Cromwell's Rise to Power
Cromwell was the son of a blacksmith, but became involved with politics as a member of Wolsey's household.
1523 - Cromwell was an MP.
1529 - After the fall of Wolsey, Cromwell emerged as a leading figure in his own right.
1532 - Cromwell was appointed to the inner council.
1533 - Henry appointed Cromwell his Principal Secretary, the position that Cromwell considered most important, as it enabled him to control who saw the king.
1535 - Cromwell was made Vice-gerent in Spirituals.
Cromwell held a number of other important positions, such as Master of the King's Jewels, Lord Privy Seal and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
1532 - Act in Conditional Restraint of Annates.
1533 - Act in Restraint of Appeals to Rome.
1534 - Act of Supremacy.
1538 - Pope Paul III excommunicated Henry.
1540 - Cromwell was involved in arranging the king's marriage to Anne of Cleves.
Cromwell played a leading role in the legislative process, and as such was involved with many of the proceedings that led to the break with Rome.
After the end of the Boleyn marriage, Cromwell attempted to create alliances between England and Protestant countries against a possible Catholic invasion.
1530 - Tyndale's vernacular (English) Bible was burned.
1532 - Submission of the Clergy.
1535 - Cromwell instigated the Valor Ecclesiaticus.
1536 - The Enclosure Act and the Act of Ten Articles. Cromwell issued a royal injunction against the church.
1537 - The Matthew/Protestant Bible was published. Cromwell reduced the powers of the Council of the North and reformed the Privy Council.
1538 - Cromwell issued another royal injunction against the church.
Elton thought that Cromwell's reforms were so drastic, that they amounted to a revolution in government, forming the foundations for the modern system. This view has been disputed by many historians, including Starkey, who see it as too 'whiggish'.
The court which had previously been itinerant now had a strong central base. Cromwell established a divide between the king's personal servants, and members of the executive.
Cromwell's Fall from Power
1534 - He appointed his colleague President of the Council of the Welsh Marshes.
1540 - Although the king made Cromwell Earl of Essex in this year, his part in organising the humiliating Cleves marriage led Henry to dispose of his servant.
There are many different theories as to why Henry chose to get rid of Cromwell, as it seems illogical for him to dispose of a servant who had helped him so well in the past. Elton said that, despite the embarrassment of the Cleves marriage, Henry should have kept Cromwell in order for him to help obtain another annulment.
Due to his power and the patronage he extended to his friends, Cromwell earned the resentment of members of other court factions. It is possible that they managed to exploit the king's anger and force through an act of attainder before Henry knew what was happening.