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Table of Contents
Thomas Cromwell was considered one of the most loyal and outstanding royal servants of Henry VIII. He commissioned for the translation of the Bible into English which he widely distributed in parishes in England. However, he was also known as a ruthless, brutal, and corrupt politician.
See the fact file below for more information on Thomas Cromwell or alternatively, you can download our 30-page Thomas Cromwell worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Thomas Cromwell was born in 1485 in Putney, a small village along the River Thames near London.
- He was the youngest among the three children of Walter Cromwell and Katherine Maverell.
- Katherine Meverell, his mother, was said to be from a well-known gentry family in Staffordshire.
- His father, Walter Cromwell, was a tradesman who worked in several professions.
- Walter Cromwell was a blacksmith, a merchant, and a brewery owner.
- He also owned Anchor, a hostelry located near their house.
- Although a successful businessman, Walter Cromwell was often called to the court for the troubles he caused.
- In around 1475–1501, he was fined on no less than 48 occasions when the courts found out he was mixing the beer he sold with water.
- In 1477, he was found guilty of assault.
- Having disclosed to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer what kind of childhood he had, it happened that Thomas Cromwell was said to have inherited some of his father’s unpleasant traits.
- Despite this, he was yearning to leave their house.
- In 1503, he was just 18 when he left home for France.
- He became a mercenary in the French army and joined in the Battle of Garigliano.
- However, he also quit due to the military lifestyle that didn’t suit him.
- After leaving the army, he wandered in the Florentine streets and became poor and starved.
- Fortunately, he was rescued by a Florentine banker named Francesco Frescobaldi, and Thomas Cromwell served in his household in Italy.
- During this time, Thomas Cromwell had the opportunity to gain experience and create connections.
- While traveling in Europe, he took several different jobs and was also able to learn several languages.
Thomas Cromwell’s Marriage
- In around 1512, Thomas Cromwell returned to England.
- Although he had the experience and a range of connections to establish himself as a merchant, he still wanted to pursue a career in law.
- In 1514, he married Elizabeth Wyckes, the wealthy widow of Thomas Williams, and lived in Fenchurch, an area popularly accessible to several merchants.
- Elizabeth Wyckes and Thomas Cromwell bore three children named Gregory Cromwell, Anne Cromwell, and Grace Cromwell.
- It was also believed that Thomas Cromwell had an illegitimate child named Jane.
- In 1529, Elizabeth Wyckes died of sweating sickness.
- Soon after, their two daughters, Anne and Grace, died as well with the same illness.
- After this tragedy, he never remarried and focused his attention on raising his son, Gregory.
- After the death of his wife and daughters, Thomas Cromwell was already known as one of the most successful businessmen in London.
Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
- Thomas Cromwell gained support from Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the chief minister of Henry VIII.
- They had a similar life story as Thomas Wolsey also came from lowly birth and struggled to become one of the most powerful men in England.
- Thomas Cromwell became one of his most trusted servants when he was appointed to the council.
- The tasks of Thomas Cromwell involved legal businesses and the dissolution of the religious houses.
- The failure to secure the marriage annulment of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon caused Cardinal Wolsey to be thrown out of office in 1529.
- Despite this, the only person who stood by his side was his loyal mentee, Thomas Cromwell.
- Regardless of the risks and dangers, he went to the court to secure a pardon from Henry VIII for Cardinal Wolsey.
- Thomas Cromwell succeeded in obtaining a pardon for his mentor.
Thomas Cromwell and His Service to Henry VIII
- Shortly after a year, Henry VIII appointed him as a member of the Privy Council.
- Henry VIII was very impressed with Thomas Cromwell’s loyalty and abilities.
- He was more intelligent compared to other nobles despite being self-taught.
- Moreover, he gained an edge among these nobles due to his cosmopolitan upbringing.
- In 1532, Henry VIII awarded Thomas Cromwell with the Master of the Jewels, his first formal office.
- More promotions followed that brought him much power and riches.
- His private businesses were also doing well.
- With his appointment to the position as the Master of the Jewels, he commissioned Hans Holbein to paint his portrait.
- Hans Holbein painted a true and honest likeness of Thomas Cromwell.
- He painted him as a plump, middle-aged man who worked hard in his study.
Dissolution of the Monasteries
- Henry VIII longed to have his marriage with Catherine of Aragon annulled.
- Catherine of Aragon was against Thomas Cromwell’s plan to dissolve the monasteries.
- As Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell saw her as a threat, they sought ways to get rid of Catherine of Aragon.
- To obtain an annulment for Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon’s marriage, Henry VIII turned his back on Rome and established the Church of England.
- The role of Thomas Cromwell was to oversee the religious reforms and dissolve the monasteries.
- The destruction of these monasteries brought Henry VIII wealth; however, it gained him several oppositions.
- Thomas More was one of those who opposed the Reformation.
- Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII convinced Thomas More to conform, but when he constantly refused, he was imprisoned and eventually executed in July 1535.
Thomas Cromwell Becoming the King’s Right Hand
- The peak of Thomas Cromwell’s career was him becoming Henry VIII’s right hand.
- With Henry VIII’s order, he was able to get rid of Anne Boleyn by ensnaring her in an adultery case, after which she was beheaded.
- Henry VIII had already promised to be with Jane Seymour right after the incident with Anne Boleyn.
- Thomas Cromwell, being intelligent as he was, quickly allied his family with Jane.
- He arranged a marriage with his son, George, and Jane Seymour’s sister, Elizabeth.
- It wasn’t that long when the relationship of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell began deteriorating.
- With the discontent against the Reformation, an open rebellion happened, making Thomas Cromwell the target of those who joined the Pilgrimage of Grace in October 1536.
- The trust of Henry VIII in Thomas Cromwell was a bit shaken.
- He distanced himself and was even violent on one occasion.
- Desperately seeking the King’s favor again, Thomas Cromwell thought his perfect chance was to look for a new bride for Henry VIII right after Jane Seymour died from childbirth.
- A candidate referred to Henry VIII was Anne of Cleves, a German princess.
- Henry VIII sent the painter, Hans Holbein, to paint a portrait of Anne.
- Henry VIII was so delighted, but when he first saw Anne of Cleves in person, he was angry at Thomas Cromwell as she looked nothing like the painted portrait.
- Fortunately, this incident was not the end for Thomas Cromwell.
- Henry VIII forgave him and made him Earl of Essex in April 1540.
- Enemies of Thomas Cromwell began showing up, including the Duke of Norfolk.
- His enemies were determined to get rid of him so, they began spreading rumors about Thomas Cromwell and told the King that he was planning a rebellion against him.
- Henry VIII was paranoid and did not hesitate to order the arrest of Thomas Crowell on charges of treason and heresy.
Thomas Cromwell’s Death
- Thomas Cromwell was taken to Tower Hill on June 10, 1540.
- He was condemned to death, and the only way for him to survive was to convince Henry VIII to pardon him, so he sent letters to Henry VIII.
- His last letter ended with a postscript that says, ‘Most gracious prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy.’
- The plea of Thomas Cromwell in the letter was ignored.
- His execution took place on July 28, 1540.
- His head and remains were buried at the Tower’s Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula.
- On the same day, Henry VIII married Catherine Howard.
- Later on, Henry VIII regretted his decision to kill Thomas Cromwell.
Thomas Cromwell Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Thomas Cromwell across 30 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching about Thomas Cromwell who was considered one of the most loyal and outstanding royal servants of Henry VIII.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Thomas Cromwell Facts
- I’m Confused
- What is The Message?
- Odd One Out
- Fact Profile
- Role Call
- My Mentor
- Am I Good or Bad?
- The Loyal Cromwell
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