Wolsey's Domestic Policy

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Wolsey's Domestic Policy 

16th Century Government

The priorities for a good domestic policy in the 16th century were upholding the authority of the crown and church. In addition to this effective tax collection was very important. These themes are especially important to henry as he wanted to go on foreign campaigns to fight the French. Wolsey was particularly effective in his role as Henry's right hand man. His natural energy and vitality allowed him to undertake the more mundane matters of state that allowed Henry to pursue his foreign policy.

Justice Reforms

After Wolsey was promoted to Lord Chancellor in 1515, he was active in both the Court of Star Chamber (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Court_of_Star_Chamber) and the Court of Chancery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Court_of_Chancery). Jon Guy, a professional historian, revisionist(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Guy_(historian)) points out that Wolsey attempted to bring greater justice to the courts of England especially in the Court of Star Chamber. Wolsey success is widely attributed to the fact that he allowed all to bring cases to court regardless of social status or wealth. This is shown in the number of cases per year under Wolsey; 120 cases were heard under Wolsey per year compared to a meagre 12 under the reign of Henry VII. Wolsey promoted Civil law over Common law because it was fairer and had less loopholes for nobles to crawl through. It is also true that Wolsey enjoyed championing the cases of the poor especially when the cases were at the expense of the nobility. This caused much resentment among the Nobility. This dislike of the nobility and using the judicial system for his own means (which he did occasional) is seen in the case of Sir Amyas Paulet. Wolsey was put in the stocks by Amyas as a young man to teach him a lesson in manners and humility. Wolsey never forgot this and made Amyas wait every day in his court for 5 years on threat of confiscating all his property. In addition to Amyas Wolsey, created further resentment through his work in the star chamber. Mainly the Nobles who abused their powers. In 1515 the Earl of Northumberland was sent to Fleet Prison and in 1516 Lord Burgavenny was accused of illiegal retaining (keeping a personal army). 

However it is important to note that Wolsey's reforms did not out last him. He used existing legislation to sort out cases rather than introduce institutional reform. He was energetic…


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