Thomas More: execution? It must be very cheerful
Sir Thomas More lived a very interesting and full of amazing events life: he was a junior sheriff of London, he was a member of the Privy Council, he was conferred knighthood upon for his particular services for “the King of England”, he wrote an immortal novel “Utopia” and many powerful manifestos for which he got a title “Faith’s defender”. But Thomas More left in hearts and minds of English people not only for his regards and knowledge. In many respects this esteem was based on very subtle English humour which in combination with restraint and unhurried behaviour created a very wonderful impression.
Sir Thomas More’s life didn’t disposed to jokes because the English throne at that time was occupied by Henry VIII himself who was known not so much by wise thoughts or resolute actions as his passion to marriages and very original method of divorce – owing to this fact he became a prototype of Bluebeard.
The relationship between Thomas More and Henry VIII was rather intense, but sense of humour helped the writer and future saint several times. Nevertheless not many witty remarks and jokes of the philosopher saved till our days and the majority of them are connected with the day of his execution which happened to the order of Henry VIII.
When Thomas More refused to give a new oath to the king which contradicted his views the conflict reached its apogee and the writer was put in prison and accused in treason. When he was brought to the Tower where the execution should be conducted More was jolly and surprised all present people by his optimism and coolness.
Tower’s workers demanded a payment for escort service from the arrived prisoner and Sir Thomas answered: “Oh, you know, when I go for my own execution, I always forget to bring money”. Then workers suggested him giving them his outerwear as a payment. Thomas More easily agreed and gave them a prisoner’s cap pleading that it was his most outerwear.
When the philosopher was brought closer to the scaffold where he should be executed by cutting the head off, More asked to help him to walk up the steep stairs.
“I only want to walk up”, - he said to the warder, - “I can come down – or, to be more exact, fall down – by myself”.
After this Thomas decided to give some valuable advice to his executioner attracted his attention on insufficient length of the neck – as a result of it the executioner could fumble at the first strike.
“Aim better in order not to cover yourself with shame” – Thomas More recommended. And when he was on his knees and put his short-neck head on the block he decided that his last words on this sinful world should be: “Executor, wait, I’ll take away the beard from the block. It didn’t betray the king for sure”.