Monday, November 29, 2010

Remembering Cardinal Thomas Wolsey

one of the only pictures there is of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey

Here is Actor Sam Neill played Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the Peace Arch Entertainment production for Showtime, The Tudors.

King Henry VIII and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey

Thomas Wolsey: Sir, you will be remembered as an English statesman and a cardinal of the Catholic Church. precedence over even the Archbishop of Canterbury, remembering you after 480 years, may you rest in peace!

Thomas Wolsey:
Lord Chancellor
In office
Preceded by William Warham
Succeeded by Sir Thomas More

Archbishop of York
In office

Thomas Wolsey (c. 1471 or 1475? – 29 November 1530; sometimes spelled Woolsey) was an English political figure and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. When Henry VIII became king of England in 1509, Wolsey became the King's almoner.[2] Wolsey's affairs prospered and by 1514 he had become the controlling figure in virtually all matters of state and was extremely powerful within the Church. The highest political position he attained was Lord Chancellor, the King's chief advisor, enjoying great freedom and often depicted as an alter rex (other king). Within the Church he became Archbishop of York, the second most important seat in England, and then was made a cardinal in 1515, giving him precedence over even the Archbishop of Canterbury. His main legacy is from his interest in architecture, in particular his old home of Hampton Court Palace, which stands today.

Despite his many enemies, Cardinal Wolsey held Henry VIII's confidence until Henry decided to seek an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. Wolsey's failure to secure the annulment is widely perceived to have directly caused his downfall and arrest.

Henry's marriage to Catherine had produced no sons who survived infancy; the Wars of the Roses were still within living memory, leading to the fear of a power struggle after Henry's death. His daughter Mary was not considered capable of holding the country together and continuing the Tudor dynasty because England, until then, had not accepted a queen regnant (with the exception, perhaps, of Empress Matilda, who fought and lost a long civil war in an attempt to keep her throne).

Henry expressed the belief that Catherine's inability to produce a viable male heir was due to her being the widow of his elder brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales, which, he became convinced, violated Biblical proscription and cursed his marriage as incestuous. He also believed that the papal dispensation for his marriage to Catherine was invalid because it was based upon the claim that Catherine was still a virgin after her first husband's death.

Henry argued that Catherine's claim was not credible, and thus, the original papal dispensation must be withdrawn and their marriage annulled. Henry's motivation has been attributed to his determination to have a son and heir, and to his desire for Anne Boleyn, one of his wife's maids-of-honour. Catherine had no further pregnancies after 1519; Henry began annulment proceedings in 1527.

Catherine, however, maintained that she had been a virgin when she married King Henry. Because Catherine was opposed to the annulment and a return to her previous status as Dowager Princess of Wales, the annulment request became a matter of international diplomacy, with Catherine's nephew, Charles V, pressuring the Pope to not annul his aunt's marriage.

Pope Clement VII was presented with a problem: he could either anger Charles or else anger Henry. He delayed announcing a decision for as long as possible; this infuriated Henry and Anne Boleyn, who began to doubt the papal legate Wolsey's loyalty to the State over the Church.

Wolsey's appeal to the Pope for a divorce came on three fronts. Firstly, he tried to convince the Pope that the original papal dispensation was void as the marriage clearly went against words in the Bible, in the book of Leviticus. Secondly, Wolsey objected to the original dispensation on technical grounds, and claimed it was incorrectly worded (however shortly afterwards a correctly worded version was found in Spain). Thirdly, Wolsey wanted the Pope to allow the final decision to be made in England, which of course, as papal legate, would be supervised by him. In 1528, the Pope decided to allow two papal legates to decide the outcome in England: Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio.

Wolsey was confident of the decision. However, Campeggio took a long time to arrive, and when he finally did arrive he delayed proceedings so much, the case had to be suspended in July 1528, effectively sealing Wolsey's fate. Anne Boleyn and her faction convinced Henry that Wolsey was deliberately slowing proceedings, and as a result, he was arrested in 1529, and the Pope decided the official decision should be made in Rome anyway.

In 1529, Wolsey was stripped of his government office and property, including his magnificently expanded residence of York Place, which Henry chose to replace the Palace of Westminster as his own main London residence. However, Wolsey was permitted to remain Archbishop of York. He travelled to Yorkshire for the first time in his career, but at Cawood in North Yorkshire, he was accused of treason and ordered to London by Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland.

In great distress, he set out for the capital with his personal chaplain, Edmund Bonner. Wolsey fell ill and died on the way, at Leicester on 29 November 1530, around the age of sixty. "If I had served my God", the Cardinal said remorsefully, "as diligently as I did my king, He would not have given me over in my grey hairs."

In keeping with his practice of erecting magnificent buildings, Wolsey had designed a grand tomb for himself, but he was buried in Leicester Abbey (now Abbey Park) without a monument. Henry VIII considered using the impressive black sarcophagus for himself, but Lord Nelson now lies in it, within the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Fictional portrayals
Wolsey plays a major role in the early stages of the Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George.
Wolsey is the primary antagonist of William Shakespeare's Henry VIII, which depicts him as an arrogant power-grabber. Henry Irving, Walter Hampden and John Gielgud were well-known for their stage performances of the role, and Timothy West played him in the 1979 BBC Television Shakespeare production of that play.
Wolsey is a minor but important character in Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons; he was played in the two film versions of the play by Orson Welles (1966) and John Gielgud (1988), respectively.
Wolsey was portrayed somewhat more sympathetically in the film Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)—a performance which earned Anthony Quayle an Academy Award nomination.
Wolsey was played by John Baskcomb in The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970) and by John Bryans when this series was made into the film Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972).
David Suchet plays him in Henry VIII with Ray Winstone.
Terry Scott portrayed a rather comical performance of Wolsey in Carry On Henry (1970).
William Griffis played Wolsey in the Broadway musical Rex which starred Nicol Williamson as King Henry. (1976)
In the Showtime series The Tudors (2007), he is portrayed by Sam Neill. The TV production interprets his death as suicide by cutthroat covered up by the King and Thomas Cromwell.
He is one of the main characters in Hilary Mantel's novel Wolf Hall (2009).

This account of Thomas Wolsey's fall from royal favor was written by the Tudor chronicler Edward Hall.
Wolsey was born c1473 and eventually held the titles Cardinal-Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor. He was famous at Oxford University for taking his degree at the age of fifteen; he was intelligent, hard-working, and also very fond of pomp and ceremony.

He became King Henry VII's chaplain during the last two years of his life. Henry VIII appointed him to a minor office upon his accession, but Wolsey's only became involved in government affairs in 1512. He urged Henry to wage war against the French on behalf of Pope Julius II. The war was successful and Henry generously rewarded its main proponent and organizer. Wolsey subsequently became the king's chief minister from 1515 to 1529.

His powerful office and close friendship with Henry earned him many enemies, particularly aristocrats who resented his usurpation of their traditional influence. They also resented his great wealth. Over the years, Wolsey amassed a vast fortune, though he did so largely through his church offices. He spent lavishly, but he was also charitable and personally financed many diplomatic missions. It should be noted that most gentlemen entered government service for financial reward; Wolsey was no different. And as the king's chief minister, he was expected to entertain foreign dignitaries and maintain a suitably impressive lifestyle. His increasingly ostentatious displays of wealth did, however, damage both his personal reputation and that of the church.

Wolsey lacked the genius for administration of his protégé and successor, Thomas Cromwell. But he was efficient and capable; when he found he could not control Parliament (it met only once during his years as chancellor), he simply refused to summon it. He was also blamed for the high taxation necessary to support Henry VIII's ambitious foreign policy.

He maintained the king's favor until he failed to secure an annulment of Henry's first marriage. From 1527-1529, as Anne Boleyn's influence rose, Wolsey's waned. She disliked the Cardinal because of his interference in her earlier engagement to Henry Percy. And both she and the king were increasingly impatient with the pope's endless prevarication. Torn between his secular and spiritual masters, Wolsey chose Henry's side - but it did not matter. On 9 October 1529, he was indicted for praemunire; he later confessed his guilt. Parliament was summoned to indict him on forty-four charges. The king kept him from prison but stripped him of many offices and all of his power. Wolsey was ordered to retire to his archbishopric of York. Indiscreet letters to Rome led to his arrest on 4 November. He died on the 24th, while returning to London and, most likely, execution at the Tower.

Hall implies that Wolsey committed suicide. He did not. He did, however, avoid execution at the Tower which was the fate Henry VIII intended for him.

It should be noted that Cromwell defended Wolsey in parliament.
You have heard under the last year how the cardinal of York [Wolsey] was attainted in praemunire, and despite that the king had given him the bishoprics of York and Winchester, with great possessions, and had licensed him to live in his diocese of York. Being thus in his diocese, grudging his fall and not remembering the kindness the King showed to him, he wrote to the court of Rome and to several other princes letters reproaching the king, and as much as he was able stirred them to revenge his case against the King and his realm; so much so that various opprobrious words about the king were spoken to Dr Edward Kern, the king's orator at Rome, and it was said to him that for the cardinal's sake the king's matrimonial suit would have the worse speed. The cardinal would also speak fair to the people to win their hearts, and always declared that he was unjustly and untruly commanded, which fair speaking made many men believe that he spoke the truth. And to be held in higher repute by the people he determined to be installed or enthroned at York with all possible pomp, and caused a throne to be erected in the Cathedral Church of such a height and design as was never seen before; and he sent to all the lords, abbots, priors, knights, esquires and gentlemen of his diocese to be at his manor of Cawood on 6 November, and so to bring him to York with all pomp and solemnity.

The King, who knew of his doings and secret communications, all this year pretended to ignore them to see what he would eventually do, until he saw his proud heart so highly exalted that he intended to be so triumphantly installed without informing the king, even as if in disdain of the king. Then the king thought it was not fitting or convenient to let him any longer continue in his malicious and proud purposes and attempts. Therefore he sent letters to Henry, the sixth earl of Northumberland, willing him with all diligence to arrest the cardinal, and to deliver him to the earl of Shrewsbury, great steward of the king's household. When the earl had seen the letter, with a suitable number of men he came to the manor of Cawood on 4 November, and when he was brought to the cardinal in his chamber he said to him: "My Lord, I pray you have patience, for here I arrest you." "Arrest me," said the cardinal; "Yes," said the earl, "I have orders to do so." "You have no such power," said the cardinal, "for I am both a cardinal and a peer of the College of Rome, and ought not to be arrested by any temporal power, for I am not subject to that power, therefore if you arrest me I will withstand it." "Well," said the Earl, "here is the king's commission, and therefore I charge you to obey." The Cardinal somewhat remembered himself, and said, "Well, my lord, I am content to obey, but although by negligence I fell under punishment of the praemunire and lost by law all my lands and goods, yet my person was in the king's protection and I was pardoned that offence. Therefore I wonder why I now should be arrested, especially considering that I am a member of the apostolic See, on whom no temporal man should lay violent hands. Well, I see the King lacks good counsel." "Well," said the earl, "when I was sworn warden of the marches you yourself told me that I might with my staff arrest all men under the degree of king, and now I am stronger for I have a commission for what I do as you have seen." The cardinal at length obeyed, and was kept in his private chamber, and his goods seized and his officers discharged, and his physician, Dr Augustine, was also arrested, and brought to the Tower by Sir Walter Welshe, one of the king's chamber. On 6 November the cardinal was conveyed from Cawood to Sheffield Castle, and there delivered into the keeping of the earl of Shrewsbury until the king's pleasure was known. About this arrest there was much talk among the common people, and many were glad, for surely he was not in favour with the commons.

When the cardinal was thus arrested the king sent Sir William Kingston Knight, captain of the guard and constable of the Tower of London with some of the yeomen of the guard to Sheffield, to fetch the cardinal to the Tower. When the cardinal saw the captain of the guard he was much astonished and shortly became ill, for he foresaw some great trouble, and for that reason men said he willingly took so much strong purgative that his constitution could not bear it. But Sir William Kingston comforted him, and by easy journeys he brought him to the Abbey of Leicester on 27 November, where through weakness caused by purgatives and vomiting he died the second night following, and is buried in the same Abbey.

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