Spotlight: Cardinal Thomas Wolsey


Name: Thomas Wolsey.

Title/s: Cardinal / Lord Chancellor / Archbishop of York / King’s Almoner / Bishop of Lincoln.

Birth / Death: c. March 1473 – 29 November 1530.

Spouse: None.

Children: Thomas Wynter 1510 –? & Dorothy Clancey 1512 –? (illegitimate, by Joan Larke c.1490-1529).

Parents: Robert Wolsey & Joan Daundy (dates unknown).

Siblings: None

Noble Connections: Wolsey didn’t really have any noble connections – he was the son of a butcher, and he was lucky to get a position at Henry VII’s court, and then had to prove himself to move up in Henry VIII’s court.

Events of their Lifetime: Field of the Cloth of Gold 1520, Treaty of London 1519, Henry VIII falls in love with Anne Boleyn and instigates the divorce, and the France vs. Spain foreign policy.

Controversy: The reason for Wolsey’s fall has been debated for years. The most popular suggestion is that Wolsey fell from power because he failed to get Henry VIII’s divorce. Other writers claim that Henry had been becoming disillusioned with Wolsey for years. Others suggest that it was Anne Boleyn, over her supposed broken engagement with Henry Percy.

Works of Fiction:
George, Margaret, The Autobiography of Henry VIII (1986)
Mantel, Hilary, Wolf Hall (2009)
Plaidy, Jean, The King’s Secret Matter (1962)
Shakespeare, William, Henry VIII (1623)

Portrayals on Screen:
Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Henry VIII: Mind of a Tyrant, 2009, 3 episodes
Sam Neill, The Tudors, 2007, 11 episodes
Jonathan Pryce, Wolf Hall, 2015, 3 episodes
Anthony Quayle, Anne of the Thousand Days, 1969, directed by Charles Jarrott
Terry Scott, Carry on Henry, 1971, directed by Gerald Thomas
David Suchet, Henry VIII, 2003, directed by Pete Travis

Further Reading:
Bernard, G.W., ‘The Fall of Wolsey Reconsidered’, Journal of British Studies, 35 (1996)
Gwyn, Peter, The King’s Cardinal: the Rise and Fall of Thomas Wolsey (1990)
Loades, David, Cardinal Wolsey: Tudor Statesman and Chancellor (2008)
Matusiak, John, Wolsey: the Life of King Henry VIII’s Cardinal (2014)
Pollard, A.F., Wolsey (1929)
Williams, Neville, The Cardinal and Secretary: Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell (1975)

Arms:

The arms of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.
The arms of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.
Banner of the arms of Cardinal Wolsey as Archbishop of York, impaling his personal armswith the arms of his office as Archbishop of York.
Banner of the arms of Cardinal Wolsey as Archbishop of York, impaling his personal armswith the arms of his office as Archbishop of York.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait:

Cardinal Wolsey adapted from the c.1520 from the National Portrait Gallery.
Cardinal Wolsey adapted from the c.1520 from the National Portrait Gallery.
Cardinal Wolsey by Sampson Strong at Christ Church 1605.
Cardinal Wolsey by Sampson Strong at Christ Church 1605.
Cardinal Wolsey by an unknown artist c.1520 from the National Portrait Gallery.
Cardinal Wolsey by an unknown artist c.1520 from the National Portrait Gallery.
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