The Rule Of The Court Of Henry Viii And The Fall Of Thomas Cromwell

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When studying the Tudor courts, one area that remains to be a source of controversy is the idea of faction at the court of Henry VIII and within this assertion, the role faction played in determining key policies and decisions, thus influencing Henry VIII. Within the context of this controversy, faction can be defined as internal dissention within Henry’s court, creating small groups and organisations that fight to influence the King’s decision making process. When exploring the idea that Henry VIII was controlled by factions, there are three events during the King’s reign, which suggest that faction was highly influential and prominent: the fall of Cardinal Wolsey, the fall of Anne Boleyn and the fall of Thomas Cromwell. It is…show more content…
Although this argument is coherent and provides evidence for the influence of court faction during the time of Wolsey’s downfall, it fails to account for the King’s undeniable role and influence at this time. Historians suggesting the overriding influence of faction during the downfall of Wolsey largely ignore the role played by Henry himself. Bernard, who accepts the existence of faction, yet argues that the King maintained control throughout the situation, therefore provides a compelling argument as to how and why the King decided upon the fate of Wolsey. Bernard suggests that those considering factions have often been ‘misled by certain types of sources’ especially literary sources and ambassador’s letters. Bernard refers to Ives’ use of a letter written by Mendoza, whereby Ives assumes that Anne Boleyn was the main force behind the downfall of Anne Boleyn. However, Bernard suggests that Ives only focuses on parts of the letter that provide evidence for his own argument. Bernard therefore suggests that by focusing on the letter as a whole, it is suggested that the king was blinded with passion, thus making him impatient and thus set the pace in threatening Wolsey and the papal legates. It can also be suggested that Henry recognised the need to make an example of Wolsey in order for his threats to be taken seriously. It is evident that Henry was losing confidence in Wolsey’s ability to secure his divorce from Catherine of Aragon.

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