Sir Thomas More – the brilliant nobleman, lawyer, humanist, and author of such works as Utopia – was a long-time friend and favorite of Henry VIII, ascending to the position of Lord Chancellor in 1529. Yet he was also a staunch Catholic, and when Henry broke with the Church in 1531, after the Pope had refused to grant Henry a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, More resigned the Chancellorship. In 1534, Parliament passed a bill requiring all subjects to take an oath acknowledging the supremacy of England’s king over all foreign sovereigns – including the Pope. More refused, was imprisoned, and finally was executed in 1535.
Bolt’s classic play is a brilliant dramatization of this historic confrontation, but first and foremost, it is a compelling portrait of a courageous man who died for his convictions.