|Sir Thomas More is often seen as a victim of Henry VIII's monstrous
personality. As a lawyer of great ability, he had been at the centre
of Henry's government from 1523, when he became the speaker of Parliament.
As Lord Chancellor (from 1529), More was not convinced that Henry's
wish for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon was in the interests of
either the king or the realm, and used his position to oppose Henry's
wishes. More's largely silent protest meant that he could not be convicted
of overt treason, but he was eventually executed in 1534 for persistently
refusing to swear the oath
of allegiance. The Act of Attainder
used against him shows that, although Parliament was the highest court
of the land, it could be overawed by strong monarchs into endorsing
their particular wishes and desires.
Catalogue reference: C 65/143, m. 3, no. 4 (1534)