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Works of Sir Thomas More


Lady Fortune and her Wheel.
Boccaccio De Casibus Virorum Illustrium
MSS Hunter 371-372. vol. 1, f. 1r.



The words of Fortune to the people.


Mine high estate, power, and authority
        If ye ne know, ensearch and ye shall spy1
That riches, worship, wealth, and dignity
        Joy, rest, and peace, and all things finally
        That any pleasure or profit may come by
To man his comfort, aid, and sustenance,
Is all at my devise and ordinance.

Without my favour there is nothing won,
        Many a matter have I brought at last
To good conclude that fondly was begun,2
        And many a purpose, bounden sure and fast
        With wise provision, I have overcast.
Without good hap there may no wit suffice,3
Better 'tis to be fortunate than wise!

And therefore have there some men been ere this
        My deadly foes, and written many a book
To my dispraise.   And other cause there n'is4
        But for me list not friendly on them look.5
        Thus like the fox they fare, that once forsook
The pleasant grapes, and 'gan for to defy them
Because he lept and yet could not come by them.6

But let them write, their labour is in vain;
        For well ye wot, mirth, honour, and riches7
Much better is than penury and pain.
        The needy wretch that ling'reth in distress
        Without my help, is ever comfortless,
A very burden, odious and loath
To all the world, and eke to himself both.8

But he that by my favour may ascend
        To mighty pow'r and excellent degree,
A commonweal to govern and defend,
        O! in how bless'd condition standeth he,
        Himself in honour and felicity,
And over that, may farther and encrease
A region whole in joyful rest and peace.

Now in this point there is no more to say,
        Each man hath of himself the governance;
Let every wight then follow his own way.9
        And he that out of poverty and mischance
        List for to live, and will himself enhance
In wealth and riches, come-forth and wait on me;
And he that will be a beggar, let him be.


[AJ Notes:
1. If ye ne know, if you know not.
2. conclude, conclusion; fondly, foolishly.
3. good hap, good luck.
4. n'is, (ne is) = isn't.
5. list, want.
6. See Aesop's fable of the fox and the grapes.
7. wot, know.
8. eke, also.
9. wight, fellow; person.]



        Cayley, Arthur, the Younger. Memoirs of sir Thomas More. Vol I.
        London: Cadell and Davis, 1808. 49-50.




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Persons of Interest
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Pico della Mirandola
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Historical Events
Field of the Cloth of Gold, 1520
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Government
Oath of Supremacy
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Images of London:
London in the time of Henry VII. MS. Roy. 16 F. ii.
London, 1510, earliest view in print
Map of England from Saxton's Descriptio Angliae, 1579
Location Map of Elizabethan London
Plan of the Bankside, Southwark, in Shakespeare's time
Detail of Norden's Map of the Bankside, 1593
Bull and Bear Baiting Rings from the Agas Map (1569-1590, pub. 1631)
Sketch of the Swan Theatre, c. 1596
Westminster in the Seventeenth Century, by Hollar
Visscher's Panoramic View of London, 1616. COLOR



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