Wednesday, May 16, 2018

More Resigns, May 16, 1532

After the Convocation of Bishops offered their Submission of the Clergy to Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More resigned as Lord Chancellor on May 16, 1532, turning in the Great Seal. Sir Thomas Audley, who had succeeded him as Speaker of the House, was soon named Chancellor. On July 1, 1535, Audley would preside over More's trial.

Less than a month after his resignation, More wrote a letter to Erasmus, explaining why he had resigned:

The thing which I have wished for from a boy, dear Desiderius, which I rejoice in your having ever enjoyed, and myself occasionally,—namely, that being free from public business, I might have some time to devote to God and myself,—that, by the grace of a great and good God, and by the favour of an indulgent prince, I have at last obtained.

I have not, however, obtained it as I wished. For I wished to reach that last stage of my life in a state, which, though suitable to my age, might yet enable me to enjoy my remaining years healthy and unbroken, free from disease and pain. But it remaineth in the hand of God, whether this wish, perhaps unreasonable, shall be accomplished. Meantime a disorder of I know not what nature hath attacked my breast, by which I suffer less in present pain than in fear of the consequence. For when it had plagued me without abatement some months, the physicians whom I consulted gave their opinion, that the long continuance of it was dangerous, and the speedy cure impossible; but that it must be cured by the gradual alterative effects of time, proper diet and medicine. Neither could they fix the period of my recovery, or ensure me a complete cure at last.

Considering this, I saw that I must either lay down my office, or discharge my duty in it incompletely. And since I could not discharge that duty without the hazard of my life, and by so doing should lose both life and office, I determined to lose one of them rather than both. Wherefore, that I might consult the public good as well as my own welfare, I entreated of the kindness of my good and great prince, that from the high office with which (as you know) he honoured me by his incredible favour, far above my pretensions, above my hopes, above my wishes, he should now release me, sinking as I was under the weight of it.

More told Erasmus to ignore reports that he had left his office unwilling. He looked forward to studying, writing, and praying without having to steal hours from sleep. More continued to write apologetic works, according to this list of works from the Center For Thomas More Studies:

Dec., 1532; publ. Dec., 1533 “Letter against Frith”
Spring 1533 Confutation of Tyndale IV-VIII 
April 1533 The Apology of Sir Thomas More 
October 1533 The Debellation of Salem and Bizance
December 1533 The Answer to a Poisoned Book

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