Act 1, Scene 1 Setting: A London Street

The play begins on the streets of London where Francis de Barde, a Lombard, attempts to seize Doll Williamson, a carpenter's wife. Doll refuses to go with Barde and be used for his own profit as the goldsmith's wife was. Caveler, yet another Lombard, then enters, along with Doll's husband Williamson and Sherwin the goldsmith, and is refusing to return two doves to Williamson, who has purchased them. George Betts and John Lincoln, who are also present and witnessing the evils being committed by the foreigners, offer to give assistance to those who are being wronged. Barde, however, claims that they cannot do anything about it without facing the wrath of the foreign ambassador. Williamson acknowledges that even the mayor of London is under the control of the ambassador, and mere commoners, therefore, will not stand a chance and must suffer the wrongs done to their honors. Barde even goes as far as to say that he would have the mayor's wife if it pleased him. Doll refuses to go along with him once more, prompting Barde and Caveler to set off to complain to the ambassador. After the foreigners depart, Lincoln, who is a broker, offers to give his aid to the wronged English citizens and says he shall give a speech to the mayor and aldermen of London on the abuses of foreigners within England. All present are satisfied with this plan of action and set off to celebrate at the tavern.

Act 1, Scene 2 Setting: The Sessions House, London

At the sessions house, the lord mayor, Sheriff Thomas More and Suresby, a justice, preside over the trial of Lifter, a pickpocket, who is accused of robbing a man named Smart. Suresby claims, however, that once Lifter is found guilty, he would like to put Smart on trial for the crime of carrying too much money in his purse (he was robbed of the large sum of ten pounds) and tempting men to rob him (the accusation is meant to make Suresby look more just in front of the court). The court temporarily adjourns, and More meets privately with Lifter. More, who has proven a friend to Lifter in the past, comes up with a plan that Lifter shall meet with Suresby and steal his purse. After which, More will defend Lifter by claiming that Suresby was unfairly tempting him by carrying such a large sum of cash on his person, just as Suresby had claimed of Smart. Lifter meets with Suresby and, distracting him by telling him of more thieves on the loose, picks his pocket. When the court returns, it finds Lifter guilty and sentences him to death. At this point, Suresby realizes his purse, which contains seven pounds, is missing. Lifter confesses that he stole it, and More reminds Suresby of the accusation he made against Smart. Suresby has no option but to concede defeat. More returns Suresby's purse and, knowing he is victorious, sarcastically remarks that Suresby has no reason to worry about retaliation from More for his "crime."

Act 1, Scene 3 Setting: A State Apartment, London

The Earls of Shrewsbury and Surrey, Sir Thomas Palmer and Sir Roger Cholmley discuss the abuses being committed by foreigners against English citizens in London and refer to the case portrayed at the play's commencement involving Barde, Doll and the others. As the lords discuss how despicable this behavior is, a messenger enters and informs them that the commons of London are in rebellion and have trapped the lord mayor in his house. The lords then prepare to gather an army to get the situation under control, and Surrey goes to retrieve More to help ease tensions.

Act 2, Scene 1 Setting: Cheapside

Three apprentices, Harry, Robin and Kit, prepare for the May day festivities.

Act 2, Scene 2 Setting: Saint Martins-le-Grand

The wronged English citizens prepare their May day rebellion and intend to burn down the houses of all foreigners they can find. Realizing that this would cause a fire throughout the whole city and possibly burn their own houses, they decide against it and vote to simply seize the foreigners and have their way with them. However, once they learn that all of the foreigners have fled, they agree to set fire to the houses anyway in order to create a distraction for the mayor so they may flee and not be blamed for the situation.

Act 2, Scene 3 Setting: The Guildhall

More, the lord mayor and Sir John Munday, who has been injured by the rebels, talk of the genuine threat the rebels pose when a messenger arrives and informs the men that the rebels have broken into Newgate and freed a number of dangerous criminals. The lords (Surrey, Shrewsbury, Palmer and Cholmley) enter and offer their services to subdue the rebellion on behalf of the king. More vows that the rebellion will be put down through words, not violence, and the men depart.

Act 2, Scene 4 Setting: St. Martin's Gate

The rebels continue their harsh words against foreigners in London and defy a sergeant of the king's when More, the mayor and the lords enter in an attempt to get the rebellion under control. It is finally agreed upon that More shall be able to speak to the rebels. More asks that, if they bully the foreigners out of England, what is to stop someone else from forcefully removing them (the rebels). In addition, he says that if they (the rebels) were to be forced, for whatever reason, to live in a foreign land they would not be expected to be treated poorly. After hearing More's wise words, the rebels agree to cease their rebellion and to turn themselves in peacefully and await the mercy of the king, which More is confident shall be given. The rebels are taken away by the lords to several different prisons, and the lord mayor praises More for subduing the rebellion with no bloodshed, which More humbly states was his duty. Shrewsbury re-enters and informs More that, out of gratitude for his part in quenching the rebellion, the king has created More a knight and a member of the Privy Council; More graciously accepts both honors. Crofts enters with orders to the lord mayor to bring the leaders of the rebellion before the court to be arraigned, and More and the lords depart.

Act 3, Scene 1 Setting: Cheapside

The Master Sheriff prepares for the execution of the leaders of the rebellion, who are in the process of being led from prison to the place of death. Lincoln is set to die first and, after a farewell speech, is hung. Doll Williamson is set to go next, but after she and her husband share an emotional goodbye, Surrey enters and announces the king has decided to show mercy to all the rebels. The reason for the sudden change of heart was the pleadings of More, who the king has now created Lord Chancellor. Surrey criticizes the sheriff for being too rash and executing Lincoln, but the sheriff claims he was only doing his duty. The rebels now regard More as a hero once again.

Act 3, Scene 2 Setting: More's House, Chelsea

More plans to play a joke on his friend Erasmus, a well-known humanist who is visiting the English court, by dressing up his man Randall as himself and seeing if Erasmus will be able to tell the difference. However, the men are interrupted when the sheriff brings in a man named Faulkner, who is accused of stirring up a quarrel in the London streets which caused the roads to be clogged up with carts. In a comical scene, Faulkner attempts to defend himself, but More ultimately says he must be sent to Newgate because of his "shaggy" hair. Erasmus and Surrey arrive and are fooled, at first, into believing that Randall is Sir Thomas More before the real More enters and lets them in on the joke, which Erasmus takes with good humor. Master Morris, master to Faulkner, then enters and pleads the case for his servant, saying that he has redeemed himself by cutting off some of his hair. Once More sees Faulkner in a more clean cut fashion, he forgives him his offenses and frees him from his time in prison, before departing. Morris and Faulkner then engage in a comical exchange on the loss of Faulkner's hair to end the scene.

Act 3, Scene 3 Setting: Ante-chamber in More's House, Chelsea

A messenger informs More that the mayor of London and his wife will be arriving at Chelsea for dinner. More welcomes the mayor's arrival, despite his sadness at the departure of Erasmus.

Act 4, Scene 1 Setting: More's House, Chelsea

More, his wife and their son-in-law, Sir John Roper, prepare to entertain the lord mayor, his wife, and London's aldermen when a group of players (who claim to be men of the cardinal's) arrives and wishes to perform a play for More and his guests before their banquet. It is agreed that the players shall perform the play "The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom." The guests enter and the play begins, but it must be stopped half-way through due to the fact that the players lack the fake beard they need to carry on. More and his guests set off to dinner and intend to carry on the play afterward, but More is summoned to court. Therefore, More pays the players and offers them dinner before he departs.

Act 4, Scene 2 Setting: The Council Chamber, Whitehall

The Earls of Surrey and Shrewsbury and the Bishop of Rochester await the coming of More to the council chamber and, when he arrives, bring up the subject of the coming of the Holy Roman Emperor to England to discuss an alliance against the French. At first, More is worried that the Emperor will prove to be a less than dependable ally, but the lords are able to convince him otherwise, and More seems more enthusiastic about the Emperor's coming after this. Palmer then enters with documents from the king for all present to subscribe to. Rochester immediately refuses and is taken into custody to answer before the king, and More informs Palmer that he needs time to think about it. Palmer says that More must retire to his home and stay there until he is summoned by the king. More, in turn, resigns the chancellorship before departing. Surrey and Shrewsbury willingly sign the documents and wonder why More and Rochester did not do the same.

Act 4, Scene 3 Setting: Chelsea

Lady More, Roper and Lady Roper talk about the eerie dreams and visions they have been having about More when the man himself enters in an unusually good mood. More tells all present that he resigned the chancellorship, and that he and the king have had a slight falling out, but tells them not to worry, as they all sit on in disbelief.

Act 4, Scene 4 Setting: The Tower

Rochester is led into the tower as a prisoner and vows to keep his principles and remain in prison, even if it means disobeying the king, as Surrey and Shrewsbury plead for him to sign the king's document.

Act 4, Scene 5 Setting: More's House, Chelsea

The More family converse at their home, and Lady More is clearly in distress of what will happen to her husband if he continues to defy the king and not subscribe to the documents sent to him. More does his best to reassure his family when Surrey, Shrewsbury and Downes arrive in an attempt to convince More to subscribe to the articles. If he does not cooperate, he shall be taken to the tower to join Rochester. More shows the utmost courtesy to the lords, but still refuses to subscribe to an act that goes against everything he believes in. Therefore, More is taken as a prisoner to the tower as his family watches in horror.

Act 5, Scene 1 Setting: The Tower Gate

The warders of the tower prepare to receive More as their prisoner, and an old, poor woman (a former client of More's) approaches them begging to see the oncoming prisoner so she may retrieve the materials needed to continue to plead her case. More is brought forward and informs the woman that her case in now in the hands of the king, who is now in possession of all the documents pertaining to said case, before being led into his prison.

Act 5, Scene 2 Setting: More's House

Various servants of More's lament the downfall of their master when Gough and Catesby enter with the terrible news that More has been sentenced to die. However, to provide for his servants, More has left them each twenty nobles, a gesture that only makes the men think of More in an even better light.

Act 5, Scene 3 Setting: The Tower

More chats in the tower with the lieutenant, who informs him that his death warrant has arrived, and he is set to do tomorrow morning. In addition, the lieutenant informs him that Rochester has been executed, which More greatly laments. More's family then arrives and attempts to convince him one last time to submit to the king's articles, which he again refuses. The family shares an emotional farewell as More prepares to die.

Act 5, Scene 4 Setting: Tower Hill

All is set for the execution of Sir Thomas More, who is led out by an emotional lieutenant of the tower. More, who seems to lack any sort of fear to say the least, shares a sad farewell with the lords, the hangman and the world before being led off to his execution.

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