Thomas Cromwell has entered the consciousness of many these years, due to the publishing of Hilary Mantel’s critically acclaimed book, Wolf Hall, that was the recipient of The Man Booker Prize. Born during the late 15th Century, he spent all 50-something years of his life as a controversial political figure in the court of Henry VIII. He was void from a career at Church that has been a rescuer to many children born in the low-income bracket, so took it upon himself to travel to Italy and France, and also serve as a soldier.
He developed friendships with affluent merchants, and as a trader was pretty well-skilled himself too. Fluent in Latin, French and Italian, he initially had no intention on acting as the King’s primary confidant, perfectly content with his job as an observer, one of the many. His enthusiasm with Plato’s works, and high personal value on wealth, had a significant influence on the English Reformation. The Reformation episode was mostly about helping the Church of England break free from the shackles of authority, placed by the Pope and the Catholic Church. But what was his relationship with Anne Boleyn like?
Anne Boleyn was the beloved second wife of Henry VIII. She was an important player, just like Cromwell, in the episodic changes that took place during the English Reformation, fuelled by her romance to a married King, and her eventual execution because of being unable to bear the King a child. She first met Henry, whilst serving the King as a maid of honour to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, at court. Cunning as she was, most of the time she denied the position of becoming a mistress to the King, like her sister Mary had been, constantly rejecting his advances.
But Henry was so fond of her, he annulled his marriage to Catherine, just so he could wed Anne. Anne was the mother of Queen Elizabeth I, and because of her execution, the seldom-privileged or lucky future Queen would soon grow up without a mother’s guidance or love. Cromwell and Boleyn were allies at first, but the two had a political fallout in the end, when she discovered that the King’s treasured statesman had confiscated wealth from monasteries. Although, not against the idea of the looting, she wanted to use it to serve a good purpose rather than make the King a very rich man.
Cromwell never got over this fall out and played an important hand in the fall of the Queen, quite unlike how he forgot the wealth status he had come from to serve at court. Anne was placed under arrest in the Tower of London for sometime before her execution was carried out on 19 May 1536, as instructed by the King. It was necessary for the King to have a son to carry the tradition of royalty forward, so when Catherine was unable to produce an heir, seven years later, he finally saw a portal of sorts, that appealed to his sentiments, his royal idealogies, his way of life and his position, good thing for their very special romance, isn’t it?…and went ahead with his romantic liaison with Anne and turned it into a marriage, hoping it will produce an heir.
However, after she miscarried numerous times, her downfall spelled itself out: Cromwell, who was already plotting to overthrow the Queen for her stranglehold on the King, began to hatch a plan. The Queen and the statesman had fallen out so Cromwell didn’t warm to the notion of the King being distant from him, because previously he had wisely known to keep close to him, if he at all felt, that his post was dear. Cromwell tried to prove that Anne had committed adultery on more than one ground.
And the King readily believed him, because he was weary of her, her loss of beauty, her aged mentality and approach to seduction, and her demands already, having begun an affair with one of her ladies-in-waiting, Jane Seymour. If Cromwell didn’t grow afraid over losing his position, Anne Boleyn might have been saved from an execution but that was not to be – the Queen was never really popular with the English, unlike Catherine, it’s important to note. Most viewed her as a mistress, even post-marriage and someone not worthy of their attention or royal consideration.
Henry had two daughters, with Anne: Mary and Elizabeth, but he was never satisfied with the marriage, constantly committing one adultery after another, causing a sense of prevailing friction between the two and many, many heated arguments. It is already agreed that the King had long wanted to remove Anne from her position as Queen after meeting Jane, so Cromwell’s made-up stories, simply acted as the catalyst to the downfall of a very unpopular Queen.