Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life

Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life

by Diarmaid MacCulloch


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The long-awaited biography of the genius who masterminded Henry VIII's bloody revolution in the English government, which reveals at last Cromwell's role in the downfall of Anne Boleyn

"This a book that - and it's not often you can say this - we have been awaiting for four hundred years." —Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall

Since the sixteenth century we have been fascinated by Henry VIII and the man who stood beside him, guiding him, enriching him, and enduring the king's insatiable appetites and violent outbursts until Henry ordered his beheading in July 1540. After a decade of sleuthing in the royal archives, Diarmaid MacCulloch has emerged with a tantalizing new understanding of Henry's mercurial chief minister, the inscrutable and utterly compelling Thomas Cromwell.

History has not been kind to the son of a Putney brewer who became the architect of England's split with Rome. Where past biographies portrayed him as a scheming operator with blood on his hands, Hilary Mantel reimagined him as a far more sympathetic figure buffered by the whims of his master. So which was he—the villain of history or the victim of her creation? MacCulloch sifted through letters and court records for answers and found Cromwell's fingerprints on some of the most transformative decisions of Henry's turbulent reign. But he also found Cromwell the man, an administrative genius, rescuing him from myth and slander.

The real Cromwell was a deeply loving father who took his biggest risks to secure the future of his son, Gregory. He was also a man of faith and a quiet revolutionary. In the end, he could not appease or control the man whose humors were so violent and unpredictable. But he made his mark on England, setting her on the path to religious awakening and indelibly transforming the system of government of the English-speaking world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780670025572
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2018
Pages: 752
Sales rank: 472,732
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 2.50(d)

About the Author

Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University. His books include Thomas Cranmer: A Life, which won the Whitbread Biography Prize, the James Tait Black Prize, and the Duff Cooper Prize; The Reformation: A History, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Wolfson Prize; and Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, a New York Times bestseller that won the Cundill Prize in History. An Anglican deacon, knighted in 2012, he has presented many highly celebrated documentaries for television and radio. He lives in Oxford, England.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Maps xiii

Acknowledgements xxii

Introduction 1

Part 1 Journeys

1 Ruffian 9

2 The Return of the Native 22

3 In the Cardinal's Service: 1524-1528 54

4 Managing Failure: 1528-1529 75

5 Serving two Masters: 1530 104

Part 2 New Wine

6 Council and Parliament: 1531 131

7 New Year's Gifts: 1532 156

8 Making a Difference: 1532 182

9 A Royal Marriage: 1532-1533 205

Part 3 Touching Pitch

10 Treason in Prospect: 1533-1534 233

11 Spirituals: 1534-1535 260

12 Deaths for Religion: 1535 277

13 Progresses and Scrutinies: 1535-1536 292

14 Surrenders and the Scaffold: 1536 318

Part 4 Power and its Reward

15 Summer Opportunities: 1536 345

16 Grace for the Commonwealth: 1536 372

17 The Reckoning: 1537 398

18 The King's Uncle? 1537-1538 422

19 Cutting Down Trees: 1538 442

Part 5 Nemesis

20 Shifting Dynasties: 1538-1539 471

21 Stumbling Blocks: 1539 487

22 Downfall: 1539-1540 506

23 Futures 532

Abbreviations and Conventions Used in Bibliography and Notes 553

Bibliography 557

Notes 583

Index 703

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