October 14, 2012

The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell, by John Schofield, was a very enjoyable biography of Henry V’s right hand man. It’s interesting how few people have heard of Cromwell — when I’ve mentioned the subject it has generally been assumed that this book refers to Oliver Cromwell.

The book seems to be very well researched but the copious cross references don’t get in the way of the narrative for a casual reader. I do harbour a suspicion that Schofield got too close to his subject and was drawn to him. He sometimes appears too eager to dismiss the possibility that Cromwell influenced Henry over matters such as the fall of Ann Boleyn and the Cleves marriage. He acknowledges Cromwell’s subtle influence over Lutheran reforms but dismisses that he could influence the King in these other Great Matters’ where he is often cited as the Machiavellian prime mover.

This minor quibble aside, I found this book fascinating without being over-academic. I certainly learned a great deal about Tudor England as a result of reading it.


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