Contributions to the Changes in Government, 1485 - 1603.

  • Created by: Tasha.L
  • Created on: 08-05-16 17:24


Thomas Wolsey was Henry VIII's Chief Minister from 1514 until his death in 1529. What did he do?

  • Wolsey did little in terms of domestic policy, as he was dominated by foreign affairs. For example, he established the Treaty of London in 1518, which was a non-aggression pact attended by 20 European leaders.
  • He made various legal reforms to help bring better justice.
  • As Lord Chancellor, he also heard cases. He also used the Court of the Star Chmaber to hear cases against the powerful.
  • He increased the power of the common law courts.
  • Historian John Guy states that Wolsey made significant financial reforms.
  • For example, he introduced subsidy for tax payers who had to give details of income and property when deciding on how much they should pay.
  • He called upon Parliament twice during his era for money for war.
  • He regularised the finance of the Privy Chamber, helping him to maintain control and increase his influences over Henry VIII.
  • Overall, he was involved with most policies and positions regarding Henry VIII, to the point where he has been depicted as the 'alter rex' or 'second king'.


Wolsey's contributions are limited in significance as all the while he remained Henry's servant: the King was the one who had ultimate control over the laws and policies passed. 


  • Not only did Cromwell shape the development of government, but also the way England was administrated, worshiped and how it paid its taxes.
  • Cromwell transformed the role of Parliament, made Wales conform to Enland through the Acts of Union of 1536 and 1543 (see below) and broke down the traditional independence of the North.
  • Cromwell made the crwon financially independent from Parliament.
  • He worked on the royal divore, the Church and the monasteries.
  • He created organised financial departments to make the dealing of income more effective: jhe created the Court of Augmentations, which dealt with the monastic lands, and the Court of First Fruits and Tenths, which monitored the collection of church dues.
  • Historian Geoffrey Elton proposed that Cromwell conducted a 'revolution in government': that he transformed a medieval system of a few servants into the system we have today.
  • Cromwell increased the use of the Privy Council: he reduced its numbers drastically to 19, tightening the system and making it more effective. Cromwell


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