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Tudor Minute April 13, 1534: Thomas More was summoned to appear at Lambeth

Hey, this is Heather from the Renaissance English History Podcast, and this is your Tudor Minute for April 13.

Today in 1534 Thomas More was summoned to appear at Lambeth to swear to the Act of Succession. The Act Respecting the Oath to the Succession was passed by the Parliament of England in November 1534, and required all subjects to take an oath to uphold the Act of Succession passed that March. It was later given the formal short title of the Succession to the Crown Act 1534.

The Act required all those asked to take the oath to recognise Anne Boleyn as King Henry VIII’s lawful wife and their children legitimate heirs to the throne. Anyone refusing to take the oath was guilty of treason.

The Oath of Succession itself went further than the original Act in several ways. It demanded that persons swearing the oath renounce the power of any “foreign authority or potentate” – so that would include the Pope – and repudiate any oath previously made to such an authority. This did not go unnoticed by Sir Thomas More who claimed he had been sent to the Tower “for refusing of this oath not agreeable with the statute”. He thought that Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Audley “did of their own heads add more words unto it” and therefore they were unable “by their own law … to justify my imprisonment”.

Refusal to take the oath led to the arrest of More for treason in 1534. He refused to take the oath because it included the abjuration of the pope and claimed the marriage between King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon was annulled and it went against his Roman Catholic beliefs. More was beheaded in 1535.

That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com where there is an episode on Thomas More.

Thomas More episode