Thomas Wolsey's Social and Legal Reforms, 1509-1529

Revision notes about the Social and Legal Reforms of Thomas Wolsey, 1509-1529.

Specifically for Unit F961 Option A Study Topic 3: Henry VIII to Mary I, 1509-58

[specification for my course on page 22 of]

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  • Created by: Flo
  • Created on: 12-04-10 11:36

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1. The Law:

Wolsey became Chancellor in 1515 ­ responsible for running the equity courts (Courts of
Chancery, Star Chamber) and sitting as a judge every morning for about 6 months of the
year. Extended the Court of Chancery over probate (wills)…

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Common Law courts had been becoming too unmanageable, so by transferring more
legal work to the equity courts he began a process of Common Law Court reform
which by the 1540s meant they were fit to take back work from the equity courts.
Lessened the local misuse of justice ­…

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Restored relatively little land ­ around 3000 acres.
Had to suspend cases for 18 months in 1523 to get the Parliamentary Subsidy
Rising wool prices had led to farmers turning land from grain to wool ­ after 1518
grain prices rose faster leading to farmers turning their land over…

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Most other legislation came from private Members about local concerns.


His ways of dealing with epidemics were innovative.
After grain shortage ­ ordered searches for grain and by a Proclamation of November
1527 organised a nationwide response ­ names of those holding surpluses presented
to Star Chamber by January…

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He did attempt to achieve justice and solve certain social ills ­ worked at an impressive pace
using the unwieldy old system of the late medieval state and insisting upon detailed
information and vigorous government action.

Definitely tried to help the poor ­ to help them or undermine rich rivals?…


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