A Man for All Seasons


Robert Bolt

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on A Man for All Seasons can help.

Act of Supremacy Term Analysis

A Man For All Seasons revolves around the first Act of Supremacy, an Act passed by Parliament in 1534. Although the Church of England had already begun to separate from the Roman Catholic Church, this act declared that the King of England (King Henry VIII), and not the Pope, was the Supreme Leader of the Church.

Act of Supremacy Quotes in A Man for All Seasons

The A Man for All Seasons quotes below are all either spoken by Act of Supremacy or refer to Act of Supremacy. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Financial vs. Moral Richness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of A Man for All Seasons published in 1990.
Act 1 Quotes

Roper: You are denying the Act of Supremacy!
More: No, I’m not; the Act states that the King—
Roper: —is Supreme Head of the Church in England.
More: Supreme Head of the Church in England—“So far as the law of God allows.” How far the law of God does allow it remains a matter of opinion, since the Act doesn’t state it.
Roper: A legal quibble.
More: Call it what you like, it’s there, thank God.

Related Characters: Sir Thomas More (speaker), William Roper (speaker), King Henry VIII
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

More: Son Roper, you’re pleased with me I hope?
Roper: Sir, You’ve made a noble gesture.
More: A gesture? It wasn’t possible to continue, Will. I was not able to continue. I would have if I could! I make no gesture! My God, I hope it’s understood I make no gesture! Alice, you don’t think I would do this to you for a gesture! That’s a gesture (Thumbs his nose) That’s a gesture! (Jerks up two fingers) I’m no street acrobat to make gestures! I’m practical!
Roper: You belittle yourself, sir, this was not practical; this was moral!
More: Oh, now I understand you, Will. Morality’s not practical. Morality’s a gesture. A complicated gesture learned from books—that’s what you say, Alice isn’t it?...And you, Meg?
Margaret: It is, for most of us, Father.

Related Characters: Sir Thomas More (speaker), William Roper (speaker), Alice More
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2 Quotes

Norfolk: Have you anything to say?
More: Yes. To avoid this I have taken every path my winding wits would find. Now that the court has determined to condemn me, God knoweth how, I will discharge my mind…concerning my indictment and the King’s title. The indictment is grounded in an Act of Parliament which is directly repugnant to the Law of God. The King in Parliament cannot bestow the Supremacy of the Church because it is a Spiritual Supremacy! And more to this the immunity of the Church is promised both in Magna Carta and the King’s own Coronation Oath!
Cromwell: Now we plainly see that you are malicious!
More: Not so, Master Secretary! I am the King’s true subject, and 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, in good faith I long not to live…I have, since I came into prison, been several times in such a case that I thought to die within the hour, and I thank Our Lord I was never sorry for it, but rather sorry when it passed. And therefore, my poor body is at the King’s pleasure. Would God my death might do him some good…Nevertheless, it is not for the Supremacy that you have sought my blood—but because I would not bend to the marriage!

Related Characters: Sir Thomas More (speaker), Duke of Norfolk (speaker), Thomas Cromwell (speaker), King Henry VIII
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire A Man for All Seasons LitChart as a printable PDF.
A Man for All Seasons PDF

Act of Supremacy Term Timeline in A Man for All Seasons

The timeline below shows where the term Act of Supremacy appears in A Man for All Seasons. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2
The Meaning of Silence Theme Icon
Conscience, Integrity, and Reputation Theme Icon
Man’s Law vs. God’s Law Theme Icon
More and Roper discuss the new Act of Supremacy , which makes Henry “Supreme Head of the Church in England.” More is glad that... (full context)
The Meaning of Silence Theme Icon
Conscience, Integrity, and Reputation Theme Icon
...has heard that More will resign if the bishops in court all submit to the Act of Supremacy . He says that if More were to step down, it would signal to the... (full context)