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TIME magazine named Pope Francis as Person of the Year. I agree in that he’s a humble man who is changing the image of the Catholic faith around the world with his message of compassion.

Which is a strange lead-in for A varied movement: Hans Holbein (the second-most popular post of this year). He’s not the subject of this post but Thomas More is. A commenter on A varied movement named Peter Lund said:

Remember that Thomas More also had people executed for not being the “right” kind of Christians. And he had also had total control of government. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

More, Erasmus, Holbein — all of them were great artists, though, even if More did soil the humanists with his actions.

I told him the post was about Hans Holbein the artist plying his trade and not on either side of the religious divide. In hindsight, I should have said Holbein was on the side where he received the most lucrative commissions.

Portrait of Sir Thomas More, Holbein the Younger (1527).

Portrait of Sir Thomas More, Holbein the Younger (1527).

Surprisingly, I’ve not read either of Thomas More’s books. According to BBC, he wrote “The History of Richard III” which established the king’s reputation as a tyrant. It has been described as the first masterpiece of English historiography.

The next year (1516) he published his most important work — “Utopia” is an account of an imaginary republic ruled by reason and intended to contrast with the strife-ridden reality of contemporary European politics. In effect, More invented the definition of “utopia.”

Which is a strange lead-in to More’s campaign against the Protestant Reformation. He became Henry VIII’s chancellor in 1529 and tortured and burned people at the stake. He supported the Catholic Church and saw the Reformation as heresy, a threat to the unity of both church and society.

I’m not bringing up the rest of the story. We already know Henry VIII beheaded Thomas More in 1535 — I just wanted to expand on Peter Lund’s comment. And I’ve already written enough about Hans Holbein and Henry VIII for one blog to endure.


NOTE:  Which is a strange lead-in back to TIME magazine’s Person of the Year. It’s nice to know the Vatican has returned to its compassionate and humble beginnings.