Tuesday, May 6, 2014
[Review] Thomas Cromwell Servant to Henry VIII by David Loades
Author: David Loades
Publisher: Amberley March 2014
Genre: Non-fiction, biography, England, Henry VIII, Tudor History, Anne Boleyn
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Free copy from Amberley in exchange for a review.
Thomas Cromwell was born in 1485. There is little information known about Cromwell's early life, except in his own references made late in life. When Cromwell was in his mid-teens he left home, later settling in southern Italy and working in the household of a banker. He learned business and merchandising through an Italian merchant. Cromwell was intelligent and proficient in several languages.
Cromwell was practicing law in London in late 1512, and married by 1514. Three children were born, a son Gregory, with a date of birth as early as 1515, and two daughters, who later died in 1528.
David Loades remarks, "Gregory was later something of a disappointment to his father". I've pondered this remark. It is mentioned by the author that Thomas Cromwell's father was a difficult man "not an easy man to live with", could it have been Thomas was also a difficult man and father, considering his type-A personality? Personality traits, behavior patterns, are often passed down through generations.
Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, began a "connection" probably because of Cromwell's legal knowledge. Cromwell's influence and rank expanded and in 1530 he was in Henry VIII's service. It was Cromwell who helped to end Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon. It was Cromwell who helped Henry marry Anne Boleyn. It was Cromwell who helped bring about Anne's death. Cromwell continued to help Henry achieve what he desired until he stepped out of the boundaries of Henry's limitations and patience. In 1540, Thomas Cromwell was executed.
Thomas Cromwell Servant to Henry VIII, covers the period of time when: Henry proclaimed himself "Supreme Head and Protector of the Church", his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and marriage to Anne Boleyn and then its dissolve, the negotiations of Henry's marriage to Anne of Cleves, William Tyndale and the movement to create a readable and available New Testament Bible, the growing Protestant movement, and the termination of monasteries.
Before finishing the review I spent quite a bit of time reading further about Thomas Cromwell. I listened to a video of David Loades and Hilary Mantel (link is below). I read several blogs and websites with information on Thomas Cromwell. I was not seeking to discredit the book, but was seeking to gain additional knowledge through other resources.
When I first began reading Thomas Cromwell Servant to Henry VIII, I only knew a thimble full of information on him. I knew he was apart of Henry VIII"s council, that he was a primary instigator of bringing down Anne Boleyn, and that he was very much disliked by Anne Boleyn fans.
Whether we like Thomas Cromwell or not, his duty was to achieve Henry VIII's wishes. Henry VIII would not have had anyone in his council who did not achieve his gains. Their job was not to ask why, but carry out the desired mission.
After reading Thomas Cromwell Servant to Henry VIII, I've put together a list of personality traits of Cromwell.
Before he began a career in Henry VIII's council. There is a story told that Cromwell tempted the Pope with sweetmeats, and was able to gain a favor. This incident revealed to me Thomas Cromwell was an astute observer of people, and he capitalized on other people's weaknesses for his advancement and agenda. Cromwell was a logical and calculating person, he did not allow emotion to thwart his judgment. Anne Boleyn was emotionally charged and driven; in addition, she was not obedient at remaining silent. Cromwell knew this about her and used it for his gain.
Thomas Cromwell Servant to Henry VIII, was written to give a solid academic view of the real Thomas Cromwell, and not a historical fiction entertaining Thomas Cromwell. I feel David Loades has written an excellent biography on Thomas Cromwell.
David Loades has a strong knowledge of Tudor History. He studied under the tutelage of Geoffrey Elton.
Geoffrey Elton, was known for being a traditionalist in history, seeking at great lengths to be "objective" in the truth.
The last chapter in the book is chapter nine, Historiography, make sure you read this chapter, it's an engaging chapter on those who've previously studied and written on Thomas Cromwell.
Link for book at publisher: Thomas Cromwell Servant to Henry VIII.
Link for book at Amazon: Thomas Cromwell Servant to Henry VIII.
Kindle price $9.99
DAVID LOADES is Emeritus Professor of the University of Wales and an Honorary Member of the University of Oxford, History Faculty. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and former President of the Ecclesiastical History Society. He is the author of over thirty books on the sixteenth century. Professor Loades studied under Professor Sir Geoffrey Elton, the doyen of Thomas Cromwell studies. He lives in Burford in Oxfordshire.
Author website: David Loades.
A video of David Loades and Hilary Mantel. Hilary Mantel is the author of two successful historical fiction books, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. David Loades is a professor, Tudor historian, and author of non-fiction books. The sound quality of the video is not good. The conference is on the difference between writing a historical fiction novel, versus writing a non-fiction book.
I have to admit, Mantel spoke eloquently of her aims and motives in writing historical fiction, as well as the definition of historical fiction.
David Loades, as a historian, seeks to write academically, and not for pure entertainment.
For a list of David Loades books at Amberley: David Loades.
Since reading the book on Thomas Cromwell, my eyes have been on the look-out for more information over the internet on him.
Another review of Thomas Cromwell Servant to Henry VIII, courtesy of Beth von Staats.
And---Who Was Gregory Cromwell-How Fiction Became History by Terri Fitzgerald-from The Anne Boleyn Files.
The Merchants Son Gregory Cromwell by Beth von Staats.
Thomas Cromwell a Very Modern Politician? Diarmaid MacCullouch
Thomas Cromwell and the Intellectual Origins of Henrician Revolution
Thomas Cromwell, link from Princeton.
Additional links on Thomas Cromwell:
History Learning Site UK
In a related post---a letter written by Anne Boleyn. A very good post! The following link is from The Creation of Anne Boleyn: An Argument for the Authenticity of Anne's May 6 Letter to Henry.