A Man for All Seasons (1966 film)

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A Man for All Seasons is a 1966 film about the life of Sir Thomas More, and his refusal to bend to the will of King Henry VIII.

Directed by Fred Zinnemann. The screenplay was written by Robert Bolt, adapted from his play.

Sir Thomas More

  • I am commanded by the king to be brief, and since I am the king's obedient subject, brief I will be. I die His Majesty's good servant, but God's first.
  • [About his decision to not give away his daughter Meg to William Roper] See here Will. Two years ago you were a loyal Churchman. Now you have fallen in with the Lutherans on account of being persuaded by their logic. I can only hope that when your head stops spinning it is affixed as God intended.
  • It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world ... but for Wales?
  • Well, as a spaniel is to water so is a man to his own self. I will not give in because I oppose it—I do- not my pride, not my spleen, nor any of my appetites, but I do– I!
  • When statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their own public duties they lead their country by a short route to chaos.
  • What is an oath then but words we say to God?
  • Since the Court has determined to condemn me, God knoweth how, I will now discharge my mind concerning the indictment and the King's title. The indictment is grounded in an act of Parliament which is directly repugnant to the law of God, and his Holy Church, the Supreme Government of which no temporal person may by any law presume to take upon him. This was granted by the mouth of our Saviour, Christ himself, to Saint Peter and the Bishops of Rome whilst He lived and was personally present here on earth. It is, therefore, insufficient in law to charge any Christian to obey it. And more to this, the immunity of the Church is promised both in Magna Carta and in the king's own coronation oath. — [Cromwell: Now we plainly see you are malicious!] — Not so. I am the king's true subject, and I pray for him and all the realm. I do none harm. I say none harm. I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, then in good faith, I long not to live. Nevertheless, it is not for the Supremacy that you have sought my blood, but because I would not bend to the marriage!!


  • I know a man who wants to change his woman.
  • If the King destroys a man, that's proof to the King that it must have been a bad man.

King Henry VIII

  • I have no wife! Catherine is not my Queen! No priest can make her so!


  • [last lines of film] Thomas More's head stood on Traitor's Gate for a month until his daughter Meg claimed it in order to give her father a proper funeral. Thomas Cromwell was beheaded five years after More was. Archbishop Cranmer was burned at the stake. The Duke of Norfolk was slated for execution but the King died of syphilis the night before the order was scheduled to be signed. Richard Rich became Lord Chancellor of England and died in his bed.


Sir Thomas More: You threaten like a dockside bully.
Thomas Cromwell: How should I threaten?
More: Like a minister of state, with justice.
Cromwell: Oh, justice is what you're threatened with.
More: Then I am not threatened.

Alice More: Arrest him!
More: Why, what has he done?
Margaret More: He's bad!
More: There is no law against that.
Will Roper: There is! God's law!
More: Then God can arrest him.
Alice: While you talk, he's gone!
More: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast– man's laws, not God's– and if you cut them down—and you're just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety's sake.

Alice: What's this? You crossed him.
More: Somewhat.
Alice: Why?
More: I couldn't find the other way.
Alice: You're too nice altogether, Thomas!
More: Woman, mind your house!
Alice: I am minding my house!

Cromwell: Yet how can this be? Because this silence betokened, nay, this silence was, not silence at all, but most eloquent denial!
More: Not so. Not so, Master Secretary. The maxim is "Qui tacet consentire"; the maxim of the law is "Silence gives consent". If, therefore, you wish to construe what my silence betokened, you must construe that I consented, not that I denied.
Cromwell: Is that in fact what the world construes from it? Do you pretend that is what you wish the world to construe from it?
More: The world must construe according to its wits; this court must construe according to the law.

The Duke of Norfolk: Oh confound all this. I'm not a scholar, I don't know whether the marriage was lawful or not but– dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can't you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!
More: And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?

More: Why not be a teacher? You'd be a fine teacher, perhaps a great one.
Richard Rich: If I was, who would know it?
More: You, your pupils, your friends, God. Not a bad public, that.

King Henry VIII: Oh, Thomas, Thomas, Thomas! Does a man need a Pope to tell him where he's sinned? It was a sin. God's punished me. I have no son. Son after son she's borne me– all dead at birth or dead within the month. Never saw the hand of God so clear in anything. It's my bounden duty to put away the Queen and all the popes back to Peter shall not come between me and my duty! How is it that you cannot see? Everyone else does.
More: Then why does your Grace need my poor support?
King: Because you're honest... and what is more to the purpose, you're known to be honest. There are those like Norfolk who follow me because I wear the crown, those like Master Cromwell who follow me because they are jackals with sharp teeth and I'm their tiger, there's a mass that follows me because it follows anything that moves. And then there's you.
More: I am sick to think how much I must displease your Grace.
King: No, Thomas, I respect your sincerity. But respect—man, that's water in the desert.