Portrait of Thomas Wolsey (1473-1530), Lord High Chancellor of England (1515-1529), Archbishop of York (1514-1530), Prince-Bishop of Durham (1523-1529), Bishop of Winchester (15291-1530), Cardinal (1515), the King's chief adviser
Thomas Wolsey (c. 1473 – 29 November 1530; sometimes spelled Woolsey or Wulcy) was an English churchman, statesman and a cardinal of the Catholic Church. When Henry VIII became King of England in 1509, Wolsey became the King's Almoner. Wolsey's affairs prospered, and by 1514 he had become the controlling figure in virtually all matters of state and extremely powerful within the Church, as Archbishop of York, a cleric in England junior only to the Archbishop of Canterbury. His appointment in 1515 as a cardinal by Pope Leo X gave him precedence over all other English clerics. The highest political position Wolsey attained was Lord Chancellor, the King's chief adviser (formally, as his successor and disciple Thomas Cromwell was not). In that position, he enjoyed great freedom and was often depicted as an "alter rex" (other king). After failing to negotiate an annulment of Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Wolsey fell out of favour and was stripped of his government titles. He retreated to York to fulfill his ecclesiastical duties as Archbishop of York, a position he nominally held, but had neglected during his years in government. He was recalled to London to answer to charges of treason—a common charge used by Henry against ministers who fell out of favour—but died on the way from natural causes. Thomas Wolsey was born about 1473, the son of Robert Wolsey of Ipswich and his wife Joan Daundy. Wolsey's rise coincided with the accession in April 1509 of Henry VIII, whose character, policies and attitude to diplomacy differed significantly from those of his father. In 1509 Henry appointed Wolsey to the post of Almoner, a position that gave him a seat on the Privy Council and gave him an opportunity for greater prominence and for establishing a personal rapport with the King. A factor in Wolsey's rise was the young Henry VIII's relative lack of interest in the details of government during his early years.
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