How important was Wolsey’s own ability in Explaining his dominance of English domestic affairs, 1515-1529
“The king must have regarded Wolsey a partner in government; a trusted friend who could maintain good governance without Henry’s constant supervision. ” If this were indeed the position Wolsey was in, then it would have been a very advantageous one. There were many contributing factors as to how Wolsey managed to get himself up to that position. Thomas Wolsey was born in either 1472 or 1473 in Ipswich; his father was a butcher. He possessed a fine mind and was very ambitious. Wolsey was a very reliable man who thrived on hard work.
He took considerable pleasure in his later years re-counting how he had been sent to Oxford at a relatively early age and had been awarded the unofficial title of ‘boy-bachelor’ due to him gaining his first degree at the age of 15. He possessed along with his high intellectual ability an outstanding personality and character. He had the drive and confidence, which were necessary for him to seize opportunities that came his way. It was as if he were ‘afraid of nothing’. Wolsey was prepared to take calculated risked whenever such an occasion rose.
It was in winning the patronage of important people that Wolsey showed he had the essential attributes of an ‘up-and-coming man’. He was able to give out excessive flattery whilst managing to put himself over as an interesting and attractive person. Perhaps most important of all was that he ‘could be relied upon to carry out whatever task was entrusted to him with exemplary skill and application. ‘ In an age where most people sort to find a gentle pace of life, he thrived on hard and intensive work.
It was this that marked him out from his competitors and aided him in getting to the position where he could direct the domestic affairs of England. Another factor in Wolsey’s dominance of the domestic affairs was Wolsey’s relationship with King Henry. The political situation between 1514 and 1529 was rather unusual, somewhat paradoxical. A highly talented and independent young king was very much under the influence of his wily, older minister. This is what some believed to be happening at the time although many historians have been reluctant to believe this the case.
Keith Randall says, “While it is freely admitted that Wolsey became very skilful at manipulating others, it is maintained that he had met his match in Henry. ” Henry VIII although very young was able to look after himself in the ‘hurly-burly’ of political intrigue and “who was rarely fooled for long (and certainly not for fifteen years). ” Wolsey was however deeply dependant on the goodwill of his monarch, if this would to have been withdrawn then his position would have become ‘untenable’. Then he certainly wouldn’t have been able to maintain his dominance over domestic affairs between 1515 and 1529.
Wolsey was very “lucky” in the circumstances he faced. Henry had, on the death of his father inherited all of his ministers. One of Henry’s first actions was to order the execution of Henry VII’s ministers, Empson and Dudley. This was in order to prove to the nation that he didn’t want to carry on the same administration of his father’s previous reign. Towards the end of Henry VII’s reign, Wolsey was working for Bishop Fox, whom Henry VIII trusted almost implicitly. Because Wolsey was a man of the church, he was very easy to reward. All Henry had to do was give him more statuses in the church.
At the peak of his power Cardinal Wolsey had many different posts within the church, some very prestigious ones, especially the position of Papal Legate. He was Archbishop of York and many other places, although he never made it to be Archbishop of Canterbury, which I’m sure he would have liked. Wolsey could have been described as ‘sycophantic’, he always told Henry what he wanted to hear. This ability to be an easy help to Henry, by that I mean that he was eager to do what the king wanted, tell him exactly what he wanted to hear and be an easy person to reward did Wolsey a great service in aiding him to dominate domestic affairs.
In conclusion “Wolsey was outstandingly able. ” Wolsey’s own ability in my opinion is the main reason as to why he was able to dominate the running of domestic affairs during the period of 1515 – 1529. Although the circumstances he found himself in were very advantageous, and this coupled with Henry’s not wanted to do all the work himself also played a major role in Wolsey’s career. However I believe that it was his own ability to manipulate and take advantage of situations that arose that secured Wolsey’s dominance of domestic affairs.