Thomas More's Trial by Jury

September 2011
260 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS015000, REL108020, LAW060000

Thomas More's Trial by Jury

A Procedural and Legal Review with a Collection of Documents

Edited by Henry Ansgar Kelly, Louis W. Karlin, Gerard B. Wegemer

This book challenges the recently established consensus that the trial was a carefully prepared and executed judicial process in which the judges were amenable to reasonable arguments.
Thomas More's treason trial in 1535 is one of history's most famous court cases, yet never before have all the major documents been collected, translated, and analyzed by a team of legal and Tudor scholars. This edition serves as an important sourcebook and concludes with a 'docudrama' reconstructing the course of the trial based on these documents.
Legal experts H. A. Kelly and R. H. Helmholz take different approaches to the legalities of this trial, and four experienced judges [including Justice of the Queen's Bench Sir Michael Tugendhat] discuss the trial with some disagreements - notably on the meaning and requirement of 'malice' called for in the Parliamentary Act of Supremacy. More's own accounts of his interrogations in prison are analyzed, and the trial's procedures are compared to and contrasted with 16th-century concepts of natural law and also modern judicial practices and principles.
The book is a 'must read' not only for students of law and Tudor history but also for all concerned with justice and due process. As a whole, the book challenges Duncan Derrett's conclusions that the trial was conducted in accord with contemporary legal norms and that More was convicted only on the single charge of denying Parliament the power to declare Henry VIII Supreme Head of the English Church [testified to by Richard Rich] - a position that has been uniformly accepted by historians since 1964.

HENRY ANSGAR KELLY is past Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, UCLA.
LOUIS W. KARLIN is an attorney with the California Court of Appeal and Fellow of the Center for Thomas More Studies, University of Dallas.
GERARD B. WEGEMER is Director of the Center for Thomas More Studies.

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Table of Contents

A Procedural Review of Thomas More's Trial - Henry Ansgar Kelly
Natural Law and the Trial of Thomas More - R.H. Helmholz
A Guide to Thomas More's Trial for Modern Lawyers - Louis W. Karlin and David R. Oakley
Thomas More's Three Prison Letters Reporting on His Interrogations - Elizabeth McCutcheon
Judicial Commentary on Thomas More's Trial: Preliminary Comment and Round Table - Sidney Fitzwater and Edith Hollan Jones and Jennie D. Latta and Michael Tugendhat
Thomas More's Trial: Docudrama


A valuable reference tool-all the more so as it includes twenty major documents, many otherwise not easily available and all translated into English, and a comprehensive bibliography.. [E]ssential reading for anyone interested in Thomas More's trial about which much remains controversial. CERCLES

[A] clever and innovative volume. ... The essays are meticulously researched and legal jargon never gets in the way of historical understanding. Anyone interested in the particulars of one of the most renowned trials in history will find this book indispensable. ANNUAL BULLETIN OF HISTORICAL LITERATURE

This is an intriguing and often insightful study. [It] is an important contribution to Morean studies for both scholars and students. SIXTEENTH CENTURY JOURNAL

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