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Thursday, January 01, 2015

Thomas More, good humor and burning people at the stake

Reading today that the pope prays to Thomas More ..... Pope Francis has revealed that he prays to the English martyr St Thomas More every day. In his annual end of year address to Vatican officials the Pope said that there is a prayer to the saint for good humour which he prays daily, saying that a healthy dose of humour in our daily lives is very beneficial.

I remember a bit about Thomas More - I read his Utopia in college and saw the old movie about him on tv once - but when I think of him, I recall instead his sending of Protestants to the stake to be burned. He was responsible as Chancellor for banning Protestant books and English translations of the New Testament, and six men were burned for heresy too during his chancellorship: Thomas Hitton, Thomas Bilney, Richard Bayfield, John Tewkesbery, Thomas Dusgate, and James Bainham. Here's a bit about this from History Today ...

More's role in events leading up to several burnings for heresy. In close co-operation with Stokesley, More arrested George Constantine for heresy in 1531. Constantine was a dealer in Protestant books, who gave away much information about his fellow reformers before escaping in early December. More had had him imprisoned in the stocks at his house in Chelsea, which he kept in his porter's lodge. But Constantine broke the frame, scaled More's garden wall and fled to Antwerp. Sir Thomas joked in his Apology that he must have fed the heretic properly for him to achieve this feat of strength. Yet More's humour was sadly inappropriate. It was on information gleaned from Constantine that Richard Bayfield, a Benedictine monk and book pedlar, was seized, interrogated by Stokesley and burned at Smithfield. Bayfield had been converted to Lutheranism by Robert Barnes, and when caught had in his possession books by Luther and Zwingli. Being a relapsed heretic, More described him in his Confutation as 'a dog returning to his vomit'. Next Sir Thomas caught a leather-seller named John Tewkesbury, who was also held at Chelsea until tried by Stokesley. On sentence, he was handed back to the secular arm and burned on December 20th, 1531. James Bainham, a Middle Temple lawyer, was then delated to More. Examined by Stokesley at More's house, he was found to own books by Tyndale, Frith and Joy. At first Bainham abjured and performed his penance, but later reaffirmed his Protestant faith. He was tried and burned at the stake in April, 1532. More's apologists cannot thus deny that Sir Thomas was personally involved in detecting three out of the six cases of heresy which resulted in burnings during his chancellorship. Neither was he inactive in two of the remaining cases. He railed in the Confutation at Sir Thomas Hitton, burned at Maidstone in 1530, as 'the devil's stinking martyr' who 'hath taken his wretched soul with him straight from the short fire to the fire everlasting'. He also launched a most irregular Star Chamber investigation into the question of Thomas Bilney's supposed recantation prior to his being burned in the Lollards' Pit in Norwich in August, 1531, using his powers as Lord Chancellor inquisitorially and in a style contrary to the Star Chamber's accepted procedure.

Yuck :(


Blogger Victor said...

Hey Crystal, I left a comment here and it is no longer seen... I honestly saw it being posted... it's not like you to delete but then again this is a New Year and maybe we should not blame the hackers for everything...

If you did not delete it, I can try paraphasing it again...

God Bless

7:57 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Sorry Victor. I'll go look for the comment in the spam place and see if I can get it back.

10:50 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


I looked but I couldn't find another comment from you for this post. Can you do it over?

10:55 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Oh, maybe you mean your comment that was to my post about pickle sandwiches?

10:57 PM  
Blogger Victor said...

Sorry, I must have missed the post about pickle sandwiches?...

Actually, I would have no problem paraphasing what I wrote but as I do believe in Angels as strongly as you believe in your SF movies, i think that I will just past on it.

Who knows, the same think had happened on an engineers site and I had posted in the wrong place but I really thank you for your kindness.

God Bles

10:39 AM  
Blogger crystal said...


12:13 PM  

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