Who's Who in Wolf Hall

Biographies of people whose lives entwined with Cromwell

Chapter 9 : Smeaton - Weston

Smeaton, Mark d. 1536 Smeaton was a member of Cardinal Wolsey's choir. After Wolsey fell from power, Smeaton moved to the Chapel Royal, where he attracted the notice of Anne Boleyn and was pointed to her household. Smeaton mooned after the Queen, and was chastised by her, she saying that he could not expect her attention as he was "an inferior person".

Mark Smeaton - beheaded

This interchange was taken as evidence of an improper relationship. In late April 1536, Smeaton was arrested and taken to Cromwell's home, where it is alleged he was tortured. He confessed to adultery with the Queen. He never retracted his confession, and was executed.

Somers, Will d. 1560 Somers was a member of the household of Richard Fermor, a wool-merchant. On a visit to Hampton Court with his master, Somers attracted Henry VIII's attention with his sense of humour, and was offered a position as the King's Fool. Somers became personally close to Henry, and was permitted a licence to joke that no-one else had.

Henry VIII with Will Somers

Nevertheless, he occasionally went too far and attracted Henry's wrath by insulting Queen Anne Boleyn and the Princess Elizabeth. Forgiven, he remained with the King and is depicted as by his side when the King was reading or making music. Somers retained his position under Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.

Tyndale, William c. 1494 – 1536 Tyndale was the author of "The Obedience of a Christian Man", which allegedly came into Henry VIII's hands via Anne Boleyn. The book was a factor in Henry's decision to throw off Papal Supremacy in favour of his own supremacy of the English Church, although Tyndale opposed the King's annulment.

William Tyndale - burned in Antwerp

Tyndale, an extremely accomplished linguist undertook the first direct translation of the Bible into English from the original Hebrew and Greek. The work was banned in England. Tyndale, who had left England in 1524, was executed as a heretic in Antwerp in 1536.Tyndale's Bible is the progenitor of the King James' Authorised Version.

Vaughan, Stephen A friend of Cromwell, and his agent in the Low Countries, Vaughan wasa member of the Merchant Adventurers, he was also a royal diplomat, andcorresponded regularly with Cromwell, updating him on events abroad. He supervised the education of Thomas Avery, a protégé of Cromwell's.

Walsingham, Sir Edmund 1480 – 1550 Walsingham fought at Flodden and attended Henry VIII to the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520. He was one of the jurors at the trial of Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham in 1521. In 1521, he was appointed as Lord Lieutenant of the Tower (senior to the Constable) and remained in post until his death. During his tenure, he was responsible for the guarding of Sir Thomas More, Bishop John Fisher, Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Katheryn Howard, the Marquis of Exeter, the Countess of Salisbury and many other political prisoners. His deputy, Sir William Kingston was probably his wife's step-father.

Warham, William, Archbishop of Canterbury c. 1450 – 1532 Initially trained as a lawyer, Warham became Master of the Rolls in 1494. He undertook a number of diplomatic and trade missions for Henry VII, including the negotiations for the marriage of Prince Arthur to Katharine of Aragon. By 1504, Warham was Lord Chancellor and Archbishop of Canterbury. Following Henry VIII's accession in 1509, he was seen as a member of the old guard, promoting peace with France rather than supporting Henry VIII's warlike ambitions.

William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury

He resigned the Chancellorship to Wolsey in 1515. When the King's annulment suit began, he was assigned as legal counsel to Queen Katharine, but, intimidated by the thought of angering the King, gave her little support and urged the Pope to accede to Henry's wishes. Warham accepted Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church in England, and assented to the large fine levied on the Clergy. In the last year of his life, he protested more vigorously against Henry's religious policies, but to little avail.

Wattes, Lucy d. 1558 Lucy married the merchant John Petyt in about 1521. Both during Petyt's life and after his death, Lucy requested support from Cromwell. He arranged for her to retain the lease of her house on favourable terms, which she maintained until she married John Parnell.

Sir Francis Weston - beheaded

Weston, Sir Francis 1511 – 1536 Weston was a Gentleman of Henry VIII's Privy Chamber and one of the King's companions, playing dice and bowls with him. He was part of the circle of young courtiers who surrounded Anne Boleyn, and, with some light words deliberately misconstrued as serious, was one of the men condemned with her for adultery, and executed.

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