Cardinal Wolsey


Notes on Cardinal Wolsey as the cause of antipapalism, being a reformer, humanist and his action towards the Lutheran problem.

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Cardinal Wolsey
He was the Chancellor of England and also held a range of Church offies. He was made cardinal ­
most important Church office after the Pope. But, fell from power in 1529 due to failure of getting an
annulment for the King.
Did Wolsey cause antipapalism?
Antipapalism ­ To be against the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church
Wolsey was made a papal legate and, unusually, the office was granted to him for life in
Superior than the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham
Papal legate ­ a churchman who acted as the Pope's special representative.
Opposition towards Wolsey meant opposition to the Pope, so antipapalism was more
pronounced in the 1520s.
Able to grand licenses and dispensations that were usually granted by the Pope, so he could
speed up cases which would not need to go to Rome.
Take charge in matters of wills and granting probate ­ but this was usually sold back to the
Opposition to Wolsey as legate was limited. Warham didn't make difficulties and Wolsey had
useful support at his disposal to keep people deferential
Though, Wolsey did not take over the King's right to nominate men for high church office.
Example: Wolsey proposed a candidate for the see of St Asaph in Wales but was rejected by
the King in favour of Henry Standish, who had defended royal power over the Church in
Wolsey as reformer
Attempted to inspect and regulate the Church for which he was responsible. In 1519 he
called a meeting of the bishops and leaders of regular clergy to improve the clergy.
Organised official visitations
Visitations ­ inspections of churches or religious houses by a legate or bishop or their representative.
Argued that his main interest in being legate was the financial rewards of the office. Was
estimated by Peter Gwyn that his income might have increased by 8% - not serious boost as
he's already wealthy.
Wolsey as humanist
Displayed humanist traits ­ was not in favour of an English Bible.
Associated a vernacular Bible with Lollard heresy in England and Lutheran heresy in Germany.
Vernacular ­ something not written in Latin or Greek, but the native language of that country.
Lollard heresy ­ a small underground group of English heretics who rejected the Papal headship of
the Church and believed that an English Bible was essential
Genuine concerns about improving education ­ enhanced reputation
Funded education with the dissolution of failing religious houses
Encouraged clergy to preach sermons in English

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Wolsey and Lutheranism
Held conferences speaking about heresy
In charge of book burnings of Luther
Martin Luther ­ Author of Protestant reformation in Europe. German monk that questioned the
Pope's authority over the church. Was protected by successive rulers of Saxony.
Persuaded the King to write against the German heresy. "Seven Sacraments"
The Seven Sacraments ­ special religious ceremonies such as baptism, confirmation, marriage,
extreme unction the Eucharist (Mass), penance and holy orders. Luther claimed baptism and the
Eucharist were valid sacraments.…read more


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