Who was Thomas Cromwell and what role did he play in the royal court of King Henry VIII of England?

Timelines and additional facts on Thomas Cromwell. Thomas was Statesman, chief minster to King Henry The VIII of England. A man who climbed the political ladder to only fall resulting in his execution.



  • Thomas Cromwell was born in Putney, Surrey, the son of Walter Cromwell also known as (Walter Smyth) and Katherine.


  • Thomas runs away from Home and stows away on a ship bound for the Netherlands


  • 29TH DECEMBER: Battle of Garigliano, the war between the French and the Spanish. Thomas was a soldier and fought for the French army at the battle.

       Result in the Decisive Spanish victory

  • In Italy, Thomas enters the household and the service of the Florentine banker Francesco Frescobaldi.


  • Thomas walks the streets of Florence and makes friends with Francesco Frescobaldi. Francesco is part of a prominent banking family, who is said to have taken pity on Thomas and gave him clothing, he invited Thomas to be part of his household. Thomas learns the family business and becomes a loyal servant.

  • Thomas travels to Antwerp and becomes a trader, a cloth merchant in his own right.


  • JUNE: Thomas is in Rome and stays at the English hospice. The hospice provided accommodation to visiting pilgrims


  • Thomas returned to England and worked as a cloth merchant. He also studied law during this period

  • Ralph Sadler joins the household of Thomas Cromwell. Ralph received a very high Education. He was taught to read and write, becoming fluent in French, Latin and Greek and acquired a working knowledge of the law.

  • Thomas married Elizabeth Wyckes, they lived in Austin Friars, London


  • Thomas is in the service of Lord Chancellor Thomas Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.


  • Thomas returns to Rome and  led an embassy to obtain from Pope Leo X a papal bull for the reinstatement of Indulgences for the town of Boston, Lincolnshire



  • Gregory’s, Thomas son is born

  • Stephen Vaughan English merchant and supporter of the Protestant Reformation. becomes an acquaintance to Thomas.


  • Thomas has a seat in the House of Commons as a Burgess,

  • Stephen Vaughan is in service to Thomas


  • Thomas was elected a member of Gray's Inn as the lawyer.

  • Thomas carried out legal work for John Aleyn, a London alderman and a senior member of the Mercers' Company

  • Thomas is in full service to  Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. Some of Thomas duties is dissolving monasteries. Suppression of twenty-nine decayed' minor monasteries and priories to fund Cardinal Thomas Wolsey's projects, the  foundation of two colleges at Oxford and Ipswich



  • Thomas is personal secretary to Thomas Wolsey

  • Elizabeth, Thomas’ wife dies of the sweating sickness and his two daughters Anne and Grace died not long after of the same illness.

  • cardinal Thomas Wolsey falls from grace with the king.

  • Thomas is a member of parliament representing Taunton.



  • Thomas makes contact with a Robert Barnes and inquired him to discover Luther's opinion on the divorce proceedings between King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon Robert Barnes was an English reformer

  • Miles Coverdale in 1531, wrote a letter to Thomas, requesting his guidance on his behaviour and preaching; also stating his need for books.

  • AUTUMN: Thomas takes control of the supervision of the king's legal and parliamentary affairs,


  •  Thomas is made Master of King's Jewel House jointly with Sir John Williams

  • Thomas More resigns as Lord Chancellor.

  • Robert Barnes travelled to London under the protection of Cromwell and was granted a private audience with the king.

  • 16TH JULY: Thomas is given the position of, Clerk of the Hanaper


  • King Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn.

  • First Succession Act

  • The Ecclesiastical Appeals Act is passed in parliament, which is legal foundation of the English Reformation. The Act, was drafted by Thomas on behalf of King Henry VIII of England, forbade all appeals to the Pope in Rome on religious or other matters, making the King the final legal authority in all such matters in England, Wales, and other English possession

  • Thomas is made Chancellor of the Exchequer.

  • 23RD MAY: Newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer declared Henry and Catherine's Argon's marriage null and void; five days later, he declared Henry and Anne's marriage valid.

  • 1ST JUNE The coronation of Anne Boleyn. as queen consort of England.

  • 7TH SEPTEMBER The Future Queen Elizabeth 1st of England is born.

  • Thomas questions Elizabeth Barton in respect of her revelations she was claiming to be having about the King Henry VIII

  • Thomas orders the destruction of five hundred books published by an Edward Bocking. The book was detailing Elizabeth Barton's revelations against the king. Edward Bocking was a monk. This operation was successful, and no copies of the book exist today

  • Elizabeth Barton is arrested and sent to the Tower of London

  • 23RD NOVEMBER: Public seating was erected at St. Paul's Cross. Edward Bocking and Elizabeth Barton made a full confession in front of a crowd of over 2,000 people. Elizabeth admitted to being mischievous and deceiving people over her revelations. Over the next few weeks, Elizabeth Barton repeated the confession in all the major towns in England. It was reported that King Henry VIII did this because he feared that Barton's visions had the potential to cause the public to rebel against his rule


  • Thomas is Constable of Hertford Castle, Hertfordshire, jointly with Richard Williams. Richard is Thomas’ nephew.

  • Thomas accuses Thomas More of having given advice and counsel to the "Holy Maid of Kent," Elizabeth Barton, a nun who had prophesied that the king had ruined his soul and would come to a quick end for having divorced Queen Catherine of Aragon.

  • APRIL: Thomas is made Principal Secretary

  • Richard Hough is an agent for Thomas is Chester.

  • Elizabeth Barton and Edward Blocking were executed

  • Bishop John Fisher is arrested and put in the tower. Imprisoned for not swearing the oath of supremacy.

  • APRIL: Thomas More is imprisoned in the tower.

  • Thomas visited Thomas More several times, trying to convince him to take the oath of supremacy.

  • Thomas is made Master of the Rolls

  • Thomas receives an angry letter from George Boleyn, expressing his fury at being undermined one of his orders made as Lord Warden


  • JANUARY: Thomas was appointed as Vicar-General

  • Thomas is Constable of Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, jointly with Richard Williams.

  • Thomas, took residence at Canon bury Tower to the south of the area, from where he organized the Dissolution of the Monasteries and their transfer into royal ownership

  • Thomas received a letter from Bishop John Fisher speaker of the severity of his conditions in the tower of London

  • 3RD JUNE: Thomas sent a letter to all the bishops ordering them to preach in support of the supremacy, and to ensure that the clergy in their dioceses did so as well.

  • 17TH JUNE: The trial of Bishop John Fisher, Thomas is part of the court.

  • 22ND JUNE: Bishop John Fisher is executed for treason

  • Jane, Thomas illegitimate daughter is born around this time.

  • 6TH JULY: The execution of Thomas More



  • MARCH: Elizabeth, Lady Ughtred written to Thomas from York to seek his favor in acquiring one of the soon-to-be-dissolved monasteries

  • Thomas is made a knight of the Garter.

  • Thomas is made Justice in Eyre North of the Trent

  • 3RD AUGUST: Thomas’s son Gregory married Elizabeth, Lady Ughtred, widow of Sir Anthony Ughtred, sister to Jane Seymour. They married at Mortlake.

  • 12TH OCTOBER: the birth of the future Edward VI of England, King Henry VIII, and Jane Seymour’s son.

  • 24TH OCTOBER: Queen consort Jane Seymour died, after complications in childbirth

  • Thomas searches Europe for a suitable fourth wife for the king. Seeking an alliance with the reformist princes of Germany against the ongoing Catholic threat, Cromwell puts forward Anne of Cleve's


  • Francis Mallet is chaplain to Thomas.

  • NOVEMBER: Thomas is made Governor of the Isle of Wight


  • 4TH JANUARY: Thomas is Constable  of Leeds Castle, Kent jointly with Richard Williams

  • Myles Coverdale was employed by Thomas to work on the Great Bible, the first Bible to be authorized translated bible in English. Which included a picture of King Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer and Cromwell on the title page.

  • 29TH JUNE The Duke of Norfolk(Thomas Howard), the Duke of Suffolk,(Charles Brandon) and Thomas dined with King Henry VIII as guests of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. During a heated discussion about Cardinal Thomas Wolsey Thomas charged duke of Norfolk with disloyalty and Norfolk called Thomas a liar.

  • OCTOBER: King Henry VIII finally accepted Thomas’ suggestion that he should marry Anne of Cleve's, the sister of Duke Wilhelm of 1st Cleve's


  • 1ST JANUARY: King Henry VIII meets Anne of Cleve's for the first time at Rochester and is not happy with his marriage match.

  • 6TH JANUARY: King Henry VIII married Anne of Cleve's at Greenwich.

  • 17TH APRIL: Thomas is made Lord Great Chamberlain

  • 10TH JUNE: Thomas is arrested while attending a privy council meeting. The Duke of Norfolk(Thomas Howard) personally 'tore St George from his neck’

  • 20TH JUNE: Thomas loses all political offices.

  • 28TH JULY: Thomas Cromwell is executed at Tower Hill, London

  • Thomas Cromwell’s remains were laid in Church of St Peter ad Vincula, London


  • Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, was a chief minister, lawyer and held many High Political offices in the court of King Henry VIII of England.

  • Thomas’s father, Walter Cromwell, was a jack-of-all-trades: he worked as a fuller, a blacksmith, a brewer and a tavern owner. However, Walter developed a drinking problem. Walters name appeared at least forty-eight times on the manor court rolls for various misdemeanours, including watering down beer and assaulting his neighbours.

  • Elizabeth and Katherine were Thomas’s two sisters. Katherine would be the great-great-grandmother to Oliver Cromwell who was Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

  • Thomas was his wife’s Elizabeth Wyckes second husband. Elizabeth first husband was Thomas Williams, a Yeoman of the Guard. No children came from Elizabeth’s first marriage. Elizabeth’s father Henry Wykes of Putney, Surrey, was a shearman who later became a gentleman usher to Henry VIII.

  • Thomas had many enemies at the royal court, due to his rise in political offices and his low-status birth

  • It was said that Thomas loved to entertain people. Thomas could be one of the most fun-loving members of the court. He held legendary parties and once spent £4,000 on an elaborate costume to amuse the king at a mosque (which was a party at the court).

  • It was believed that when King Henry VIII wanted rid of his second wife Anne Boleyn, that Thomas plotted to help aid the king in this issue. There was said to of been a conversation with the Ambassador Chapuys, following the Boleyns' deaths. It was said that Thomas had boasted that he had gone to a great deal of trouble arranging the plot, suggesting he did so in order to assist an alliance with Spain. Yet despite his boasts, during the same conversation, he greatly praised both Anne and her brother for their "sense, wit and courage

  • Thomas had made some mistakes which influenced his fall from Grace with the King. The most well known as the negotiations of the King’s Marriage to the German Anne of Cleves. The other was the closing of Thretford Abbey, which was a place of burial ground for the Dukes of Norfolk family. Thomas Howard, the third Duke of Norfolk, was a crusty old religious traditionalist, who wanted to save the priory from dissolution.

  • Anne of Cleves was the Third Choice of proposed marriages for King Henry VIII by Thomas. The first was Marie de Guise  & the second was Christina of Denmark. Marie De Guise rejected the proposal and married James V of Scotland. Christina was disturbed by Henry's treatment of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn and apparently told Thomas Wriothesley, "If I had two heads, one should be at the King of England's disposal."

  • When Thomas became Earl of Essex, this created upset. The Earl of Essex was a title that had belonged to Henry Bourchier, 15th Earl of Essex – an aristocrat of equal standing to the Duke of Norfolk. The title also had been one of the oldest in England.

  • Thomas was arrested on the charges of treason, heresy, corruption, and also plotting to marry Princess Mary, the king's daughter.

  • Thomas Execution was not a quick end. It is believed that it took the inexperienced executioner two or three strokes to sever Cromwell's head. Evidence that the execution was botched comes from an Edward Hall, who said Cromwell "So patiently suffered the stroke of the axe, by a ragged and brotherly miser, which very ungodly performed the office."

  • On the same day as Thomas’s execution, King Henry VIII married Catherine Howard, the niece of the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard. Thomas Howard was an adversary of Thomas Cromwell, which much bad blood between them.

  • We know much about Cromwell, years at the court, due to letters that have survived. This was due to a political accident: at his arrest, they were seized from his filing system and have stayed in government hands ever since.





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