Wolsey's Domestic Policy - Success of Failure?


The Law

Aim: ensure justice; political stability (avoid rebellions with law and order)


- Used fair court of chancery rather than common law.

- Took legal responsibility seriously - held many cases personally.

- Extended role of star chamber from 1516 - 120 cases per year.

- Act of resumption 1515 resumed crown lands that Henry had given away at start of reign. 


- Star chamber swamped with cases (increased insufficiency).

- Wolsey made nation enquiry 1517 to investigate enclosure but enclosure and vagrancy weren’t decreased.

- Captioned the poor in legal reforms, therefore undermining land owners and nobles.

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Aim: efficient taxation to avoid corruption - opportunities to demonstrate royal splendour.


- introduced Eltham Ordinances 1526 (used to get minions out of privy chamber = self gain) to reform finance in the privy chamber.


- raised £322,099 in subsidies, £240,000 in clerical taxes and £260,000 in forced loans

- expenditure in 1509-1520 = £1.7 million. 


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Aim: protect men from enclosure/profiteering 


- 1526 exports increased.

- newly introduced subsidies were more efficient and used a national committee.


- 1526 debased coinage to stimulate exports which increased inflation causing a depression in the late 1520’s.

- 1525 amicable grants (heavy tax without parliament’s approval) to raise money for war caused widespread rebellion and resistance.

- subsidies didn’t raise enough money for war with France.

- 1517 national enquiry to investigate how much lands was enclosed was opposed by parliament = suspended. 

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The Chrurch

Aim: modernise the church.


- introduced inspection of religious houses and closed 30 religious orders.

- Aimed to improve education of lower clergy.

- Set up 2 colleges

- Sacked 8 heads of monasteries.

- Encouraged Henry against protestants.


- Wolsey didn’t see reformation as a major part of his job despite being most powerful churchman in England.

- Embodied everything reformers disliked: collected titles, too busy to fulfil roles, used positions for personal wealth and gain.

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