Thomas Cromwell: A Life


Thomas Cromwell is one of the most famous figures in English history. Born in obscurity in Putney, he became a fixer for Cardinal Wolsey in the 1520s and, when Wolsey had fallen for failing to solve Henry VIII’s ‘Great Matter’ – lack of a male heir and efforts to repudiate his wife Katherine of Aragon, was promoted him to a series of ever greater offices, such that in the 1530s he was effectively running the country for the King. That decade was one of the most momentous in English history: it saw a religious break with the Pope, unprecedented use of parliament, the dissolution of all monasteries, and the coming of the Protestantism. Cromwell was central to all this, but establishing his role with precision has been notoriously difficult. Diarmaid MacCulloch’s biography makes connections not previously seen and reveals the channels through which power in early Tudor England flowed.