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MonkeyNotes-Utopia by Sir Thomas More
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On the king's death, his son Henry VIII succeeded the crown. This king proved to be very different from his father. He squandered the money that his father had so carefully saved and very soon emptied the treasury. Henry's needs were great and he began taxing the people with increasing savagery. His chief minister, Cardinal Wolsey, soon lost all influence with him. Wolsey, a man of humble birth, had managed to become the most important man in England. Consequently, by the time Utopia was written (and more so later), all authority had become concentrated in the hands of a single minister. This meant that the checks that had been imposed on the king by the presence of other prelates and nobles in his council were removed. The king had become a despot and used extraordinary means to make money with little opposition. His actions were not those of a well-meaning king who looked after his constituents but one who had only his own military conquests in mind. Therefore, as a result, a revolt occurred against his attempts to levy taxes in 1525, which lead to a sharp decrease in military actions.


The rise of humanism, which was the revival of classical cultures and the rise of skeptical inquiry, lead to the development of new ideas about society and culture and a critique of social and religious institutions. More saw himself as one of these humanists who found much intellectual fodder in classical writers such as Plato, yet he also was devoted to the Catholic Church throughout his life. Therefore, while Utopia owes much of its ideas to Plato's The Republic, it also espouses a very strong Christian ethic.

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