How did Wolsey deal with Church Policy and the Nobility?

HideShow resource information

How Far did Wolsey deliberately monopolise political power?

As Lord Chancellor, Wolsey was the Head of the country's secular legal system at the same time being the Archbishop of York and Cardinal ha was England's most prominent churchman. 

Nothing unusual about churchmen holding political power in 16th century, however Wolsey did still have problems in domestic administration

Parliament met twice in Wolsey's dominance, which is believed to be down to the fact that Wolsey did not trust the members. Role of Parliament to pass laws and grant taxes, Wolsey believed parliament was trouble for him and the government.

Historians argue Wolsey deliberately side-lined parliament to pursue his policies unopposed, only using parliament when he needed them/ had to. But they were reluctant to give him what he wanted as the members felt resentment towards him.

Parliament not heart of government it's powers were limited, institution to carry out king's wishes

Policies devised in king's household at court, administrative affairs over-seen by council, made up of leading nobles and churchmen. Chamber saw to king's most intimate needs, made up of his trusted friends.

David Starkey argues the Privy Chamber was the heart of Tudor government trusted confidantes who served king on a daily basis. The gentlemen of the Privy Chamber were young ambitious men who wished to further their careers by serving their king, trying to win his favour. E.g. Nicholas Carew and Sir Edward Guilford

Argued that Wolsey saw these men as political rivals, so purposefully initiated purges of the Privy Chamber in 1519, expelling rising stars and ensuring they got mundane jobs away from court. The make-up of the Privy Chamber changed in 1519

Gwyn believed men were not completely excluded from court; they were picked for important post which did not affect their career prospects but also Wolsey not paranoid to believe they were a threat to his political superiority. Many believed Wolsey's actions continued to build resentment toward him, 1529 he lost Henry's trust

Wars 1522-25 keep young nobles away from court, on return Wolsey secured the Eltham Ordinances (Royal decree cutting number in royal household 1526). Number of Gentlemen of the Bedchamber (Henry's personal attendants and advisors) halved from 12 to 6.

Gwyn defends Wolsey, suggesting reduction was necessary for cost-cutting, fewer numbers = increased administration efficiency in king's household. However the circumstances and Wolsey’s disinterest in the Eltham Ordinances suggests it wasn't a reformation measure but instead a way for Wolsey to get rid of rivals and won the kings favour. 


Fractions part of any European court
Wolsey monopoly of power = no fractions
Wolsey guarded position and status fiercely
Well informed about any manoeuvring by ambitious young men
Wolsey purposefully isolated nobles-debatable
Wolsey's superiority only last as long as Henry sees fit
Cardinal untouchable as long as Henry believed still dealing with his interests efficiently
Henry made Wolsey, he could also break him.

Did Wolsey carry out any meaningful reforms in the Church?

What was the impact of the Hunne Affair?

1515 parliamentary session dominated


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all British monarchy - Tudors and Stuarts resources »