De tristitia tedio pavore et oratione Christi ante captionem eius: the last work by St. Thomas More

Summary: I. Biographical Introduction and some of the writings of St. Thomas
More. II. The autograph manuscript of the De tristitia tedio pavore et oratione
Christi ante captionem eius. III. Composition. IV. The background of More’s last
work. 1. Context of More’s writings within his own life, vocation, and sources
available to him at the time. 2. The continental context. 3. Erasmus’s Disputatiuncula
de taedio, pavore, tristicia Iesu. V. De tristitia tedio pavore et oratione Christi
ante captionem eius immediate sources, title, content and commentary. 1. The
title of the book. 2. Content and commentary.

This study is an “analytic” introduction to De tristitia tedio pavore et oratione
christi ante captionem eius
, the last work of St. Thomas More, studying the
autograph manuscript folio by folio. The discovery of the manuscript in 1963
highlighted the need to clarify the text and title of the translation and of the Latin
versions of that work known until then. From then on that work of More has been
called De Trititia Christi, but further clarification in this paper suggests keeping
the original full title given by More; though, of course, as is common practice,
the title may for convenience be abbreviated to its first words, De tristitia.
For the intended readership the study includes the context of such a work
within the vocation, studies, and literary production of More as a humanist and
in defence of orthodoxy. A description of such context, however, cannot be other
than “synthetic”: it involves necessarily the opinions of the author of the article.
Obviously, the context of the last work of a writer is his whole life until then, and
in the case of St. Thomas More, the context of De tristitia was not just his life
until then, but up to his expected martyrdom and beyond.