Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant

Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant

Tracy Borman

Language: English

Pages: 464

ISBN: 0802124623

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Thomas Cromwell has long been reviled as a Machiavellian schemer who stopped at nothing in his quest for power. As King Henry VIII’s right-hand man, Cromwell was the architect of the English Reformation; secured Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and plotted the downfall of his second wife, Anne Boleyn; and was fatally accused of trying to usurp the king himself. But in this engrossing new biography, acclaimed British historian Tracy Borman reveals a different side to one of history’s most notorious characters: that of a caring husband and father, a fiercely loyal servant and friend, and a revolutionary who was key in transforming medieval England into a modern state.

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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grey eyes stare intently at something in the middle distance. His eyebrows are slightly raised in a questioning, vaguely cynical stance, and his long, thin lips are pressed together in a line. The large, bulbous nose and double chin hint at the sitter’s age, as well as his portliness. Although finely made of high-quality fabrics, Cromwell’s cap and gown are hardly the attire of a fashionable courtier. Both are in sombre black, with a brown fur collar. This may have reflected Cromwell’s distaste

have contemplated marrying her himself. After all, his power and wealth made him one of the most eligible bachelors at court. Although the exact date of Lady Ughtred’s birth is not known, it is commonly assumed to have been between 1500 and 1505, which would have made her Cromwell’s junior by fifteen or twenty years – hardly a significant gap. By contrast, she would have been exactly the same number of years older than Cromwell’s son, Gregory, and it was more unusual for wives to be older than

298 Merriman, Roger 4, 211, 390 Mewtis, Peter 260 Michaelangelo 18, 25 Michell, William 12 Middelburg 19 Milan, Christina of Denmark, Duchess of 291 monasteries dissolution of see dissolution of the monasteries visitation of 189–90, 196–7, 201–2 Monoux, George 116 Mont, Christopher 321, 322 Montague, Henry Pole, 1st Baron 294, 304–5, 306 Montmorency, Anne de 369, 395 More, Sir Thomas 44–6, 50, 130, 162–3 and Bonvisi 44 and Cromwell 45–6, 130–31, 160–61, 162–3, 193–6 in Man For

of your coming hither hath so increased my sorrow, and put me in such anxiety of mynd, that this night my breath and wind, by sighing, was so short that I was by the space of three hours as one that should have died.’ He mournfully added: ‘If I be not removed to a drier air, and that shortly, there is little hope.’ Although undoubtedly suffering, Wolsey made the most of his illness to persuade Cromwell to visit. ‘If you love my life, break away this evening and come hither, to the intent I may

vibrant of all the Italian Renaissance cities, boasting such masters as Giotto, Fra Angelico and Botticelli. Adorned with exquisite paintings, frescos, sculptures and buildings, it was a city of incomparable beauty, famous throughout the world. The precise date of Cromwell’s arrival there is not known but it would have been some time before June 1504, by which time he had entered the household of the powerful Florentine merchant banker, Francesco Frescobaldi. The Frescobaldis had been renowned

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