Thomas Wolsey

English political figure and cardinal

Thomas Wolsey (born between 1471 and 1476 at Ipswich, Suffolk; died 29 November 1530) was an English statesman and archbishop. He was made a cardinal in 1515. Of humble origin, Thomas Wolsey became the principal figure in affairs of state for many years during the reign of King Henry VIII of England before falling into disgrace.

The Right Honourable His Eminence Thomas Wolsey
Archbishop of York, England
Sampson Strong's portrait of Cardinal Wolsey at Christ Church (1610).
ChurchRoman Catholicism
Appointed15 September 1514
Reign ended29 November 1530
PredecessorChristopher Bainbridge
SuccessorNicholas Heath
Other postsCardinal-Priest of S. Cecilia (1515 - 1530)
Ordination10 March 1498
by John Blythe
Consecration26 March 1514
by William Warham
Created Cardinal10 September 1515
Personal details
BornMarch 1473
Ipswich, Suffolk, England
Died(1530-11-29)29 November 1530
Leicester, Leicestershire, England
BuriedLeicester Abbey
ParentsRobert Wolsey and Joan Daundy
Previous postBishop of Lincoln, England (1514)

Administrator of Bath and Wells, England (1518 - 1523)
Administrator of Durham, England (1523 - 1530)

Administrator of Winchester, England (1529 - 1530)
Coat of arms

Cardinal Wolsey chiefly developed his talents in managing the foreign policy of the kingdom on behalf of Henry VIII. In spite of the many enemies who envied his ambition, he was able to acquire the confidence of the king until the latter decided to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled in order to marry Anne Boleyn.


  • Between 1471 and 1476: born at Ipswich.
  • 10 March 1498: ordained priest.
  • 1509: Dean of Lincoln; made royal almoner and member of the Council.
  • 1514: Took Thomas More into his service to look after his revenue.
  • 1515: Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor of England.
  • 1516: Obtained from Leo X the title of cardinal-legate. He proceeded to take the possessions of thirty monasteries and put himself forward as a candidate to become Pope.
  • 1518: Bishop of Bath and Wells (while still Archbishop of York)
  • 1522: Resigned Bishopric of Bath and Wells
  • 1525: Founded Cardinal College at Oxford (afterwards Christ Church), one of the largest and richest colleges of the University of Oxford.
  • 1529: The varying attitudes of Wolsey, wishing to keep the Pope happy, had the effect of destroying his credit with the king. In the autumn, impelled by Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII brought charges against Thomas Wolsey. He was dismissed from his office of Lord Chancellor and deprived of his properties, including the palace of Whitehall, where Henry decided go and live, instead of Westminster Palace.
  • 29 November 1530: He died of exhaustion at Leicester while being transferred to the Tower of London.


  1. Peter Gwyn, The King's Cardinal, p. 33

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