How successful were the domestic reforms of Wolsey in the years 1515 to 1529? (24 marks)

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How successful were the domestic reforms of Wolsey in the years 1515 to 1529? (24 marks) 

During the fourteen-year period of Wolsey being chancellor (1515 to 1529), Wolsey proved to be a considerable influence over Henry VIII's domestic policy. Wolsey was involved in economic, legal, aristocratic and church affairs. Overall Wolsey's domestic policy was relatively successful however it did have some major failures. Wolsey was no domestic reformer in any modern political sense and he saw his prime duty as Lord Chancellor. 
One area in which Wolsey is seen as having a great impact on is legal reform. Wolsey was keen to make it clear that no one was above the law and that the law was applicable to all so the wealthy/powerful could not escape. Wolsey was genuinely concerned to improve the administration of the law and increase the reputation of the crown as the ‘fount of justice’. A successful was that in 1516 Wolsey put forward a scheme to improve the whole legal system, the power of the court of the Star Chamber was to be increased and ordinary subject were to file their own cases in Chancery and Star Chamber. This certainly seemed to have been successful, in Chancery the number of cases went up slightly from the time of Henry VII, but in Star Chamber the increase was dramatic up form 12 cases per annum to 120 per annum. The historian Sir Geoffrey Elton says that "Wolsey gloried in the majesty of a judge, and though he had no legal training that we know of he possessed a remarkable natural ability for the task".
 However this new legal system was unsuccessful as it made Wolsey powerful enemies. An example of this is that cases were brought against the high born with the Earl of Northumberland. This meant he was sent to fleet prison for a felony. Additionally Wolsey struggled to cope with the increased demand of cases.

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Another area in which Wolsey flourished but also failed was financial management. Wolsey’s most significant and lasting achievements were in tax reforms. This is because he introduced Subsidy and decided to get rid of the old ideas of fifteenths and tenths as it was inefficient and did not raise enough income. Subsidy was not a yearly tax; it was therefore only used when needed. Wolsey used this new tax a total number of four times. From 1513-1516, subsidy raised £170,000, whereas three yearly fifteenths and tenths raised a mere £90,000. This therefore shows how Wolsey managed to raise a ...

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