Aman for all Seasons Inthe second half of the fifteenth century, England appears as a country being infull recovery after a period of historical events such as “The 100 YearsWar” (1339-1453) or the War of the “Two Roses” (1455-1485). Regardingthe political control from this period, the highest position is occupied byHenry VII (1485-1509), who had a stabilizing role in society, using his crownto consolidate the kingdom, the period of his reign being one of relative peace.From a religious point of view, following the Great Schism of 1054, England hada Catholic religion, being under the leadership of the papal authority in Rome.For several centuries, the papal authority has imposed itself quite enough infront of England, but since the sixteenth century the Roman church courts havelost almost all authority in England.In1509, following the death of his second son and Elisabeth of York, Henry VIII,the entire peace atmosphere in England was destroyed, the religious factorbeing the one that will occupy a primordial place, and which will stand at thebottom of future conflicts. Thus, Henry VIII, a complex personality who wasborn in Greenwich on June 28, 1491, at the age of 17 andten months, on 21 April 1509 became King of England. In the same year he willmarry Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of the king of Spain, Ferdinand II ofAragon and his brother Arthur’s wife, Prince of Wales, since she remained awidow after his death.
Themovie A man for all Seasons presentsthe story of Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the Kingrejected the Roman Catholic Church to get a divorce and remarriage. Thus, thewhole film is centered on highlighting the relations between the politicalworld and the church at that time. Also, the personality of King Henry VIII isbeing pursued, more precisely his attitude towards the other importantrepresentatives of state who do not want to fulfill his wish.TheKing’s discontent to his marriage can be seen quite clearly by invoking a quotefrom Leviticus, Chapter 18, verse 16: “Thou shalt no uncover the nakednessof thy brother’s wife!” (00:37:52-00:37:55). Henry’s decision to divorce by his wife,Catherine, is a decisive one, based on two essential reasons: the lack of a boyto follow him to the throne and his unconditional love for Anne Boleyn. Inorder to get the divorce, in the film can be identified two stages in theactions of the king. Because in the first part of his reign,the king did not directly exercise his power, but left himself at the hands ofthe cardinal, first it can be seen that he used a series of pressures on thepope, indirectly exercised by Cardinal Wolsey, afterwards , one can notice thedirect action of the king by applying extreme measures.
Inthis case, the movie begins with the moment when Cardinal Wolsey writes aletter to Thomas More, who at that time was a member of the King’s HighCouncil, asking him to come to Hampton Court as soon as possible. The cardinalcalled Thomas More to him, because he was the only one who opposed him to theCouncil that day, and now he tried to persuade him to support him in gettingthe king’s divorce. However, Thomas More, being a just manwho respects the church very much and who he acts for the honor of his ownconscience, does not accept to support the king in his divorce despite thecardinal’s arguments to convince him. Among the most important arguments of thecardinal is mentioned that according to which the king needs a son, and hiswife is sterile as a brick, and in this case without an heir there could get toa change of dynasty that could cause the appearance to dynastic wars again, orto some bloody barons who to devastate the country from one chap to another.ThomasMore’s refusal to support him on Cardinal in the pressures on the pope ishighlighted quite clearly by statements such as: “When statesmen forsaketheir own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they leadtheir country on the shorter route to chaos” (00:14:34-00:14:41), “The churchhas its church property” (00:13:26)Fromnow on, in order for divorce to be accepted, all attention is directed toThomas More’s conviction to accept this. A first step in hisconviction is represents by Wolsey’s death and his appointment as LordChancellor in his place by the King through the Duke of Norfolk: “I amstraightly charged by the king himself, here openly to declare how much allEngland is beholden to his man.And now worthy he is to have the highest room inthe realm.
And how dearly the king’s grace doth love and trust him not only formuch good council, deliberate council, but for better council yet that which isprivy to the king’s person. This same Sir Thomas More, here made before you allto be Lord Chancellor of the Realm”(00:28:11-00:28:55). Despitethe hope that if he occupies an important position in the state, Thomas will bemore easily convinced; this, in fact, remains as firm in his decision, factwhich will enrage the King and he willresort to series of direct actions in his favor.
The King needed Thomas becausehe was an honest, very faithful man and especially because he always showed hisrespect for the people and the king. Respect for the King is illustrated inthis quite clear film when, alongside his wife, Lady Alice and his daughter,Margaret, say the evening prayer, saying the words: “Bless our lord, theKing!”(00:07:23). Also the faith in God is highlighted quite well when herefuses to his daughter, Margaret, marrying Will Roper because he was aheretic, a Lutheran passionate.Becausethe king has not managed to resolve anything by pressure, he acts on his own toobtain his divorce by applying extreme measures.Afirst step is the parliamentary approval of the Act of Supremacy , whereby theKing became the Supreme Leader of the Church of England, a statute which issubmitted to the Lords for acceptance: “His Majesty acknowledges your humbleadmission of many grievous errors for which he accepts the manumission of £100,000 in token. Mindful for the well-being of the realm and the quietness ofhis subjects, His Majesty requires that you do now straightly renounce yourpretended allegiance to the See of the Rome and admit the statute passedthrough parliament acknowledging the king’s good title Supreme Head of theChurch in England”(00:55:38-00:56:11). By this title, the King opposes the RomePope very clearly, despite the fact that in June 1521, through his book”Defense of the 7 Prayers,” which was against Martin Luther, hereceived from the Pope the title of “Defender of the Faith”. So,through this title, the schism between Rome and the Church of England istriggered, which has led Thomas More to resign from his position that heoccupied in the state: “This isn’t reformation.
This is war against the Church.Our King has declared war on the Pope, because the Pope will not declare thatour Queen is not his wife”(00:58:13-00:58:20), the Pope ” is also thedescendant of the St. Peter, our only link with Christ”(00:58:59). Thesecond measure of the king is the endorsement of the Act of Succession throughwhich it was to be established a oath related to marriage ,more exactly whichit cancels the first marriage and which it deprives the children from thismarriage to their rights to the crown. In this case, everyoneswore to observe this act, except Thomas More, who categorically refuses totake this oath: “God made the angels to show him splendor.
As he made animalsfor innocence and plants for their simplicity. But man, he made to serve himwittily, in the tangle of his mind”(01:24:57-01:25:10). Theprice of this denial is first paid by closing him in a tower and then byexecuting of this. Because he remained silent all the time, he avoidedexpressing his views, the final accusations that are brought to him, it refersto the fact that he would have denied and he would deprived the King Henry ofthe title of Supreme Chief of the Church in England. Thomas More’s silence isinterpreted on the principle that silence means approval.
Thus,in the case of the relations between the political world and the church fromthat time, one can see an absolute control of the state in front of the church.The church reached to be deprived of any right of expression, its opinion beingimposed, namely what the king said, the church was needed to accept. An examplein this case may be the moment when Henry announces the Lords of the law thatgave him the title of Supreme Leader of the Church in England.
Onthe other hand,at a more in-depth analysis of this film, it can reach aparallel look between the personality of King Henry VIII and of the lawyerThomas More.Betweenthe two can identify some similar elements, among which the intelligence of thetwo. An example that can highlight the king’s intellectual abilities is hisdiscussion with Margaret, the daughter of Thomas More when he speaks to her inanother language to see how she is learned. In the same order,Thomas More turns out to be a learned man with superior intellectual abilities,as evidenced by the answers he gives in various situations, such as in thediscussion with Cardinal Wolsey, or when he presents his arguments before theseventh commission investigating his case. On the other hand, we could say thatthe two have similar characters regarding their firm decisions. Thus, Henrytries different ways to get Catherine’s wife’s divorce, but he will not bedefeated until he manage to obtain this thing and to marry Anne Boleyn, andThomas More, being a perfect believer, does not give up until the last momentwhen he pays with the price of his life, to respect the church, and does notchange his opinion irrespective of the situation and the consequences of whichhe is conscious.Asfor the differences between the two, the most important is represented by thedenial of the Bishop of Rome.
As far as Henry is concerned, atfirst it can be noticed that he was a believer, he was against Luther’s reform,fact evidenced though the book, “Defense of the Seven Prayers,” whichwill bring him the title of the Defender of the Faith, but then he gets upagainst the church just to obtain his divorce. Instead, ThomasMore’s faith is an incontestable one. From the beginning to the moment of hisexecution, Thomas More remained devoted to the Church, preferring to die withconsciousness rather than losing faith. This decision, to keep our onlyconnection to Christ, had consequences for his family, who reached intopoverty, but despite this, the close ones there were alongside with him.Thetitle of the film can be interpreted as a direct reference to the actions ofKing Henry, which had an effect for eternity, namely, this breaking by theobedience of the papacy from Rome, led to a decentralization of the state, thatit has hardly been rebuilt.So,the background of this film represents a part from England’s history, moreprecisely it is about the period of time when England was under the leadershipof King Henry VIII. At this period of time, the most important moment isrepresented by the schism between the Church of England and Rome, the reasonbeing the king’s divorce of his wife, Catherine of Aragon and the acceptance ofthe new marriage with Anne Boleyn.
Tofulfill his desire, the king raises the state against the church, which can beremarked in the film from the very beginning though Cardinal Wolsey’s reply:”There is much in the Church which needs reformation”(00:14:14), “but necessaryto get us an heir”(00:14:21). In this case, the King being a supreme authority,the whole people obeys and they accepts this divorce, except for lawyer ThomasMore, who does not want to give up his own consciousness in order to achievethe wishes of the state. This wise decision of Thomas More, who accepts with aclear conscious the sentence of execution, there is in contrast with thepersonality of the other representatives of the state and of the church. Boththe state and the church are corrupted by the influence of the king, all who atfirst had faith in God and the church, finally they sustaining the king andagreeing with the denial of the Pope from Rome.Therupture of the Church of England of the Church of Rome led to the creation of atotal chaos in England, and all those who turned against the church had an endto life quite cruel. Thus, Cardinal Cromwell, who condemnedThomas More to death by bringing unfounded evidence, he was beheaded to fiveyears after More’s death, for high treason.
He had the same punishment asThomas More. The Duke of Norfolk, Count Marshal of England, whoat first seemed to be Thomas’s boyfriend, and then because he had joinedCromwell and he participated in More’s punishment,he should need to have an endof life like his facts,but before him the king paid, he died of syphilis thenight before. As for church representatives, the archbishop, who accepted theKing’s title as the Supreme Leader of the Church in England, who it allowedhim to obtain the divorce, was burned atthe stake.
Thomas More, even though he always was on the sideof the church and in the proper service of the king, after his execution, hishead remained stuck in the Traitors’ Gate for a month, after which, only then,it could be taken by Margaret’s daughter.