Thomas More (1478-1535) opposed King Henry VIII's separation from the Catholic Church, and refused to acknowledge Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England. While awaiting execution for refusing to betray his faith, More wrote this fictional dialogue set in 16th century Hungary. The dialogue takes place between a young man, Vincent, and his wise old uncle, Anthony. Vincent fears a Turkish invasion which could force him to either betray his faith or die a martyr.
As Vincent pours out his fears, Anthony responds with insight on various subjects: the comfort of God in times of trouble, the value of suffering, faintheartedness and the temptation to suicide. Anthony views tribulation as grief consisting either of bodily pain or heaviness of the mind, and states his purpose thus, ''I will supply you ahead of time with a store of comfort, of spiritual strengthening and consolation, that you can have ready at hand, that you can resort to and lay up in your heart as an antidote against the poison of despairing dread...."