Cromwell, Thomas

Cromwell, Thomas, minister of Henry VIII., and malleus monachorum, the “mauler of the monks,” born at Putney; the son of a blacksmith; led a life of adventure for eight or nine years on the Continent; settled in England about the beginning of Henry's reign; came under notice of Wolsey, whose confidant he became, and subordinate agent in suppressing the smaller monasteries; on his master's fall rose into favour with Henry by suggesting he should discard the supremacy of the Pope, and assume the supremacy of the Church himself; attained, in consequence, the highest rank and authority in the State, for the proposal was adopted, with the result that the Crown remains the head of ecclesiastical authority in England to this day; the authority he thus acquired he employed in so high-handed a fashion that he lost the favour of both king and people, till on a sudden he was arrested on charges of treason, was condemned to death, and beheaded on Tower Hill (1485-1540).

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

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