Wolsey: Master or Servant?

Wolsey: Master or Servant?

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Wolsey Master?

-Wolsey was depicted as an 'alter rex' or 'second king'

-Wolsey enjoyed a greater freedom than his successor, Cromwell. This could be  because a young Henry intervened less than afterwards. The turning point with  intervention was Henry's divorce

-His household marks an attempt to rival henry e.g. Hampton Court

-Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More were royal servants of the King and  required less wealth than Wolsey

-Wolsey had a stong relationship with France and was able to negotiate peace

-According to Wolsey's biographer George Cavendish he had 'a special gift or natural eloquence' and has ministerial powers

-Wolsey interfered constantly in affairs of the nobility, leading gentry and citizens  of London 

-He became a cardinal in 1515 and therefore had connections with the Pope      Leo X

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Wolsey Master?

-Wolsey was the first to see ambassadors

-Wolsey's inauguration into Cardinal-ship had the same level of grandeur and  expense as the Kings coronation.

-Wolsey passes many policies that Henry was unaware of and did not consult  Counsel. He even tried to levy taxation without Parliamentary consent

-Wolsey had huge control over most positions and policies to do with Henry  e.g. Eltham ordinances, finding JPs

-Wolsey Had extravagant taste, for example his Cardinal attire. 


A.F. Pollard - Henry achieved a 'prime ministerial' dominance

G.R. Elton - Wolsey tried to rule as a King when he has not

    - He has enormous power and manipulate his influence over the King to exclude rivals at Court.

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Wolsey Servant?

-There was a centralisation of policies. This means that Henry gained more power  in England

-Wolsey changed from anti-war to pro-war when it came to war with France. This  demonstrates that he wished to gain favour and please Henry

-As King Henry had the ultimate control over any policies

-It can be argued that the only opinion that Wolsey cared about was Henry's

-It can be argues that Henry allowed Wolsey to have power because he  was satisfied with Wolsey's capabilities especially in the first half of his reign. 

-It has been suggested that Wolsey and Henry worked closely  together. Wolsey was Henry's confident and his opinions were held in high regard (John Guy)

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Wolsey Servant?

-Henry hated paper word and allowed Wolsey to take on the responsibility.

-Wolsey would not have achieved the position of high status he got without Henry's approval. As a servant he could fall from Grace, which he did in spectacular fashion in 1529

-Wolsey was charged with treason in 1530. his ultimate fall from Grace


S.J. Gunn - Wolsey was determined to enforce the Kings laws

Eric Ives- 'Wolsey never owned the policy, for it was always the Kings policy'

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