Thursday, July 17, 2014
Princely Profile: Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, “Ipse Rex”
Problems did not arise until that pivotal moment in English history when King Henry VIII fell for the seductions of Ann Boleyn and became determined to put away his lawful wife Queen Catherine of Aragon. Cardinal Wolsey, ever devoted to the King, did his best to solve the problem but knew that the Pope would refuse. He earned the wrath of Ann Boleyn who tried to turn Henry against him, and other than the King, Wolsey had few friends. His rise from humble origins disturbed the aristocracy, and many envied his extreme wealth, it often being said that he lived even more luxuriously than the King himself. Wolsey was also the perfect illustration of all the problems in the Church that devoted men like St Thomas More were demanding be corrected. He became very fat, extracted fees from those given posts in the Church, was absent from his see in York, had fathered illegitimate children and had done little to strop the spread of Lutheranism/Protestantism in England. When he failed to gain the annulment Henry wanted some accused him of purposely not trying hard enough because of an ambition to be elected Pope.
Later, when it was found that Wolsey had not been at fault for the king not obtaining his divorce, he was pardoned and returned to York to try to act as the shepherd he was supposed to have been. However, he had powerful enemies that would not relent and they produced forged documents claiming that the Cardinal had been in secret negotiations with the King of France and demanded that he be tried for high treason. When the King's officers came to arrest him he famously said, "Master Kingston, I see the matter against me now it is framed; but if I had served God as diligently as I have done the King He would not have given me over in my gray hairs". Cardinal Wolsey, however, was never tried or executed for the charges against him as he died before the matter could be concluded on November 29, 1530.