A Man for All Seasons

by Robert Bolt

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Why was Thomas More executed in A Man for All Seasons?

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Thomas More is executed on a trumped-up charge of treason. As a devout Catholic, he is unable to sign up to the Act of Supremacy, an important piece of legislation that makes King Henry VIII head of the Church of England. Though unfailingly loyal to his king, Sir Thomas is unable to accept him as head of the Church, and it is this stubborn refusal to acknowledge the new political order that ultimately proves his undoing.

Henry realizes how important it is to have Sir Thomas on his side. He knows that if Sir Thomas falls into line then many other important people in the realm will too. Having Sir Thomas sign up to the Act of Supremacy would give Henry's church reforms a much-needed air of legitimacy. But despite the king's best efforts to persuade him of the rightness of his church policy Sir Thomas remains fiercely loyal to his principles, and it is this principled stand that will cost him his life.

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