Thomas Cromwell rose from very humble beginnings to become Henry VIII's chief minister, his right-hand man during the English Reformation. He wielded enormous power while he retained the king's favour, but the failure of Henry's marriage to Anne of Cleves, which Cromwell had arranged, led to his swift downfall and execution. John Schofield's biography reveals that the popular image of him as a blood-stained henchman is largely fictional. Detailed research into contemporary sources illuminates his brilliant mind and his love for and patronage of the arts and humanities, while short case studies shed new light on his relations with, and his reputation among, Henry VIII's subjects. The final part narrates the drama of his downfall, and the king's posthumous exoneration of the 'most faithful servant he ever had.'