A Faithful Servant: the Ambition and Power of Thomas Wolsey

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During the beginning of Henry VIII reign, the young and inexperienced new king was content with letting his father’s advisers continue to govern the realm from the security of the council. As Henry wasn’t interested in the responsibilities, namely regarding the political aspects and hard work that went into being the king, he let most of the trials and tribulations fall upon these selected councilmen, until one minister came to dominate over the rest. The Archbishop of York, Thomas, Cardinal Wolsey (1473-1530) seemed to take over when the members of Henry’s council began to retire or die off. This rise to power that the cardinal was experiencing, as well as his new found friendship with the king eventually lead to his very dramatic fall from grace due to the actions regarding the King’s Great Matter not suiting his position with the church.

The Great Cardinal came from very humble beginnings in comparison to some of his counterparts. A son of a butcher and cattle dealer from Ipswich Suffolk, Wolsey secured a spot at Oxford on a poor boy’s scholarship. It was there that the young Wolsey decided to devote his life to God and joined the church. Due to his striking intelligence and organizational skills, Thomas moved up in ranks of the church rather quickly, starting as a chaplain with the archbishop of Canterbury, and then beginning the reign as royal almoner to King Henry VII. This newfound position gave Wolsey a seat on the Privy Council, which gave him an opportunity to show his driving ambition for power and his industrious nature to the king. When Henry VII succeeded his father in 1509, Wolsey continued his life at court and quickly outgrew his position as royal almoner. After very successful military campaigns in France, which garnered Henry the glory of defeating a powerful opponent as well as French land lead 1512-1514, the faithful servant was rewarded with leading these successful escapades with the title of Archbishop of York in 1514, as a way of Henry...
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