November 29, 2009
There is a wonderful sequence in the film version of Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons in which Sir Thomas More and his wife are informed- with no notice at all, really- that King Henry VIII has decided on a whim to stop by on the way home for a visit.
A royal visit was not something one dared take lightly. Immediately the More household was flung into a frenzy of preparation. From somewhere, a huge banquet literally fit for a king was laid out. No trouble or expense was spared. The king, of course, would protest that no trouble was necessary, especially when the visit was on such short notice. But that, of course, was nonsense. Not to be prepared to receive the king would have been an insult to him, and insulting the king was not a good idea. And More knew this king in particular well enough to realize that for all his protests that elaborate preparations were unnecessary, it was a good thing for More and his family th…