More, School of

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The "school" must be distinguished not only from the older friends of Thomas more, the group Frederick Seebohm called the Oxford Reformers, which included linacre and colet, but also from the More "circle," which included such contemporaries as R. Pace and W. Lily, fellow humanists who shared More's ideals. Nearly all members of these last two groups, it must be remarked, were involved in education. The School of More is here taken to mean the group of discipuli children, wards, their tutors, and younger friendswho lived or gathered in More's household from about 1511 to 1534.

In a famous letter of 1519 to Ulrich von hutten, Erasmus described the household as Plato's Academy on a Christian footing. Members of the group were, first, More's children and their husbands or wives: John, married to Anne Cresacre, a ward; Margaret, married to William roper; Cecily, married to Giles Heron, a ward; and Elizabeth, married to William Dauncey. Then there were More's stepdaughter, Alice Middleton, and his foster-daughter, Margaret Gigs, who married the humanist and physician John Clement; perhaps Frances Staverton, More's niece, and some others. The group included also John heywood (who married a niece of More) and his sons Ellis and Jasper. An important member, John Harris, was More's secretary, and taught the children as well. Harris married Margaret Roper's maid, Dorothy Colly; their son-in-law, John Fowler, a recusant printer in Louvain, joined the group also (see recusants). The children's tutors must be counted: a Master Drew, William Gonell, a Master Nicholas (later the King's astronomer), Nicholas Kratzer, and Richard Hyrde. Finally, there were part-time and transient members, such as Thomas Lupset and Juan Luis Vives. All members of the school taught and were taught, not only Latin, rhetoric, and logic, but also Greek and more advanced subjects. The amusing references to the More household in Walter Smythe's The Twelve mery jests of the Widow Edith (published by Rastell in 1525) suggest that a great deal of humor, as well as mature scholarship and deep piety, characterized the group.

Individuals of the school advanced in Parliament, in the world of learning, and at court; but after 1535 the royal displeasure cast its shadow: Giles Heron was executed in 1540, and William Roper, John More, and John Heywood were imprisoned during the 1540s. As a group they were staunchly loyal to More's memory, and the Heywoods, Rastells, Clements, and Harrises all died in an exile necessitated by that loyalty.

Bibliography: n. harpsfield, The Life and Death of Sir Thomas Moore, ed. e. v. hitchcock (Early English Text Society 136; London 1932). t. stapleton, The Life and Illustrious Martyrdom of Sir Thomas More (Part III of "Tres Thomae," Printed at Douai, 1588 ), tr. p. e. hallett (London 1928). a. w. reed, Early Tudor Drama (London 1926). e. m. g. routh, Sir Thomas More and His Friends (London 1934). r. w. chambers, Thomas More (Westminster, MD 1935). thomas more, The History of King Richard III, ed. r. s. sylvester, v.2 of The Complete Works, ed. l. l. martz and r. s. sylvester (New Haven 1963) 2:xlviiixlix; The Correspondence of Sir Thomas More, ed. e. f. rogers (Princeton 1947). p. hogrefe, The Sir Thomas More Circle (Urbana 1959) 144146. r. j. schoeck, "Two Notes on Margaret Gigs Clement, Foster-Daughter of Sir Thomas More," Notes and Queries 194 (1949) 532533; "Anthony Bonvisi, the Heywoods and the Ropers," ibid. 197 (1952) 178179; "William Rastell and the Prothonotaries," ibid. 197 (1952) 398399.

[r. j. schoeck]

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