Two Swords and Utopia

Heresy in the 16th Century

A heretic is anyone who openly goes against the teachings of the Christian Church.

Religions Practicing
Side by Side

More in The Two Swords: “…in the event that the Turks, Saracens, and pagans were to allow the Christian faith to be peacefully preached among them, and that we Christians were therefore to allow all their religions to be preached among us, and violence taken away by assent on both sides, I doubt not at all that the Christian faith would much more increase than decline.” (Swords 283)

More in Utopia: “Even those who do not agree with the Christian religion still do not frighten anyone away from it; they do not oppose anyone who has embraced it.” (Utopia 117)

Just War to Liberate the Oppressed

More in Two Swords: “In such a case, nature, reason, and God’s command bind, first, the ruler to safeguard his people at risk of himself, as God taught Moses to know himself bound to kill the Egyptian in defense of the Hebrew. And later he binds everyone to help and defend a good and innocent neighbor” (Swords 289)

More in Utopia: “…they are reluctant to go to war and do so only to defend their own territory, or to drive an invading enemy from the territory of their friends, or else, out of compassion and humanity, they use their forces to liberate a oppressed people from tyranny and servitude.” (Utopia 105)

Intellectual Exchange

More in Two Swords: “…ever since the ambition of the Christian rulers who desire each other’s dominion set them at war and deadly dissention… they have little cared what came of the corps of Christendom, God for…their inordinate appetites.” (Swords 288)

More in Utopia: “Some Romans and Egyptians were cast upon the shore and never left again. Notice how their diligence turned this single occasion to their advantage. There was no useful skill in the whole Roman empire which they did not learn.” (Utopia 49)

The Importance
of Peace and Punishment of Those who Disturb It

More in Two Swords: “And since that time [Saint Austine] there have been upon necessity -perceived by great outrages committed against the peace and quiet of the people…of Christendom- been devised from them many severe punishments, and in particular death by fire.” (Swords 285)

More in Utopia: “Anyone who quarrels insolently about religion is punished with exile or enslavement. Utopus laid down these rules not only for the sake of peace, which he saw was completely undermined by constant strife and implacable hatred, but also because he thought such a decree would benefit religion itself.” (Utopia 118)


Thomas More, “Two Swords: Heresy and Just War” in A Thomas
More Source Book. Edited by Gerard B. Wegemer and Stephen W. Smith. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2004, pp. 281-290.

More, Thomas. Utopia. Translated by Clarence H. Miller. New
Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.