Cardinal Wolsey

Cardinal Wolsey's life and career - CE 13+ essay

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  • Created by: Lucas
  • Created on: 05-06-12 11:52

Who is he?

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Life:

  • Born in 1475 - main career from 1515-1530 under Henry VIII
  • Son of a butcher 
  • Educated at Magdalen College, Oxford from 13
  • Started work in the church at 15
  • Became chaplain to Archbishop of Canterbury and Henry VII
  • Later Dean of Lincoln
  • Gained five more titles after he successfully organised a expedition to France in 1513
  • Even later five more titles

Death:

  • Career went down hill - blamed for bailing out of the war with France
  • He was arrested on charges of treason
  • He died whilst on his way to answer questions at Leicester Abbey in 1530
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Career - Finance

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Henry's court:


  • Wolsey was responsible for raising funds for Henry VIII's lavish courts
    • He used the "subsidy tax" to assess peoples' wealth and calculated their tax
    • He squeezed nobles and land owners for $ to keep their land
    • He tried to call for the "Amicable Grant" but failed
    • The Grant was very unpopular and caused riots so hence was not enforced
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Career - Law

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Re-established 3 courts:

  • Star Chamber, Chancery and Request
    • They provided fair justice for the common public
  • Used these courts to enquire into the use of enclosure:
    • Land owners divided and enclosed common land for themselves
    • This left the poor without land and work
  • Wolsey also closed some monasteries for his own wealth
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Career - The Church

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 Cardinal of England

  • Pope Leo X appointed him Cardinal of England
  • He was the pope's legal representative in England in 1518
  • He was to keep check on the abuses of power within the Church
  • Ironically he was responsible for many of the abuses like selling church positions and titles for money for himself
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Career - Foreign Policy

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Foreign Policy

  • He was most influential in this aspect of his career
  • His MAIN AIM was to make England one of Europe's main powers
  • Along with France, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire
  • 1518 - "Treaty of London". Wolsey organised for all the leader of the countries to sign a peace treaty
  • 1519 - Maximilian I, the Holy Roman Emperor died and Charles I of Spain took over
  • 1519 - Wolsey also made an agreement for Francis I of France's children to marry off to Henry's
  • 1520 - "The Field of Cloth of Gold". Wolsey also organised this and it was designed for Francis I and Henry VIII to show off their wealth and form an agreement. None was formed but they were on stable terms
  • 1521 - Wolsey signed the "Secret Treaty of Bruges" at the "Calais Conference" with the Spanish Emperor, Charles I, which stated that if one went to war with France they would support each other
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Was he a success or failure?

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Success:

  • He made a remarkable rise from a humble background to power
  • He was the chief minister and confidante of Henry VIII
  • He effectively ran the King and his kingdom and carried significant trust and responsibility -  he also became the Pope's legal representative in England
  • He was: intelligent, very ambitious and able to develop an extremely close relationship with the King and was able to gain 13 titles
  • He was responsible for several diplomatic triumphs ("The Treaty of London", etc.)

Failure: 

  • In the end he became highly unpopular
  • He became arrogant and his power and wealth and was too greedy 
  • He lost his influence when, for a time he had been an "arbiter of Europe" and the "alter rex", but it did not last
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