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Thomas Wolsey: Alter Rex
Transcript of Thomas Wolsey: Alter Rex
Thomas Wolsey: Alter Rex
By the time Henry VIII appointed Wolsey as his chief minister, the King deeply trusted his first hand man. Did Henry trust him too much? Did Wolsey take advantage of his position? Was Wolsey acting as the Alter Rex of England?
Where did the power lie?
Contemporary historians think Henry was top dog and Wolsey just appeared to be due to him carrying out his 'master's' policies. However, historians of the time thought Wolsey was on top. If he wasn't, why was he in power for so many years? How was he able to do things holy men couldnt usually do? How did he get away with it all under such a ruthless King?
Wolsey had the connections, wealth and intellect to advance to the highest positions. His 'superior mind' was liked to Henry's often by historians
Wolsey's foreign policy followed a strategy of diplomacy, not the ambitious military campaigns Henry wanted to endure to claim the throne of France. Wolsey was a religious man, a sensible man - he didn’t want war, he wanted Henry, his king, to compromise in favour of his own opinions. What does this suggest about the power roles between the king and his first minister?
The treaty of London is a prime example of Wolsey putting England at the centre of European diplomacy, whilst his "MASTER" DREAMT OF GLORY AND CONQUEST
In terms of Legal control and justice, Wolsey was eating Henry for breakfast. Wolsey claimed power for himself in the Star Chamber, council and deprived the King of attendant counSELlors at court.
wOLSEY RULES OVER HIS SYTEM OF JUSTICE LIKE THE KING SHOULD HAVE RULED OVER HIM - decisively. 120 cases WERE COMPLETED a year in star chamber AND 540 cases a year in THE Court of Chancery. wOLSEY Was able to champion THE poor through court of requests that had no fee.
wOLSEY Allowed to take bribes and personally enriched himself with no consequences. he was ALSO Able to use legal system IN ORDER TO pursue his personal vendettas against OTHER nobles. tHIS DEMONSTRATES wOLSEYS CONTROL AND MANIPULATION. iF HE COULD CONTROL THE ENTIRE JUSTICE SYSTEM OF ENGLAND AT HIS COMMAND, HOW COULD HE BE CONSIDERED THE kINGS SERVANT? wOLSEY HAD THE FINAL SAY WITHOUT HAVING TO ASK FOR APPROVAL
wOLSEY AND hENRY WERE NOT MEANT TO BE PARTNERS AND MAKE EQUAL DECISIONS, hENRY WAS MEANT TO HAVE SUPREME AND ABSOLUTE POWER OVER ALL HIS LOYAL SUBJECTS - INCLUDING WOLSEY. wOLSEY WAS ALLOWED TO MAKE SO MANY DECISIONS ON HIS OWN THAT A KING SHOULD HAVE MADE.
Wolsey applied strict controls over the King’s councEllors and secretaries at court. He strengthened his own power further by controlling how henry was ‘fed’ information AND in a committee those who manage the secretariat have an uneven influence on proceedings
wE LOVE WOLSEY!
He dealt with important matters personally and lesser matters were delegates to trusted secretaries or specifically nominated agents who he manipulated. Secretaries were employed, sent on missions of diplomacy, promoted, demoted or dismissed according to the desire of Wolsey
The intricate system that Wolsey had composed that centered on him as the power, not the King, shows how much power he actually had. HE was able to maintain control and act as the coordinator of these important people in important positions more so than the King was
Wolsey was able to dominate the King’s Council until 1525. he concentrated it physically around him at Westminster during the legal terms whilst the king was elsewhere at Greenwich, Richmond or Windsor
Henry may have had the final say in crown policy, but this wall devised by wolsey and he enjoyed lots of freedom
A gift, my king...
Wolsey could persuade henry to follow a course of action he wanted quite easily. After casually introducing something, a MAGNIFICENT GIFT WOULD BE REVEALED. A JEWEL, SOME GOLD... BY THE TIME HENRY HAD STOPPED ADMIRING IT, WOLSEY HAD DESCRIBED A FOUR YEAR PLAN FOR SOMETHING HENRY WASNT EVEN LISTENING TO. wOLSEY KNEW HOW TO MANIPULATE HENRY, HE SAID YES A LOT EASIER TO WOLSEY THAN TO HIS OTHER SUBJECTS.
Wolsey was associated with abuse within the church and received no punishment. He was able to maintain his position and even rise further in power from the support of his king because Wolsey had the upper hand.
Kept a mistress and fathered two illegitimate children to her. This was known about and forbidden due to his celibacy vow from his involvement with the church
BoughT offices for his illegitimate son Thomas winter
HelD multiple bishoprics
Did not visit the seat of his archbishopric in York until he fell from power
tHROUGH ALL THIS, WOLSEY INCREASED HIS PERSONAL WEALTH AND PRESTIGE
The nobles in the privy chamber and the royal council were opposed to him DUE TO HIS LOW BIRTH AND VENDETTAS AGAINST MANY OF THEM
yet he was defended by Henry and only reached further heights of wealth and power.
Used money from dissolved monasteries to fund the foundation of Cardinal College, oxford
tHROUGH PLURALISM, WOLSEY INCREASED HIS OWN WEALTH . His wealth increased his political power but many resented his success. The cardinal had the largest disposable income in england and a household of 500 - the same as the king. Foreign envoys were treated with wolseys wealth and he left his palace with guards and servants in a carriage.
FROM THE FUSS CREATED WHENEVER HE WENT NAYWHERE AND THE SHEER SIZE OF HIS HOUSEHOLD, ANYONE WOULDVE THOUGHT HE WAS THE KING. hIS HOUSEHOLD WAS EQUAL TO THE KING'S. this suggests his wealth and power were on a par with the kings - wolsey wasnt a servant.
until 1527, Wolsey calculated the options availavble and ranked them for royal consideration - not henry
He established the bounds of each debate
He edited correspondance from europe, scotland and ireland and summarised it ij his own letters to the king
He controlled the flow of information from the councils
This included who the secretaries, middle-rank officers, sherrifs and jp's
This information detailed the announcements of decisions he had largely shaped
Wolsey turned the pieces in what the king knew - he controlled it. Wolsey knew more than the king and intercepted what the king recieved. He censored the information to what wolsey wanted henry to do. wolsey was in control
Wolsey worked up to 12 hours at a stretch, with no breaks. Henry had to advise him to take holidays.
this enabled him to analytically profile the weaknesses and strengths of allies, enemies and decisions.
If you were an enemy of wolsey, you got burnt. HE SENT NOBLES TO FLEET PRISON, SUCH AS THE EARL OF Northumberland, fined them for saying the wrong thing, such as sir robert sheffield, and threw them out of the council chamber, such as the earl of Surrey. Wolsey had power over all the other nobles and punsihed them as he saw fit, not just how henry did.
henry and wolsey did disagree but only regarding the proposed surprise naval attack in 1522 and the appointment of an abbess in 1528. This was due to wolsey making decisions henry disagreed with.
However, wolsey was never really penalised with fines or punishments through demotion.
hENTRY TRUSTED WOLSEY ENTIRELY WHICH ENABLED WOLSEY TO MAKE MANY DECISIONS HENRY WAS NOT AWARE OF, EVEN THE ONES HE MAY NOT HAVE LIKED, AT SOME POINTS WOLSEY IGNORED HENRYS OPINIONS. aLL THIS EVIDENCE, AS WELL AS WOLSEYS CHARACTER, POINTS TO wOLSEY BEING THE MASTER WITHIN THE RELATIONSHIOP BETWEEN HIM AND HENRY
vERGIL, sKELTON AND hall
Wolsey was the other king, a man capable of making key decsiions without first consulting the king. They saw the very strong minister on a very weak king
The king was vunerable to the forces of faction at certain times. Wolsey had the kings ear and was able to put ideas into his mind by making him think the idea was actually his own.
The historians view...
"he took upon him therefore to disburden the king of so weighty a charge and troublesome business, putting the king in comfort that he should not need to spare any time fro his pleasure for any business that should necessarily happen in the council"