A Profile of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey

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Thomas Wolsey was born in Ipswich between 1471 and 74. Some people believe he was the Son of a simple butcher, some people believe this rumour was made up by his enemies in an effort to discredit his upbringing. Nevertheless he was still far from being born into nobility. He was clearly intelligent, as he studied at Oxford University at the age of 15. He became master of the college he attended there at a young age.

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was an incredibly important political figure during the Tudor period. He was also a religious figure. After being ordained as a priest at the age of 25, he became a chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and soon after entered Henry VII’s service. Henry VII’s like the fact that Wolsey was from a humble background, as he wanted to control the nobility and so not give them much power. He appointed him Royal Chaplain. Everyone who encountered Wolsey remarked upon his intelligence and hardworking attitude. This is the main reason why he was able to rise to power.  Henry VII trusted him to carry out very important tasks, such as negotiations with the King of Scotland. When Henry VII died and Henry VII inherited the throne, he also inherited his father’s staff, including Wolsey. He appointed Henry on the Privy Council, meaning he had an opportunity to get to know the new King and gain his trust. Henry also inherited his father’s counsellors Richard Foxe and William Warham, who both agreed more with Henry VII’s style, and wanted the young Henry to avoid war. Henry was not interested in listening to their advice, and since Wolsey was more interested in the idea of a war with France, Henry sacked Warham and made Wolsey his Lord Chancellor. During this rise to power, he also continued to raise up in positions in the Church, becoming the Canon of Windsor and became a Cardinal in 1515.

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The War with France began in 1512; initially failing due to a weak alliance with Ferdinand of Spain. In 1513, still allied with the Pope, England attacked France again, capturing two small cities. Although this victory was quite insignificant, it symbolised the start of Henry’s quest to conquer France succeeding. Wolsey proved himself very capable at organising war, and also in diplomatic negotiations, this was proved by the Treaty of London in 1518, which united France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, the Papacy and England against the threat of the Turks. Uniting these countries who so often fought over politics, ...

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