FF – Thomas Wolsey

Around 1473: Born in Ipswich, Suffolk, England.

Attended Ipswich School, Suffolk, then studied Theology at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he held the position of Master of Magdalen College School and then Dean of Divinity.

10 March 1498: Ordained a Priest in Marlborough, Wiltshire.

1500 – 1509: Wolsey held the living at the Church of St Mary, Limington, Somerset.

1502 – 1503: Became Chaplain to Henry Dean, Archbishop of Canterbury and in 1503 he entered the household of Richard Nanfan.

1507: Wolsey entered the service of King Henry VII and was appointed as Royal Chaplain. He also served as secretary to Richard Foxe (adviser to the king).

April 1508: Sent to Scotland to discuss the Auld Alliance (alliance between Scotland and France) with King James IV of Scotland.

April 1509: Following the death of Henry VII, Wolsey entered the service of Henry VIII.

November 1509: Appointed to the position of Almoner (church official charged with distributing money to the poor). This then gave him a seat on the Privy Council (advisers to the king).

The titles bestowed on Thomas Wolsey continued.

1511: Became Canon of Windsor.

1512: England formed an alliance with Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand V of Spain and Pope Julius II against Louis XII of France. This alliance led to war against France but the first campaign was unsuccessful.

1513: A further campaign gained more success and led to the Anglo-French treaty of 1514 in which Wolsey was key negotiator, and included a marriage between Mary, Henry’s sister and Louis XII of France, however Louis XII died 3 months later and Francis I became King of France.

1514: Became Bishop of Lincoln and Archbishop of York.

1515: Wolsey was now the king’s most trusted adviser and he appointed him Lord Chancellor, the most important position in the English court, second only to the king.

1515: In the same year Pope Leo X also named him Cardinal.

1518: Wolsey was named Papal Legate of England and organised the Treaty of London, giving peace between England, France, the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy.

1520: Wolsey was a great diplomat and one of his greatest triumphs was the organisation of the ‘Field of the Cloth of Gold’, a large, lavish display of England’s wealth and power that was attended by many thousands of Henry’s followers. This involved the arrangement of a meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I of France.

1521: Charles V, had become Holy Roman Emperor in 1519 and at the Calais Conference in 1521, Wolsey signed the secret Treaty of Bruges with Charles. Wolsey agreed that England would join forces with the Holy Roman Empire in war against France if France refused to sign the peace treaty. This would mean ignoring the previous peace treaty of 1518.

1527: England eventually abandoned the Holy Roman Empire and signed a new treaty with France.

1527: Dominated by Henry VIII’s desire for a divorce from his wife, Catherine of Aragon, Wolsey was ordered to arrange an annulment. Henry believed this would be easily obtained due to Wolsey being Papal Legate, however this was not to be the case. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was Catherine of Aragon’s nephew and he pressurised Pope Clement VII to refuse an annulment.

1528: Clement VII sent Cardinal Campeggio to assist Wolsey to decide on an annulment, however the pope later revoked this right.

1529: Wolsey was removed from many of his titles including Lord Chancellor; he was however allowed to keep the title of Archbishop of York.

1530: Travelling to York, he was accused of treason and ordered to return to London.

29 November 1530: Thomas Wolsey fell ill while travelling to London and died at Leicester. He is buried at Leicester Abbey.

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