The Execution of Thomas Cromwell

Sketch once labelled as Thomas Cromwell, but now thought to be George Neville, Baron Bergavenny.

On the 28th July 1540, not only was King Henry VIII marrying his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, but his former trusted adviser and Master Secretary, Thomas Cromwell was being beheaded as a traitor and heretic.

Thomas Cromwell had been denied a trial, instead an Act of Attainder had been used against him. In “The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant”, John Schofield writes about just what Cromwell was accused of:-

  • Releasing men convicted or suspected of treason
  • Misusing and expropriating funds
  • Taking bribes
  • Making appointments without royal approval
  • Being a “detestable heretic” who had spread heretical literature throughout the kingdom
  • Being a “maintainer and supporter of heretics
  • Speaking treasonable words – When preachers like Robert Barnes had been reported to him, Cromwell had said: “If the king would turn from it, yet I would not turn; and if the king did turn, and all his people, I would fight in the field in mine own person, with my sword in my hand against him and all other” and “if I live one year or two, it shall not lie in the king’s power to resist or let it if he would”1.
  • That he was a sacramentary, a supporter of Zwingli and someone who denied the real presence of Christ in the sacrament.

However, although Cromwell’s real crime was his support of the Anne of Cleves marriage and his failure to annul it, Schofield points out that his ruin “was not the Cleves marriage itself” but that it had “begun with the Lenten crisis, and it was sealed by Henry’s passion for Catherine Howard, stoked up by those feastings and entertainments laid on by wily Winchester at his Episcopal palace.”2 According to Schofield, this meant that Henry VIII “now saw his Lutheran Vicegerent as a threat to the king’s headship of the church, and, even more provocatively, the barrier to Anne’s removal and Catherine’s coronation.”3

Thomas Cromwell’s Execution

Although Cromwell wrote to the king proclaiming his innocence and begging for mercy, he was condemned to death, although it was unclear whether he would have to suffer the full traitor’s death  of being hanged, drawn and quartered or be burned at the stake as a heretic. In the end, the King commuted the sentence to beheading, even though Cromwell was not a nobleman by birth.

On the 28th July 1540, Thomas Cromwell climbed the scaffold and addressed the waiting crowd. He opened by saying “I am come hither to die and not to purge myself, as some think peradventure that I will”4 and then he continued by acknowledging that he had offended God and the King and asking forgiveness from both of them. Then he declared “I die in the Catholic faith, not doubting in any article of my faith… nor in any sacrament of the church”5 but Schofield points out that Cromwell was using gallows humour and irony here and was not referring to the medieval Roman Catholic Church, but instead was using the word “Catholic” in the way that Luther, Melancthon and Cranmer did, referring to the “Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” of the New Testament and Nicene Creed.  He continued by denying the charges laid against him and then said:-

“Many have slandered me, and reported that I have been a bearer of such as I have maintained evil opinions; which is untrue: but I confess, that like as God, by His Holy Spirit, doth instruct us in the truth, so the devil is ready to seduce us; and I have been seduced.”6

Although the words “I have been seduced” makes Cromwell sound as if he is confessing his guilt, Schofield explains that it was probably meants as a “sort of sweeping, general confession that all believers make from time to time, like “forgive us our trespasses”, or “all we like sheep have gone astray””.

Cromwell then committed his soul to Christ, calling on his mercy and stating his faith in the resurrection and justification by faith alone:-

“I see and acknowledge that there is in myself no hope of salvation, but all my confidence, hope and trust is in thy most merciful goodness. I have no merits or good works which I may allege before thee.”7

And with this attack on “the work righteousness of medieval religion” and a declaration of his Lutheran beliefs, Thomas Cromwell ended his speech, knelt at the block and was beheaded. The idea that his execution was botched comes from the chronicle of Edward Hall, where he says that Cromwell “so paciently suffered the stroke of the axe, by a ragged and Boocherly miser, whiche very ungoodly perfourmed the office”8, which suggests that it was not a “good” execution, but there is no firm evidence of this and there is no suggestion that the executioner was paid off by Cromwell’s enemies or that they got him drunk. Whatever the real story, it was a sad end to a man who had risen from his humble roots – son of a smith from Putney – to be the Earl of Essex and the King’s chief minister.

RIP Thomas Cromwell, Master Secretary.

Notes and Sources

  1. The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant, John Schofield, p261
  2. Ibid., p264
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid., p268
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid., p269
  8. Hall’s Chronicle, Edward Hall, p839

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151 thoughts on “The Execution of Thomas Cromwell”
  1. Not the least feeling of sympathy, Cromwell. You betrayed our dear Anne and destroyed her and her brother and other innocents. You screwed up over of Anne of Cleves. You destroyed and plundered the monasteries. You deserved everything you got.

    1. May this bitch Thomas Cromwell rot in Hell for ever!!!Owing to him Anne Boleyn died without being guilty.. However after 4 years he got beheaded bybthe King too.He was the only person that got executed fairly.

      1. Your need to relax and reread your history,Cromwell was innocent have you not read all the great things he did to further the gospel. Relax my brother besides all this it happened so long ago that you not need to get worked up now. WE all know the true way to Christ now, but if you are not saved then please ask Christ into your heart because the time runs short.

        1. All men in power grow paranoid from that day until now just look at Donald J Trump he has been told yes his entire life and surrounded himself with yes men, the people in Northern Scotland who told him no when he wanted to buy there houses to build his golf course got messed over by him, he build mounds out of the earth to block the view of the ocean in front of every person who would not sell, it is so sad that there fellow scots did not stand with them and tell him to go home, but instead caved in for money for which the love of is the root of all kinds of evil even turning on life long friends.

        2. I am trying to understand how Donald Trump executed Cromwell ? He sure gets around . And here I thought Henry was powerful !

    2. Thomas Cromwell did not deserve what he got he was a brilliant man and loyal to Henry the King The Seymores never liked him and got rid of him because he did not agree with them You need to study the facts before making ignorant comments

      1. Cromwell should be vilified if for no other reason than his being instrumental is the dissolution of the monasteries, institutions which had provided the English people with spiritual care, educations, medical care, hospice care, orphan care, etc. for centuries. Incredible beauty – sculpture, stained glass, vestments, sacred vessels entire libraries, – the collective, cultural inheritance of the English people – was sold off to line the pockets of the king and his cronies. The monasteries also provided traditions that anchored villagers to place and past. All swept away.

        So many people, loyal to the king, (a king who had more people killed than did his daughter Mary, yet it’s she who is called “bloody”) who were mistreated or killed outright: Katherine, More, Fisher, Wolsey, Margaret Pole, and countless others, wit Cromwell being complicit in much of it. “You need to study the facts” indeed.

        1. All those “fathers” wanting position and power continuously PIMPED out their own daughters to get a position of power and position in the King’s good graces…….just hoping their daughters were beautiful or fertile enough to “give” this piece of shit king a son. Wouldn’t they all laugh now if they knew then that science knows that it’s the man’s sperm that decides what sex the child is! Anne Boleyn’s sister got laid, had his son and banished. Married Lady Blount had his son and banished, etc….on and on – these women were afraid to say “NO”, except Anne Boleyn who not only had guts for a woman of that time period, but “held out”, but that didn’t do her any good in the end, anyway, because that other piece of shit “Cromwell” had it in for her and King Henry couldn’t wait long enough to give her a chance to “do her job”! The “Tudor” series was close enough to true history, but I don’t think entirely accurate because King Henry XIII started getting very ILL and very FAT long before “Anne of Cleves”, who he blamed for his impotency. The Pilgram Movement” was honest and true and should have been acknowledged, but Cromwell still wanted to pillage the Monestaries and Abby’s for their wealth. I don’t know how he got away with it for as long as he did………..just MY opinion…….thank you!

        2. The monasteries themselves were plundering people ! They were a huge power and they regularly abused that power. My goodness the wealth of the Church and monasteries was sickening. Why does a holy place need to drape itself in gold and jewels and the say the services in Latin which most couldn’t understand convincing people that they needed an intermediary to pray. I have no sympathy for them, though of course I do with any innocents that were caught up. It was not the collective and cultural inheritance of the British people , its was highly selective about which culture and which people. Yes beautiful buildings – but they cost an absolute fortune to build, and many builders died building them for a measly remittance. Why are none of these builders recognised? It was they who built them/designed them worked on them! The charity must have been a very small amount of all that they collected or they would not have managed to afford such palaces!

        3. Quite a rosy summary of the English monasteries in the 16th century, I must say. A more balanced account would be to admit that these institutions did indeed begin as you’ve described them, and there were no doubt righteous and Godly men to be found among their monks. Unfortunately, there were also scoundrels, sexually immoral, and thieves – such is human nature absent Christ. Many oppressed the local communities as landlords charging exorbitant rents. Others sold relics they knew to be fakes. Still others took in young boys to “serve God” and treated them like servants or sexually abused them. Cromwell’s agents didn’t have to look hard to find evidence of widespread corruption. Where Cromwell and the King can be accused of wrongdoing is in their motives and methods – they wanted the money and would do anything to get it.

    3. Cromwell was just doing his duty. If you had ever picked up a history book, you’d know that the King had his finale say with everything. If he had wanted to keep Anne, he could’ve merely ignored Cromwell.

      Anne was destroyed by how she could not produce a male heir, something that she could not control. When Henry did not get that-as he was obsessed with a male heir-he went for Jane shortly after a miscarriage of a boy and the birth of Elizabeth I. Cromwell was Henry’s minister and played a significant role in that. He only played part of a factor for Anne’s execution.

      Henry did the rest.

      1. Oh please! Thomas Cromwell was just doing his job???!!! He and other bastards like Richard Rich had an axe to grind against Guys like John Fisher and Thomas More.

      2. That’s what Cromwell Said…. It was Henry’s decision! Easy copout for the years of ‘faithful” service he gave the king or morally said, encouraging the kings constant immoral deeds and killing of innocent people who did not serve the king as they wished. That blood was all over Cromwell just the same! He got what he had done to so many others before him. Thank God our constitution started out with separation of church & State!

    4. ‘Our dear Anne’. Oh my word……do get a grip and read some history. Don’t rely on TV and film versions.

    5. However, seeing he died in the true Catholic faith, trusting not in himself but by faith alone in Christ alone he had forgiveness and thereby all a man could possibly hope for.

    6. H. V111 was a narrissist despot, nobody good or bad, was safe, whatever suited his whim.
      The justice system was infantile, non independent, crude, bought.
      We’ve come a long way to a justice system in the west, but not in many eastern countries where belief in God and the justice system are still intertwined.
      The western societies still need to shake off the shackles of its belief systems which are a ruination

    1. I henry was alive today he`d be a member of the Australian national party and a close friend of Tony Abbott to boot, same ethics, same principles.

  2. It was a risky business being close to the King especially when factions pulled together to oust you. Cromwell knew the stakes but it still must have hit him hard to have risen so high purely on his merits and not from birth rights and to fall so utterly. He called to an unmerciful Henry for mercy, mercy, mercy. He must have realized the irony of it all.

    The picture on this article isn’t Thomas Cromwell however, its George Neville. Check this page out :

  3. Henry had a habit of hiding behind powerful ministers. He could send Wolsey and Cromwell out to do his dirty work and then claim it was all their fault, not his. Cromwell did his job well, maybe too well for us Anne supporters. I believe he was a brilliant man seduced by the power he could wield in the name of the King. Once he had a taste of that power he wasn’t going to yield it to anyone else. Hence the destruction of Anne and her party, and the determination of the nobility to do away with him. He was using power they thought they should have and when he bungled the Cleves marriage it gave them an opportunity to take him down. The fact they had to do it by Act of Attainder means that it was a coup, done when Henry was distracted by Katherine Howard. It was said that Henry soon regretted the loss of his “most loyal servant” and was furious at the council for removing him.

  4. I agree with Gilly. Too many people are credited with actions that were fully Henry’s decision. Anne is often blamed for Henry’s rejection of Katherine, just as Jane is blamed for Henry’s execution of Anne.

    I did a research paper on Cromwell and I found he was quite a brilliant man. Despite some unscrupulous actions, he genuinely worked towards a more fair and balanced system. He began work to see that offices were given out for merit rather than favor. His taxation system offered more relief for the commoners. And he kept Parliment running for its long term. It’s amazing to think that for the time period, Cromwell was a completely self made man. He was not expected to overcome his station, but he did and he became the second most powerful man in the country.

    Whatever the reason for his downfall, Henry would never again have such an efficient government. It’s ironic to think that later on, Cromwell’s ancestor, Oliver Cromwell, would execute Henry’s ancestor, Charles I.

    1. Oliver Cromwell was actually descended from Katherine Cromwell (born c. 1482), an elder sister of Thomas Cromwell, not his ancestor. And CharlesI was descended from Margaret Tudor, who was King HenryVIIIs sister.

    2. Oliver Cromwell was NOT an ancestor, nor was he a descendant of Thomas Cromwell. The two men were collaterally related, not directly. And if Henry VIII was so much set against Thomas at the very end, then why was Thomas raised to an earldom AFTER the marriage with Anne of Cleves had already been celebrated….months later, in fact? Although Thomas’ earldom did not come until the very year of his execution, he was obviously high enough in the king’s favor for his son Gregory Cromwell, K.B. to marry the widowed sister of Jane Seymour, Elizabeth Seymour (Oughtred) in or before 1538. This do not come across as acts of ultimate royal disfavor.

  5. I wonder if Oliver Cromwell had any dealings with Anne’s Irish relatives when he plundered Ireland…anyone know?

  6. I’ve just realised Sue made the same point about the sketch. Sorry about that. I thought that Henry did show Cromwell the mercy he asked for by the manner of his death. As Cromwell had all his titles striped from him he was once more a commoner and as such would usually have been hung, drawn and quartered.

  7. Sorry fiz, Cromwell helped more the English people saving them from the atrocious, cruel and usurious catholic church of the time. The never constant king Henry VIII would kill anyone on a whim, up to and including one of England’s greatest citizens.

      1. If there were any “psychos”, as described today, I wonder where ol’ Henry XIII would fall into what category?

        If a woman had large breasts in those days, I would hate like hell to have my chest smashed in with those horrible gowns! Was that the fashion, or just another garment to torture women? Just curious…….

  8. It was a dangerous thing to even be known by name by most of these monarchs who had to listen to the reports of others to determine what was going on. Royalty did not have an accurate view of life around them and must have been terrified every day of their lives what with one plot or another to take their power and lives. They were tortured souls making a living hell out of the lives of all around them–the perpetual circle. Only once the public could read and write and newspapers reported what the public really thought, did the monarchs have a chance to get a glimpse of reality.

    It’s all entertaining to read about, but I’m certainly glad I don’t have to live it.

  9. More nitpicking I’m afraid…
    In fact, Oliver Cromwell was not descended from Thomas Cromwell. He was descended from Thomas’s sister Kat. In fact, he should have carried the surname Williams but the children of Kat Cromwell and Morgan Williams chose to take the name of Cromwell as at the time his star was in ascent at the court of Henry VIII and their parents died when they were still relatively young.
    Neither was Charles I desended from Henry VIII. (Again) he was actually descended from Henry’s elder sister Margaret. An amazing and little known woman, who was married to the King of Scotland ( James IV) at the age of 13 and was the great grandmother of James VI of Scotland (James I of England) and was, therefore, great great grandmother of Charles I.

    1. Hi Clare,
      Feel free to nitpick but I don’t even mention Oliver Cromwell or Charles I in the article so I don’t understand. Are you replying to another comment?

    2. If Kat Cromwell was the sister of Thomas Cromwell it should be fair to make an inference that Oliver Cromwell, who descended from Kat Cromwell, also descended from Thomas Cromwell as the former is appears to be the great-nephew of the latter.

    1. Thomas Cromwell and Oliver Cromwell,must have caused the deaths of a million people in the British Isles ,they didn’t shape the country they destroyed it divided the people destroyed churches ,monasties which was asource of comfort and learning at the time for the poor and wretched

    2. Clare was, I think, responding to this comment from Rachel –

      ” It’s ironic to think that later on, Cromwell’s ancestor, Oliver Cromwell, would execute Henry’s ancestor, Charles I.”

      Yes, brothers & sisters are related, but a brother is not the ancestor of his sister’s children.

      (If I could nit-pick Rachel’s comment further, Charles was (not) Henry’s descendant, not his (not) ancestor).

    3. To say one is “decended from” means a DRECT LINE of descent. It does not mean “related to.” There is a distinct and important difference.

  10. It would have been impossible for Cromwell to have risen from such lowly beginnings without exceptional talent. As a British republican, I can only wonder at the esteem held for the Royals of Europe following their hideous history.
    This tyrant executed or at least ordered the death of over 60,000 people during his reign of terror.
    I don’t know if there is a heaven and hell but I’ll tell you this much.
    If there is then ‘Old Nick’ must have made a nice few quid melting down the crowns and coronets of these despots.
    In 1066 one bunch of Scandanavian ganger thugs defeated another bunch of Scandanavian ganger thugs after which the victor ‘William the Bastard’ carved up our country and divided it amoungst his mates, thus forming the basis of our aristocracy, the legacy of which we still live with today.
    Cromwell like his namesake and relative Oliver were of course men of their times but at least they came from common folk who rose via ability , not birth, and constructed the basis of our democracy.

      1. Nothing has changed, has it? One war after the other since I was born in 1945 and it’s DISGUSTING!! Egomaniac, lying, bed hopping presidents, and I’m talking about BOTH sides of the fence and here we are in the 21st century.

        It’s almost funny when one watches the Tudor series and it could be Washington, DC, except for the costumes and the invention of deodorant!

    1. Scandinavian ganger thugs? Shows only how little you know about Viking history. They (we) actually contributed a lot to what would become Great Britain.

    1. Foolish Tim. I, for that matter, question the intellect of people that use your kind of words. You must be a youngster, still wet behind the ears and hiding behind mommy’s skirt.

      1. Marco, your name says it all. You have NO KNOWLEDGE of British History. CORNWALL was a lying deceitful maggot who contributed not only to the debauchery of the King but also to the destruction of the Roman Catholic Church in England. I question the intellect of people like you Marco; who do not look at the facts. Henry VIII was the off grandson of Edward IV who deposed the anointed King Henry VI of Lancaster. Edward IV was a debauched individual, and with his compatriot William Earl of Hastings raped women at will. Hastings in fact whilst in company with Edward IV raped a 12 year old girl who died of horrific injuries. Looks like the acorn f=dod not fall far from the tree did it, when it came to his grandson. Where is the House of Tudor now mate?? Cromwell, Cranmer Anne Boelyn, Henry V111 bun in the deepest pit of hell.

    1. Yes my friend 🙂 May this ******* ******* [edited] Thomas Cromwell rot in Hell for ever!!!I am very glad he got beheaded!!

  11. Fred up there obviously suffers from class envy and is clearly a socialist. Probably a blue collar type. He needs to bone up on his history, however, because it is considerably flawed.

    The UK is not a democracy nor should it be. Democracies are evil by their very nature. It’s a code word used by socialists to undermine the status quo. Shame, shame.

    God save the queen and the constitutional monarchy!

  12. Thomas was my long ago grandfather so I cant hate him for things he did. I will say theres little to debate that he did infact do a lot of back stabbing.

  13. Henry viii was a coward and lustful man. He used Wolsey and Cromwell to his advantage and whrpen he got bored with a wife he made new scapegoats of his ministers and got a new bed mate. The stupid king was never satisfied even by gracious ladies like Catherine of Agar nor the beautiful Anne Boelyn. The king behaved most cruelly with sweet Mary and Elizabeth. The king was never sure what to follow, catholic or protestant or lutheran cult and kept swinging. Even his religious orientations were dictated by his sexual appetite. Cromwell was a loyal servant like Sir Moore but faced a cruel fate. Without him, Henry viii would have lost his life or throne long ago.

  14. i think thomas cromwell was a good friend to henry and to anne and a good servant to them also henry has no right to send cromwell to be beheaded like that its so cruel and its not fair on his family i thought henry was his loyal friend to thomas cromell i watched a programme called the tudors on tv many thanks miss sarah patricia baker

  15. Anne Boleyn was wicked and cruel and she got what she deserved. When you do wrong it always come back to haunt you. She was not not a good person. Any Anne fans out there must be just like her and I feel sorry for you. Treating people like s**t doesn’t make you innocent and sweet. What Thomas Cromwell did was not right either but it doesn’t excuse the fact that she did the same thiing. Other’s were also excuted because of her and they did nothing to deserve it. She was also a backstabber not just Thomas Cromwell.

    1. Are you kidding??? Thomas Cromwell was a bustard and he got ehat he deserved here for a lot of years.Owing to his inducements Anne Boleyn got beheaded by the King of England.She was innocent!!!It was good that 4 years after Anne Boleyns death,Thomas Cromwell got beheaded too.He finally got what he deserved this son of a bitch!!!May Thomas Cromwell rot in Hell for ever!!!!

      1. Ah, an idiotic Boleynist . Sir Thomas Cromwell did more for Great Britain than that whore ever did. Read a current history book why don’t you.

      1. Is it true Anne was executed on suspicious testimony, or false accusations? However the king himself was an admitted adulterer from the beginning. It’s good to be the king, when you can put to death someone for something he himself practiced regularly.

    1. Have to say Adam, fascinating as it is scrolling down the comments on this subject, yours is the first one I can be sure is 100% accurate. How can a person living in the 21st century allow events that occurred 500 years ago to bring out so much negativity, bad feeling and hatred ? Incredibly sad.

      1. Well said. Methinks these people need to find lives of their own. At least comment on more pressing current matters such as Matt Lauer and Donald Trump..,.

        (sarcasm added for effect)

  16. The Royals like Henry would do well to emulate the Kings and Emperors in other countries like China, Korea, Japan etc…..they keep their Queens but for side thrills, have a whole gaggle of concubines ( mistresses if you like )……if only Henry had use this ‘system’, instead of having to resort to beheading etc , the outcome will be vastly different, hehehe

    1. I suppose but you must know that he considered himself pious to some degree (I know – poor self awareness) and there was that bit about an heir. No bastard was going to ascend to the thrown. That was out of the question – he could be made an Earl or something (notice how many landed gentry are descendants of offspring of bastard royals), but never King.

  17. Hell is court for all the blood thirsty royals. Majestic peasants in the The Kingdom of Demons. No mercy for the unforgiving. Rot in hell Henry.

  18. every single protestant is a descendant of a catholic ancestor the protestant church was built on adultery hi henry the eighth this is actual fact you cannot sanitise history

    1. I have to take exception to the statement that every Protestant is the descendent of a Catholic. Very few slaves taken from Africa to the US and indoctrinated into the Protestant church while slaves would have had Catholic ancestors.

      Nevertheless, if your claim is that all or most Europeans in the middle 16th century either were or were descended from Catholics, I agree. But so what? What is the point you are trying to make with that statement?

      The perceived excesses of the Catholic church were the catalyst for the Protestant reformation and men like Luther, who can properly be identified with the creation of the protestant movement, were not persuaded to their views simply as a way to help the English king achieve his end with regard to the ending of his marriage to Katherine. Although I have no data regarding Luther’s specific views on ‘the Kings great matter’, I’d wager that he would also have opposed the end of Henry’s marriage to Katherine.

      The case can be made that the Protestant movement afforded Henry a precedent to achieve his ends without the involvement of the Pope, but to suggest that the entire Protestant church was built on adultery because Henry chose to separate the church in England from the control of Rome is a little simplistic and not a very well reasoned argument.

  19. I believe that Jerome Coleman is right in saying that Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell did not shape the country into a better place but in actual fact destroyed it. The dissolution of the monasteries was a terrible act of barbarity…removing sources of food, shelter and even work for hundred of thousands of poor people. Certainly, a reformation was badly needed in the Church but it should have come from within and not from without and sadly it was led by a lust-crazed monarch who saw the flesh as the answer to everything. Amazingly, the Reformation that was to reform the country lost its way hundreds of years ago. A report in The Times a few years ago reported that the Church of England was asking for the one and a half million of their Faith who attend Sunday services to contribute more at collection time. The report went to to state that there are up to sixty million people in the United Kingdom who are classed as being C of E and posed the question why are the other millions not attending church if the Reformation was so important in those bygone days! Interestingly, the title of Defender of the Faith awarded by a Pope in Rome to Henry VIII for his earlier defence of the Catholic Faith was imprinted on all English coinage and is still there to today for all to see beside the Queen’s head although contracted to the letters ‘D. F.’ Is the Queen or her advisers really aware of the paradox that exists in this comedy of religious and regal errors!!!

  20. I wish people would stop judging Thomas Cromwell. Henry VIII is responsible for her death, not Thomas, even if he had a part to play in Anne’s downfall, if he had refused to do anything, Henry would have found someone else that would have anyway. I admire the man, it takes a lot of courage to say what he did at the scaffold, and he died with honor and dignity. Whatever crimes he committed, he was only following Henry’s orders, not his own. To judge him according to our standards does not work. None of us had to live under Henry VIII’s reign, nor do we know what is was like to do so. I see Cromwell as a wronged innocent, just like Thomas More, Margaret Pole, Anne Boleyn and many others who were executed by Henry VIII.

      1. well said i totally agree, it was all cruel all orderd by the king, i couldnt of said it better but you said it all for me, because i was feeling the exact same way 🙂 Rip all those who were wrongly Executed.

        1. I should have started at the bottom of all these comments except from the top. It seems to me that, you’re right, all of you, who said that living around and under Henry XIII must have been pure torture and anxiety, wondering what that predator was going to do next – kind of like living in North Korea, under and around that MADMAN running that country! Those poor, ignorant people have no idea what’s going on around them and you know what? Maybe that’s merciful….

    1. I support your comments one hundred per cent. Thomas Cromwell was not only a brilliant man, but also a kind onw

  21. Surely one of the reasons Henry kept swapping his wives was that he was desperate to continue the Tudor line, seeing as how he was only the second member of it. He could not legitimately dump his first wife so(clever move) he dumped the authority that forbade divorce and introduced his own religion. The Tudors were relative newcomers to the throne, having overthrown the Plantagenets only in the previous generation. Henry was probably typical of most men of his day in believing that failure to produce an heir was the fault of his various wives. You ‘d have thought after one or two of them that the penny would have dropped that he was firing blanks!

  22. The Tudors were relative newcomers to the throne, having beaten the Plantagenets only in the previous generation, so Henry must have been desperate to produce a male heir and undoubtedly that was why he had so may wives. Courtiers like Cromwell cleverly kept the king on their side as long as they could, but when Henry was running out of options even those closest to him were vulnerable. No doubt that was why Cromwell kept his own council. Of course, it never occurred to Henry that he might be the one firing blanks, hence the lack of children. I know he had three but it’s a poor ratio given the number of wives he had. I expect that each of his wives thought they were going to be “the one” and thus their position would be safe but you’d have thought that after two or so, any woman would have avoided his roving eye. You’d have been safer just being his mistress! The mistake the wives made, including Boleyn, was thinking that they personally meant anything special to Henry, rather than just a potential breeding machine.

  23. The only good thing that came about the rule of King Henry VIII, was the birth of Princess Elizebeth. Whom became Queen Elizebeth Ist. The greatest monarch this Country has ever had.

  24. I can’t believe the amount of historically ignorant comments here. Anne Boleyn was never a shy virgin when she married Henry, she was a scheming hard as nails women who, along with her sister mary, had the morals of an alley cat. Get a grip people.

    1. And your evidence is…?
      It’s fine to disagree with people and to debate topics like this but telling people to “get a grip” is rude and just stifles debate. Share your opinions, back them up with evidence and let’s have a proper discussion.

      1. I think history bears out exactly what Smiffysan said. These comments have revealed a whole string of posters who haven’t read any history but rather watched “The Other Boleyn Girl” and /or The Tudors and thought that was history.

  25. I find you all to be a bit hypocritical. I am quite sure despite your moral inclinations; that you would have done your best to survive in the service of a despot King by most and/or any means necessary. After all, it’s only conjecture on our parts when we state how we would have conducted ourselves in similar circumstances.

  26. Are you all insane? Such devotion to a known Harlot (Anne) who comes from a family of loose character (every one of them had a vice). Are you Boleyn descendants? While I don’t believe she slept with everyone she was accused of, I do believe she was mean and especially toward Queen Catherine and Lady Mary. If you tell me she did what she had to in order to survive then you must also accept that Thomas Cromwell (easily regarded as one of the best English statesmen) did the same and provided a better service to Great Britain. Enough of the slander toward Sir Thomas Cromwell! Read a reputable, current history book or just sit quietly.

  27. What is this talk of “ancestor” between Thomas and Oliver Cromwell. The proper word for later descendants is “progeny” Look it up.

  28. we all draw conclusions, from history through a variety of means; diaries, self-reporting, state and royal records and opinions rendered by various involved individuals or gossiping bystanders. In truth, there most likely, is not an accurate and uninfluenced report recognizable from these past events-especially those events involving personalities who were silenced, dispatched or prevented from ever stating their stories.The nature of any adulterous, or illegitimate involvement during this century
    however “intimate,tempestuous, or seemingly justifiable”” was seen with a most critically judgemental and condemning eye. Bestowing sexual favor seldom reflected a dependable means or method of securing and guaranteeing one’s own agenda or standing in society. Histories of love affairs and similar arrangements were usually complicated with the emotional volatility of those involved as well as those who are no longer involved. Who can guess the accuracy of what was recorded? The reasons for the attractions and dissolutions of these relationships., may not ever have been fully understood by the lovers involved.
    The motivation for personal safety and protection from a vacillating regent was strong reason to adjust your interpretation of events, esp in such a volatile environment as the mid-1500s, We can only acknowledge who appeared to have the greatest political authority and surmise who those were who were influential enough to wield it. No wonder, it was referred to as one of our “darker” ages.

  29. we all draw conclusions, from history through a variety of means; diaries, self-reporting, state and royal records and opinions rendered by various involved individuals or gossiping bystanders. In truth, there most likely, is not an accurate and uninfluenced report recognizable from these past events-especially those events involving personalities who were silenced, dispatched or prevented from ever stating their stories.The nature of any adulterous, or illegitimate involvement during this century
    however “intimate,tempestuous, or seemingly justifiable”” was seen with a most critically judgemental and condemning eye. Bestowing sexual favor seldom reflected a dependable means or method of securing and guaranteeing one’s own agenda or standing in society. Histories of love affairs and similar arrangements were usually complicated with the emotional volatility of those involved as well as those who are no longer involved. Who can guess the accuracy of what was recorded? The reasons for the attractions and dissolutions of these relationships., may not ever have been fully understood by the lovers involved.
    The motivation for personal safety and protection from a vacillating regent was strong reason to adjust your interpretation of events, esp in such a volatile environment as the mid-1500s, We can only acknowledge who appeared to have the greatest political authority and surmise who those were who were influential enough to wield it. No wonder, it was referred to as one of our “darker” ages.

    1. Considering the character of men (and women) we haven’t evolved by much measure.
      We still can choose our path to love, live harmoniously, share, care and give of ourselves. or we can hate, wage war, scheme, live selfishly and wastefully and worry, we still lose sight of what can be our own good and decent character and settle for our baser nature..

  30. It’s amazing how everyone complains about Henry the eighth, yet Charlemagne had 4 wives and 5 concubines and the Popecrowned him Holy Roman Emperor!

  31. History! Isn’t it marvelous! Though after many years of my interest in nearly everyone & everything, I think History (His-story) needs a logical change to “OUR-STORY” for who, even then, knew fact positive what was true & what was not? Henry the 8th as all Royals everywhere, were rich, spoiled, in love with power & used that power for their own whims. He was without any pity or remorse unless he chose to show some. Even to his own progeny. Anyone in his court had reason to fear for their own lives & oft times the lives of their families. The only thing I can believe he did well was to pull down the power of Rome’s corruption which was complete in every aspect one could imagine. He only did that when he could not force Rome to give him his way. He as most leaders, are to be feared, for what can be done to bring them to task? Yet “we” must keep all laws or be punished, many times, even the innocent. He is certainly “Food for thought”. Anne Boleyn reached too high without intelligence & paid dearly!

  32. Thomas Cromwell wasn’t a monster. Anne Boleyn wasn’t a saint. They were complex, complicated, ambitious members of a dysfunctional, closed society. It seems odd to throw shade at them; they’re both dead and neither deserved exactly what they received.

  33. Thomas Cromwell like ever other man our women who worked for Henry 8th or had there lives touched by him all ended poorly for that person.

    Every man, women in those days was out shine just that little more than the last. Money or power they all did this. Family’s using there kids as porns to gain power as in the case of Jane Seymour. Truth I think it was no different for Lord Cromwell but I think he dif what he did for the king,to please,to stay in his grace. He was no traitor? And like some of Henrys wife like Anne Boleyn out did there usefulness and I just hope that there poor souls found peacefulness where all good souls should go

    Nothing was more bigger to Henry than his own desires in the bedroom department and hos EGO! And as a king that did what he did ( Murderer) but even kings should not kill just because they want something better after he had had his way with them, then to do away with them!

    I wonder if he ever felt bad about anything he did? Did he ever regret his actions?

    The end of the TUDORS would have you believe so? I feel happy that he died a bitter,fat man

    I hope his victims found peace…Never seen so much death for one man ego!

  34. I have only recently become interested in Tudor England and have only a scant knowledge of all the particulars but on thing seems to stand out, the fact most of the main characters were a bunch of treacherous cut throats motivated by greed, ambition and fear. They resemble the Mafia. Henry is Tony Soprano at the top and everyone else is jockeying to benefit as much as they can from his favors and their particular court or “family” positions while still keeping their heads.

    1. Is that your “take-away” ? I can definitely see it that way, but i kept thinking, as i read about these dozens of people, that they are some seriously debauched sluts — all of ’em; the men and the women; this one’s doing that one and then her sister and this guy’s forcing himself on any and all females, etc, ad infinitum….. ad nauseum. I truly began to wonder if there really could have ever been a pure / chaste person who behaved morally back then. Perhaps the children and the elderly, maybe. ??

  35. A lot of you people should be so ashamed of yourselves.
    You are amazing cold hearted.
    How dare you gloat over the death of this man and wish him Hell?
    Who do you think you are?
    Nobody deserves to die in such a manner.
    Not Anne Boleyn, not Thomas Cromwell.
    Grow up, get some perspective and compassion.

    1. I still hear the bloodthirsty cries of the crowds at the public executions on this board……’Rot in hell!’ Get the torches and pitchforks out and condemn everyone! Everyone knows that history books were written by the victors, and were full of falsities, just as Henry’s court was, so nobody now will ever now the full truth. Everybody calm down and go eat some fruit. Like there isn’t enough hatred in the world that we need to aggressively argue about something that happened over 500 yrs ago.

  36. I have just become seriously interested in the Court of Henry viii. The man was clearly not very bright, mentally unstable and grossly oversexed. He was also a coward who got others to plan and do his ghastly bidding and then hide himself away from the brutal events he caused to be carried out. Did he or is he rotting in hell? I don’t know but I believe my God is a benevolent one who probably forgave him and his henchmen for their misdeeds.thank you all for your comments negative or otherwise as each one opened up another avenue of thought. Keep writing.

  37. Holy crap ! I may not be an historical buff but common sense would have us all on the same page about how history has been molded and bastardized by despots, tyrants, religious zealots and a whole lot of self proclaimed elitist individuals that profited off of the masses and their sheepish, superstitious low self esteem and in all fairness selfish desires to be just like those that ruled them ! Religion , money and power the opiate of the masses!

      1. Yeah, slim pickings here. This is a winner. I hate when silly emotions run rampant — no sense at all. Big waste of time. I need a place with a screening process — you can’t comment until you can pass a Mensa test. Heaven.

  38. Ann Boleyn could not havebeen much worse than Elizabeth 1. I’m still mad about what happened to Mary queen of Scots, illogical as that is.

  39. Remember all that the rule of Henry was based on …., lust, greed, corruption, lies, infamy a hatred of Rome and the whisperings of evil.

  40. WoW, I am amazed that so many users of this great website are so full of hate, hypocritical and really quite ignorant about most things. Shame on you.

  41. Remember everybody. History was written by the winners, It reflects their beliefs, and what they want you to accept. No one can really say what went on back then. Even the ones who did keep notes they put what was on their mind while writing. Look at diaries of people. So all opinions are valid to someone. The only thing that matters is what we believe for ourselves, and are willing to share and debate, and be willing to be corrected when proven wrong and humble when proven right.

  42. I have only recently become interested in Tudor history. In his youth, Henry VIII was considered a kind, gentle, good-looking man. A jousting accident, in which his eye got injured, left him suffering from severe migraines. A leg injury caused him an ulcer which kept on flaring up. He also suffered another jousting accident where he fell of his horse, and the horse fell on top of him. He was unconscious for two hours, and modern physicians claim that he, in all liklihood, suffered a traumatic brain injury, which completely altered his personality. After that accident, he was a lot less active, the ulcer on his leg kept on getting worse, and the brain injury may have affected his adrenal system which made him put on weight. He was in a lot of pain, obese, probably suffering from untreated diabetes.., he became angry, irrational and paranoid.
    His court was full of self-serving, ambitious, manipulative men who used Henry’s paranoia to drip malicious gossip into his ear to serve their own self-interests. Cromwell didn’t like Anne Boleyn, so he dripped malice into Henry’s ear about her supposed adultery, and got her executed for treason.
    Anne was no saint. The Boleyn’s, especially her father, Thomas, and her uncle The Duke of Norfolk, were very ambitious, and they treated the two sisters (Mary and Anne) as bait for the King so as to further their own rise in the King’s court. It is not known whether Henry seduced Anne or Anne seduced Henry. What is known, is that Anne used the King’s affections to her advantage, and rather than becoming his mistress, she insisted on becoming queen. Let’s not forget that the whole thing, from when Henry decided that he wanted a divorce until he actually married Anne, took about 8 years… she was in it for the long game, and Henry didn’t get fed up of her. Henry definitely had a roving eye, and history all over the shows that Kings were known to have mistresses and concubines, it was almost expected.
    Henry was obsessed with having an heir to continue the Tudor line. It was his singular obsession, and he treated his wives as breeding machines. Anne fell out of favour with Henry when first she gave birth to a daughter, and the miscarried a son. Henry was a deeply religious man, although at times he couldn’t quite decide if he was Catholic, Protestant of somewhere in between, but he firmly believed he was an emissary of God, and by not granting him a male heir, God was punishing him. Cromwell, and others, used that to poison Henry against Anne – but of course, Henry was the one who wanted rid of Anne… he had set his sights on the innocent, virginal Jane, and he wanted Anne out of the way. Cromwell may have used the right words, but Henry was more than receptive.
    Anne might not have been a saint. She as a tough woman, she was ambitious (encouraged by her father and uncle), but she did not deserve to be treated the way she was.
    Cromwell was a loyal servant to the King. He was self-serving and manipulative, but given his humble beginnings, he had to work his way up all by himself, and he was never allowed to forget, by other members of the court, that he was a “nothing.” He was constantly fighting the criticisms of the nobility about his low background. But he served the King loyally. He was a great statesman and ran a successful parliament. In the end he fell victim to his own meteoric rise… he got too comfortable and used his position to serve his own cause,… in suggesting the marriage to Anne of Cleves, as he believed in would serve the Protestant Reformation. The other members of the court used the failure of that marriage to bend Henry’s ear about how Cromwell was a traitor. It was his ambition that killed him.
    Henry VIII might have been a paranoid tyrant (in his later years), but he was a great King and changed the face of England (whether to good or bad is for each individual to decide). He produced Queen Elizabeth I who was one of the best monarchs in British history.
    We need to remember that history is written by the winners, and that historians, despite their claims to the contrary, will always have a biased view, based on their own personal, political, religious, or whatever beliefs.
    We can only examine the facts as we know them, and make our own conclusions. After all, can we honestly say that given the same opportunities as Anne Boleyn, Thomas Cromwell, the Seymour brothers, Charles Brandon and many others, that we would not use our ambitions and self-serving interests to do the same?
    I don’t believe that Anne or Cromwell are burning in hell. Whatever evil they may or may not have done in their lives, was forgiven by the grisly manner of their death.
    May they rest in the peace they didn’t have in their lives.

    1. Finally, thanks so much for that long and very necessary comment. It was annoying and sad seeing all the haters who seem to have barely touched a history book commenting on how certain historical figures should have been treated.

  43. So many people here commenting about how Cromwell deserves to burn in hell for what he did to Anne Boleyn. It’s true that he played a key role in her death but he wouldn’t have done so if he wasn’t ordered to. You guys like Anne and support her wholeheartedly, I get it. But there’s a huge chance Cromwell wouldn’t have played any part in her death if the King hadn’t required him to, after all, she did do a great deal to support the religious beliefs they both followed. It seems like he was doing anything and everything he could to remain in the Kings good graces and retain his own powers. Anne’s death ensured that he himself got to live a while longer. No need for all the hate here. He was just a small man from a commoner background doing everything he could to survive within King Henry VIII’s court.

  44. Given the dissention among the many contributors above, far better for me to refrain from passing judgement on historical events that cannot be proven either way and which further, is by now only a futile exercise in any case, should we not simply accept history’s avarice and intrigue as being no less relevant today as it was then?

  45. Well, human nature probably hasn’t changed much, so what a good thing we have evolved a system of government better than state terrorism. No-one put in the temptation of absolute corruption by being given indefinite absolute power; we all able to say what we think without fear of being tortured to death; no capital punishment; at least some support for society’s most disadvantaged. Don’t let us judge historic figures by today’s standards – what is shocking now used to be quite usual. History is there to be learned from. And more to do yet to improve the system of government further !

  46. Thomas Cromwell did the best for England and wanted Henry to marry Anne of Cleves because it would bring a strong alliance as England were hated by the French as the death of cardinal Pole. Thomas Cromwell did the bad things because Henry forced him to and Henry never gave the chance for Thomas to actually give him the right advice

  47. I find it astonishing the amount of hate so many can have for a man they never met. I have a had time fathoming the things people can do to each other and the pain they can give.

  48. Having just finished reading Dame Hillary Mantel’s novels “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies”, I thank Hillary for her craftsmanship and care in showing us Tudor life. Thomas Cromwell is an amazing study in social mobility. I look forward to more commentary. We should all appreciate our 21st C good fortune to commentate on this website today!

  49. I look on Henry and his court as being like a Mafia family. Henry is like Tony Soprano and his nobles are his “made men”. The primary goals of the family members are to make themselves as rich as they can and keep the boss, Henry, as happy as possible while they do this so they don’t get “whacked “- pun intended. This is not a very academic way of looking at the Tudors but it is not at all inaccurate.

  50. I think it’s wonderful how people get so worked up about Tudors and Plantagenents. We Americans can hardly give a thought to anything that happened before we were born, unless we saw a movie about it. We impeach presidents because they got a blow job once, but we tolerate absolute nut-cases like Sir Donald the Trampe. Maybe we’ve had it too good too often. But let’s hope Winnie was right: You can always trust us to do the right thing, but not until we’ve tried everything else.

    1. It is wonderful that people have such passion for the subject, isn’t it? The majority of site visitors are American, though, so please be assured that Americans love Tudor history too.

    1. I can answer your question clearly; “would i do the same as anne boleyn given her opportunities ?” NO. Personally, i cannot stand to have someone touch me unless i care an awful LOT fot that person. So, no, being urged to cozy up to someone for ambition’s sake would never work for me, plus, i’m not very ambitious at all. The higher you climb, the further you’ll fall. OR learn to want what you have cuz you can’t always get what you want. In the end, those girls at court were probably brought up from wee youngsters to become coquettes / mistresses.

  51. I don’t relish the idea of anyone being put to death but I really do think that Thomas Cromwell reaped what he sowed.

    It was peculiar to see him of all people complaining of slander!

    Hopefully, his profession of faith was genuine: God knows. But men are known by their works.

  52. I just want to say, as a historic student that I find it quite immature for people to be putting the blame on him for Anne Boleyn’s death. A lot of people seem to forget that she was already getting out of the king’s favour before Cromwell had anything to do with it.

    She had failed to produce him a male heir, like her predecessor, so she was either going to be killed or divorced She was labelled for death because of rumours of her adultery and incestuous behaviour-when this was all just fabricated by the King to get rid of her.

  53. TC was the devil and I hope he’s burning in Hell for all the pain and suffering he caused to thousands!!

  54. First of all, Christ doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell. He paid the price by dying for your sins under the hopeful pretext that you accept Him as your Savior. Cromwell lead an evil life. Make no mistake about that. Yes, he rose from the lower ranks. So what. It happens all the time. It’s not if you rise, it’s how you rise. Ann Boleyn was just one of many offenses. She was no saint but let’s put things in perspective here. This is beheading. A gruesome death reserved for the very worst of criminals. No person could have been more innocent than Thomas More and Cromwell formed the most egregious levels of lies to exact his death. A man with 6 wives and who died rotting from the inside had, via Parliament, declared himself a papal equivalent on earth and head of the Church of England. Spare me. This was the introduction of a more permanent and diabolical error that countered Catholicism.

  55. Even though I loved the spirited Anne’s, I see her outspokenness as the cause to her early demise. She promised the King sons. How was she to know that it took more than wanting to; that it took more than promising to. She thought it would be as easy as that — a simple promise; easy as that. That promise was her downfall.

  56. Cromwell dissolved monasteries but in the case of founding Cardinal school and additionally a college in Oxford also known as Cardinal in 1524 ( but changed to Christchurch in 1526 when he fell out of favour with the King}, He saw to it that the monks received a pension.
    Far from being great benefactors of the poor. Monasteries were great generators of revenue for the church using fake relics to attract the gullible etc. Some good was done but lets not get carried away with that notion. If they wanted to educate the masses they could have done so much more effectively by spending more of their revenue on schools etc, than on false artifacts and lies that eventually bought about the reformation.

  57. that cromwell has the face of a shifty rodent. Then again, i saw quite a few with the same appearance……. after a while they all begin to look alike. I’m thinking very small gene pool. That is all. Stop.

    1. I think we’re talking about Thomas Cromwell here aren’t we? OLiver Cromwell was a completely different man.

  58. Karma…..I am related to Anne Boleyn and her sister Mary…..What Anne did was wrong but to be beheaded……I don’t think so… Karma.

  59. I believe Cromwell deserved death from being flatterer to the King’s Crown. By being the King trusted servant does not prevent Cromwell from giving pieces of advice that would prevent the King from his eagerness and unsatisfactory attitudes. However, Cromwell was so focused on pleasing the King than guiding him in making sound decisions.

  60. First of all Thomas Cromwell died 500 years ago so the personal comments on the state of his soul are illogical.

    Second, most of the actions of Thomas Cromwell were at the behest of Henry Viii.

    Third he wasn’t even granted a trial, but Anne Boleyn was, even though it was weighted against her. Yes, AB was innocent, but Henry Viii was ultimately responsible for her death, not Cromwell, although his role was considerable.

    Fouth his execution wasn’t clean or painless as it was botched.

    Finally, no he didn’t deserve to die for doing what Henry wanted. The actual charges against him are ludicrous. He was also kept alive long enough to give his account of the problems Henry created with Anne of Cleves. The Cleves match was actually beneficial to England. Had Henry not had sexual problems it would have succeeded. The political situation changed during the marriage and Henry invented his reasons for the annulment. Cromwell was conveniently blamed.

    I think he did a lot of bad things in his life, but mostly because he was serving Henry Viii. I would recommend people do some research before making most of the comments above. Try to keep things in perspective and present a balanced view.

  61. read or listen on audible to Hillary Mantell’s Wolf Hall series, incl The Mirror and the LIght , and Bring up the Bodies.

    it is the story of Thomas Cromwell’s rise and fall. and it is magnificent.

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