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revival of Ancient Greek and Roman works led people to start learning and thinking for themselves. These works brought up concepts and theories about science, religion, and life itself, that differed from what people were told by the church, and therefore people began questioning, learning, and deciding what they believed in. 8
Near the beginning of the Renaissance, right before the start of the Elizabethan Age, Thomas More worked for King Henry VIII. He was a prominent Humanist alongside other contemporary Humanists like Desiderius Erasmus and Martin Luther. More is most famous for his novel, Utopia, which explores the concept of a perfect society based on the fundamentals of Humanism. The novel discusses a society made for the betterment and progress of man. "No man is to be esteemed our enemy that has never injured us; and that the partnership of the human nature is instead of a league. And that kindness and good-nature unite men more effectually and with greater strength than any agreements whatsoever; since thereby the engagements of men's hearts become stronger than the bond and obligation of words"(More 64). Within this novel, More created the idyllic civilization based on human compassion and human need. Utopia is an excellent example of writing influenced by the Renaissance, because humanism was such a large aspect of it. It defined moral codes and societal values. “What makes the work even more typical of Renaissance humanism is its concentration on the application of classical ideas to contemporary society and particularly, politics. Utopia is in many respects a hybrid of humanist thought” (“Thomas More Utopia-Humanism in the Renaissance”). In some political ways More’s work carried the ideals of the Renaissance. In some aspects the Utopian society he described was complete control in government and equality within society, everyone working for the same goal. It resembled Socialist concepts in that way, and for the goal of peace, encouraged complete government control, whereas the Renaissance brought along many advancements in governmental practice, some of which are still seen today. It was thought of as containing the essence of modern government. In this sense, More differed from Renaissance thought but in other aspects More did encapsulate Renaissance ideals in concerns to politics. He described the perfect society as one that gave power to each 9
individual house (Serjeantson). “But Utopia is not only democratic in nature. It also involves elements of government by a few people (the Tranibors) and by a single person (the governor). According to the variant on the neoclassical analysis of political structure that was so widespread in the middle ages and renaissance, Utopia is therefore clearly an instance of a magnificently ‘well-mixed’ constitution” (Serjeantson).