's governess) was executed during Katherine Howard's time as Queen-consort. In the series, however, she (and her son, Lord Montagu) is executed before Henry meets Anne of Cleves. HP G42-272BR Keyboard

At the welcoming reception for Anne of Cleves, Henry introduces his daughters as "Princess." As both Mary and Elizabeth were still considered by Henry to be illegitimate, he would never have accorded them such a title, as it would in effect be declaring them legitimate. Neither Mary nor Elizabeth ever regained the title of Princess, and continued to be known as "Lady" until they each in turn succeeded to the throne. HP G42-281LA Keyboard

Mary Tudor is shown to be openly hostile towards Katherine Parr having discovered her Protestant view. Mary didn't fall out with Katherine until after Henry's death, when the Queen hastily married Thomas Seymour. HP G42-283LA Keyboard

By the time of his 4th marriage (to Anne of Cleves), the real Henry was middle-aged, obese and balding - not a svelte, still relatively young man portrayed on the show. HP G42-285LA Keyboard

The premiere of The Tudors on 1 April 2007, was the highest-rated Showtime series debut in three years.[3] On 23 March 2008, The New York Times called The Tudorsa "steamy period drama ... [that] critics could take or leave, but many viewers are eating up."[2]HP G42-286LA Keyboard

A 28 March 2008 review, also by the New York Times, reported that the series "fails to live up to the great long-form dramas cable television has produced" largely because "it radically reduces the era's thematic conflicts to simplistic struggles over personal and erotic power."[1]HP G42-287LA Keyboard

Overall, the show had generally good reviews with 64% favourable reviews for the first season, 68% for the second and 72% for the third seasons, according to the ratings site Metacritic. HP G42-288LA Keyboard


In the United States, season 1: The series premiere at 10 pm drew almost 870,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. Coupled with the 404,000 viewers that tuned in the hour immediately following, Showtime averaged 1.3 million viewers for the show's debut night, the most since Fat Actress in March 2005. HP G42-290LA Keyboard

The 10 pm bow outperformed the inaugural linear screenings for Weeds and Dexter, the network's leading comedy and drama, by 78% in August 2005 and 44% in October 2006, respectively. HP G42-301NR Keyboard

The series also proved its mettle opener in the digital realm, earning a combined 1 million views online and on-demand via cable affiliates and through Sho.com, and such partners as Yahoo, MSN, Netflix and IMDB. the numbers exclude contributions from AOL, DirecTV and Dish Network.[17] HP G42-303DX Keyboard

Season 2: Showtime's 3 June 2008 second-season climax of The Tudors ended with a ratings bang. The episode drew 852,000 viewers for its season two finale, 83% above the 465,000 viewers that tuned into the show's season-one finale, Showtime officials said. HP G42-320BR Keyboard

The 9 pm telecast is also the second-highest for the series, trailing only the 964,000 viewers for the show's 1 April 2007 debut. The season-two finale, along with an 11 pm replay, drew a combined 1 million viewers, 59% above the previous year's 668,000 combined audience for the finale (10 p.m. and 11 pm).[18] HP G42-321BR Keyboard

Awards and nominations

The Tudors was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Drama Series in 2007. Jonathan Rhys Meyers was also nominated for the Best Actor in a Television DramaGolden Globe for his role.[35] HP G42-328CA Keyboard

The series was nominated for eight Irish Film and Television Awards in 2008 and won seven, including Best Drama Series, acting awards for Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Lead Actor), Nick Dunning (Supporting Actor) and Maria Doyle Kennedy (Supporting Actress), HP G42-330BR Keyboard

and craft awards for Costume Design, Production Design and Hair/Makeup.[36] Brian Kirk was also nominated for Directing, but lost to Lenny Abrahamson of Prosperity. The series won the 2008 Emmy Award for Best Costume Design, and later six awards at the Irish Film and Television Awards in 2009.[citation needed] In 2010 it was nominated for seven Irish Film and Television Awards, winning one in the category Best Supporting Actress in Television (Sarah Bolger). HP G42-350BR Keyboard

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