The Duke of Norfolk (Nigel Davenport) is Thomas More's bestie… at first. He has More's back… at first. He's willing to stand his ground… well, you get the picture.
Unfortunately, they end up falling on different sides of the debate over the king's divorce. Norfolk tries to protect Thomas, although he's ultimately one of the men who helps convict him. At one point, More even tries to discourage Norfolk's friendship, possibly for Norfolk's own protection:
MORE: We've had a quarrel since the day we met. Our friendship was mere sloth.
DUKE: You can be cruel when you want, but I've always known that.
This exchange ends with More intentionally insulting Norfolk, prompting the Duke to take a swing at him. Nevertheless, Norfolk still tries to defend More, undermining Cromwell's case that he accepted a bribe.
At one point, he urges More to sign the king's oath:
DUKE: Oh, confound all this! I'm not a scholar. I don't know if the marriage was lawful or not... but damn it, Thomas, look at these names. Why can't you do as I did and come with us for fellowship?MORE: And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience... and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?
A Guy Who Goes With the Flow
But is Norfolk "doing his conscience"? Probably—he doesn't seem quite as attached to the Church as More, for one thing. Ultimately, he seems to be a good-hearted figure, yet one who lacks the total, unyielding religious commitment that characterizes More.
At the end of the movie, we discover that, later, after More's death, Norfolk was going to be executed for treason too—but the king died the night before the execution was supposed to take place (the movie claims from syphilis, though some scholars dispute this). So, he survived.
Oh, and his first name is Thomas and his middle name is apparently Howard.