'This deeply researched and grippingly written biography brings Cromwell to life and exposes the Henrician court in all its brutal, glittering splendour.' Kate Williams, Independent
Thomas Cromwell's life has made gripping reading for millions through Hilary Mantel's bestselling novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. But who was the real Cromwell? In this major new biography, leading historian Tracy Borman examines the life, loves and legacy of the man who changed the shape of England forever.
Born a lowly tavern keeper's son, Cromwell rose swiftly through the ranks to become Henry VIII's right hand man, and one of the most powerful figures in Tudor history. The architect of England's break with the Roman Catholic Church and the dissolution of the monasteries, he oversaw seismic changes in England's history. Influential in securing Henry's controversial divorce from Catherine of Aragon, many believe he was also the ruthless force behind Anne Boleyn's downfall and subsequent execution.
Although for years he has been reviled as a Machiavellian schemer who stopped at nothing in his quest for power, Thomas Cromwell was also a loving husband, father and guardian, a witty and generous host, and a loyal and devoted servant. With fresh research and new insights into Cromwell's family life, his household and his close relationships, Tracy Borman Tracy Borman tells the true story of Henry VIII's most faithful servant.
Borman, CEO of the U.K. Heritage Education Trust and joint chief curator of the British historic royal palaces, commendably delves into primary and secondary sources in piecing together the remarkable life of a "commoner who had risen far beyond his rightful station in life" to become the king's chief minister. Best known for engineering the fall of Anne Boleyn and easing the way for the Protestant Reformation in England, Thomas Cromwell remains in these pages just as enigmatic as he has always been to historians. Some of Borman's conclusions are based on flimsy evidence, and she relies too much on accounts written by those with obvious political agendas. However, she makes a strong argument that Cromwell's fall from power was engineered by elites who despised him for being a commoner upstart, especially when she points out an incident often overlooked by historians: Cromwell arranged for his son to marry Queen Jane Seymour's sister. Considering the brutality the Tudors inflicted on those whom they perceived as overstepping their bounds, the perception that Cromwell did not know his place, compounded by his arranging Henry's short-lived marriage with Anne of Cleves, sealed his fate.