• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent can Wolsey be considered the master rather than the servant in policy decisions under Henry VIII

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

To what extent can Wolsey be considered the "master rather than the servant" in policy decisions under Henry VIII From humble beginnings as the son of an Ipswich butcher, through his meteoric rise in the royal court, to his unrivalled position in the English Church, Thomas Wolsey has often been seen as a controversial and derided figure. Some see him as "alter rex", or second king, the real power behind the throne, while others view him as the puppet of Henry VIII, always prepared to do as the King bid. This essay will look at the rise, career and subsequent downfall of Thomas Wolsey in order to examine the extent to which he was the master rather than the servant in policy decision made under Henry VIII. Thomas Wolsey was born in about 1472, the son of an Ipswich butcher and owing to his high intellect, was sent to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he achieved academic success and graduated with a BA (Gwyn, 2002). He was ordained as a priest in 1498 and one of his first positions was in service to Richard Nanfan, governor of Calais (Elton, 1991, Guy, 1990, Gwyn, 2002). On Nanfan's death in 1507, Wolsey made the significant move to the royal household, becoming chaplain to Henry VII (ibid). He made a considerable impression on the King who, recognising Wolsey's diplomatic skill, sent him on missions to the Low Countries and Scotland. ...read more.

Middle

Furthermore he quotes a letter from Henry to the Pope extolling Wolsey having "laboured and sweated" more than anyone for the peace. The cost of financing wars was high and Henry spent �1.4 million between 1511 and 1525, whilst his income was only �110,000 per year (Ross, 2001). In order to raise the funds needed to satisfy Henry's warring intentions, Wolsey implemented the Amicable Grant in 1525. This forced loan was incredibly unpopular with both parliament and taxpayers, eventually leading to signs of armed disturbances in East Anglia and Kent against Wolsey himself rather than the King who was the one really in need of the money (Elton, 1991). Eventually Henry had to perform a dramatic climb down and call off the grant. As Elton suggests, this was the first time that Henry began to question his faith in Wolsey. At home, Wolsey's main policy interest was the law and after his appointment as Lord Chancellor in 1515, he oversaw the Court of Chancery and the Court of Star Chamber (Lotherington, 2003). Under Wolsey, the Star Chamber took on a renewed vigour, with Wolsey attending the chamber most frequently, whilst Henry, who rarely attended official meetings, relied on his minister to inform him of the outcomes either in person or in writing. Guy (1995) argues that Wolsey did not seek out the position as Lord Chancellor to fuel his power hungry aspirations, as neither his predecessors nor Cromwell after him managed as much influence over the King as Wolsey achieved. ...read more.

Conclusion

Elton suggests that Wolsey failed in his task because he was torn between his loyalty to the papacy and his loyalty to the King. Gwyn (2002 pp 598) has a simpler explanation saying that "in the end Henry loved Anne more than he loved Wolsey". Guy (1990) argues that as Henry did not leave Wolsey entirely bereft of all his offices, leaving him with both the Archbishopric of York and the Bishopric of Winchester, this could demonstrate that Henry intended to re-employ his minister at a later date. In order to answer the question of whether Wolsey was the master or the servant in policy decisions under Henry VIII, this essay has shown that although Wolsey demonstrated great skill in administration and was an exceptionally hard worker, Henry VIII was still in overall charge. Wolsey could be seen to be a sycophant, courting favour with the King in order to further his own wealth and career. During the early years of Henry's reign, it is possible that Wolsey could be seen as the master, purely because the youthful Henry was caught up in more amusing affairs. However, Henry always devised policy but left Wolsey to carry it out. Henry recognised Wolsey's abilities and utilised them, but whilst Henry could easily remove Wolsey, Wolsey as a servant of the King was not able to remove Henry. In conclusion, the evidence suggests that Henry VIII and Wolsey formed an effective partnership, but Wolsey was always Henry's servant. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1500-1599 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree 1500-1599 essays

  1. How did the reign of Elizabeth transform the Tudor state?

    Elizabeth was pragmatic and decided to try and negotiate with the Spanish army and Alva, and at first Philip II agreed to restore trade with England and restore religious toleration with the Netherlands. It was soon made clear Philip II wanted the rule of England completely, and would not maintain religious neutrality.

  2. After the accession of Henry VIII, England began an inevitable change towards Protestantism, which ...

    Mary's strategy was to return to Rome. Mary rescinded the Edwardian Prayer Book, replaced Protestant bishops with Catholic ones and prohibited clerical marriage. Transubstantiation was upheld and images and altars returned. Repression was part of Mary's strategy, with almost 300 Protestants burned at the stake.

  1. Anne Boleyn - historians such as G. W. Bernard, E. W. Ives and Retha ...

    [their] marriage while seduced by witchcraft," to sadness over the loss of a child rather than an attempt by Henry to disconnect himself from the paternity of a deformed baby. Throughout his paper Bernard gives Henry the benefit of the doubt.

  2. The Authority Conflict: Machiavelli & Martin Luther

    Alternatively, Luther endorsed combating the evil nature of mankind and maintaining a strong spiritual side to resist temptation. He believed that faith would enlighten man on all things in him that are blameworthy, sinful, and damnable (Luther 8). While Luther thought achieving inner goodness through faith alone could achieve eternal

  1. Why Were Some of the English Poor Laws passed between 1531 and 1598 Controversial?

    . . This was the principle adopted in the poor law of 1531 and its successors."2 Nevertheless the polarization between the deserving and undeserving, was not always as clear cut as the sixteenth stereotypes would leave us to believe.

  2. To what extent was Elizabeth I able to create a positive image throughout her ...

    as the king my father") show that she was prepared to emphasise parts of her character in order to keep her popularity. When she came to the throne Elizabeth and her advisors made sure that she pandered to what the English people wanted.

  1. Jasmine's key worker has noticed bruising on Jasmine's legs and bottom. This could have ...

    argues: "...there can be no doubt that a child with disabilities can be a source of additional stress." She also could be suffering from postnatal depression because her youngest is only six months old. Jasmine has attended nursery in the same heavily soiled clothes two days running, which has not happened before.

  2. How religious was the tenth-century reform?

    Fleury and Ghent were later called in to help Bishop Aethelwold draw up the Regularis Concordia. Continental reform must have encouraged a desire amongst some ecclesiasts to increase the spirituality of the English Church. After all, if it had been managed on the continent, why could the same not happen in England?

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work