Courage Boys features stories to inspire and leave you feeling hopeful. Making a difference is not only possible, but something we’re all capable of accomplishing. These are the stories of ordinary people making the decision to be extraordinary with bravery, resilience and principle. This is Courage Boys.
No Means No
Even before God's finger had finished scratching the seventh commandment on the tablets at Sinai, it was a death sentence for Thomas. Not that Thomas had a problem with adultery. No, he was loyal to his wife Jane and then to Alice when Jane died. Loyal with his whole soul. But it was the company that he kept that would eventually put his head on the chopping block. You see, Thomas was brilliant, respected for his integrity. So naturally, or unnaturally as the times would have it, he found favor with the king.
Thomas became a personal adviser and secretary to King Henry VIII. King Henry VIII wanted a son, a man to inherit the crown upon his death. And the king was married to Katherine, and he had given up hope that she could produce for him that son.
So the powerful king petitioned the pope for an annulment of the marriage. The pope said no. He petitioned again. And again. The pope said no.
Now, Thomas was committed to his faith and the pope. But as the king's personal adviser, he was also committed to the king. This made for an uncomfortable situation, especially when the king decided to break away from the Catholic Church and proclaim himself leader of God's Church in all of England.
Thomas asked the king to allow him to resign. The king now said no. But finally out of respect for his friend, relented.
The king sought approval from the people to start his own church and many just gave it. They all signed an oath to support Henry VIII as the new head of the Church of England. To sign the oath was to live, but others did not sign. The king had them put to death, all except for his former adviser, Thomas.
By the time Thomas left his post as the king's adviser, the king had surrounded himself with "yes" men, who would sanction all of his whims and stop at nothing to increase his power. These men knew that as long as Thomas did not endorse the king as the leader of the Church of England, there would be those that would follow him. They convinced the king to force Thomas' signature. But Thomas would not. He would not lend out his credibility. He would not lend out his name, not even for the king of England.
When Thomas didn't show up at the king's second wedding, he was arrested. But even in jail, in a dank cell, living with rats and filth, bearded and dirty, Thomas would not sign.
Thomas' dear children pled with him, but he didn't sign. He understood something that they did not yet, that even when threatened by the executioner's axe, he would not sign. And his death date was set.
On the day of his execution, he walked calmly to the chopping block, even joking with the executioner. "Please don't harm my beard," he said, "it did nothing wrong."
Thomas may have made some harsh decisions in his life, but he owned them. For better or for worse, he did his entire life what he thought was right.
At peace with his life, he was at peace with his death. And Thomas Moore was beheaded. But courage, boys. The man died with integrity. And with integrity, a man outlives his body.