Thursday, July 26, 2012

More and Frith

I wanted to give an in depth example from the life of Thomas More.

Shakespeare came after all this, but when he said "life is a stage, and we are actors upon it" - that would resonate with the people of England at this time.  More's life and death had this idea of display (nothing wrong with that, we are telling the story written by God, if you will).

What is surprising is the lack of introspection; the comparison of what is happening to the climax of the story - the death of Jesus.

John Frith was the student of William Tyndale.  He had fled England, but was convinced to return, as the king was showing Protestant (or "Lutheran") tendencies.

However, his return was too soon.  The king was looking to break from Rome, but was still looking to be seen as "Catholic".  Frith was captured, imprisoned in the tower, and executed.

What was More's role in all this (p 333)?
"One of More's informants, probably a member of the network which had flourished during his chancellorship, obtained a copy of one of these works [by Frith, on the "new faith"] and brought it to Chelsea [More's primary home]"
So, More had spies who would betray men.

More's reaction to reading Frith's work was (pardon the old English):
"his treatise 'sholde cost hym the beste bloude in hys body'"

Now, More had retired at this point, so his charges were not legally binding.  However, that is precisely what happened.  More's response:
"'I fere me sore that Cryst wyll kyndle a fyre of fagottees for hym, & make hym theirin swete the bloude out of hys body here, and strayte frome hense send hys soule for euer into the fyre of hell'"

It's remarkable that no one gave any pause in all this.  "Hey, here we are paying 30 pieces of silver to traitorous men to put to death those who challenge our traditions - doesn't this remind anyone of some other story?"

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