Political Career of Thomas Wriothesley, First Earl of Southampton 1505-1550 and Henry V I I I ’s Last Chancellor

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Thomas Wriothesley was a pivotal figure in the political and religious upheavals of the 1530s and 1540s, yet to date his role has not been considered in any depth. This work rectifies that deficiency, and in the process illuminates further the workings of mid-Tudor government and politics. Wriothesley worked with both Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell, carried out Cromwell’s plans for the re-organisation of the privy council and other administrative offices, had a hand in the monastic dissolution and in the suppression of the Pilgrimage of Grace. For the rest of Henry’s reign, Wriothesley was the conduit through which the king’s wishes were made known. He held the office of lord chancellor into the reign of Edward


“. . . thoroughly researched, well written and scrupulously fair. It demonstrates a solid grasp of the complex politics of the period, and its historiography. It makes an important contribution to our knowledge of Wriothesley's career and its significance, and engages thoughtfully with the broader political scene. Dr. Gibbons is fair and informative in assessing his achievements as royal administrator and Lord Chancellor. He steers a skilful course through the difficult evidence concerning Wriothesley’s political machinations from the mid 1540s onwards. Most leading Tudor historians have had to say something about Wriothesley; many of them, as Gibbons shows (always courteously) have underrated him and got it wrong.” – Bernard Capp

“Tudor historians owe Dr. Gibbons a debt for his painstaking survey of Wriothesley’s rise, his career, and final falls. This is an original contribution to our knowledge of the workings of Tudor politics, and a central figure comes out of the shadows.” - Susan Brigden

“Hoyle’s study of the Pilgrimage remains impressive. Where Hoyle says that he hopes to be read, we can safely add that he should be read.” – Renaissance Quarterly

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
1. Introduction
2. In the Service of Wolsey and Cromwell
3. Principal Secretary and Ambassador, 1540-44
4. Lord Chancellor: Judiciary, Government and Administration
5. Lord Chancellor: Henry’s Treasurer and Financier
6. Politics and Religion, 1544-47
7. Politics and Religion, 1547-50
8. Conclusion
Appendix 1 – Rewards of Service; Appendix 2 – Place House, Titchfield; Appendix 3 – Wriothesley’s Will
Bibliography; Index

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