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

    However more intensive local studies have cast doubt on this broad proposition. In the absence of mass media, effective evangelisers for either point of view seem to have had an effect on the local population. Accepting the complex situation outlined above, a general conclusion can still be drawn.

  2. Tudor Coursework - Elizabethan foreign policy.

    Both of these main trade areas had fallen under Spanish rule. The Netherlands through marriage and the New World through discovery, population and the treaty of Tordesillas. The initial problem between Elizabeth I and Philip II may have been that, whilst Elizabeth represented a Protestant country and Philip represented a

  1. How far was the church in need of reform during your chosen period of ...

    The Act of Supremacy recognised Henry VIII as head of the Church in England, although the Six Articles of 1539 were highly Catholic the previous Act mentioned had caused so much damage to the Roman Catholic Church that it was difficult to stop Protestant ideas from rising or a return to the Church in Rome.

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

    Bernard finds this theory unlikely and believes rather that Henry intended to take Jane as his mistress as he was devoted to his marriage with Anne up until her infidelities were discovered. In support of this theory he puts a lot of emphasis on an encounter between Eustace Chapuys and Anne.

  1. Elizabeth I. Gender, Power and Politics.

    � Without Elizabeth's protection after 1569, Mary might have well knelt at the scaffold years before her execution in 1587. � With foreign policy Elizabeth usually put her weight behind more cautious councillors who wanted to avoid out-right war with Spain during the 1570s and early 1580s, and who preferred

  2. Is the English Civil War best described as a war of religion?

    Charles escaped to launch as second civil war in 1648, allying with the Scots, using the promise of Presbyterian installation within Britain as his bargaining tool. Cromwell was keen to enforce the independents style of religion in England after the execution of Charles, and in 1653 he became Lord Protector of the Commonwealth.

  1. Assess the motives and impact of Elizabeth's intervention in Scotland between 1559-1560.

    knew that this threat was the one that would upset Elizabeth the most. Having just newly come to the throne and not yet being firmly established "she was especially susceptive to any slightest aspersion on her title to the throne"14.

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

    deed was made punishable......while a second refusal to take oath was made treason'. It wasn't only the Catholics who caused any political opposition to these changes, Puritans (a form of extreme Protestantism), were not happy with this religious settlement. Presbyterians felt hold over the church should not be allowed, and elections should be held within ministries.

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