Born in the mid-1480s to a lowly blacksmith, Cromwell left home at eighteen to make his fortune abroad. After serving as a mercenary in the French army, working for a powerful merchant banker in Florence at the height of the Renaissance, and spending time as a cloth merchant in the commercial capital of the world, the Netherlands, Cromwell returned to England and built a flourishing legal practice. He soon became the protege of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and then worked his way into the King s inner circle. As Henry s top aide, Cromwell was at the heart of the most momentous events of his time and wielded immense power over both church and state. His seismic political, religious, and social reforms had an impact that can still be felt today. Grounded in excellent primary source research, "Thomas Cromwell" gives an inside look at a monarchy that has captured the Western imagination for centuries, and tells the story of a controversial and enigmatic man who forever changed the shape of his country."
- ISBN-13: 9780802123176
- ISBN-10: 0802123171
- Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Pr
- Publish Date: December 2014
- Page Count: 450
- Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.74 pounds
A new look at the complex Cromwell
Thomas Cromwell and the Tudor Court have had something of a resurgence in popular culture. While Showtime’s melodramatic “The Tudors” focused on Henry VIII and his six wives, Hilary Mantel’s Booker-Prize winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies dramatized the political rise of Henry’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. Tracy Borman’s vivid new biography, Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant, is a timely addition to histories of the era.
Cromwell was born a commoner and rose to power through a blend of native intelligence and dogged workaholism. This aspect of Cromwell is what we see in Mantel’s novels, rendering him a sympathetic figure. The importance of Borman’s biography of Cromwell is that she creates a more balanced portrait of a contradictory and ruthless man.
Borman, who is chief curator of Britain’s royal palaces, blends the private and the public Cromwell, so we glimpse his personal generosity (he was always kind to widows and orphans) as well as his single-minded Machiavellian statesmanship. Torture and executions were tools for Cromwell to maintain his importance to the king, but they were tools that could also be turned against him.
Thomas Cromwell is a readable portrait of a complex man and the violent history he made.