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Did Wolsey Achieve Anything As A Judge?

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Introduction

Did Wolsey Achieve Anything As A Judge To judge how effective Wolsey was as a judge we must know what he was trying to achieve, his aims. The all pervading factor, or aim through out his career, and in its many different branches (domestic, foreign, law and order etc) was the need to please Henry. The need for him to do this is obvious, if he displeased Henry he would loose his power and position. The king was sovereign. The were other motives behind Wolsey, he was a humanist, he was ambitious, vengeful, he had class prejudices (he was the son of a butcher, and had on numerous times been treated badly by the noble and gentle classes). Clearly the most important drive behind his actions was providing what the king wanted, so to judge his success we must see how effective he was in satisfying the king, and there for must look at what the king wanted. ...read more.

Middle

To control the nobles, Wolsey had to undermine their power to an extent. One of the ways he did this was through the idea of impartial justice, by allowing the people of a lower status to bring cases against the noble and the gentry, he removed the idea of them being above the law, which was shown by his imprisonment and fining of several nobles such as Earl of Northumberland. This would make the nobles fear Henry and Wolsey as if they were imprisoned there lands and there wealth could be ceased of Henry's own retainers put in their place. To further undermine the nobles in legal matters Wolsey, and Henry introduced their own justices of the peace, these could watch the nobles and gentry and so inform on them, something similar to the system of spies in noble households that Henry VII used. The JP's also helped to centralise the administration of the legal system as they would make sure laws passed in London were carried out as quickly in possible in their region. ...read more.

Conclusion

The number of cases increased so much that Star Chamber under Wolsey had four times as many cases as previously, and many of the other courts overflowed with cases. Wolsey was effective as a judge in keeping Henry happy and carrying out his aims to keep the nobles subjugated and under control. He didn't really ever manage to introduce impartial justice, as he never put through the necessary reforms to continue it after his downfall. Nor did he ever manage to see enough cases to truly make a difference, yet his heart was in the right place, and I believe he truly tried to make a difference. And although he used the law for his own gain he also helped others gain, none more so than Henry, who under Wolsey's legal prowess was able to have a stable early reign. As Dawson says "the law aroused Wolsey's intellects", and no matter what is said about what he achieved as a judge he did work very hard as one. ?? ?? ?? ?? 01/05/2007 S.Masterson ...read more.

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