Who's Who in Wolf Hall

Biographies of people whose lives entwined with Cromwell

Chapter 6 : Latimer - Oughtred

Latimer, Hugh, Bishop of Worcester c. 1487 – 1555 Latimer studied at Cambridge and was ordained in 1515. Initially a traditionalist in religion, for his degree he disputed the reformist ideas of Luther and Melancthon. Latimer then met Thomas Bilney and was completely converted to the need for reform in the Church, and, in particular, for an English Bible. He was brought before Wolsey and warned to desist from inflammatory preaching.

Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester - burned

After Wolsey's fall from power, Latimer was appointed to the see of Worcester. He worked with Cromwell to promote reform, and preached at the burning of Friar John Forest. By 1539, he was too radical for Henry VIII, and, opposing the conservative Act of Six Articles, was imprisoned and obliged to resign his bishopric. Restored under Edward VI, he became Chaplain to Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, a radical Protestant. When Mary I came to the throne and reversed the religious policies of her father and brother, he refused to recant and was burned at Oxford. His last words were recorded as "Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

Lee, Rowland, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield c. 1487 – 1543 Originally a protégé of Wolsey's, he transferred to the service of the King, and was active with Cromwell in suppressing the monasteries. It is believed that he performed the marriage ceremony between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn on 25th January, 1533. In 1534 he was appointed as Lord President of the Council of Wales where he gained an ugly reputation as the "hanging bishop", claiming to have hanged 5,000 Welshmen. Lee was an associate of Cromwell, and had a hand in the education of Cromwell's son, Gregory.

Macchiavelli, Niccolo 1469 – 1527 Macchiavelli was Secretary to the Chancery ofFlorence, and resisted attempts by the Medici to turn Florence from a Republic to an autocracy. Although probably not personally known to Cromwell, it was believed, both at the time, and now, that Cromwell was heavily influenced by Macchiavelli's political work, The Prince, which is an amoral treatise on the best way to gain and maintain power.


The Prince - Niccolo Macchiavelli

Mary, later Mary I 1516 – 1558 The daughter of Henry VIII and Katharine of Aragon, she was her father's pampered darling until she sided with her mother over the annulment. During the period 1525 – 8 she was treated as Princess of Wales (although never given the title) and looked likely to be accepted as Henry's heir. However, when Henry made the decision to seek an annulment of his marriage to Katharine to marry Anne Boleyn, Mary lost her place.

Separated from her mother in 1531, she was sent away from Court, and, in 1533 had her household disbanded whilst she was sent to act as Lady-in-Waiting to Anne's daughter, Elizabeth. Mary refused to submit to the petty humiliations to which she was subjected during this period and maintained a hostile attitude to Queen Anne, although she was fond of her baby half-sister. On Anne's death in 1536,Mary appealed to Cromwell for him to intercede with her father for her. In an increasingly severe series of letters, Cromwell, presumably with Henry's knowledge, bullied Mary into signing the Acts of Supremacy and Succession.

The Lady Mary

Once this was done, Mary was re-united with her father, and became a close friend of his new wife, Jane Seymour. Mary was a prominent figure at her father's court for most of the rest of his reign, although she was rebuked for disrespect to Queen Katheryn Howard. Eventually restored to the succession in her father's will, she fought off an attempt to deprive her of the Crown on the death of Edward VI. As England's first female monarch, Mary had a difficult path to follow, and her short reign is remembered as disastrous (although the facts are more nuanced). The persecution of Protestants that occurred in her reign is a terrible stain on the character of a woman otherwise courageous and personally kind.


Mary Tudor: England's First Queen – Anna Whitelock

Mary Tudor: The First Queen – Linda Porter

Mary Tudor – David Loades

Meverell, Katherine Wife of Walter Cromwell and mother of Thomas, Katherine and Elizabeth Cromwell. She apparently remarried after Walter's death.

Middeton, Alice Alice was the second wife of Sir Thomas More, and attempted, without success, to persuade him to accept the Oath of Supremacy.

More, Sir John c. 1431 – 1530 – From a prosperous middle ranking London family, John More became a lawyer and, eventually a Judge of the King's Bench. He married four times, and was father of Sir Thomas More, by his first wife, Agnes Graunger.

More, Sir Thomas 1478 – 1535 In the late fifteenth century, Thomas More, son of a London lawyer and judge, was a page to John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury. Although contemplating entering a monastery, More opted for a secular life and became a lawyer. He married twice, fathering four children. Unusually, he educated his daughters to a high standard, as well as his son.

More famB 1280x-g0
Sir Thomas More and family

More was MP for various seats, and was elected as Speaker of the Commons in 1525. He became a Privy Councillor to Henry VIII in 1514 and undertook numerous political and diplomatic roles. He was a close friend of the humanist, Erasmus, and wrote a number of books, including the famous Utopia. More was renowned throughout Europe for his brilliance and wit. On Wolsey's fall, he became Lord Chancellor, but he could not accept the growing rift between the King and the Pope over the annulment of Henry's marriage.

Sir Thomas More - beheaded

During his period as Chancellor, he took an increasingly oppressive attitude to religious dissent, but strenuously denied allegations that he tortured heretics personally. More resigned the Chancellorship in 1532, and, although he acknowledged Anne Boleyn as queen did not attend her coronation. In April 1534 he refused to sign the Act of Supremacy, without making any statement as to his reasons for refusal. Eventually, he was tried, following testimony by Sir Richard Rich, the Solicitor General, that he had impugned Henry VIII's supremacy. He denied having done so, pointing out the unlikelihood of him telling Rich (whom he detested) his personal opinion, after refusing to tell anyone else what he thought. He was convicted and executed on 6 th July 1535.


The Life of Thomas More - William Roper

The Statesman and the Fanatic: Thomas Wolsey and Thomas More – Jasper Ridley

The Life of Thomas More – Peter Ackroyd

A Daughter's Love: Thomas and Margaret More – by John Guy

Utopia – Thomas More

Norris, Sir Henry c. 1482 – 1536 Norris was a Gentleman of the Bedchamber and Groom of the Stole to Henry VIII, and high in his favour. He was a supporter of Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn (who was his wife's cousin) and received many offices and grants during the late 1520s and early 1530s.

Sir Henry Norris - beheaded

Nevertheless, he displayed a compassion unusual for the time when he offered the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey his rooms when the Cardinal had been dismissed from the King's presence, and despite being elderly and ill, had no rooms allocated to him. Norris remained in favour with Henry and Anne until on Mayday 1536 he was required to leave the tournament the royal party were attending and ride with Henry VIII. Apparently, during this ride, Henry told him that if he admitted to misconduct with the Queen, his life would be spared. Norris vehemently denied the charges, but was convicted and executed.

Oughtred, Sir Anthony, Governor of Jersey c. 1478 – 1534 Oughtred was a member of a well-connected northern family, and served Henry VII and Henry VIII in a number of military capacities, including Captain of Berwick. He was appointed Governor of Jersey in 1532. In 1533 he wrote to Cromwell, offering him excellent wine.

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