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MonkeyNotes-Utopia by Sir Thomas More
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Now More moves to another tact in convincing his audience to sympathize with Hythloday's argument. He uses quotes from Plato who said that kings should be philosophers. Plato maintained that the best kings were those who read philosophy, but More gives it a turn by asking what the world is coming to if philosophers do not give advice to kings.

Hythloday laughs at the idea and shows how far philosophy is from kings. Showing various examples, he effectively proves that kings will not listen to their advisers. Even the sanest and most reasonable advice will not be taken if it goes against the king's inclination. Kings are very keen to increase their territory by fair or foul means. If a man counsels the king to stop his warlike activities, his advice will not be heeded. He would be laughed out of court.

More's concept of an ideal king is further revealed in the section. A king should not be greedy. He should rule his own kingdom wisely and well and not covet the kingdom of others. A king should not go to war for the sake of expanding his territory as war leads to enormous hardships and are not noble or chivalrous. But no king will listen to all this. So More invents the people of Nolandia who forbid their king to conquer new lands. They do so because they feel that the king would not rule over them well. Once more an invented land and people prove his point. More is far in advance of his times in condemning war. War brings only unhappiness and misery everywhere.


One of the main effects of war is that huge amounts of money are spent. To rebuild his treasury a king often resorts to unfair taxing of the population. A king who does so is failing in his duty. But, unfortunately, he will have many advisers who will show him how to do it. More, through Hythloday, condemns not only the kings but also the councilors. It is the duty of these men to lead the king in the path of virtue and uprightness, but they do not. Instead they use their cleverness to teach the king how to circumvent the law. They invent various means of making money and show the king how to make it look legal. The councilors fail in their normal duty to advice the king. They make him a bad king.

Here according to More, the whole purpose of having councilors is defeated. More is very clear about how a king should behave. In a few brief pithy sentences he describes the ideal regal behavior. A king should lead a good life, be humble, love his people and not harm anyone. He should see that there is no room for vices and wickedness. He should not be too rich because it will make him proud. Again, with an invented people, More shows how a rich country is better than a poor one. A king ruling over a rich population is better than one ruling over a poor population.

More is revealing the contemporary political policies and strategies of his day. They are what one would call, "Machiavellian," coined after Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince, a handbook of successful and unscrupulous methods to acquire properties, break treaties, and suppress any dissension. More is asking for a more humane and just system to be employed in the courts rather than the tyrannical and arbitrary methods that are often used. More is also pointing to the "divine rights of kings" as being no longer valid; instead, it is up to the king to obtain the approval of his people. This reverse in how the monarchy should be ruled is a radical idea and one that would not take hold until the 18th century when leading thinkers would contribute to the overthrow of many monarchies throughout Europe.

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