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Thomas Cromwell - Goodie or Baddie?
July 7, 2009
11:27 am
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Claire
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It's so easy to see Cromwell as a baddie with the plotting he did to get rid of Anne Boleyn but was he really such a baddie. He came to a very nasty end with a botched execution – did he deserve it?

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

July 8, 2009
2:59 am
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missisGG
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Probably not as did he technically do anything to the King that deserved to be classified as traitor? He did some plotting of his own so not innocent but I get the feeling more and more as I read and watch things that this was the only way to survive and keep the King happy!

July 8, 2009
6:04 pm
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gwenne
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Well, he was a product of his environment.  He was ambitious and knew how to swim in the shark tank (at least for a while).  He had no qualms about leaving people out to dry for his dirty deeds.  Perhaps what does go around comes back at least in this case it did.

Diem et animus scire cupio: I desire knowledge of the soul.

July 8, 2009
9:11 pm
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Emma_pug
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This topic is timely for me because I just finished watching S3 of The Tudors (I won't spoil, I promise).  Now, I know it isn't factual, but seeing Cromwell brought to life in such an extraordinary way by James Frain made change my opinion a bit.  I don't necessarily like Cromwell, but I also no longer feel that sense of \”vengeance served!\” by his execution.  Tudor politics was a risky game, and in the end so many people ended up getting a taste of their own medicine.  It really was the law of the jungle:  eat or be eaten.  So I hardly think Cromwell was a martyr or a wonderful person, but I don't think he was evil and deserving of his execution. Scheming and self-serving, yes, but in the end he had to be disposed of.  I can't help but wonder if he thought of Anne before his execution.

Noli me tangere

July 9, 2009
2:46 am
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missisGG
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I was the same Emma, at the end of series 2 I couldn't wait to see Cromwell get what was coming to him after what he did to Anne. However in series 3 when it came to the end of Cromwell I was really sad and actually cried, plus I have abit of a crush on him so was sad I'd no longer see him anymore!

I am currently rewatching series 2 and as I watch it again, I can see that I don't think Cromwell is happy with what he is having to do which I didn't notice the first time, James Frain definetly makes you have a soft spot for him! When they boil the cook he looks away and when Anne is near her execution he prays in the church. Notice he never goes to any of the executions himself in the programme, I don't know if this is true or not.

I know this is all the The Tudors so a tv programme but surely he must have still been human and felt guilt, disgust etc. I suppose in those days they were probably abit tougher than we are now!

July 24, 2009
5:44 am
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Sabrina
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It's hard to tell sometimes…

I know he was a part of Anne's downfall. He knew what would get Henry to believe him. But at the same time, I don't think he was totally insensitive. I have season 2, and yes he did turn away when the cook was boiled, and was not present at Anne's execution. He knew what Anne was doing for their reformation, and that she could help make it more a standard for religion in England. But Henry was unhappy, and he would be looking for a scapegoat.. So he fed him Anne.

He was walking on eggshells in season 3. His end was very sad.. I felt bad for him there. It's a conundrum because we will never truly know what happened unless we make a time machine and go back.

Let not my enemies sit as my jury

July 24, 2009
6:21 pm
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Claire
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I think that Crowell was just a \”product\” of Henry in that he was what Henry made him to be, and did not have the strength of character that Thomas More had. It's easy to judge him over the whole Anne Boleyn conspiracy but he was in an impossible situation and he knew that his neck was on the line. When it's a case of \”her or me\”, who can really blame him for choosing self-preservation. I sound awful now, don't I?!

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

July 25, 2009
4:53 am
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cynthia
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To tell the truth, I don't much blame anyone who worked for or lived with Henry VIII for much of anything, even if they did, at times, put someone else's neck on the line–even Anne's.

Henry was a despot with delusions of grandeur and could have ordered anyone's death at any time.  He was going to get rid of Anne with or without Cromwell's help.  Plus, Cromwell saw how it had gone for Wolsey when he didn't get ride of Katherine as promised, so I agree that he swam the shark pretty skillfully while he had the chance.

Everyone here is making me want to see beyond season 1 of The Tudors!

August 17, 2009
12:59 pm
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Lina
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I've always seen Cromwell as a social climber. Whichever way Henry went he followed not far behind. Who knows pehaps he had great admiration for Anne (for he was also in favour of the Reforms), however when Henry began to tire of Anne and her ways it was quite clear for Cromwell which path is safer to take.

August 17, 2009
10:06 pm
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ipaud
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hi Lina and welcome to the forum,

I hope you will have an interesting time here with us and join in often,

Cromwell was the son of a blacksmith, I think I have read about him. He rose to one of the highest posts in Henry VIII's court I think that Henry knew what he was getting in Cromwell and used him to his advantage for as long as he was useful to him. One can only imagine that from his origin, he would not have been influenced by the many factions infighting and stepping on heads within court. a very astute move on Henry's part? I also think that he was most influential in the downfall of Anne, when push came to shove, he saved his own skin by putting Anne in the tower in 1536. His past became his future on Tower Hill before too long though. Still can't help thinking that there must have been chaos around Henry's bedside after his accident early in 1536 and the future of the Tudor monarchy had to have been discussed if Henry was not to wake from his coma. I can only imagine that there were many with strong opinions and arguments on which Tudor offspring would take the throne and who around the king's bedside that day would ultimately hold the balance of power, if he was not to recover?

If it was not this, then it would be something else?

August 18, 2009
1:34 am
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Autumn Star
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no one deserves to die in a messed up execution…OUCH, but when i think of Cromwell's betrayal of Anne it is hard for me to feel sorry for him. He was quite self serving (though many Tudor court members were) and turned on anyone, even people that helped bring him to power, as long as it would be advantageous to himself. I cant seem to think that he is anything but a baddie, when he led such a biased, unfair, and just plain wrong investigation against Anne, after all it was her family that helped raise him to power, and aid in his quest for religious reform, just think about this, where would Cromwell have been without his Boleyn allies?

*Autumn*Star*
le plus heurex

September 11, 2009
7:41 pm
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flora
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I've just been reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel which is a novel about Thomas Cromwell, and it offers a really interesting point of view of him and his motives. I think generally he is shown as such a two-dimensional character, and the book deals not only with his political activities but with his personal life as well, which was really awful in some places (his wife and two daughters all died of the sweating sickness) and very interesting, because he took in lots of people from different families, various relatives and acquaintances, and trained them up to be part of his household. It's surprising to see the loyalty they hold for him. Also, it shows the impossible job he was faced with: being a mediator between lots of important, difficult people who all wanted different things: Charles Brandon, Norfolk, Anne Boleyn, Thomas More (who is also given a new, very plausible personality in the book: he's not so much holy as holier-than-thou and horrible to his family – that might seem completely wrong but it's actually believable, although he keeps them close he gives them loads of rules and hates his wife), and most importantly the King. He was a Protestant who worked for his faith and his King, and who can blame him for doing what everyone else was doing by grabbing power, when all he did differently was not to pretend he was any better than he was, the son of a blacksmith?

I can't say I knew a huge amount about him to begin with but what I've read does fit in with it, augmenting it rather than conflicting with it, and the book ends at Thomas More's execution so I can't say much about his part in Anne's downfall either, but I do think that, like Anne, his faults have been grossly exaggerated and his merits forgotten.

September 15, 2009
9:22 am
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Claire
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Hi Flora,

\”Wolf Hall\” sounds a great read. It's been on my list of must-reads for a while and now you've persuaded me that I really must get it! It would be interesting to delve deeper into Cromwell's character and I have been looking at various biographies of him on Amazon – must get those too.

It is easy to blame him for Anne's fall, which he obviously had a big hand in, but I wonder if her really had any choice. It does seem that the priority of those close to the King was survival so who can blame Cromwell when he sees that he could go the same way as Wolsey and More. I think it really did get to the point where he had to make the choice between his neck or Anne's.

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

December 10, 2009
11:55 pm
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Hannah
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There`s an awful lot of stuff out there about Cromwell that makes him look like a complete monster. For instance, I always thought that Cromwell tortured a confession out of Mark Smeaton, using a bizarre knotted rope and the good old rack. However, these allegations are made in only one contemporary source, the Spanish Chronicle. The Spanish Chronicle also gets the names of Anne Boleyn`s alleged lovers wrong, lists Anne of Cleves as Henry`s fifth wife and implicates Cromwell in the downfall of Katheryn Howard, despite the fact that Cromwell had been dead for two years (it even contains a blow-by-blow account of `Cromwell` interrogating Howard!). Also, if Smeaton was `grievously racked` how was he able to walk unaided to his trial and to his execution? The rack dislocates every bone in your body!

A lot of the posts here seem to be judging Cromwell on the TV show `The Tudors`. Thats okay, its been a treat for us Cromwell girls to have a hot guy playing him, but the real Cromwell was infinately more complex than that and I`d urge some proper research on the man before judging him. Especially the measures Cromwell wanted to introduce to alleviate the suffering of the poor. He drafted a bill that was pretty much a medieval Welfare State, complete with public works programmes and free health care for all, with mass education to boot. Ofcourse, the nobility ensured the bill was never passed, and Cromwell had to radically re-think the whole thing. But it shows the vision the man had, it shows what he wanted to do.

I could go on, but I don`t want to send people into a coma.

Be daly prove you shalle me fynde,nTo be to you bothe lovyng and kynde,

December 11, 2009
9:19 am
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Impish_Impulse
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…the measures Cromwell wanted to introduce to alleviate the suffering of the poor. He drafted a bill that was pretty much a medieval Welfare State, complete with public works programmes and free health care for all, with mass education to boot. Of course, the nobility ensured the bill was never passed, and Cromwell had to radically re-think the whole thing. But it shows the vision the man had, it shows what he wanted to do.


I didn't know that. I had been under the impression that Cromwell had quarreled with Anne over how the assets from the dissolution of the monasteries should be used. And that it was Anne who wanted the monies used for educational and charitable purposes, whilst Cromwell advocated Henry confiscating them to line his own pockets. Was this before Anne's fall? Did his radical re-think mean \”Make the king happy\”? and so he didn't want Anne to jeopardize his toadying? Or did he change his tune after Anne's fall? Either way, I find the convoluted politics of the era fascinating.

                        survivor ribbon                             

               "Don't knock at death's door. 

          Ring the bell and run. He hates that."    

December 11, 2009
10:44 am
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Hannah
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I didn't know that. I had been under the impression that Cromwell had quarreled with Anne over how the assets from the dissolution of the monasteries should be used. And that it was Anne who wanted the monies used for educational and charitable purposes, whilst Cromwell advocated Henry confiscating them to line his own pockets. Was this before Anne's fall? Did his radical re-think mean “Make the king happy”? and so he didn't want Anne to jeopardize his toadying? Or did he change his tune after Anne's fall? Either way, I find the convoluted politics of the era fascinating.


Well, Thomas drafted the orginal Poor Law bill in autumn 1535, and it was finally passed through Parliament in summer 1536 (after he`d had his re-think and watered the bill down, after failing to secure enough support to pass his original bill). So that `radical re-think` was not about Henry at all, Cromwell just had to reign in his hopes and ambitions of alleviating the suffering of the poor (as the son of an alcoholic blacksmith, Cromwell had great empathy for these people). Also, Cromwell wanted to help people to help themselves, as opposed to the Religious Houses who simply doled out Alms, and kept people dependant on them.

He and Anne did quarrel, and Anne did indeed threaten to execute Cromwell. But these were likely to be words spoken in anger, and it seems Cromwell laughed it off (he told Eustace Chapuys “I fancy, She cannot do me any harm”), and Anne continued to call Cromwell `her man`. I honestly think people read too much into that empty threat, not least as it happenned over a year before Annes fall. I forget now, what the exact nature of the row was. It was about the monastries, but it came down to preferrments and not were all the money was going.

As for Annes fall, there was a lot more than just Cromwell at work there. Anne was surrounded by her enemies and her enemies were some of the most powerful and influential old families at court.

Be daly prove you shalle me fynde,nTo be to you bothe lovyng and kynde,

December 11, 2009
2:47 pm
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Claire
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Yes, I agree that Cromwell wasn't 100% guilty for Anne Boleyn's fall because , as Elizabeth Norton says in her interview:-

\”Henry VIII remained, until the end of his life, in full control of his kingdom. The plot against Catherine Parr, in which she was very nearly sent to the Tower for heresy in 1546 shows that it was not possible for Henry’s wives to fall without his express agreement.\”

However, Cromwell did admit to Chapuys in April 1536 that he was plotting to bring Anne down by eliminating her and later in June of that year he told Chapuys that he had been plotting since 18th April:-

\”He said it was he who had discovered and followed up the affair of the Concubine, in which he had taken a great deal of trouble, and that, owing to the displeasure and anger he had incurred upon the reply given to me by the King on the third day of Easter, he had set himself to arrange the plot (a fantasier et conspirer led. affaire).\” LP Vol.10 1069 Letter from Chapuys to Charles V 6th June 1536

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

December 11, 2009
4:03 pm
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Hannah
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Oh I acknowledge that Cromwell was involved at a high level in the fall of Anne Boleyn. He didn`t have much choice in the matter, as he worked for the King, and he was asked by Henry to look into the allegations against Anne that`d been circulating for years.

Be daly prove you shalle me fynde,nTo be to you bothe lovyng and kynde,

December 11, 2009
4:14 pm
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Claire
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I'm not sure which way round it was – Cromwell going to the King with rumours so that he could get Henry's permission to move against Anne, or Henry ordering Cromwell. Different historians have very different views on it and I'm still not sure which way I go. This is what I love about history, you're never completely 100% syre about these things unless there is solid, unbiased historical evidence.

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

December 11, 2009
6:37 pm
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Hannah
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You`re right about that! Its impossible to be sure about events after a distance of five hundred years. Although, I haven`t given up hope on the creation of a time machine yet!

Wishful thinking to one side though, Henry must`ve been aware of what people were saying about Anne? He didn`t live in a bubble, cut off from everyone at court and seems to me that Henry only over heard what he wanted to hear. His marraige to Anne shows his selective nature. I mean, marraige number one was annulled due to Katherine of Aragon being within the forbidden degrees of affinity, but so was Anne! Henry just chose to ignore little things like that. I dunno…And men dare to say women are complicated!

Be daly prove you shalle me fynde,nTo be to you bothe lovyng and kynde,

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