Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant
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Born in the mid-1480s to a lowly blacksmith, Cromwell left home at eighteen to make his fortune abroad. He served as a mercenary in the French army, worked for a powerful merchant banker in Florence at the height of the Italian Renaissance, and became a promising young cloth merchant in the Netherlands, then the mercantile capital of the world. But Cromwell decided to return to England and there built a flourishing legal practice. It wasn’t long before Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who was the Archbishop of York and the King’s closest confidant, took note of Cromwell’s immense intelligence, resourcefulness, and wit, turning him into his protégé. When Wolsey was put under arrest for overstepping his bounds, Cromwell both protected his mentor and supplanted him. And he accomplished what Wolsey never could: Henry’s divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon and a revolution in Britain’s religious life.
As Henry’s top aide, Cromwell was at the heart of the most momentous event of his time—from funding the translation and dissemination of the first vernacular Bible to legitimizing Anne Boleyn as queen—and wielded immense power over both church and state. The impact of his seismic political, religious, and social reforms can still be felt today. Grounded in excellent primary source research, Thomas Cromwell gives an inside look at a monarchy that has captured the Western imagination for centuries and tells the story of a controversial and enigmatic man who forever changed the shape of his country.
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Was one that appealed to historians of the Puritan and Enlightenment eras. As the seventeenth-century historian and theologian Gilbert Burnet neatly put it, Cromwell was ‘a man of mean birth but noble qualities’.3 But all that changed in the nineteenth century, when an altogether more negative portrayal of Cromwell was conceived. A campaign for greater freedom for Catholics combined with the emerging Romantic movement to inspire a harking back to England’s pre-Reformation religion. As part of.
Cromwell that took the publishing world by storm in 2009. Together with its sequel, Bring up the Bodies, it presents an altogether more human, sympathetic – even heroic – Cromwell. It is a portrayal that, though fictional, is based on meticulous historical research and is all the more compelling as a result. Among these many and varied portrayals of Henry’s chief minister, where does the truth lie? Cromwell was undoubtedly a man of immense energy, ability and ambition. The same determination.
Behaviour sparked the downfall of the Roman monarchy. Although such a tale was well known at the time the inventory was taken, and would probably have inspired works of art in other important households, it is interesting to speculate whether Cromwell removed the paintings when he was a servant of Henry VIII during the 1530s, by which time life (in the form of Anne Boleyn) had come to imitate art a little too closely.61 The grandest bedroom at Austin Friars was the New Chamber, in which Cromwell.
Anne, held the key post of Lieutenant of the North. But he was debt-ridden and ineffective, his authority was restricted to the middle and eastern marches, and even this was declining. Cromwell therefore focused upon the area under his jurisdiction before moving on to the north-west. Here, too, he was able to exploit a weak and divided region. Feuding between the two dominant families, the Dacres and the Cliffords, made their government much less effective than it might have been. Cromwell.
With Cromwell in attendance. Standing on the scaffold, moments from death, More urged the watching crowds to remember that he was to suffer ‘in and for the faith of the holy chatholick churche’.22 As Cromwell had feared, More was immediately declared a martyr – not just among the English dissenters, but across Europe. Emperor Charles V remonstrated with the English ambassador to the imperial court, Sir Thomas Elyot, saying that he ‘wold rather have lost the best city of our dominions then have.