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Thomas Wolsey - Essay Example

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Thomas Wolsey

As the court poet, John Skelton, infamously wrote:
During the next two years he was working on minor mission to Scotland and the Netherlands, and his vocation was promoted by Bishop Foxe of Winchester, whom he quickly eclipsed. In 1509 he became Royal Almoner to the young Henry VIII, a post which mechanically made him a member of the Council, and before long he had made himself crucial to the King by his organisation of the French expeditions of 1513. Thereafter, there was no stopping him: he was Bishop of Tournai in France in 1514-18, Archbishop of York in 1514-30; Chancellor from 1515 to 1529; and Cardinal for life from 1515, following Henry VIII's pressure at Rome. In 1518 Wolsey was also appointed Legate a latere by the Pope, which meant that he now outranked his last opponent in the Church--the ancient Archbishop Warham at Canterbury--and had the authority to reform both the secular church and the monastic system, to grant decrees and to appoint to benefices. It made Wolsey the proudest church-man that ever breathed', second in power only to the King himself: and even that was a close-run thing.
Thomas Wolsey was born in Ipswich in 1471. His father was a successful merchant who was rich enough to give his son a good education. Soon after Wolsey left Oxford University he was asked to work for Henry VIII. The two men soon became firm friends.
In 1514 Henry made Wolsey his Lord Chancellor. At this time Henry was only twenty-three and preferred hunting, gambling and dancing to governing the country. Henry therefore only spent about an hour a day on government business. It was Wolsey, rather than Henry, who made most of the decisions needed to run the country. People began to complain that Wolsey, not Henry, was the real ruler of England.
Wolsey was rewarded for this work by being granted some of the main posts in the church. As well as being Lord Chancellor he was also Archbishop of York, Bishop of Lincoln and Bishop of Durham. This made Wolsey very wealthy and enabled him to build grand palaces such as Hampton Court.
Wolsey's main ambition was to become Pope. In 1515, Pope Leo X made him a cardinal but Wolsey also had many enemies and he never became the head of the Catholic Church.
In 1524 Henry VIII became convinced he wanted a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Henry sent Wolsey to discuss the matter with Pope Clement VII. Wolsey failed to persuade the Pope to agree to the divorce. Henry became angry with Wolsey, accused him of being a servant of the Pope and sacked him from his post as Lord Chancellor.
Wolsey attempted to gain Henry's favour by giving him all his wealth, houses and lands. This strategy failed to work. In 1530 Henry ordered the arrest of Wolsey for high treason. By this time Wolsey was a broken man and he died before the trial could be held.

How was Wolsey able to rise to power so quickly under Henry VIII
i) Luck
Wolsey was very much a man in the right ...Show more


Thomas Wolsey (1473-1530) relics one of the most fascinating, charismatic figures of the entire Tudor period. In an age where the Great Chain of Being' persuaded people to believe that every man had his place and should not depart from it, Wolsey showed that it was likely for a butcher's son from Ipswich to turn out to be the key figure in both Church (as a Cardinal and Archbishop of York) and State (as Lord Chancellor) under King Henry VIII…
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