Wolsey and Political Power
- He was head of the secular legal system.
- Also the most prominent churchman in England.
- Parliament only met twice and it was percieved that Wolsey did not trust it's members, he only used it when needed.
- This caused resentment among the members of parliament.
- It's powers were limited and it was seen as a place to carry out the king's wishes.
- Gentlemen of the privy chamber were ambitious young men that served the king and hoped to further their careers.
- They may have been politcal rivals to Wolsey. The purge of the privy chamber in 1519 expelled men and ensured that they were given mundane jobs away from court.
- Wolsey secured the Eltham Ordinances which cut the number of gentlemen of the bedchamber from 12 to 6- however some historians argue that this was a cost-cutting exercise.
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- Appointment as Legate a Latere enhanced his ecclesiastical authority and allowed him to establish probate courts- this dealt with wills left by the laity which often included monetary donations.
- His wealth created jealousy and resentment.
- Wolsey was in a strong position to reform the church.
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- Wolsey initiated visitations of monastic houses.
- Some abbots and monks were replaced.
- Statutes for Benedictines and Augustinians drawn up.
- Creation of 13 new episcopal sees.
- Achievements modest and not without opposition.
- Many objected to the heavy handed way in which Wolsey tried to carry out reform.
- Dissolution of 30 religious houses to pay for building of Cardinal college caused upset.
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Pluralism, Nepotism and Absenteeism.
- Wolsey held bishoprics in plurality.
- Used eccleiastical patronage to support his illegitimate son, Thomas Winter.
- Never visited his sees of Lincoln, Bath, Wells and Durham.
- However, these abuses had been happening for many years.
- Adds to the idea that Wolsey wanted to exploit the church for his own financial gain.
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Noble Conspiracy against Wolsey?
- The idea that Wolsey deliberately kept ambitious courtiers away from Henry was exaggerated.
- Anne Boleyn may have caused his downfall.
- There seems to be no long term conspiracy.
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