Cardinal Wolsey: An Unprecedented Fall From Grace

Aug 2012
1,554
#2
I wonder if Wolsey knew such a fate was likely? Given Henry VIII's initial purge of Empson and Dudley, who had merely been following his father's instructions, it was clearly apparent that he would reward loyal service with death at the first convenience.
It really is amazing that such a man attracted so many capable administrators, because the risks of being in his court were so high. Men like Cromwell or Wolsey could have excelled in any other field, and probably been far safer for it.
 
Mar 2014
6,632
Beneath a cold sun, a grey sun, a Heretic sun...
#3
I wonder if Wolsey knew such a fate was likely? Given Henry VIII's initial purge of Empson and Dudley, who had merely been following his father's instructions, it was clearly apparent that he would reward loyal service with death at the first convenience.
It really is amazing that such a man attracted so many capable administrators, because the risks of being in his court were so high. Men like Cromwell or Wolsey could have excelled in any other field, and probably been far safer for it.
I suspect he was one of those driven men who could not settle for less than reaching for everything. Every generation has one or two - Elon Musk springs to mind. When they rise, they rise high, and when they fall.... :think:
 
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
#5
Wolsey was a dominant figure in the earlier years of Henry's reign. He was a papal legate appointed by the Pope and therefore virtually untouchable - especially in the court of a king who had been declared 'defender of the faith'. Whilst Henry was enjoying his youth , Wolsey was running the country, and it was only in the king's later years, when he started to take more of a hand in the running of his country, that Wolsey's fall from grace occurred.

It could be that Henry's decision to bring down Wolsey was to emphasise the fact that he was in charge and would be making the decisions; that everyone else - including the Pope - should watch their steps, because if the greatest in the land could fall, then so could others. Personally I think that Henry saw Wolsey's usefulness coming to an end, and so he used him as an example to others.

Was it fair on Wolsey? Probably not; but then again the cardinal had done pretty well for himself over the years. It's quite possible that he assumed more power than he was actually entitled to do , but then again someone had to run the country whilst enry was out drinking, jousting and chasing after women.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,204
#8
I wonder if Wolsey knew such a fate was likely? Given Henry VIII's initial purge of Empson and Dudley, who had merely been following his father's instructions, it was clearly apparent that he would reward loyal service with death at the first convenience.
It really is amazing that such a man attracted so many capable administrators, because the risks of being in his court were so high. Men like Cromwell or Wolsey could have excelled in any other field, and probably been far safer for it.
Wolsey did not expect as a cardinal that he would be executed. Even St. Thomas a Becket was not executed, but killed probably on Henry II's orders. I don't believe that many cardinals have been executed anywhere. Ordinary clergymen were not even subject to civil law, an issue in Becket's murder. Henry VIII also had queens and dukes executed, which had not happened before in England.

Wolsey was from a middle class background, went to Oxford on a scholarship, and rose in the Church. He did not owe his position to Henry VIII. It isn't clear he could have been so successful in another field. There were not as many opportunities 500 years ago.

Henry VIII had some impressive ministers and such, many of whom were eventually executed, such as Sir / St. Thomas More.
 
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funakison

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,381
Between a rock and a hard place
#10
It was almost certainly Wolsey's failure to secure Henry's divorce that caused his downfall, but having a palace better than the king doesn't help. Hampton Court was such a des res Henry took it for himself.
The king allowed Wolsey to remain archbishop of York and he died on his return to London to face a charge of treason.
 

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