Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex: Wikis

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Thomas Cromwell, First Earl of Essex

Portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1532–3
Born 1485
Putney, Middlesex, England
Died 28 July 1540 (c. aged 55)
Tower of London, England
Occupation Government
Religion Anglican (claimed to have died in the Roman Catholic faith)
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Wykes
Children Gregory Cromwell
Parents Walter Cromwell, Dau Clossop

Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, KG, PC (c. 1485 – 28 July 1540) was an English statesman who served as King Henry VIII's chief minister from 1532 to 1540. Cromwell rose from humble beginnings and attempted to modernize government at the expense of the privileges of the nobility and church; as a result, he was seen as an upstart. He was one of the strongest advocates of the English Reformation, the English Church's break with the papacy in Rome, and after the King's supremacy over the Church of England was declared by Parliament in 1534, he supervised the Church from the unique posts of vicegerent for spirituals and vicar general.

A descendant of Cromwell's sister, Oliver Cromwell, was a revolutionary leader who overthrew the British monarchy and led a short-lived republican government.

Contents

Early life

Cromwell was born around 1485 in Putney, the son of Walter Cromwell (c. 1463–1510), variously described as a clothworker;[1] a smith;[2] and an alehouse keeper/brewer[3], as well as by some loose theories that suggest he was, in fact, an Anglo-German sheep farmer[4].

Details of Cromwell's early life are scarce. Before 1512, he was employed by the Frescobaldis, a powerful Florentine merchant banker family, in cloth dealing at Syngsson's Mart in Middelburg, the Netherlands. Documents from the archives of the Vatican City indicate that he was an agent for Cardinal Reginald Bainbridge and handled English ecclesiastical issues before the Papal Rota.[5] Cromwell was fluent in Latin, Italian and French.

After Bainbridge died in 1514, Cromwell returned to England that August. He was employed by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, chief minister of Henry VIII, and placed in charge of important ecclesiastical business despite being a layman. By 1519, he had married a clothier's daughter, Elizabeth Wyckes (1489–1527). The couple had a son, Gregory and two daughters Anne and Grace who died of the plague the same year as their mother.

After studying law, Cromwell became a Member of the English Parliament in 1523, but after Parliament's dissolution, Cromwell wrote a letter to a friend joking about its unproductiveness:

I amongst other have endured a Parliament which continued by the space of xvij whole weeks, where we communied of war, peace, stryfe, contencion, debate, murmmur, grudge, riches, poverty, penwrye, truth, falsehood, justice, equyte, discayte, oppression, magnanymyte, activity, force, attempraunce, treason, murder, felony, counsil,[ation], and also how a common wealth might be edeffyed and continued within our realm. Howbeyt in conclusion we have done as our predecessors have been wont to do, that yes to say as well as we might, and left where we began.[6]

In 1524, Cromwell was appointed at Gray's Inn. In the late 1520s, he helped Wolsey dissolve thirty monasteries in order to raise funds for Wolsey's grammar school in Ipswich (now known as Ipswich School) and the Cardinal's College, Oxford. In 1529, Henry VIII summoned a Parliament (later known as the Reformation Parliament) in order to obtain an annulment of his marriage to his first wife and his older brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon. In late 1530[7] or early 1531[8] Cromwell was appointed a royal counsellor for parliamentary business and by the end of 1531, he was a member of Henry VIII's trusted inner circle.[9]

King's chief minister

Cromwell became Henry VIII's chief minister in 1532, not via any formal appointment to office but by gaining the King's confidence.[7] Subsequently, his authority was validated through appointments to key positions across the government. A measure of control of the realm's finances came with appointment as chancellor of the exchequer, and a key position in the judiciary came with appointment as Master of the Rolls. Being named Secretary and Lord Privy Seal gave him influence over the king's correspondence and the granting of letters patent. Elevation to Lord Great Chamberlain gave Cromwell at least nominal control of the king's household. Perhaps most importantly, Cromwell gained supervisory roles in the Church that were unprecedented for a layman.

Cromwell played an important part in the English Reformation. The parliamentary sessions of 1529–1531 had brought Henry VIII no nearer to annulment.[10] However, the session of 1532—Cromwell's first as chief minister—heralded a change of course: key sources of papal revenue were cut off and ecclesiastical legislation was transferred to the King. In the next year's session came the fundamental law of the English Reformation: the Act in Restraint of Appeals of 1533 which forbade appeals to Rome (thus allowing for a divorce in England without the need for the Pope's permission). This was drafted by Cromwell and its famous preamble declared:

Where by divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles, it is manifestly declared and expressed that this realm of England is an Empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one Supreme Head and King having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial Crown of the same, unto whom a body politic compact of all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal, be bounden and owe to bear next to God a natural and humble obedience.

When Cromwell used the label "Empire" for England he did so in a special sense. Previous English monarchs had claimed to be Emperors in that they ruled more than one kingdom, but in this Act it meant something different. Here the Kingdom of England is declared an Empire by itself, free from "the authority of any foreign potentates." This meant that England was now an independent sovereign nation-state no longer under the jurisdiction of the Pope.[11]

Cromwell was the most prominent of those who suggested to Henry VIII that the king make himself head of the English Church, and saw the Act of Supremacy of 1534 through Parliament. In 1535 Henry VIII delegated powers he had gained under the Supremacy Act to Cromwell, appointing him to the newly created office of "Vicegerent in Spirituals." In this role, Cromwell presided over the Dissolution of the Monasteries, which began with his visitation of the monasteries and abbeys, announced in 1535 and begun in the winter of 1536. His vicegerency evolved into another new position, vicar general, which gave him the power as supreme judge in ecclesiastical cases and provided a single unifying institution over the two provinces of the English Church (Canterbury and York).

In addition to his influence on English religious life, Cromwell worked to modernize English government. He founded the Court of Wards and Court of Surveyors to make the taxation system more efficient, and he contributed to the professionalization of the bureaucracy. He was also the architect of the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542, which united England and Wales, and he also helped to strengthen English government in Ireland.[12]

Cromwell also became patron to a group of English intellectual humanists whom Cromwell used to promote the English Reformation through the medium of print. These included Thomas Gibson, William Marshall, Richard Morrison, John Rastell, Thomas Starkey, Richard Taverner and John Uvedale. Cromwell commissioned Marshall to translate and print Marsilius of Padua's Defensor pacis, for which he paid him £20.[13] He also made use of the printing press, a relatively new technology, to spread propaganda for the Reformation.

When Erasmus was trying to retrieve the arrears of his pension from the living in Aldington, Kent, the incumbent refused on grounds that it was his predecessor who had promised to pay his pension. Cromwell sent Erasmus 20 angels and Thomas Bedyll, a friend of Cromwell's, informed Erasmus that Cromwell "favours you exceptionally and everywhere shows himself to be an ardent friend of your name".[14]

Though viewed as a new man, Cromwell rose to aristocratic rank. He was created Baron Cromwell on 9 July 1536, 300th Knight of the Garter in 1537 and Earl of Essex on 18 April 1540.

Downfall

Cromwell had supported Henry VIII in disposing of Anne Boleyn and replacing her with Jane Seymour, During his years as the King's chief minister, Cromwell created many powerful enemies for himself.

His final downfall, however, was caused by the haste with which he encouraged the king to marry Anne of Cleves, a princess from the Duchy of Cleves. This was a marriage that Cromwell hoped would put the English Reformation back on track after the recent setback with the Six Articles, but the enterprise became a disaster when King Henry confided to Cromwell that he had not consummated the marriage.[15] Henry told Cromwell to get him out of the marriage by legal means, but the king was obliged to go ahead with it or risk the vital German alliance. The disaster of the king's marriage to Anne of Cleves was all the opportunity that Cromwell's opponents, most notably the Duke of Norfolk, needed to press for his fall from grace.

Even though he was made the 1st Earl of Essex by the king on 18 April 1540, Cromwell became very suspicious that his downfall was coming, because he had never been so officially high in the king's graces. Cromwell's fears were to be proved correct. Whilst at a Council meeting on 10 June 1540, Cromwell was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Cromwell was subjected to an Act of Attainder and was kept alive by Henry VIII until his marriage to Anne of Cleves could be annulled.

He was executed at the Tower on 28 July 1540, the same day that the king went on to marry Catherine Howard. After his execution, Cromwell's head was boiled and then set upon a spike on London Bridge, facing away from the City of London. Edward Hall, a contemporary chronicler, records that Cromwell made a speech on the scaffold, professing to die, "in the traditional faith" and then "so paciently suffered the stroke of the axe, by a ragged Boocherly miser whiche very ungoodly perfourmed the Office". Hall said of Cromwell's downfall:

Many lamented but more rejoiced, and specially such as either had been religious men, or favoured religious persons; for they banqueted and triumphed together that night, many wishing that that day had been seven year before; and some fearing lest he should escape, although he were imprisoned, could not be merry. Others who knew nothing but truth by him both lamented him and heartily prayed for him. But this is true that of certain of the clergy he was detestably hated, & specially of such as had borne swynge, and by his means was put from it; for in dead he was a man that in all his doings seemed not to favour any kind of Popery, nor could not abide the snoffyng pride of some prelates, which undoubtedly, whatsoever else was the cause of his death, did shorten his life and procured the end that he was brought unto.[16]

Henry came to regret Cromwell's execution. About eight months after his execution, Henry accused his ministers of bringing about Cromwell's downfall by false charges.[17] Henry spent the rest of his life lamenting the fact that Cromwell had been executed.[citation needed]

Relatives and descendants

Thomas Cromwell's daughter-in-law was Elizabeth Seymour, sister of Queen Jane Seymour. Elizabeth was married to Gregory Cromwell, 1st Baron Cromwell.

The Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658), was descended from Thomas Cromwell's sister Catherine Cromwell. Oliver was Thomas's great-great-grandnephew. Katharine, Duchess of Kent, is also a descendant of Oliver Cromwell.[18]

Hans Holbein Portraits

Thomas Cromwell was one of the patrons of Hans Holbein the Younger, as were Sir Thomas More and Anne Boleyn. Holbein painted the portrait shown at the top of this page (illustration, upper right of page). The inscription on the paper lying on the table in the original portrait describes Cromwell as "Master of the Jewell House", an official position that he occupied for just one year from 12 April 1532, thus dating the portrait.

In New York's Frick Collection two portraits by Holbein hang facing each other on the same wall of the Living Hall, one depicting Thomas Cromwell, the other one Thomas More, whose execution he had procured.[19]

Fictional portrayals

Cromwell has been portrayed in at least fourteen feature films and television miniseries.[20]

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Theatre

Perhaps Cromwell's best known fictional appearance is in Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons. When the play opened in London he was played by Andrew Keir but when it transferred to Broadway, the part was taken over by Leo McKern. who had played "the Common Man" in London. He is the main antagonist of the story, and is portrayed as being ruthlessly ambitious and jealous of Thomas More's influence with the King. Cromwell is also a supporting character in William Shakespeare's play Henry VIII. He is subject of Thomas Lord Cromwell, a 1602 play of unknown authorship attributed to the initials W.S. (as such once thought to be a Shakespeare work).

Novels

Cromwell is the protagonist of Hilary Mantel's 2009 novel Wolf Hall, which enhances his humanity and thus to some extent rebuts Robert Bolt's unflattering portrayal of Cromwell in A Man for All Seasons. The novel won the 2009 Man Booker Prize. Mantel has announced that she is already at work on a second, concluding novel about Cromwell, tentatively titled The Mirror and the Light.

Cromwell appears as a leading character in the first two Matthew Shardlake historical crime fiction novels by C. J. Sansom, Dissolution and Dark Fire, and as a supporting character in the many novels based on members of the Tudor royal family, particularly those on Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn.

He is a major character in The Trusted Servant by Alison Macleod,[21] whose main protagonist begins as Cromwell's younger protégé. He also plays a minor part in two of Philippa Gregory's novels including The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance.

Film

Franklin Dyall portrayed Cromwell in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). In the film version of A Man for All Seasons he was played by Leo McKern. He has also been portrayed in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) by John Colicos, the classic comedy British comedy Carry On Henry (1971) by Kenneth Williams, in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972) by Donald Pleasance, and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) by Iain Mitchell.

TV

Cromwell has been portrayed in the BBC miniseries The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970) by Wolfe Morris, in the Granada Television production Henry VIII (2003) by Danny Webb. In the TV version of The Other Boleyn Girl (2003) he is played by veteran Ron Cook.

In the television series The Tudors (2007) Cromwell is played by English actor James Frain. Frain played the character for three seasons and his execution brought the third series to its conclusion. In The Twisted Tale Of Bloody Mary (2008), an independent film from TV Choice Productions,[22] Cromwell is played by Burtie Welland.

Notes

  1. ^ John Guy, Tudor England (Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 154. ISBN 0192852132
  2. ^ G. R. Elton, England under the Tudors: Third Edition (London: Routledge, 1991), p. 127.
  3. ^ Arthur Kinney, Tudor England: An Encyclopedia (Garland Science, 2000), p. 172.
  4. ^ J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (Penguin, 1971), p. 342
  5. ^ Kinney, p.172.
  6. ^ Stanford E. Lehmberg, The Reformation Parliament, 1529 – 1536 (Cambridge University Press, 1970), pp. 1–2.
  7. ^ a b Elton, p. 129.
  8. ^ Lehmberg, p. 132.
  9. ^ Elton, p. 129 and Lehmberg, p. 132.
  10. ^ G. R. Elton, "King or Minister? The Man behind the Henrician Reformation" in Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government: Volume I (Cambridge University Press, 1974), p. 183.
  11. ^ Elton, England under the Tudors, p. 161.
  12. ^ http://www.englishhistory.net/tudor/citizens/cromwell.html A biography of Thomas Cromwell
  13. ^ G. R. Elton, 'An early Tudor Poor Law' in Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government: Volume II (Cambridge University Press, 1974), pp. 152-3.
  14. ^ G. R. Elton, Reform and Renewal: Thomas Cromwell and the Common Weal (Cambridge University Press, 1973), p. 31.
  15. ^ Schofield, p. 240.
  16. ^ Sir Henry Ellis (ed.), Hall's Chronicle (London, 1809), p. 838.
  17. ^ J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (Penguin, 1971), p. 496.
  18. ^ Le Petit Gotha
  19. ^ Frick Collection
  20. ^ IMDB
  21. ^ Archives Hub
  22. ^ The Twisted Tale

References

  • G. R. Elton, England under the Tudors: Third Edition, (London: Routledge, 1991) ISBN 0-416-70690-8.
  • Sir Henry Ellis (ed.), Hall's Chronicle (London, 1809).
  • G. R. Elton, The Tudor Revolution in Government: Administrative Changes in the Reign of Henry VIII (Cambridge University Press, 1953).
  • G. R. Elton, Policy and Police: The Enforcement of the Reformation in the Age of Thomas Cromwell (Cambridge University Press, 1973).
  • G. R. Elton, Reform and Renewal: Thomas Cromwell and the Common Weal (Cambridge University Press, 1973).
  • G. R. Elton, Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government: Volume I (Cambridge University Press, 1974).
  • G. R. Elton, Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government: Volume II (Cambridge University Press, 1974).
  • John Guy, Tudor England (Oxford University Press, 1990).
  • Arthur Kinney, Tudor England: An Encyclopedia (Garland Science, 2000).
  • Stanford E. Lehmberg, The Reformation Parliament, 1529–1536 (Cambridge University Press, 1970).

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Thomas Cromwell
File:Cromwell,Thomas(1EEssex)
Portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1532–3
Born 1485
Putney, Middlesex, England
Died 28 July 1540 (c. aged 55)
Tower Hill, London, England
Occupation Government
Religion Roman Catholic, then Anglican
Spouse Elizabeth Wykes
Children Gregory Cromwell, Anne and Grace
Parents Walter Cromwell, Dau Clossop
File:Canterbury cathedral.jpg Anglicanism portal

Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, KG, PC (c. 1485[1] – 28 July 1540), known as The Lord Cromwell of Wimbledon between 1536 and 1540, was an English statesman who served as King Henry VIII's chief minister from 1532 to 1540.

Cromwell rose from humble beginnings and attempted to modernize government at the expense of the privileges of the nobility and church; as a result, he was seen as an upstart. He was one of the strongest advocates of the English Reformation, the English Church's break with the papacy in Rome, and helped engineer the King's divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn. After the King's supremacy over the Church of England was declared by Parliament in 1534, Cromwell supervised the Church from the unique posts of vicegerent for spirituals and vicar general.

Cromwell's rise to power made him many enemies, especially among the conservative faction at court, and he fell from Henry's favour after arranging the King's disastrous marriage to a German princess, Anne of Cleves. He was subjected to an Act of Attainder and executed for treason and heresy on Tower Hill on 28 July 1540. The king later expressed regret at having lost his great minister.

Oliver Cromwell, the revolutionary leader who overthrew the British monarchy and led a short-lived republican government in the 17th century, was a descendant of Thomas Cromwell's sister, Catherine Cromwell (born circa 1482).

Contents

Early life

Cromwell was born around 1485 in Putney, the son of Walter Cromwell (c. 1463–1510), variously described as a clothworker;[2] a smith;[3] and an alehouse keeper/brewer,[4] as well as by some loose theories that suggest he was, in fact, an Anglo-German sheep farmer.[5]

Details of Cromwell's early life are scarce. Before 1512, he was employed by the Frescobaldis, a powerful Florentine merchant banker family, in cloth dealing at Syngsson's Mart in Middelburg, the Netherlands. Documents from the archives of the Vatican City indicate that he was an agent for Cardinal Reginald Bainbridge and handled English ecclesiastical issues before the Papal Rota.[4] Cromwell was fluent in Latin, Italian and French.

After Bainbridge died in 1514, Cromwell returned to England that August. He was employed by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, chief minister of Henry VIII, and placed in charge of important ecclesiastical business despite being a layman. By 1512, he had married a clothier's daughter, Elizabeth Wyckes (1489–1527). The couple had a son, Gregory, and two daughters Anne and Grace who died of 'sweating sickness' in the same year as their mother.

After studying law, Cromwell became a Member of the English Parliament in 1523, but after Parliament's dissolution, Cromwell wrote a letter to a friend joking about its unproductiveness:

I amongst other have endured a Parliament which continued by the space of XVII whole weeks, where we communied of war, peace, stryfe, contencion, debate, murmmur, grudge, riches, poverty, penwrye, truth, falsehood, justice, equyte, discayte, oppression, magnanymyte, activity, force, attempraunce, treason, murder, felony, counsil,[ation], and also how a common wealth might be edeffyed and continued within our realm. Howbeyt in conclusion we have done as our predecessors have been wont to do, that yes to say as well as we might, and left where we began.[6]

In 1524, Cromwell was appointed at Gray's Inn. In the late 1520s, he helped Wolsey dissolve 30 monasteries to raise funds for Wolsey's grammar school in Ipswich (now known as Ipswich School) and the Cardinal's College, Oxford. In 1529, Henry VIII summoned a Parliament (later known as the Reformation Parliament) in order to obtain an annulment of his marriage to his first wife and his older brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon. In late 1530[7] or early 1531[8] Cromwell was appointed a royal counsellor for parliamentary business and by the end of 1531, he was a member of Henry VIII's trusted inner circle.[7][8]

King's chief minister

Cromwell became Henry VIII's chief minister in 1532, not via any formal appointment to office but by gaining the King's confidence.[7] Subsequently, his authority was validated through appointments to key positions across the government. A measure of control of the realm's finances came with appointment as chancellor of the exchequer, and a key position in the judiciary came with appointment as Master of the Rolls. Being named Secretary and Lord Privy Seal gave him influence over the king's correspondence and the granting of letters patent. Elevation to Lord Great Chamberlain gave Cromwell at least nominal control of the king's household. Perhaps most importantly, Cromwell gained supervisory roles in the Church that were unprecedented for a layman.

Cromwell played an important part in the English Reformation. The parliamentary sessions of 1529–1531 had brought Henry VIII no nearer to annulment.[9] However, the session of 1532—Cromwell's first as chief minister—heralded a change of course: key sources of papal revenue were cut off and clerical legislative power was transferred to the King as Supreme Head. In the next year's session came the Act in Restraint of Appeals of 1533 which forbade appeals to Rome (thus allowing for a divorce in England without the need for the Pope's permission). This was drafted by Cromwell and its famous preamble declared:

Where by divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles, it is manifestly declared and expressed that this realm of England is an Empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one Supreme Head and King having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial Crown of the same, unto whom a body politic compact of all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal, be bounden and owe to bear next to God a natural and humble obedience.

When Cromwell used the label "Empire" for England he did so in a special sense. Previous English monarchs had claimed to be Emperors in that they ruled more than one kingdom, but in this Act it meant something different. Here the Kingdom of England is declared an Empire by itself, free from "the authority of any foreign potentates." This meant that England was now an independent sovereign nation-state no longer under the jurisdiction of the Pope.[10]

Cromwell was the most prominent of those who suggested to Henry VIII that the king make himself head of the English Church, and saw the Act of Supremacy of 1534 through Parliament. In 1535 Henry VIII delegated powers he had gained under the Supremacy Act to Cromwell, appointing him to the newly created office of "Vicegerent in Spirituals." In this role, Cromwell presided over the Dissolution of the Monasteries, which began with his visitation of the monasteries and abbeys, announced in 1535 and begun in the winter of 1536. His vicegerency evolved into another new position, vicar general, which gave him the power as supreme judge in ecclesiastical cases and provided a single unifying institution over the two provinces of the English Church (Canterbury and York).

In addition to his influence on English religious life, Cromwell worked to modernize English government. He founded the Court of Wards and Court of Surveyors to make the taxation system more efficient, and he contributed to the professionalization of the bureaucracy. He was also the architect of the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542, which united England and Wales, and he also helped to strengthen English government in Ireland.[11]

Cromwell also became patron to a group of English intellectual humanists whom Cromwell used to promote the English Reformation through the medium of print. These included Thomas Gibson, William Marshall, Richard Morrison, John Rastell, Thomas Starkey, Richard Taverner and John Uvedale. Cromwell commissioned Marshall to translate and print Marsilius of Padua's Defensor pacis, for which he paid him £20.[12] He also made use of the printing press, a relatively new technology, to spread propaganda for the Reformation.

When Erasmus was trying to retrieve the arrears of his pension from the living in Aldington, Kent, the incumbent refused on grounds that it was his predecessor who had promised to pay his pension. Cromwell sent Erasmus 20 angels and Thomas Bedyll, a friend of Cromwell's, informed Erasmus that Cromwell "favours you exceptionally and everywhere shows himself to be an ardent friend of your name".[13]

Though viewed as a new man, Cromwell rose to aristocratic rank. He was created Baron Cromwell on 9 July 1536, 300th Knight of the Garter in 1537 and Earl of Essex on 17 April 1540[14].

Downfall and execution

Cromwell had supported Henry VIII in disposing of Anne Boleyn and replacing her with Jane Seymour. During his years as the King's chief minister, Cromwell created many powerful enemies for himself.

His final downfall, however, was caused by the haste with which he encouraged the king to marry Anne of Cleves, a princess from the Duchy of Cleves. This was a marriage that Cromwell hoped would put the English Reformation back on track after the recent setback with the Six Articles, but the enterprise became a disaster when King Henry confided to Cromwell that he had not consummated the marriage.[15] Henry told Cromwell to get him out of the marriage by legal means, but the king was obliged to go ahead with it or risk the vital German alliance. The disaster of the king's marriage to Anne of Cleves was all the opportunity that Cromwell's opponents, most notably the Duke of Norfolk, needed to press for his fall from grace.

Even though he was made the 1st Earl of Essex by the king on 17 April 1540, Cromwell became very suspicious that his downfall was coming, because he had never been so officially high in the king's graces. Cromwell's fears were to be proved correct. Whilst at a Council meeting on 10 June 1540, Cromwell was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Cromwell was subjected to an Act of Attainder and was kept alive by Henry VIII until his marriage to Anne of Cleves could be annulled.

File:London Tower Hill
Plaque on Tower Hill commemorating the site of the execution of Thomas Cromwell and others

He was executed on Tower Hill on 28 July 1540, the same day that the king went on to marry Catherine Howard.[16] After his execution, Cromwell's head was boiled and then set upon a spike on London Bridge, facing away from the City of London. Edward Hall, a contemporary chronicler, records that Cromwell made a speech on the scaffold, professing to die, "in the traditional faith" and then "so paciently suffered the stroke of the axe, by a ragged Boocherly miser whiche very ungoodly perfourmed the Office". Hall said of Cromwell's downfall:

Many lamented but more rejoiced, and specially such as either had been religious men, or favoured religious persons; for they banqueted and triumphed together that night, many wishing that that day had been seven year before; and some fearing lest he should escape, although he were imprisoned, could not be merry. Others who knew nothing but truth by him both lamented him and heartily prayed for him. But this is true that of certain of the clergy he was detestably hated, & specially of such as had borne swynge, and by his means was put from it; for in dead he was a man that in all his doings seemed not to favour any kind of Popery, nor could not abide the snoffyng pride of some prelates, which undoubtedly, whatsoever else was the cause of his death, did shorten his life and procured the end that he was brought unto.[17]

Henry came to regret Cromwell's execution. About eight months afterwards, Henry accused his ministers of bringing about Cromwell's downfall by false charges.[18] Henry spent the rest of his life lamenting the fact that Cromwell had been executed.[citation needed]

Relatives and descendants

Thomas Cromwell's daughter-in-law was Elizabeth Seymour, sister of Queen Jane Seymour. Elizabeth was married to Gregory Cromwell, 1st Baron Cromwell.

Richard Cromwell alias Williams was a nephew of Thomas Cromwell.

The Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658), was descended from Thomas Cromwell's sister Catherine Cromwell. Oliver was Thomas's great-great-grandnephew. Katharine, Duchess of Kent, is also a descendant of Oliver Cromwell.[19]

Hans Holbein portraits

Thomas Cromwell was one of the patrons of Hans Holbein the Younger, as were Sir Thomas More and Anne Boleyn. Holbein painted the portrait shown at the top of this page (illustration, upper right of page). The inscription on the paper lying on the table in the original portrait describes Cromwell as "Master of the Jewell House", an official position that he occupied for just one year from 12 April 1532, thus dating the portrait.

In New York's Frick Collection two portraits by Holbein hang facing each other on the same wall of the Living Hall, one depicting Thomas Cromwell, the other one Thomas More, whose execution he had procured.[20]

Fictional portrayals

Cromwell has been portrayed in at least fourteen feature films and television miniseries.[21]

Theatre

Perhaps Cromwell's best known fictional appearance is in Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons. When the play opened in London he was played by Andrew Keir but when it transferred to Broadway, the part was taken over by Leo McKern. who had played "the Common Man" in London. He is the main antagonist of the story, and is portrayed as being ruthlessly ambitious and jealous of Thomas More's influence with the King. Cromwell is also a supporting character in William Shakespeare's play Henry VIII. He is subject of Thomas Lord Cromwell, a 1602 play of unknown authorship attributed to the initials W.S. (as such once thought to be a Shakespeare work).

Novels

Cromwell is the protagonist of Hilary Mantel's 2009 novel Wolf Hall, which enhances his humanity and thus to some extent rebuts Robert Bolt's unflattering portrayal of Cromwell in A Man for All Seasons. The novel won the 2009 Man Booker Prize. Mantel has announced that she is already at work on a second, concluding novel about Cromwell, tentatively titled The Mirror and the Light.

Cromwell appears as a leading character in the first two Matthew Shardlake historical crime fiction novels by C. J. Sansom, Dissolution and Dark Fire, and as a supporting character in the many novels based on members of the Tudor royal family, particularly those on Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn.

He is a major character in The Trusted Servant by Alison Macleod,[22] whose main protagonist begins as Cromwell's younger protégé. He also plays a minor part in two of Philippa Gregory's novels including The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance.

Film

Franklin Dyall portrayed Cromwell in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). In the film version of A Man for All Seasons he was played by Leo McKern. He has also been portrayed in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) by John Colicos, the classic British comedy Carry On Henry (1971) by Kenneth Williams, in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972) by Donald Pleasence, and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) by Iain Mitchell.

Television

Cromwell has been portrayed in the BBC miniseries The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970) by Wolfe Morris, in the Granada Television production Henry VIII (2003) by Danny Webb. In the television version of The Other Boleyn Girl (2003) he is played by veteran Ron Cook.

In the television series The Tudors (2007) Cromwell is played by English actor James Frain. Frain played the character for three seasons; Cromwell's execution brought the third season to its conclusion. In The Twisted Tale Of Bloody Mary (2008), an independent film from TV Choice Productions,[23] Cromwell is played by Burtie Welland.

Notes

  1. ^ Karen Lindsey, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived, xvi, Perseus Books, 1995
  2. ^ John Guy, Tudor England (Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 154. ISBN 0192852132.
  3. ^ G. R. Elton, England under the Tudors: Third Edition (London: Routledge, 1991), p. 127.
  4. ^ a b Arthur Kinney, Tudor England: An Encyclopedia (Garland Science, 2000), p. 172.
  5. ^ J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (Penguin, 1971), p. 342.
  6. ^ Stanford E. Lehmberg, The Reformation Parliament, 1529–1536 (Cambridge University Press, 1970), pp. 1–2.
  7. ^ a b c Elton, p. 129.
  8. ^ a b Lehmberg, p. 132.
  9. ^ G. R. Elton, "King or Minister? The Man behind the Henrician Reformation" in Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government: Volume I (Cambridge University Press, 1974), p. 183.
  10. ^ Elton, England under the Tudors, p. 161.
  11. ^ http://www.englishhistory.net/tudor/citizens/cromwell.html A biography of Thomas Cromwell
  12. ^ G. R. Elton, 'An early Tudor Poor Law' in Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government: Volume II (Cambridge University Press, 1974), pp. 152–3.
  13. ^ G. R. Elton, Reform and Renewal: Thomas Cromwell and the Common Weal (Cambridge University Press, 1973), p. 31.
  14. ^ http://www.1902encyclopedia.com/C/CRO/thomas-cromwell.html
  15. ^ Schofield, p. 240.
  16. ^ Hibbert, p. 60.
  17. ^ Sir Henry Ellis (ed.), Hall's Chronicle (London, 1809), p. 838.
  18. ^ J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (Penguin, 1971), p. 496.
  19. ^ Le Petit Gotha
  20. ^ Frick Collection
  21. ^ IMDB
  22. ^ Archives Hub
  23. ^ The Twisted Tale

References

  • G. R. Elton, England under the Tudors: Third Edition, (London: Routledge, 1991) ISBN 0-416-70690-8.
  • Sir Henry Ellis (ed.), Hall's Chronicle (London, 1809).
  • G. R. Elton, The Tudor Revolution in Government: Administrative Changes in the Reign of Henry VIII (Cambridge University Press, 1953).
  • G. R. Elton, Policy and Police: The Enforcement of the Reformation in the Age of Thomas Cromwell (Cambridge University Press, 1973).
  • G. R. Elton, Reform and Renewal: Thomas Cromwell and the Common Weal (Cambridge University Press, 1973).
  • G. R. Elton, Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government: Volume I (Cambridge University Press, 1974).
  • G. R. Elton, Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government: Volume II (Cambridge University Press, 1974).
  • John Guy, Tudor England (Oxford University Press, 1990).
  • Arthur Kinney, Tudor England: An Encyclopedia (Garland Science, 2000).
  • Stanford E. Lehmberg, The Reformation Parliament, 1529–1536 (Cambridge University Press, 1970).
  • Hibbert, C.,The Tower of London (Newsweek Book Division, 1981). ISBN 0-88225-002-7

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Stephen Gardiner
Secretary of State
1533–1536
Succeeded by
Thomas Wriothesley
Preceded by
John Taylor
Master of the Rolls
1534–1536
Succeeded by
Christopher Hales
Preceded by
The Earl of Wiltshire
Lord Privy Seal
1536–1540
Succeeded by
The Earl of Southampton
Preceded by
unknown
Governor of the Isle of Wight
1538–1540
Succeeded by
John Paulet, 2nd Baron St John
Preceded by
John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford
Lord Great Chamberlain
1540
Succeeded by
John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford
Legal offices
Preceded by
Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy de Darcy
Justice in Eyre
north of the Trent

1537–1540
Succeeded by
The Earl of Rutland
Peerage of England
Preceded by
New Creation
Baron Cromwell
1536–1540
Succeeded by
Forfeit
Preceded by
New Creation
Earl of Essex
1540
Succeeded by
Forfeit

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Thomas Cromwell (c. 1485July 28, 1540) was an English statesman, King Henry VIII's chief minister 1532–1540.

Sourced

  • I amongist other have indured a Parlyament which contenewid by the space of xvij hole wekes, wher we communyd of warre, pease, stryffe, contencyon, debatt, murmure, grudge, riches, poverte, penwrye, trowth, falshode, justyce, equyte, discayte, oppressyon, magnanymyte, actyvyte, force, attempraunce, treason, murder, felonye, consyle[ation], and also how a commune welth myght be edeffyed and contenewed within our realme. Howbeyt in conclusion we have done as our predecessors have bene wont to doo, that ys to say as well as we myght, and lefte wher we began.
    • Letter to a friend after the dissolution of the unproductive Parliament of 1523. (Roger B. Merriman, The Life and Letters of Thomas Cromwell: Volume I (Oxford University Press, 1902), p. 313.)
  • [ William Tyndale is a man] replete with venomous envy, rancour and malice.
    • Letter to Stephen Vaughan after May 1531. (Merriman, i. p. 335.)
  • Who seeth not that he that is an evil counsellor to a prince is an evil counsellor to a realm? If it be sin to be an evil counsellor to one man, wat abomination, what devilish and horrible sin is it to be a flatterer or an evil councillor to a prince?
    • Letter to Stephen Vaughan.
  • Where by divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles, it is manifestly declared and expressed that this realm of England is an Empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one Supreme Head and King having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial Crown of the same, unto whom a body politic compact of all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of Spirituality and Temporalty, be bounden and owe to bear next to God a natural and humble obedience.
  • My lord, you had showed yourself of much more patience—I wll not say of much more prudency—if ye had contented yourself with their lawful appeal and my lawful injunctions and rather have sought fully to instruct me in the matter than thus to desire to conquer me by shrewd words, to vanquish me by sharp threaps [assertions] of Scripture which, as I know to be true, so I trust to God—as great clerk as ye be—ye allege them out of their place.
  • This had been no great cause more to reject the one than thother, for ye know by histories of the bible that god may by his revelation dispense with his own Law.
    • Letter to Fisher. (Merriman, i. p. 376.)
  • My prayer is that God give me no longer life than I shall be glad to use mine office in edification, and not in destruction.
    • Letter of March 1538. (Merriman, ii. p. 129.)
  • [I am] A Subject and born to obey laws...The trial of all laws only consisteth in honest and probable witness.
    • (Merriman, ii. p. 223.)
  • The king's majesty desires nothing more than concord...; he knows there are those who would stir up strife, and that in many places in his field tares have sprongen to harm the wheat. The forwardness and carnal lust of some, the inveterate corruption and superstitious tenacity of opinion of others, excite disputation and quarrels most horrible to good Christian men; one side calls the other papists, and the other again calls them heretics, both naughty and not to be borne; and that the less so because they miserably abuse the Holy Word of God and the Scriptures which the same most noble prince of his gentleness and for the salvation and consolation of his people has permitted them to read in the vulgar tongue. They twist God's sacred gift, now into heresy and now into superstition. [The king] favours nor one side nor the other but, as becometh a Christian prince, profess the true Christian faith [therefore the king desires the] true doctrine and rule of the Gospel shall be published clear and established [and] the pious observation of ceremonies shall be distinguished from the impious, their use taught and their abuse abolished.
    • Speech to the reassmbled Parliament, 12 April 1540. (Journal of the House of Lords: I, pp. 128-9.)
  • I have meddled in so many matters under your Highness that I am not able to answer them all...but hard it is for me or any other meddling as I have done to live under your grace and your laws but we must daily offend.
    • Letter to Henry VIII whilst imprisoned in the Tower of London. (Merriman, ii. p. 266.)

About

  • [I have had many a talk with Cromwell] of god, of nature & of other polytyke & wordly thyngys [from which he has] geddryd more frute of truth then I have downe of any other man lyvyng syth I cam here to my cuntrey.
    • Thomas Starkey.
  • A good household manager, but not fit to meddle in the affairs of kings.
    • Henry VIII to the French ambassador, May 1538.
  • Many lamented but more rejoiced, and specially such as either had been religious men, or favoured religious persons; for they banqueted and triumphed together that night, many wishing that that day had been seven year before; and some fearing lest he should escape, although he were imprisoned, could not be merry. Others who knew nothing but truth by him both lamented him and heartily prayed for him. But this is true that of certain of the clergy he was detestably hated, & specially of such as had borne swynge, and by his means was put from it; for in dead he was a man that in all his doings seemed not to favour any kind of Popery, nor could not abide the snoffyng pride of some prelates, which undoubtedly, whatsoever else was the cause of his death, did shorten his life and procured the end that he was brought unto.
    • Edward Hall on Cromwell's downfall. (Sir Henry Ellis (ed.), Hall's Chronicle (London, 1809), p. 838.)
  • And shall I name one who hath been in our age, and wish him now to live to cure so great a canker? Would God England had a Cromwell: I will say no more.
    • Thomas Wilson, Discourse on Usury (1571), p. 182.

External links


Simple English

The Earl of Essex
File:Cromwell,Thomas(1EEssex)
Portrait by Holbein, 1532–3
Born 1485
Putney, Middlesex, England
Died 28 July 1540 (aged 55)
Tower of London, England
Occupation Government
Religion Roman Catholic, then Anglican
Spouse Elizabeth Wykes
Children Gregory Cromwell, 1st Baron Cromwell
Parents Walter Cromwell, Dau Clossop

Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, KG, PC (c. 1485 – 28 July 1540) was an English statesman. He was King Henry VIII's chief minister (like Prime Minister) from 1532 to 1540. He held many important posts, ending as Lord Chamberlain. Cromwell did not come from a rich or noble family: he rose in life by his work and merit.

Cromwell tried to modernize government, but this meant that both the nobility and the church would have less power. Because of this he was seen as an upstart. He was one of the strongest supporters of the English Reformation, the English Church's break with the papacy in Rome. Henry VIII was made the head of the Church of England by Parliament in 1534. Cromwell helped control the new Church with his two new jobs; Vicegerent for spirituals and Vicar general.

Downfall and execution

Cromwell had supported Henry VIII in disposing of Anne Boleyn and replacing her with Jane Seymour. During his years as the King's chief minister, Cromwell created many powerful enemies for himself.

His final downfall was caused by the haste with which he encouraged the king to marry Anne of Cleves. This was a marriage that Cromwell hoped would put the English Reformation back on track after the recent setback with the Six Articles. The enterprise became a disaster when King Henry told Cromwell that he had not consummated the marriage.[1] Henry told Cromwell to get him out of the marriage by legal means, but the king was obliged to go ahead with it or risk the vital German alliance. The king's marriage to Anne of Cleves was a disaster for Cromwell. It was the opportunity that Cromwell's opponents (most notably the Duke of Norfolk) needed to press for his downfall.

Cromwell was executed at Tyburn on 28 July 1540, the same day that the king divorced Anne of Cleves and married Catherine Howard.[2]p60 After his execution, Cromwell's head was boiled and then set upon a spike on London Bridge, facing away from the City of London.

Henry came to regret Cromwell's execution. About eight months afterwards, Henry accused his ministers of bringing about Cromwell's downfall by false charges.[3]p496 Henry spent the rest of his life lamenting the fact that Cromwell had been executed.

Note

Oliver Cromwell, the revolutionary leader who overthrew the British monarchy and led a short-lived republican government in the 17th century, was a descendant of Thomas Cromwell's sister, Catherine Cromwell (born circa 1482).

References

  1. Schofield, p240.
  2. Hibbert C. 1981. The Tower of London Newsweek Books. ISBN 0-88225-002-7
  3. Scarisbrick J.J. 1971. Henry VIII Penguin.


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