6 July 1535 – Sir Thomas More

Sir Thomas MoreSaint (or Sir, depending on who you ask) Thomas More was a writer, lawyer and politician who became a close personal advisor to Henry VIII.

He had several high-profile jobs during his varied career including Speaker of the House of Commons and Lord Chancellor. He’s also well known for publishing the novel ‘Utopia’ in 1516.

His run-ins with the king began back in 1530 when he refused to sign a letter asking the Pope to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. He then twice tried to resign his post, firstly because he was forced to swear an oath proclaiming the king head of the Church of England and secondly on the grounds of failing health.

More snubs

The final straw came when he refused to attend Anne Boleyn’s coronation, which whether through loyalty to the previous queen, or because he was just too busy, was seen as a snub against Henry’s new bride.

However, the clearly bogus charges against him were dropped and he was summoned to swear allegiance to the First Succession Act. This would have effectively removed Catherine’s daughter Mary from the line of the succession, leaving the way free for Anne Boleyn’s daughter Princess Elizabeth to take the throne.

When he refused to do this he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, tried for treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Henry commuted this to beheading and he was executed on Tower Hill, aged 57.

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