Thomas Cromwell’s enemies win

Posted By on June 10, 2019

In 1540, Thomas Cromwell’s enemies were able to take advantage of King Henry VIII’s frustration with his right-hand man and fixer, Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, to bring him down once and for all.

It was on this day in history, 10th June 1540, after Thomas Cromwell had so far failed to get the king out of his rather unhappy marriage to Anne of Cleves, that Cromwell was arrested for treason at a meeting of the king’s council in the council chamber at Westminster.

It must have been a shock for the man who had served his king loyally and always done his utmost to do the king’s bidding, but his pleas for mercy over the next few weeks would fall on death ears. The king would come to regret the fall of Thomas Cromwell, but after the poor man had had his head removed in a rather botched execution.

You can find out more about Cromwell’s arrest in my “on this day in Tudor history” video below, or you can click here if you prefer to read an article about it.

32 thoughts on “Thomas Cromwell’s enemies win”

  1. Michael Wright says:

    Thomas Cromwell is stripped of his badges and insignia and called a traitor by these men who never seemed to learn how easily it could happen to them which it did at the end of 1546 for Thomas Howard. The addage be careful what you wish for seems very appropriate.

  2. Esther says:

    IMO, Cromwell’s pleas for mercy may not have fallen on deaf ears. After all, he was beheaded instead of being hung,drawn, and quartered — which is what he could expect because of his low status. Unlike such people as Thomas More or Anne Boleyn, Cromwell was not in the social class where sentences would be routinely commuted to beheading; instead, after he was stripped of his status (i.e., expelled from the Order of the Garter and loss of his earldom) he was in the social class that normally got the worst punishment.

    1. Michael Wright says:

      That’s a good point but I’m not sure how much of a favor the king really did. Thomas Cromwell was executed alongside a man who was clearly insane (an insult) and I’ve read accounts where the headsman was so inept it took up to 30mins to get his head completely off.

      1. Christine says:

        He did have an awful end I read the usual headsman was off that day, and so Cromwell had an inexperienced youth to behead him, he did botch the job and really I feel if the usual headsman was off sick or whatever, then the execution should have been delayed, it is very difficult to take the head of with one blow, it is not like beheading a chicken, I saw a programme of death by decapitatuon and it takes a very experienced executioner to behead a person cleanly, if there was one thing that should have consoled Cromwell it was that he died like a gentleman.

  3. Christine says:

    So now Thomas Cromwell meets his nemesis, in one of the films about Henry V111 he is with the council and Thomas Howard is there when he is told he is treated for high treason and he stands up, moving around the table where the cold gazes of all those there are fixed on him, Howard’s sneers at him when he declares he is no traitor and demands to see the king, he replies he is damned by his own law that states those who are arrested for treason are forbidden to see him, in The Tudors James Frain cries out to the king ‘ good king I beg for mercy, he did indeed write the king a letter where he does beg for mercy mercy mercy…. I would feel pity for this man who had as we all know and those in his own time including the king, that he was a most loyal servant and had worked tirelessly in the early years of his favour to free Henry V111 from his first wife, then he was able to free his master from his second wife and he was rewarded with a peerage, the king was ever grateful to those that pleased him, along the way he had made many enemies but they all acknowledged his genius, he made an error in securing for the king the hand of Anne of Cleves, the king enchanted by Holbein’s portrait declared he would marry her and everything was going well, till he met her in the flesh and then disaster! He took out his fury on Cromwell, and now he was in disfavour, the film I mentioned showed his arrest very well and The Tudors though inaccurate was moving to, he was one of the most powerful figures in the 16th c and yet somehow Henry V111 let himself be convinced he was a traitor I have never quite figured out why, we all know Henry hated heretics yet to allow himself to believe Cromwell was one is strange, no doubt Norfolk who was by then in favour with the king because of his niece Catherine, dripped poison in the kings ear about his chief ministers activities, Cromwell was not a popular man and he did not care what people thought of him, maybe the Duke also wanted payback for the fall of his other niece and nephew Anne and George Boleyn, and there definitely was a conspiracy to bring him down involving others, I have always maintained that the Tudor court was like a den of wolves all after the biggest hunk of meat, power and position was sought by many and they were all eager to take that first rung up the ladder, in short it is no different from the politics of today, people feared and resented Thomas Cromwell maybe there was some snobbery there as Hilary Mantel in her novel Wulf Hall claims, he was born a nobody the son of a Putney blacksmith, that he made it to where he was is a credit to him, but like all great figures in the court of Henry V111 maybe his downfall was inevitable, he must have pondered on that as he lay in his cell.

  4. Banditqueen says:

    So a nasty business goes on in the Council Chamber and Thomas Cromwell falls foul of his enemies. He must have gathered a few over the years, especially among the aristocracy who reviled him for his humble origins and he had made more than a few changes they were unhappy with. Actually, just what exactly it was Cromwell had done which was used to persuade Henry to order his arrest is open to interpretation because it isn’t all that clear. O.K the marriage to Anne of Cleves may be an obvious place to start, but why not arrest him in January 1540 and why was he still being rewarded almost four months later, the Earldom of Essex being given to him? So, that’s not the answer, although his failure to find a way out of it might have like Wolsey left him out in the cold and open to attack. He was involved in a foreign policy which Henry wasn’t always on board with, but he had been for years, but he was also accused of making certain connections abroad which may be treasonous and of promoting heretical teaching. He was taking bribes was another suggestion and making his own religious and political policies. In fact there are a whole list of things in the Act of Attainer against him, some rather odd and melodramatic and Cromwell fell foul of his own legal weapons here.

    In the last few months a number of people close to the King had been targeted by Cromwell for arrests and false charges of treason, so maybe it was a question of who was next and the gentlemen and nobles forming an alliance to move against him. During the last six months things had not always gone well for Cromwell and this coup may well have been coming for some time. So the King’s protection was withdrawn and Henry was persuaded his faithful servant was up to no good and his arrest was ordered.

    The arrest in the Council Chamber is rather odd because it’s almost as if the rest of the Council know this is about to happen and are gathering in readiness. The guards arrive and arrest him and Cromwell goes into a rage and demands to know is he indeed a traitor. He starts charging the nobles on their conscience if he is a traitor and then after a ritual much like the demobbing off a soldier just before his death by firing squad or the defrocking off a disgraced clergyman, Norfolk and the others remove his badges and chains of office and his titles. In the Tudors he was dragged off screaming, but that is probably dramatic license but the arrest in The Private Life of Henry Viii is more faithful to the actual sources. He ends up with a black eye as well, which if the other Council members were tearing off his chains and garters and official badges, in all that manhandling he may have ended up being a bit beaten up. It’s absolutely brutal. I can’t recall any other arrests from the King’s men who are treated in this manner. The arrest in the Council Chamber is clearly calculated to cause Cromwell as much humiliation as possible.

    Cromwell had barely been placed in the Tower when his goods were seized and an inventory done. All of his papers were seized but Cranmer and others had gone ahead and removed certain items which may have been incriminating. That is according to D. McCullough, his most recent biographer. His goods and money were listed, perfectly in order as he was charged with treason, but then illegally removed. The law allowed the goods of a prisoner to be listed and even controlled for future confiscation; it didn’t allow them removed or seizure until the prisoners had been condemned. The sources here tell us the money and gold was removed to the King’s treasury as a sign they would not be restored. Cromwell was going down.

    He was used as the method of freeing the King from his now unwanted wife of six months, Anna of Cleves; there being little reason for Henry, who had wanted out from the start, but made an attempt at the marriage, to remain locked into it any longer. The political mess in Europe made it prudent and essential to end the marriage asap. Henry had claimed he had neither the will or appetite to consummate this marriage, he found Anna unattractive, he had married her against his will and he was of course, courting young Kathryn Howard. He used also the original contract Anna had made with the Duke of Lorraine a few years earlier as another reason for declaring his marriage null and void. To decide the marriage was not consummated Henry needed the testimony of witnesses but that meant second hand testimony. Thomas Cromwell had been there all along so could be relied upon to invent what Henry wanted him to remember and several conversations were conveniently remembered. The King had said he didn’t like her, she was no maid, although he had left her a maid, a bit contradictory but he also wanted to ensure Anna wasn’t pregnant, hence her ladies made out she knew nothing of sex, hardly likely, his own ability came under scrutiny and numerous other conversations were conjured up. Cromwell was asked to put it all together and a long report was produced, although it is likely his memory was jogged during lengthy visits from the Council in the Tower. Several of the members of the Council signed two depositions that supported the need for the marriage to be unconsummated. Henry had his way, Cromwell did his last job, the marriage was declared null and void without any testimony from Queen Anna and Cromwell was of no further use. He was condemned in Parliament and beheaded on the same day Henry married wife no 5_at Oakland Palace on 28th July 1540. Cromwell was granted the beheading he desired rather than a full traitors death, but his execution was botched and it unfortunately took several strokes of the axe to despatch him. Henry Viii later regretted his execution, telling his Council that he had been duped by vicious deception into ending the life of the most faithful servant he ever had, by those who hated him. Cromwell was the man who had done the dirty work of the King, faithfully for almost a decade. He was partly the architect of the legal part of his annulment and the legislation which paved the way for the Supremacy, the First and Second Acts of Succession, the Treasons Act, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Unification of Wales and the various laws which diverted Church revenues into the royal treasury. Cromwell was the chief administrator on whom the crown had relied and now much of his work fell upon the King and lesser men. All of this had gained Cromwell enemies and now their delayed vengeance came back to destroy him.

    1. Michael Wright says:

      We know by this time Henry was very vindictive. Is it possible that Cromwell’s fall was not as sudden as it appears and that Henry bestowed the earldom on him so that he would have the pleasure of stripping it from him when the time came?

      1. Banditqueen says:

        Michael, are you sure you are not Henry Viii reincarnated? That would certainly be vindictive and although I haven’t heard that one before, it’s certainly possible, especially if his fall was in the wind. I must admit making him an Earl so close to his doom has always seemed a bit odd, but then this is Henry Viii, mood swings, paranoid, good and bad, depending on his state of mind, desperate to get out of his marriage yet locked in, two faced in how he treated Anna well but apparently complained to everyone about her, as miserable as sin one moment and jolly the next; so nothing would surprise me.

        1. Michael Wright says:

          Wish I could take credit for this idea but it was actually broached by Robert Hutchinson in His book on Thomas Cromwell and I find it very intriguing.

        2. Christine says:

          He did have mood swings he could go from laughter to anger in minutes, possibly the result of his head injury, look at Anne Boleyn, he was openly supporting her in the months leading upto her trial and execution, although that could have just been an act, it does look contrived Cromwells arrest in Westminster as all the council were waiting for the event, so they could all jeer at him, he did indeed show remorse after his execution as he did do his dirty work for him, and knew there was no one else around who he could trust, Alison Weir calls Henry ‘suggestible’ and certainly he had been surrounded by toadies all his life, as kings are and that they are pulled this way and that by what they should and shouldn’t do, but Henry although he may have been suggestible was very much the master in his kingdom, his enemies knew Henry was bitter towards his first minister as he had arranged the Anne of Cleves marriage, and of course they used that opportunity to pounce, Henry by now was involved with Catherine Howard and wished to marry her, what happened to Thomas Cromwell was tragic but he had made many enemies along the way and sent five people to their deaths, there must have been many at court smiling gleefully when news of his arrest became public knowledge.

  5. Sarah says:

    Off topic: been watching the tv series, White Queen, White Princess and the Spanish Princess. All relevant to the rise of the Tudor family. I’m going bonkers having to google the family trees of the Lancastrians, Tudors, Nevilles, constantly to keep abreast. So many Edwards, Henry’s, Margarets, Elizabeths. Weren’t really innovative with names. I know this series wasn’t authentic as I was also reading what happened according to history. I needed a wall chart.

    1. Michael Wright says:

      Start reading about the court of Elizabeth I and you’ll run across names like Henry Norris and Katherine Howard and of course they’re not the same people from Henry VIII’s reign. It would make it simpler if naming was a bit more varied.

      1. Sarah says:

        God yes! It seems that there were the only names available. Mind you, up until recently you had to have a Christian name to be Christened. Parents, Godparents, give me a break. However, Arthur was different.

        1. Claire says:

          I have friends here in Spain who had to add a name to their daughter’s name to enable her to be baptised in the Catholic Church because her name wasn’t an accepted Christian name – interesting!

        2. Christine says:

          There’s lots of names now that parents give their children just because they like them, yet they are not registered names, one boy I worked with was called Asa, an unusual name and my friend knew a couple who called their son Sky, a little girl on a tv programme (Michael Barrymore) was called Blue, very unusual and beautiful, when I was little I never liked my name, I always wanted to be called Alice or Amanda.

      2. Banditqueen says:

        Everybody named their kids after the King or Queen or dad or a family saint and yes, they do seem to have recycled the same ones rather a lot. It wasn’t strange for more than one child to bear the same name either as siblings died and so did infants. The same set of names may crop up in a second family as well. And you’re never going to believe this one, at a conference on history and memory the speaker on families and memory said that people in the gentle classes invented names of ancestors to make them sound more regale. Richard was a popular one in the middle ages as was William and you find quite a few Joans and Isabelle as well. I really sympathise when people comment that they lost track of who was whom in a biography; without a chart or list of main characters to refer to you can soon get lost. Hope you enjoyed reading about those powerful and scheming families though, an interesting lot.

        1. Michael Wright says:

          I really got a sense of that in Helen Castor’s book ‘Blood and Roses’ about the Paston family. For 100+ years the males were William or John.

        2. Christine says:

          In one line of my family all the males were named John covering about four generations, this is what can be confusing as often one John’s misdeeds can be taken for another, usually the elder was called John 1st and so his son twas he younger, but in some cases they were just called John and that’s were errors can occur, it can be baffling to many geanologists and historians, yes so many children were named after the reigning monarch especially those who served at the royal court, it was meant to be a compliment to the King or queen and yes, they were named after the saints as well, it is conjectured Anne Boleyn could have been named after Saint Anne although it does appear to have been a popular name in her family, Anne Hoo being her distant ancestor, Anne De Welles Countess of Ormonde was her ancestor also, i do love it when you see an uncommon name appear in the Tudor nobility or gentry, like Ethelreda Malte who was said to be Henry V111’s bastard daughter although her mother was said to be a laundress, not of the nobility as then I think she would be called Katherine or Mary, then there was Lady Bridget Wingfield a friend of Anne Boleyns, and Lettice her great neice, the child of Catherine Carey, it is true there are so many Mary Elizabeths and Margarets during the reign of Henry V111 and his daughter Elizabeth 1st, Marie de Guise named her daughter the little Queen of Scots Marie, that is the French version of Mary, Margaret Tudor named her daughter Margaret who became the Countess of Lennox, although it was the thing they did I would have thought the mother would have liked a different name for her child, rather than just copy her own, James was a very popular name in Scotland yet after James 11 of England fled abroad after the rebellion which saw William of Orange and James daughter Mary take the throne, it fell out of favour, as we know Henry and Edward were popular names for the monarchy in England, then when the Hanoverians ascended the throne George became the norm, now when William dies his son George will take the throne, but I know it won’t be in my lifetime!

  6. Michael Wright says:

    I agree Christine. Remember, he was also blamed for the dissolution of the monasteries which I’m sure was still festering in people’s minds. I doubt anybody was regretful of his demise. Despite his being corrupt and vile he was without a doubt Henry’s most loyal servant and no one could run the government like as ably.

    1. Christine says:

      Yes he was a greedy opportunist he and Henry wanted the treasures from the monasteries to fill up the Royal coffers, and this is where they both clashed with Anne, who knowing of the poverty of the poor wished it to go to their welfare, I never knew he was the ancestor of Oliver Cromwell another great statesman till I saw the programme on ‘Who do you think you are’, now Oliver Cromwell is a man I have always admired but I find it disgusting he executed Charles 1st, perhaps an act of revenge for Charles ancestor lopping off the head of Olivers eh?

      1. Michael Wright says:

        I have also heard that the two Cromwells were related albeit distantly. Also, 109 years seems like a long time to hold a grudge but who knows. It’s frustrating being on this side of history unable to ask questions of those involved. What happened to the princes in the tower?

        1. Christine says:

          They did find the skeletons of two young boys aged about the same age as the little princes were when they disappeared, in the reign of Charles 11, it was commonly believed they did belong to the unfortunate Edward V and his brother Richard Duke Of York, as they were found underneath the stairwell where Thomas More in his history of Richard 111 claimed they were buried, More it is believed was writing his account from sources now lost to us, research done on the teeth of the younger brother Richard shows a familial resemblance to that of the teeth of his young child bride, the lady Anne Mowbray who was also a cousin, her skeleton was found in the mid sixties in the minories in London by workman excavating the site, for centuries her coffin was lost and so her find was a great discovery, Charles 11 had the bones put in an urn which now stands in Westminster with an inscription about the two boys, but some believe it does not contain the princes bones and they escaped but I find that story a little far fetched, the Tower was heavily guarded and when Edward and his brother were housed there, possibly more so, I dont see how it was possible for two young boys to vanish into the night so to speak, and they could not have done it without the assistance of those not loyal to Richard, it remains a mystery if the urn does contain their bones then who killed them, for centuries it has remained a medieval whodunnit !

      2. Esther says:

        Actually, Thomas Cromwell was more than a greedy opportunist — he was deeply mourned by the London poor … he fed 200 of them twice daily, every day … (according to Peter Ackroyd, Thomas More fed 100) He also tried to get a poor relief law passed in 1535 (many aspects of which were in the 1596 Elizabethan Poor Law).

        1. Christine says:

          Yes he did his fair share I do agree Esther, he did not forget his humble origins and tried to help his own kind, but that’s why I do not understand why he was so greedy over the treasures from the monasteries, but he did help a lot of women too, Mary Boleyn wrote to him asking him to intercede with the king and queen for her, after she was banished for daring to marry without their consent, Jane Boleyn write to him also a lot of people found him helpful as he was first and foremost a lawyer and he had the ear of the king.

      3. Michael Wright says:

        The whole family name thing has gone on all over and throughout history: The Tudor court painter Hans Holbein the Younger and ancient Rome Pliny the Elder and Pliny the younger. I had never before thought about how common it was.

  7. Michael Wright says:

    I’ve seen photos of the memorial to the princes in Westminster. Quite lovely. I really hope the remains belong to them because if not they belong to other children which would be a whole other sad mystery. If only Richard had said something, anything before Bosworth. According to the Richard III Society the Princes in the Tower project is underway but I don’t know what that entails.

    1. Christine says:

      I’m sure Bq will know about that Michael. !

      1. Banditqueen says:

        Hi Michael, the Lost Princes Project or Princes in the Tower Project was started by Philippa Langley and a group of scholars a couple of years ago to search archive information for the answer to what really happened to Edward V, almost thirteen when last known appearance and his brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, almost ten at last known appearance. The skeletons in Westminster Abbey could be from any era as they were reported as being ten feet down at the foot of the stairs, so anything from possible lost Princes to Roman or even Iron Age, that information is not generally known. The skeletons found in the reign of Charles II were found with a wide variety of burnt animal remains, originally thrown onto a rubbish dump and then recovered. There are inevitable missing bones, pieces from the jaws, teeth missing consistent with congenital tooth loss and missing for other reasons, so the identity with Anne Mowbray may be questioned. There are bones from the ribs and chest and other areas as well. However, they are complete enough for a reasonable modern study but it’s highly unlikely the present Queen will give consent and as Westminster Abbey is her property, that would be needed. Otherwise the guardian would need to consent. They were not found at the exact spot Thomas More claimed as they were by his account moved from the original burial spot under the stairs by a priest who dug them up without anyone hearing and moved them to a more appropriate place. One suggestion some time ago was under the floor of the Norman Chapel in the White Tower, although how anyone could dig anything up made out of stone in a place full of rooms and people as the Tower was then, used as a palace; much busier than later on, even in the middle of the night without making a noise is questionable. So either they are or they are some other children who died earlier. Theories abound about what happened to them and when and basically there is absolutely 0 reliable evidence for any of them.

        Here are just a few

        The popular one…killed by persons known or unknown in suspicious circumstances, possibly on the orders of or with the consent of or under the protection of King Richard iii sometime between the end of July and September 1483. Some people think they died soon after the coronation but that is unsustainable. However, the other possible scenario is, but it has never been proven either way.
        The second is they were killed during one of the rescue attempts. The number of attempted rescues is unclear in the sources and it is also unclear if a physical attempt was made or if the plot was discovered before hand. If they were not harmed, this would be the point to move them.
        The third is that they died of disease. However, why not have a funeral?
        The fourth is that they didn’t die in the reign of Richard iii but lived on and now a number of potential possible answers arises.
        The boys were moved quietly abroad to Burgundy or France and at least one reappeared later on to trouble Henry Tudor. He was seriously concerned about the real identification of Perkin Warbeck for example. In every Ambassadors secret correspondences to Spain he is called Duke of York to the end.
        The boys were taken north and then out of the country and disappeared.
        One boy lived on under an assumed name in the household of Thomas More. This theory is not accepted by most people.
        So forth the boys survived and one of several scenarios is possible.

        If you do a search on Amazon believe me several books will appear all supporting one theory or other. There are plenty of general ones and a few more recently exploring what may have happened if they survived.

        There are sources which support a number of theories, mostly based on rumours, but also Richard is not the only suspect in their potential murder. Margaret Beaufort is a serious alternative candidate for obvious reasons, her husband had access to them in the Tower. Buckingham is another one named in contemporary sources and various others have arisen over time. Contrary to modern myth, the majority of Ricardians do not think Henry Tudor did it, as he wasn’t in the country, didn’t have the influence to do it and was in the same boat as Richard. Henry also remained silent. He didn’t want them turning up either. When he produced the real Earl of Warwick at Mass at Saint Paul’s, it backfired on him. Rather than deter further rebellion it actually resulted in John de la Pole vanishing and raising the army later defeated at East Stoke. Henry didn’t produce him again. Warwick would later be executed to prevent any more rebellions and so called pretenders for his crown. His son was waiting to marry Katherine of Aragon and in 1499 Spain were pushing Henry to get rid of any threats. That’s one of a few reasons he set up Warwick with Warbeck so they could be tried and executed. Yes, you will see a few more radical Ricardians claim it was Henry Vii and it could have been; they could as easily have died in his reign as that of Richard, but most people tend to dismiss this.

        The project to find out the truth if possible is to look at any documents in any archive not yet studied, private and public here and abroad which may give us a clue. People who can help who have access to achieving or documentation and know of archives can sign up to help and various experts study the documents. Some very interesting lost medieval documents have come to light, some giving new information about Edward and his life at Ludlow for example, his daily routine and many other interesting things.

        The examination in the 1930s was not quite as conclusive as people think and many questions remain. Two children of the same age who may or may not be related, possibly male is all you could really say now. The study wasn’t blind either, the doctors were told who they were thought to be so influenced. It was as good as it could be for the time. However, now we have DNA and someone to compare it to and an all female line has been identified, but there would still be questions and what about contamination? Who handled the bones in 1678? The condition may be another concern. We may confirm sex, age, time of death and even how, but who will remain a mystery, but identifying the two children if possible is what makes this most interesting. Will they be identified as the Princess? Probably not, but personally I think it is worth a modern examination of the bones. The ultimate fate of Edward V and his younger brother may be forever a mystery, but it might be interesting to try and resolve it. After all nobody thought the team would find Richard iii but they did. Because of a mistake in the seventeenth century it was thought that the bones of Richard were thrown into the river but the antiquarian who tried to find them went to the wrong site. Following a well known trail, knowing the house of Christopher Wren Senior, the father of the great architect, was built on the site of Greyfriars and a pillar marked Richard’s tomb, a study of the old plans revealed the layout of the Church and where the Victorian public buildings marked the spot in 2011. Then in 2012 work began and the rest is history as they say.

        One final thought if Richard killed the two most obvious threats to his throne, despite the fact they weren’t any longer, at least not at that point, he left 19 others, just as dangerous, male or female alive and kept his promise to protect them. Just something to think about over breakfast lol. He also went to a lot of trouble to make everyone give oaths of loyalty to Edward on more than one occasion, publicly, which is an odd thing to do if he intended to take the crown from the outset. He acted with legality, if not always with modern moral processes, but there was no sense of that in his acceptance of the crown, even if setting aside two boys whom he came to believe were illegitimate, doesn’t sit right. He was actually a fair ruler and made laws which even Henry Viii had to bow to and did in his earlier reign. When the goods of Thomas Cromwell were removed before he was convicted and condemned one of those laws was broken. Tudor justice wasn’t always the wonderful thing some people claim when they condemn Richard iii. Talk about calling the pot calling the kettle black. I don’t believe Richard was a saint and I don’t believe Henry Tudor was a scheming miser either. I believe history has been pretty unfair to both men and they often reacted to particular situations they suddenly found themselves in. Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell have also fallen victim to the winners writing their history and believe me when you dig into any historical character through the original sources the person who emerges is quite different to the one of popular myth or history. I think Ricardians who think Richard was a saint are as deluded as the popular images unfortunately suggests, but they are actually a minority. A number of scholars are members of the society and a great deal of modern research has been done which sheds knew light on the age he lived in as well as the man himself. Others are just interested in knowing more about the fifteenth century and like me follow Tudor history with just as much enthusiasm. I only actually joined in 2013. I went to Leicester a neutral and came back a Ricardian; you don’t walk in the footsteps of someone without being affected by them. However, I decided a long time ago the evidence for his murdering the two boys was none existent and anything in the sources was just circumstantial. A lot of study of those sources revealed a different man to the one from school. I could say the same of Anne Boleyn. I try to have a neutral view of Henry Viii but he doesn’t make it easy and although it’s easy to remember he was a different man long before his bitter divorce, he did evolve into something harder and darker and his treatment of Cromwell can also be seen as a result of that hardened character.

        I don’t see Thomas Cromwell as a mere opportunist, he remained loyal to his master, Cardinal Wolsey long after his fall and he wasn’t immediately picked up by Henry who didn’t actually like him and had little time for him. However, he needed employment and patronage and he could only get that now at the English Court. Cromwell had the right legal skills and the right belief system and genius to get the King what he wanted. There was an opportunity for him in the immediate service of Henry Viii and he grabbed it with both hands but he was employed because of his skills. I agree with Esther, Cromwell had a genuine desire for social as well as religious and administration changes in England. The Poor Relief he wanted to go through Parliament was quite revolutionary for its day and would have provided people now disposed by enclosure and later the end of the monastic system with gainful employment. However, thanks to the King what was passed was a much watered down and useless version. Cromwell believed in what he was doing although he also benefited himself from the fates of certain religious houses he had a personal and economic interest in. He allowed some religious houses to become colleges and retain much of their structure and this may also have made him enemies. Norfolk is one of those implicated in Cromwell and his downfall. Thetford prioy where his father and ancestors lay was proposed for saving as a collegiate church and foundation with canons appointed by the King. A petition was sent to Henry and approved but he changed his mind and the priory was closed in February 1540. Norfolk apparently blamed Cromwell who was the administration of the policy. He had to move all of the tombs to Framlington, although archaeologists actually found some burials still there a few years ago. Norfolk obviously sought revenge. Cromwell became vulnerable for other reasons as well, the King’s attitude to the Lutheran leagues changed and his attitude to Lutheran preachers and influence at home hardened. A growing resentment among traditional nobles and the King’s obvious discontent with his minister made him open to criticism. Henry’s paranoid mood swings and his failure in the resolution of the marriage to Anna of Cleves all contributed to the end of Thomas Cromwell. As usual it was the capricious nature of Henry now which allowed his enemies to put together a case for treason and bring down the man who had indeed been his most faithful servant.

        1. Michael Wright says:

          I consider myself neither a Ricardian nor Tudor(ian). I just love the history. From what I’ve read about Richard I like him and before he became king he seemed well liked by the people. Killing his nephews just doesn’t seem to something in his personality. It’s possible they died of neglect or disease in the tower. Wouldn’t be the first time something like that happened to someone held there. A lot of the bad press was started by Henry Tudor after Bosworth. I don’t blame him, that’s politics. Unfortunately since then too many people have run with that. Even Shakespeare’s portrayal is negative but consider his patron/sovereign at the time. Thank you so much for all of that and the info on Princes project. I would love to see Phillipa and the other scholars have the luck that she did in finding Richard. If his name can be eliminated as a suspect in their deaths that would be most welcome.

        2. Banditqueen says:

          Thanks, Michael, I would love to find the truth and in the process prove Richard innocent, but I doubt much will be found. Let’s face it, if a King gave an order like that they are hardly going to put it in writing. An order to remove them, accounts for their keep, even under assumed names, that would exist. I am more interested in what really happened and although I do like mysteries, this is one which needs to be resolved.

          History has been my passion for most of my life, at school I had this great teacher called Miss Gwenn who just brought the past to life. My dad had three passions, history, football and cricket. Guess who inherited all three. If we went anywhere mum would go to Marks and Spencer and me and dad to a museum. Every holiday has to have a huge history theme. I have a house with literally thousands of books, the internet got completely absorbed as more sites with reliable research information came on line. If I am at a historic site, I am the last person to leave. If I ever joined anything like the Sealed Knott or became a re enactor I doubt I would ever come home. I just soak it all up. It’s great being able to share that passion these days with people around the world; just one of the reasons I love this site.

  8. Michael Wright says:

    Hi BQ. It doesn’t help either that Richard was king for such a short period. Not much time to generate documents.

    Thank you for sharing your passion. I so enjoy your posts and love getting little details outside the core of a subject that I may not have known previously. I learn a lot here.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      Thank you for your very kind remarks, Michael. I think there is much to learn from everyone. Yes, it’s always interesting to read what may have happened if Richard ruled for longer. It’s very true with the short reigns.

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