Utopia Theory in History Sir Thomas More's Utopia

About the theoretical utopian society called the Utopia devised by Sir Thomas More, about the social, political, and economic structure.

Leading Theoretical Utopias throughout History

Name of Utopia: UTOPIA (Derived from the Greek, meaning "Nowhere.")

Who Created: Sir Thomas More (1478-1535). Scholar. Friend of Erasmus. Wrote during the enclosure movement.

Described in: Utopia (1516).

Population: Each city has roughly 100,000 inhabitants. Fifty-four cities.

Physical Layout: Crescent-shaped island.

Cities are no closer to each other than 24 mi., no farther than a day's walk. The capital city, Amaurot, is square in shape, 2 mi. to a side. Houses are uniform and contiguous, each with a garden in back. Blocks vie with each other in the fruitfulness and beauty of their gardens.

Political and Social Structure: Basis is the family. Each year every 30 families elect a magistrate, called a Syphogrant. Over every 10 Syphogrants is a Tranibor. All the Syphogrants, numbering 200, elect a Prince of the city from a list of 4 candidates named by the people. There is an island-wide council every year.

Property and Distribution of Goods: No private property or money. Every month there is a combination festival and free exchange of goods between city and country. Within the city there are 4 marketplaces where the families bring the goods they've produced. These goods are transferred to storehouses where the father of each family picks up what his family needs. In addition, a great council meets yearly at Amaurot to examine the production of the regions and apportion regional surpluses to those regions which may suffer a scarcity, "so that the whole island is, as it were, one family." Gold is devalued by being used for chamber-pots, and for chains on slaves; pearls and diamonds are given to children as toys. Meals are taken in common at farmhouses or at block-wide halls. Houses are open to visitors and are changed by lot every 10 years.

Production: Integration of agriculture and industry. Everyone does agricultural work for 2 years; then, some stay in the country while others go back and forth between city and country. Each farmstead is composed of a "family" of 40 people. Many eggs are hatched in incubatorlike buildings (an anticipation on More's part). Everyone learns a trade which is passed down within the family. There are 6 hours of labor per day.

Family/Marriage/Sex: Each household is an industrial as well as a domestic unit. A city household may consist of 10 to 16 members ruled by master and mistress. Great obedience and respect is accorded older members. A bride and bridegroom may see each other naked before marriage so that neither is saddled with a deformed spouse. However, premarital sex is punished.

Place of Women: Patriarchal. Women serve main meals. Husbands have the power to chastise their wives. But women are not barred from the priesthood.

Education and Culture: The crowning pleasure is considered to be cultivation of the mind. A general belief in God but toleration for all creeds.

Crime and Punishment: It is a serious crime to travel without a passport from the Prince.

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