For King and Country
by Phil Roberts
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Pub Date 30 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 01 Sep 2022
Pen & Sword, Pen & Sword History
The Wolseys of Suffolk date to Anglo-Saxon times. The earliest notice of a Wolsey as inhabitant of Ipswich is Thomas Wolsey’s father, Robert. He was a successful small businessman and married a Joan Daundy. Thomas was probably born in 1471 in an inn, and was almost certainly baptised in St Mary at the Elms church, Ipswich.
Wolsey graduated from university and then his climb to power was extremely fast. He entered the royal household as the chaplain to King Henry VII. When Henry VIII ascended to the throne, Wolsey became his almoner, which gave him access to the king’s council. Henry was very impressed with Wolsey’s work, and Thomas gained many important clerical positions. In 1515, Wolsey became Lord Chancellor of England. Thomas Wolsey’s most famous peace treaty was signed between Henry VIII and Francis I of France at the glorious Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520.
Henry had not produced a male heir. A woman called Anne Boleyn came on the scene. Henry began to think that she could mother him a son. The king asked Wolsey to seek a divorce from his first wife. He tried his outmost, as always, but the Pope kept delaying the matter. Wolsey failed and fell out of favour with Henry. He was charged with treason and escorted to the Tower of London. On his way, Thomas became very frail and sadly, on 29 November 1530 he died at Leicester Abbey.
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