Thomas Wolsey

Thomas Wolsey[lower-alpha 1] (c. March 1473[1] – 29 November 1530) was an English statesman and Catholic bishop. When Henry VIII became King of England in 1509, Wolsey became the king's almoner.[2] Wolsey's affairs prospered, and by 1514 he had become the controlling figure in virtually all matters of state. He also held important ecclesiastical appointments. These included the Archbishopric of York—the second most important role in the English church—and that of papal legate. His appointment as a cardinal by Pope Leo X in 1515 gave him precedence over all other English clergy.

Thomas Wolsey
Portrait at Trinity College, University of Cambridge (c. 1585–1596)
Lord High Chancellor of England
In office
Preceded byWilliam Warham
Succeeded bySir Thomas More
Appointed15 September 1514
Term ended29 November 1530
PredecessorChristopher Bainbridge
SuccessorEdward Lee
Other post(s)Cardinal-Priest of S. Cecilia (1515–1530)
Ordination10 March 1498
by Augustine Church, Titular Bishop of Lydda
Consecration26 March 1514
by William Warham
Created cardinal10 September 1515
by Leo X
Personal details
BornMarch 1473
Ipswich, Suffolk, England
Died(1530-11-29)29 November 1530 (aged 57)
Leicester, Leicestershire, England
BuriedLeicester Abbey
DenominationRoman Catholicism
ParentsRobert Wolsey (father) and Joan Daundy (mother)
Previous post(s)
EducationIpswich School and Magdalen College School, Oxford
Alma materMagdalen College, Oxford
Coat of arms

The highest political position Wolsey attained was Lord Chancellor, the king's chief adviser (formally, as his successor and disciple Thomas Cromwell was not). In that position, he enjoyed great freedom and was often depicted as an alter rex ("other king"). After failing to negotiate an annulment of Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Wolsey fell out of favour and was stripped of his government titles. He retreated to York to fulfil his ecclesiastical duties as archbishop, a position he nominally held but had neglected during his years in government. He was recalled to London to answer to charges of treason—charges Henry commonly used against ministers who fell out of his favour—but died on the way from natural causes.