Wolsey's Domestic Policy

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Wolsey and Justice

  • Positives
    • Court of Chancery
      • Shows a genuine interest in justice as cases were fairly trivial 
    • Court of the Star Chamber 
      • Would review cases from local courts and refer them to CofSC or Requests if he felt the decision reached was unjust 
      • Most cases were brought by litigants (rather than Wolsey himself or the king)
      • Wolsey was an impartial judge, he was committed to justice in spite of the wealth, or lack of it, of those concerned
      • Above evidenced by Earl of Nothumberland being sent to Fleet Prison in 1515
      • Number of cases heard by Star Chamber: 12 under VII 120 under Wolsey. Shows a commitment to justice
  • Negatives 
    • Wolsey created no new framewor, his progress did not outlast him
    • Wolsey was quick to abandon his support of the commons when his own interests were at steak 
    • On ocasion, used his influence for revenge. E.g  Paulet put Wolsey in stocks, as Lord Chancellor Wolsey made him wait in daily attendance of his court for 5 years
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Wolsey and The Church

  • Wolsey's position
    • Archbishop of York 
    • Papal legate
  • Mainly negative
    • Wolsey did very little to change the church
    • Would have been good as absenteism and pluralism was becoming bigger 
    • Wolsey himself was a pluralist and had two illegitimate children (he was the abbott of St Albans bu wasn't even a monk)
    • Closed 30 monastries in 5 years
  • The above can be explained by the fact that Wolsey joined the church to further his career, rather than out of faith, it was his position in the church that Wolsey was such a succesful social climber.
  • What could be said in Wolsey's defence is that he used profit from closing monastries to fund Cardinal College (became Christ Church). This college combined traditional and humanist approaches to learning.
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Wolsey and Enclosure

  • Positives
    • Wolsey made a genuine effort to stop enclosure
      • 1517 enquiry, 222 of 260 came to court - of that many were forced to rebuild houses that had been destroyed and return the enclosed land for arable farming
  • Negatives
    • 1523, forced to accept all existing enclosures
    • There were few long term practical results as enclosure continued despite Wolsey's actions 
    • Created hostility from the nobility 
    • Wolsety failed to recognise inclosure as part of a larger economic movement towards inflation, he just blamed the rich
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Wolsey and Parliament

  • Positives
    • When using Parliament for finance
      • In 1513 developed the 'subsidy'
      • New taxed based on the assessment of the personal wealth
      • 1513-16, subsidy raised £90 000
  • Negatives
    • Wolsey was unpopular in parliament
      • As Chancellor in 1523 demanded £800 000 on top of 'loans' of £260 000, only parliament. Wolsey tried to bully parliament, obtain some money but not masses
  • Hunne case 1515
    • Act restricting benefit of the clergy from 1512 was due for renewal
    • Wolsey acted as mediator 


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Wolsey and The Nobility

  • Wolsey had largely poor relations with the nobility 
    • They regarded him as an upstart and barrier to their own advancement
    • It is argued that Henry and Wolsey dominated policy-making, making decisions between themselves and then informing the council
    • He saw the Gentlmen of the Privy chamber as rivals
      • So purged the chamber in 1519
      • Eltham Ordinances 1526 12-5 grooms
    • Buckingham possibly executed 1521 because of Wolsey's hostility towards him?
  • However 
    • The Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk were often consulted as millitary commanders
    • Eltham ordinances did streamline royal expenditure 
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Wolsey and Finance

  • Positives
    •  Wolsey invented the parliamentary subsidy, Subsidy act of 1512
      • This raised over £300 000
    • General proscription 1522
      • assessed the populations taxable wealth 
      • raised around £200 000 through two forced loans, 1522-3
  • Negatives
    • Parliament 1923, Wolsey too unpopular to raise funds of £800 000
      • Same parliament forced to accept all already-enclosed land
    • The Amicable Grant in 1525 caused unrest 
      • Refusal to pay and rebellion accross Suffolk and East Anglia 
      • 10 000 men marched in Lavenham 
      • Did raise £300 000, however, and to make up funds the church was taxed, brought in nearly £250 000
  • Wolsey's sysytem of taxation was fairer than finance had been in England for a long time however Wolsey also had to serve Henry VIII's interests and these often conflicted with the goal of fair finance
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