How will these resources help you?
Rethinking Thomas Wolsey
by John Matusiak, published by The History Press, (2016), 9780750965354
Chapter 11 is of particular interest: Matusiak outlines all of the grandeur of Wolsey’s time as Lord Chancellor, and he suggests that Wolsey’s guiding principles were the sense that to govern was to dominate and that high office could only be exercised effectively by continual displays of magnificence. It was these two things that made him unquestionably the most powerful official in the kingdom but also the most deeply resented. Students will enjoy weighing up Wolsey’s reputation against his wealth.
This book offers the chance to reassess Wolsey and recognise him for his ‘diplomatic wizardry’ and his ability as the ‘all-time master of political escapology’.
New perspectives on Thomas Cromwell
Thomas Cromwell: A Life
by Diarmaid MacCulloch, published by Penguin, (2019), 9780241952337
The second approach is to re-examine Cromwell himself. Previously seen as a thug or as a man driven solely by ambition, Cromwell was actually a principled politician whose idealistic approach to politics is brought to life in this biography. MacCulloch introduces us to a man who was ‘more than a politician shaped by cynical ambition’. In fact, Cromwell’s career involved a string of huge risks. He oversaw the execution of Anne Boleyn, despite sharing her zeal for religious reform. He also secured the marriage of his son to Elizabeth Seymour, the king's sister-in-law, and then steered the church into a much more reformist position. ‘No “secular-minded” politician would have taken such risks’ writes MacCulloch. You could use these views as a starting point to debate the extent to which the Reformation in England was an ideological or opportunistic act.
One of the earliest English biographies
The other king
by Hilary Mantel, published by The Guardian, (25 April 2009)
A History of Britain by Simon Schama - The partnership of Thomas Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell
published by BBC, (2000)
Henry VIII: Patron or Plunderer - Henry and Hampton Court
published by BBC, (2009)
Text © Mark Robinson, 2021.