Wolsey, Thomas

Wolsey, Thomas, cardinal, born at Ipswich, son of a well-to-do grazier and wool-merchant; educated at Magdalen College, Oxford; entered the Church early; gained the favour of Henry VII., and was promoted by him for his services to the deanery of Lincoln; this was the first of a series of preferments at the hands of royalty, which secured him one bishopric after another until his revenue accruing therefrom equalled that of the crown itself, which he spent partly in display of his rank and partly in acts of munificence; of his acts of munificence the founding of Christ Church College in the interest of learning was one, and the presentation of Hampton Court Palace, which he had built, to the king, was another; it was in the reign of Henry VIII. that he rose to power, and to him especially he owed his honours; it was for his services to him he obtained the chancellorship of the kingdom, and at his suit that he obtained the cardinal's hat and other favours from the Pope; this, though not the height of his ambition, was the limit of it, for he soon learned how frail a reed is a prince's favour; he refused to sanction his master's marriage with Anne Boleyn, and was driven from power and bereft of all his possessions; finally, though restored to the see of York, he was arrested on a charge of treason, took ill on the way to London, and died at Leicester, with the words on his lips, “Had I but served God as I have served the king, He would not have forsaken me in my grey hairs” (1471-1530).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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