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Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
|See also: The Tudors Cast | The Tudors Episode Guide|
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey as played by Sam Neill
| Born c. March 1471 /1475 - died November 28/29, 1530* |
Character's backstory: Possibly the son of a commoner however other sources suggest that his father, Robert Wolsey, was a successful and respected cloth merchant who may have died in battle at the Battle of Bosworth Field and was considered a "significant casualty". It is thought that the story of his father being a commoner was created by those in Court wishing to discredit him. If the commoner story were believed to be true at Court, it is perhaps the reason why the hatred of many the well-to-do Courtiers and Royals were envious of his backstory because of his ability to work his way up through the ranks, to having even more power than the King himself.
Thomas Wolsey attended Ipswich School and Magdalen College School in addition to studying theology at Magdalen College in Oxford. Wolsey entered the employ of King Henry VII in 1507. King Henry VII appointed him Royal Chaplain which also made him Secretary to Bishop Richard Foxe, who quickly noticed his intelligence and organizational skills. He attained a seat on the Privy Council in 1509 which afforded him the ability to establish a relationship with the King. In 1509, with the King's passing and Henry VIII, taking on the monarchy - young and disinterested in governing - Wolsey took control of many governance issues for the new King. This lack of interest by the new King, in turn, gave Wolsey more power than King Henry VII would have ever allowed. Wolsey was careful during this time, to sway his beliefs in conversation and speeches, to the King's beliefs. He was also quick to get rid of any Courtiers who might sway the King away from Wolsey's thoughts on issues of interest. His rise in power of domestic affairs was quick at this time. In 1514, he was named Bishop of Lincoln and Archbishop of York. In 1515, he was named Lord Chancellor. Pope Leo X named him Cardinal at this time as well. In 1523, he was made Prince-Bishop of Durham by the Church.
"In 1526, and perhaps earlier, Wolsey had been making tentative inquiries at Rome on the subject [of the King's marriage annulment]. In May 1527, a collusive and secret suit was begun before the cardinal, who, as legate, summoned the king to defend himself from the charge of cohabitation with his brother's wife; but these proceedings were dropped. On the 22nd of June, Henry informed Catherine that they had been living in mortal sin and must separate. Wolsey's traveled in July to Paris, as he had been commissioned to discuss vaguely the divorce and Henry's possible marriage with Renee, daughter of Louis XII. Anne Boleyn is first heard of in connection with the King, his affection for her having, however, begun probably as early as 1523. The Cardinal, on his return, found Anne openly installed at Court.
"... The King was eager to rid himself of a Spanish queen who had entered menopause and would never bear him a male heir, but most of all, he was eager to remarry. Anne Boleyn, and the King's 'great matter', would prove to be Wolsey's final downfall." ~ Luminarium encyclopedia
In 1529, when traveling in Yorkshire, after failing to attain a divorce for the King, he was stripped of his government office and properties. He was then called back to London to answer charges of treason, however, during this trip back to London, he fell ill and passed away in Leicester.
*Wolsey is shown committing suicide on the series. There is no known historical record of this and it was said he had died from illness.
Gentility: Possibly son of a commoner - could be a rumor from Court - he may, rather, have been a son of a wealthy and respected cloth merchant who later died a hero in battle.
Position: Cardinal of the Catholic Church, Archbishop of York as well as other Religious and Powerful position, Chancellor for a time.
Personality type: Urbane, thoughtful & manipulative.
Greedy and envious, rash in his attitude, although he always thinks before he acts. He took the English into an established economy even though he was a corrupt and vain man, in his greediness for power and disagreement with Anne Boleyn was his downfall.
"he was most earnest and readiest among all the council to advance the King's own will and pleasure without any respect to the case" - Cavendish
Signature look: His red robes.
Endearing trait(s):His accuracy and very good grasp at politics.
Mean, quick to anger and broken vows of chastity. Ambition for power - to be the next Pope
" Look at my face -
I am not afraid of any man alive."
- Wolsey to Lord Percy when he was arrested
" No man's pie is freed from
his ambitious finger"
Buckingham says of Wolsey in
Shakespeare's 'Henry VIII'
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Father - Robert Wolsey of Ipswich - wealthy cloth merchant who died at Bosworth
Mother - Joan
Romance(s): Mistress Joan Larke.
Dorothy - born circa 1512.
Thomas Wynter Wolsey - born circa 1528
Friends: More of a classmate in teaching the grasps of politics, Thomas More who would later replace him as dear friend of Henry VIII, who suffered a worse fate then Wolsey. Thomas Cromwell; he stayed Woley's ally to the very end.
Enemies: The Boleyn and Howard Families, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, Anne Boleyn, Emperor Charles V.
UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER QUOTES
DEFINING EPISODES | MEMORABLE SCENES
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|See also: The Tudors Cast | The Tudors Episode Guide|
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