Wolsey and the Church

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As Archbishop of York, Wolsey ranked second in the English Church to the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, in 1518 the Pope appointed him a Papal Legate (legate a latere). He now outranked the Archbishop of Canterbury and could exerecise authority over the whole of the Church in England and Wales. Wolsey was in an excellent position to implement any necessary improvements to the Church.

At first sight, Wolsey presented a poor image as a reformer. He entered the church as a career move rather than through any spiritual commitment. He was preoccupied with affairs of state, was a pluralist and had two illigetimate children. However, according to Cavendish (his servant), he heard two masses a day, and no matter how busy he was, always said the daily office (the prayers to which he was committed as…


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