Statesman and Saint by Jasper Ridley

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Author
Jasper Ridley
Publisher
Date of release
Pages
0
ISBN
9780670489053
Binding
Illustrations
Format
PDF, EPUB, MOBI, TXT, DOC
Rating
5
44

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Book review

Cardinal Wolseyand Sir Thomas More represent two opposite extremes, the two conflicting types of political leaders who through-out history have influenced the lives of their fellow-men. Today, Wolsey is usually regarded as an unscrupulous politician, and More as a saint. On 7 February, 1978, the five-hundredth anniversary of More's birth, the [London] Times leader-writer wrote: 'If the English people were to be set a test to justify their history and civilization by the example of one man, then it is Sir Thomas More whom they would perhaps choose.' After considering the rival claims of Churchill, Gladstone, Dr. Johnson, Shakespeare, Elizabeth I and King Alfred to be the greatest figure in English history, the leader-writer expressed the opinion that none of them was a great as More. If, in the twentieth century, even Churchill cannot compete with More, what change has Wolsey? But it is surely time to make a different assessment. Wolsey, for all his faults - and he had many- was a great statesman, a man of natural dignity with a generous temperament, who preserved a relatively tolerant regime until he fell from power and was succeeded by More. A careful examination of More reveals... that [his] love for his family is largely a myth; and that the saint was the worst kind of intolerant fanatic, an idealist gone astray, who began as a brilliant intellectual but developed first into a sycophantic courtier and then into a persecuting bigot, before he redeemed himself, at the eleventh hour, by a brave if muted stand for his principles which cost him his life. -From the Preface


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