Thomas More: A Very Brief History - John Guy
‘If the English people were to be set a test to justify their history and civilization by the example of one man, then it is Sir Thomas More whom they would perhaps choose.’ So commented The Times in 1978 on the 500th anniversary of More’s birth.
Twenty-two years later, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Thomas More the patron saint of politicians and people in public life, on the basis of his ‘constant fidelity to legitimate authority and . . . his intention to serve not power but the supreme ideal of justice’.
In this fresh assessment of More’s life and legacy, John Guy considers the factors that have given rise to such claims concerning More’s significance. Who was the real Thomas More? Was he the saintly, self-possessed hero of conscience of Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons or was he the fanatical, heretic-hunting torturer of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall? Which of these images of More has the greater historical veracity? And why does this man continue to fascinate, inspire and provoke us today?
John Guy is a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. He is recognised as one of Britain’s most exciting historians, having lectured extensively on Early Modern British History and Renaissance Political Thought in both Britain and the United States.
He has so far presented five documentaries for BBC 2 television, including The King’s Servant (on Thomas More) and the four-part Renaissance Secrets (series 2), and has contributed to Meet the Ancestors (BBC 2) and to Channel 4’s Time Team and Royal Deaths and Diseases. Wolsey’s Lost Palace of Hampton Court was a short-listed finalist for the 2002 Channel 4 television awards.
John Guy also appears regularly on BBC Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC World Service and BBC Scotland, and he currently writes or reviews for The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Economist, the Times Literary Supplement, BBC History Magazine and History Today.