Thomas More (1478–1535) was an important political and literary figure of the “Northern Renaissance” of the early sixteenth century. At one time a close adviser to Britain’s King Henry VIII, More fell into disfavor when Henry broke with the Roman Catholic Church to establish the Church of England with himself as head. For refusing to approve Henry’s action, More was beheaded. Four centuries later the Roman Catholic Church recognized him as a saint. Before his difficulties with Henry VIII began, More wrote Utopia (1516), a book in which he imagined a society from which the evils of envy and poverty had been banished. In the following selection, More’s main character, the fictitious explorer Raphael Hythloday, traces the evils of European society to the private ownership of property, which he contrasts to the virtues of the island commonwealth of Utopia, where private property and even money have been abolished.