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Tudor Minute October 18: Wolsey Surrenders the Great Seal

Hey, this is Heather from the Renaissance English History Podcast, and this is your Tudor Minute for October 18.

Cardinal Wolsey surrendered the Great Seal of his office in 1529. He was taking the blame for the long delay in Henry’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon ending in a divorce. The papal legate had arrived in 1528 to try the case of their marriage, which everyone except Katherine hoped would end in a quick resolution. But it didn’t. The Pope was unable to declare anything in Henry’s favor because of the fact that Katherine’s nephew, Emperor Charles V, was effectively holding him hostage.

In October 1529, Wolsey was officially stripped of the office of Lord Chancellor, and was required to return the Great Seal. Desperately trying to avoid indictment, Wolsey gave the King most of his property, including York Place, and retired to a small house in Esher, Surrey. York Place was to be renovated, renamed Whitehall, and given to Anne Boleyn. In November Wolsey begged the King for mercy, and Henry, placated, placed Wolsey under his personal protection. Just after Christmas, Wolsey fell ill and was thought to be dying. The King sent him a message saying he “would not lose him for £20,000”,8  and the Cardinal’s health improved.

But it wouldn’t last long – soon Wolsey was accused of treason, and got sick and died on his way to London for his trial, in 1530.

That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com.

Episode Link:
On the Field of Cloth of Gold (one of Wolsey’s main achievements)