On April 12, 1534 Thomas More was asked to sign the Oath of Supremacy. Five days later, he was arrested and taken to the Tower where he spent the remainder of his days. So what was he doing during those five days? Was he taking the opportunity to persecute a few more heretics? Filling out the lengthy application for sainthood? Was he indulging in some well-deserved self-flagellation? No, no, and no. The truth is… he had a bonfire party.
You see, Thomas More had a lot of things to hide. The ending to his “The History of King Richard III”, the whereabouts of at least one of the Princes in the Tower, and the directions to Utopia, just to name a few. Thomas More had even figured out how to effect world peace, build a better mousetrap, and time travel.
More knew that the villain Henry VIII would see to it that he did not survive. But he would have his revenge on Henry and on the world, which he deemed sinful and full of vice. So he strolled out into his courtyard and he built a pyre. He threw in the last chapters of Richard III, his decoder ring for his family portrait, and the iPhone he acquired on a trip to the 21st century. He stood merrily by, toasting marshmallows and roasting sausages, as the answers to so many questions went up in smoke.
More languished in the Tower stubbornly refusing to sign the oath. His trial might have come much sooner, were it not for Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell had dined with More at Chelsea and had heartily enjoyed a wonderful pastry during the meal. For weeks, he browbeat More and history would have us believe that the Oath was his primary objective. In truth, it was the recipe for the marvelous dessert that Cromwell craved. Unfortunately, More had burned his cookbook along with the rest of the mysteries and refused to divulge the secret to the tasty tart.
Almost five hundred years later, we still wonder what More meant by his History of Richard III and argue its relevance. Periodically, someone will point out a hidden message in the More family portrait and keyboards are ferociously pounded as historians great and small discuss the meaning of it all. Thomas More took to his grave the answers to some of the most puzzling questions in history. But his stinginess in withholding the instructions to delicious pastry was just not a very saintlike thing to do.
Jeff “the wiz” Berlin
The History of King Richard III
Thomas More The Saint and the Society
The Keebler Elves
Having sworn off strip clubs and agreeing to cut back on my consumption of scotch, I am happy to report that my wife seems less disgruntled than has previously been the case. I am not long to linger in domestic bliss, however. My next super secret spy mission is taking me to Phuket, Thailand, and then perhaps on to Cairo. There have been reported disturbances in these places, in regards to reggae music and national and historical safety.