28 July 1540 – Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell

Like anyone in Henry VIII’s inner circle, your future could never be guaranteed or considered secure. So Thomas Cromwell found out today in 1540.

A trained lawyer, he managed to earn the stripes necessary to enter Henry Tudor’s advisory council and for a long time he was a close confidante.

Main man

Cromwell played a key role in the English Reformation, which saw the break away from Roman Catholicism towards the newly formed Church of England. Of course this was brought about to allow Henry to divorce his first wife Catherine of Aragon to make way for his next conquest – the doomed Anne Boleyn.

He was on a roll. Almost as soon as Cromwell had helped facilitate Henry’s marriage to Boleyn, he was extricating him from it so the king could bag Jane Seymour.

By 1535, he was supreme judge and in his new capacity as vice-general, he oversaw 13 monasteries being disbanded.

The big hitch

But all these brownie points were wiped out in one fell swoop when he encouraged Henry to marry following the death of Seymour. She’d died just a couple of weeks after bearing Henry’s one and only son and heir.

Cromwell helped mastermind what could have been the coup of the century – the uniting of two Protestant powers to help consolidate the Reformation. There was only one big hitch – Anne of Cleves was no looker and Henry was none too impressed with his ugly, new bride. Others at court picked up on Henry’s dissatisfaction and turned it to their advantage.

Chops away

Up to that point, many others at court hadn’t got a look in. They all used this mess as an excuse to get him ousted and the ploy worked.

Cromwell was executed at Tower Hill, sadly at the hands of a novice axe-man. Three chops and eventually his head was detached on this day in 1540, aged about 55.

Also on this day

28 July 1794 – Maximilien Robespierre
28 July 1865 – Edward Pritchard
28 July 1976 – Christian Ranucci
28 July 1826 – Isaac Smith

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10 Responses to “28 July 1540 – Thomas Cromwell”

  1. i think u should have more pics!

  2. Old Sparky Says:

    There’s lots more content planned for 2009…but what sort of thing do you have in mind? We deliberately try to avoid anything too gory!

  3. paul sabby Says:

    please put me on your list to receive daily updates.

  4. Tru Says:

    Well, it looks like on “The Tudors” their research as shown in the season finale shows that Crumwell received 4 chops from the axeman before he was pushed aside by one of the Tower guards who took pity and gave Crumwell the fifth and final chop that detached his head. Not to mention that this “novice?” axman had been “treated” to much drink the night before by Sir Brian and his accomplice so that the extra chops would occur. This seems to have been some sort of regular phenomenon for those who had been singled out by Henry VIII regime for most of those who were a threat to his crown from what I have gathered from research on the subject, though it has not been presented as such in academia. However, it seems whoever researched the finale of the tudors had extraordinary insight and provided the phenomena in a way that actually makes sense.

  5. Clair Says:

    Tru: I think you are right…and very insightful!

  6. Hannah Says:

    Erm…Actually, all that the primary sources state is that Cromwell “patiently bore the stroke of a ragged and butcherly miser”. The number of axe strokes is not alluded to at alll.
    I certainly wouldn’t use “The Tudors” as a basis of fact!

  7. Dave Hounam Says:

    Very true Hannah. It is unfortunate that the programme producers sought to use extensive “artistic licence” with historical fact.

    As with the details of the execution of Thomas Cromwell, likewise, Margaret, Henry’s sister never married the King of Portugal.

    The series uses Margaret as a composite of Margaret and younger sister Mary… (Not to be confused with Henry’s daughter Mary from his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.)

    Historically, Henry’s sister Princess Mary first married the French King Louis XII. The union lasted approximately three months, until his death. Mary subsequently married Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk.

  8. Brandon Stewart Says:

    I need to compare someone from the 16th century and a current leader for my history class. It needs to be about how they have absolute power and how it effects us today. I would love to have some information about that soon please. thank you 🙂

  9. Holbein portrait is in fact George Neville, Lord Bergavenny, not Cromwell.


    Cromwell, also by Holbein and a very different character sketch, is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Cromwell#mediaviewer/File:Cromwell,Thomas%281EEssex%2901.jpg

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