Charles V’s ‘Encomium Mori’ as Reported By Ambassador Elyot
Keywords:Thomas More, Thomas Elyot, Charles V, the King’s Matter
William Roper is the author of the first and most influential biography of Sir Thomas More, his father-in-law, finished in 1557. As stated in this source, shortly after More’s execution for high treason at the Tower of London (1535), the Emperor Charles V met Thomas Elyot then serving as ambassador at the imperial court. The content of this meeting was later on disclosed by Elyot himself to some members of More’s closest circle, among them Roper himself, whose testimony has remained the ultimate source of the episode. As soon as Charles had come to know about More’s execution, he communicated the news to Elyot and shared with him his admiration for the ex-Chancellor. Several scholars, however, have questioned the reliability of Roper’s memory in the light of historical evidence for Elyot’s whereabouts at the time of More’s death. This paper revises the main stances in the discussion of this episode, and brings into consideration other issues that might cast some light, not only on the details of this story, but also on the relationship between these two Thomases (More and Elyot) and Charles, the most powerful ruler in Europe at the time.
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