Wolsey was the son of an Ipswich butcher and cattle dealer. He had a relatively comfortable upbringing and was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford University. Wolsey decided on a life devoted to God and he joined the church. He held a number of private chaplainries but he soon came to the attention of Henry VII as Wolsey was quickly identified as a man who had excellent managerial skills with a very good grasp of detail. Wolsey was also a very keen worker. In 1507, he was appointed Henry VII’s chaplain.
Wolsey continued to serve at court when Henry VIII succeeded his father in 1509. Wolsey received support at court from William Warham who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1503 to 1532 and Chancellor from 1504 to 1515.
However, Wolsey quickly outgrew this support and he became the unofficial royal secretary. This position gave him almost daily contact with Henry VIII who rewarded the hard work and dedication Wolsey showed towards him by giving him numerous religious titles that were to finance the luxurious lifestyle Wolsey was to have. He was appointed a bishop for Lincoln, Bath and Wells, Durham and Winchester; an abbot for St Albans and Archbishop of York. He was also appointed Chancellor in 1514 and held that position until 1529. In 1515, Wolsey was appointed a cardinal and in 1518 he became a "Legate a latere" which made him a special and permanent representative of the pope. This position gave him huge power of the church in England at the time - far more power than Warham had as Archbishop of Canterbury.
When in London, Wolsey lived in York Place (now gone but where Whitehall now stands) and he also owned Hampton Court as a country residence. His luxurious lifestyle made him many enemies at court but he remained safe because of the support of the king.
As Chancellor, Wolsey dominated the Royal Council. He got to know who could be trusted and who could not. The nobility had been severely weakened under Henry VII and tried, at times, to resurrect their old power in the early years of Henry VIII’s reign. Wolsey ensured this did not happen and he used his position to tame the aristocracy. Such loyalty and devotion brought its rewards. Wolsey was, at times, the government of the country. Henry VIII had little time for the boredom of day-to-day government business as he was too busy hunting etc. This was left to Wolsey. The king decided on policy and Wolsey enforced and shaped it. However, from Wolsey’s point of view, he was always the servant to his master, Henry VIII.
Wolsey did a great deal to reform the legal system in England. It was modernised and, ironically, the power of the Church courts was reduced as the power of the Star Chamber and the common law courts was increased. The government was run effectively as would be expected from such a man.
However, despite being Chancellor, Wolsey had a poor knowledge of financial issues. He failed to use his position to develop England’s overseas trade and he failed to ensure that royal revenue increased at the same rate as the king’s spending. The economy of England was changing in the early Sixteenth Century - the so-called Price Revolution - but Wolsey failed to understand the complexities behind this change.
In foreign affairs, Wolsey supported Henry’s campaigns against France. He also had as a priority the security of England from European threats. However, he failed to be Europe’s great power-broker simply because England did not have enough financial power to have this position.
Wolsey’s fall from grace was over his inability to persuade the pope that Henry should have a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Henry believed that Wolsey, as "Legate a latere", had the necessary influence in Rome to secure his much wanted divorce. When Wolsey failed to do this, his position at court was doomed.
On September 22nd 1529, Wolsey was dismissed as Chancellor. By the end of October, he was sacked from his bishopric in Winchester and as Abbot of St Albans. The influential Boleyn family - Henry wanted to marry Anne - persuaded Henry that Wolsey should be removed from London. In April 1530, Wolsey arrived in York as Archbishop of York. He had been appointed Archbishop of York in 1514. Sixteen years later he visited the city for the first time!
Henry’s anger at Wolsey’s failure to get a divorce became more intense and he ordered his arrest which happened in November 1530. Wolsey was meant to be locked up in the Tower of London. However, he died during the journey from York to London at Leicester Abbey on November 29th 1530.
BORN IN GREENWICH: 1491 - DIED: 1547
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Henry VIII was king of England from 1509 to 1547. Henry's father was Henry VII and his mother was Elizabeth of York. Henry had six wives (See left column)
He had three children - Mary (by Catherine of Aragon), Elizabeth (by Anne Boleyn) and Edward (by Jane Seymour). Each became a monarch - Edward VI, Mary Tudor (or Mary I) and Elizabeth I in that order.
Henry's reign saw major changes in religion - the English Reformation.
When Henry became king in 1509, the church in England was as follows:
- Head of the Church: the pope based in Rome
- Church services: all were held in Latin
- Prayers: all said in Latin
- Bible: written in Latin
- Priests: not allowed to marry
By the death of Henry in 1547, the church in England was as follows :
- Head of the Church : the king
- Church services : held in Latin
- Prayers: most said in Latin. The "Lord’s Prayer" was said in English
- Bible: written in English
- Priests: not allowed to marry.
To reform means to change. This is why this event is called the "English Reformation" as it did change the way the church was run throughout England. However, the death of Henry in 1547 did not see an end of the religious problems of England.
Though Henry could be a cruel and heartless man - as the trial of Anne Boleyn and the marriage to Anne of Cleves might indicate - he was also highly intelligent.
The Music Of Henry VIII
He enjoyed watching plays, he wrote poetry and he was a skilled lute player. Some historians believe that he wrote the famous song "Greensleeves".
Henry VIII was a true renaissance prince. He was educated in the classics, and spoke and wrote several languages fluently, including the prerequisite Latin. He studied philosophy, and religion and often had heated debates with the learned thinkers of the age. He was an athlete and he was skilled in the arts of war. He wrote prose and poetry. But his real passion was always music.
Henry VIII composed masses (which are now lost) and ballads. He played several instruments. And he amassed a considerable collection of them over his lifetime. As a matter of fact, when he died he left a collection that included:
5 Bagpipes - It appears that bagpipes were popular in England before they caught on in Scotland. Ecclesiastical carvings of the era show them. There is a good example in the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey.
78 Recorders and 78 Flutes - Recorders were enormously popular in the 16th century. There are frequent references to them in the literature of the period (see Shakespeare and Milton). Henry VIII was a noted recorder player.
A Mechanical Virginal - The virginal was an early simple harpsichord. It had only one string per note. It was usually an elongated box, of varying length, that could sit on a table. There were some made with floor stands, however.
The Chapel Royal
The Chapel Royal is not a building, but a group of clergy and musicians that serve the religious needs of the monarch. Henry VIII loved luxury as well as music. His Chapel Royal consisted of 79 musicians alone. When he travelled he took some of the musicians along. Often that group included a choir of 6 boys and 6 men to sing daily mass.
His full Chapel Royal, both clergy and musicians, attended him at the Field of the Cloth of Gold (1520).
Henry VIII had 10 trombonists which he used in churches to support the Plain Song of the Choir.
14 of 42 performers attached to Henry VIII played the trumpet.
Henry VIII introduced the custom of providing a drummer with drums carried in front of him on either side of his horse. This was an eastern custom introduced into Europe after the Crusades. The custom didn't reach England until the 16th century, however. Henry sent to Vienna in 1542 for drums that could be played on horse back.
Henry VIII, a talented musician and composer himself, had access to a number of other talented musicians who played a variety of instruments. He often experimented with different combinations of those instruments. And by doing so could be said to have contributed to the development of the modern orchestra.
A list of songs composed for the six wives of Henry VIII many by the king himself:
Catherine of Aragon
1 Riu riu: el lobo rabioso - Anon
2 Dezi, flor rresplandeciente - Anon
3 La Manana de San Juan - Anon
4 Consort - Henry VIII
5 Helas Madame - Henry VIII
6 Amy souffrez - Isaac
7 And I were a mayden - Henry VIII
8 Consort - Henry VIII
9 Pastime with good company - Henry VIII
10 Greensleeves - Henry VIII
11 Quene Note - Anon
12 Consort - Henry VIII
Anne of Cleves
13 Danse de Cleves - Anon
14 Scopri lingua - Tromboncino
15 Nec michi nec tibi - Obrecht
16 Consort - Henry VIII
17 Green groweth the holly - Henry VIII
18 Le pied de cheval (Horses Brawl) - Anon
19 Blow thy horn hunter - Cornish
20 Consort - Henry VIII
21 Fantasia VIII - Milan
22 Wolsey's Wilde - Anon
23 Westron Wind - Anon
24 Consort - Henry VIII
Henry VIII's turbulent loves and life are famous. It is not so often remembered, however, that court life had its own rhythms and occasions which continued throughout all the confusion and turmoil of the King's personal problems. Music was a major feature of that court life, and this included marvellous, soaring choral music to match the superb ecclesiastical buildings that Henry VIII built or worshipped in. But court life also included more secular, domestic music-making in which the king himself took an important part. He was an accomplished composer and it is clear that he liked music, and that it was one of his many accomplishments as one of the most cultured and intellectually gifted monarchs that the English throne has ever seen.
Henry also loved sports such as wrestling and hunting. As a young man he was a skilled horse rider though as he got older, he put on a lot of weight and this lead to him exercising less and the less he exercised, the fatter he got. In the last few years of his life, he was affected by ulcerous legs that turned gangrenous, he may have had syphilis and he may have had osteomyelitis possibly caused by a jousting accident.
When Henry died on January 28th, 1547, few mourned his death. He had become highly unpredictable in his final years and this alone made him more and more of a danger to those who were near to him.
Hampton Court Palace
With its 500 years of royal history Hampton Court Palace has something to offer everyone. Set in sixty acres of world famous gardens the Palace is a living tapestry of history from Henry VIII to George II. From the elegance of the recently restored eighteenth century Privy Garden to the domestic reality of the Tudor Kitchens visitors are taken back through the centuries to experience the Palace as it was when royalty was in residence.
Costumed guides and audio tours provide inside information on the life in the royal households and free family trails encourage a closer look at the Palace, with the chance of a prize at the end. In the summer months horse-drawn carriages offer a sedate trip around the stunning gardens.
Renowned the world over as Henry VIII's great palace, today's Hampton Court bears little resemblance to the opulent Tudor residence created after Cardinal Wolsey gave the King his substantial medieval palace. The King's apartments were completely demolished, and much of the remaining palace was extended and remodelled during the 1700s. But the heart of Henry's palace has survived remarkably intact - the Great Hall, with its elaborately crafted hammer-beam roof, which provided an impressive entrance to his state rooms. One can only visualise the astounding scene when the hall was bursting with merriment and feasting, and the vast complex of kitchens were bustling with the preparation of endless meals to set before the royal tables.
During his time at Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII had his own apartments changed on several occasions, and lavish new lodgings were built for each of his wives. The Chapel Royal, with its amazing vaulted ceiling, also featured strongly in Henry`s personal life. His son Prince Edward, was baptised in the Chapel in 1537, and it was here that he learned of Catherine Howard's unfaithfulness. Along the corridor leading from the Chapel, ghostly sightings and blood-curdling shrieks have been witnessed, said to be those his wife whilst being dragged back to her rooms. Adjoining the Chapel is the Queen's Closet, and this was where Henry married his last wife, Catherine Parr. Apart from his many wives, Henry VIII was a great art collector, and some of the 2,000 priceless tapestries he acquired still hang in the Great Hall, and more in the Great Watching Chamber. By 1540 Hampton Court was rated among the most magnificent palaces in England, and for the next 250 years it continued to be a popular venue with the Royals who were attracted by the hunting offered in its 1100 acre park.
At the end of Henry's reign, other Kings and Queens inhabited the palace but left little trace of their existence until the time of William and Mary. The Royal apartments that survive today are the work of Sir Christopher Wren, who was commissioned to rebuild them in the beautiful Baroque style, and they remain elegantly furnished from that period. Before Wren was able to complete his plans, Queen Mary died and, with building works stopped, several rooms were left as no more than brick shells with plastered ceilings and wooden floors. The present shape and form of Hampton Court is due almost entirely to these substantial developments but William III never lived to see the work completed.
In 1732 the last Royal rooms were created by William Kent, and these comprise the Cumberland Suite. Contrasting sharply with the richness employed in the earlier building, the Georgian rooms were quite sedate and plain. Only five years later, Royal life at Hampton Court had all but ceased, and over the next four decades furniture was removed from the state apartments, and some areas of the palace were converted into grace-and-favour accommodation. In 1838 Queen Victoria opened other parts of the house and grounds to the public, although several phases of restoration work and repairs have been undertaken on a regular basis ever since.
Visiting Hampton Court is a wonderful experience, almost like walking through a living history book that gradually reveals snippets of information about the former occupants, their lifestyles, changing fashions and ideas, and the different phases of architecture. With beautiful gardens, and the famous maze, it is easy to spend a whole day exploring this majestic building standing on the banks of the River Thames.
Visit the following website to view the Enchanted Garden 2003 at Hampton Court Palace:
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