Sir Thomas More shaped the Renaissance direction in many ways—through his scholarship, his humanism, and through the presentation of his values and ideals through literature. More’s Utopia was embraced by the whole of Europe as the genuine product of modern learning, influencing authors and philosophers such as Montaigne, the great exponent of the humanist spirit. Throughout the early stages of the Renaissance, England was indebted to Europe in every way.
More’s Utopia is the only work that elevated England to creditor status. In his Utopia, he establishes for the first time the three great words Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality as the pillars of civilized society, which maintained their inspiration during the bloodshed of the French Revolution and remained the unrealized principles of any free government.
Apart from Utopia, which he wrote in Latin, More is also the first writer of classical English prose—prose that is plain, straightforward, nervous, rhythmical, natural, and entertaining, in contrast to his predecessors’ prose.
We remember in More an effortless, fluid grace that had been extremely rare before him and is prevalent in his writings. The History of Richard III, Dialogue Concerning Heresy, and Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation are among his English works. These works are significant in the sense of the Renaissance because they each exemplify the ease and confidence with which vernacular language can be used, without which no Renaissance can be innovative or competitive.