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The Tudors – Cardinal Wolsey, 1472-1530

1. The Rise of Wolsey

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the rise of Thomas Wolsey from obscure beginnings to one of Henry VIII’s most trusted advisors. In particular, we focus on his early life and education, his early work in the church in both England and France, his service to Henry VII, and his appointment as Royal Almoner in 1509.


In this course, Professor Glenn Richardson (St Mary’s University) explores the life of Cardinal Wolsey (1472-1530), one of Henry VIII’s most trusted advisors in the first part of his reign. We begin by thinking about Wolsey’s rise from relatively obscure beginnings, including his early work in the church, his service to Henry’s father (Henry VII) and his appointment as Royal Almoner in 1509. In the following three modules, we think about Wolsey’s acts on the international stage – looking first at his role in Henry’s 1513 campaign against Louis XII of France, then at his negotiation of peace with France in 1514, and finally at events between 1514-21, culminating in the magnificent Field of the Cloth of Gold (1520) and renewed hostilities with France the following year. In the fifth module, we turn from international to domestic affairs, focusing on Wolsey’s appointment as Lord Chancellor and the increasing closeness of his relationship with the king. In the sixth module, we trace events from 1521 to 1527, including the problems associated with the breakdown of the king’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, before moving on in the seventh module to think about Wolsey’s decline, fall, death, and legacy.


Glenn Richardson is Professor of Early Modern History. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and is an Honorary Fellow of the Historical Association.

Glenn has published extensively on Tudor England's political and cultural relations with Continental Europe and on European Renaissance monarchy. His most recent book is The Field of Cloth of Gold (2013) on the meeting between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France held near Calais in 1520.

In addition to journal articles and chapters in edited collections, his other books are: 'The Contending Kingdoms': France and England 1420-1700 (Ashgate, 2008), Renaissance Monarchy: The Reigns of Henry VIII, Francis I and Charles V (London, 2002) and Tudor England and its Neighbours [co-edited with Susan Doran] (2005).

His current main projects are a biography of Cardinal Wolsey and editing a collection of essays on Renaissance Cardinals.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Richardson, G. (2018, August 15). The Tudors – Cardinal Wolsey, 1472-1530 - The Rise of Wolsey [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Richardson, G. "The Tudors – Cardinal Wolsey, 1472-1530 – The Rise of Wolsey." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,