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Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life de…
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Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life (edição: 2018)

de Diarmaid MacCulloch (Autor)

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321563,183 (4.23)10
The long-awaited biography of the genius who masterminded Henry VIII's bloody revolution in the English government, which reveals at last Cromwell's role in the downfall of Anne Boleyn "This a book that - and it's not often you can say this - we have been awaiting for four hundred years." --Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall Since the sixteenth century we have been fascinated by Henry VIII and the man who stood beside him, guiding him, enriching him, and enduring the king's insatiable appetites and violent outbursts until Henry ordered his beheading in July 1540. After a decade of sleuthing in the royal archives, Diarmaid MacCulloch has emerged with a tantalizing new understanding of Henry's mercurial chief minister, the inscrutable and utterly compelling Thomas Cromwell. History has not been kind to the son of a Putney brewer who became the architect of England's split with Rome. Where past biographies portrayed him as a scheming operator with blood on his hands, Hilary Mantel reimagined him as a far more sympathetic figure buffered by the whims of his master. So which was he--the villain of history or the victim of her creation? MacCulloch sifted through letters and court records for answers and found Cromwell's fingerprints on some of the most transformative decisions of Henry's turbulent reign. But he also found Cromwell the man, an administrative genius, rescuing him from myth and slander. The real Cromwell was a deeply loving father who took his biggest risks to secure the future of his son, Gregory. He was also a man of faith and a quiet revolutionary. In the end, he could not appease or control the man whose humors were so violent and unpredictable. But he made his mark on England, setting her on the path to religious awakening and indelibly transforming the system of government of the English-speaking world.… (mais)
Membro:jgtarwater
Título:Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life
Autores:Diarmaid MacCulloch (Autor)
Informação:Viking (2018), Edition: Illustrated, 752 pages
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Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life de Diarmaid MacCulloch

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Exibindo 5 de 5
24. Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life by Diarmaid MacCulloch
reader: David Rintoul
published: 2018
format: 26:38 audible audio (728 pages in hardcover)
acquired: April 28
listened: Apr 28 – Jun 11
rating: 4½
locations: mostly 1520-1540 London
about the author: Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford, born in Kent, 1951

I don‘t think it gets much more thorough than this biography. I listened while reading Mantel‘s [The Mirror and the Light]. Working through these at the same time was really interesting and helpful, and a little confusing when things didn't quite align. Thomas Cromwell had a whirlwind sort of reign as Henry VIII‘s primary and closest and most powerful advisor. So much happened. Most is actually in Mantel. MacCulloch offers sources, thorough documentation, endless details and some variations in personalities and themes. He very closely reflects Mantel's end of her trilogy, and many of the key things he quotes or sites here are in Mantel, and, I guess, it's a little surprising some are factual.

The first thing I noticed, when listening, was the amount of detail and the endless introduction of new names...something which never seems to slow down till the book ends. David Rintoul reads it all relentlessly, not catching his own breath, and it felt to me like that is the correct way to read it.

The largest theme here is one Mantel first seems to quietly not acknowledge, then later brings in but down plays. Thomas Cromwell was a religious man and a devout Evangelical reformer. This meant he had some specific and heretical ideas about the mass and a few other details, and also that he felt strongly the bible should be translated into English. (He supported William Tyndale, the executed provocative translator who's work makes up about 90% of the King James bible) When he came into political life, switching from his business life, Cromwell wasn't just hired as a lawyer. He had a mission. When his employer and protector, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, once a potential pope, came down, Cromwell stuck with Wolsey to the end of his fall, but miraculously wasn't destroyed. Instead he caught the attention of Henry VIII. He began to gain favor personally with the king. He would eventually become the dominant force in Henry's reign until the capricious king was convinced to turn on him - and did in a manner consistent to how Henry handled his wives. Cromwell is kind of another divorce. But before this fall Cromwell pushed throughout England, Wales and even Ireland his own Evangelical agenda - and he did right in the open, under the kings nose, and yet without the king fully realizing what was happening. Cromwell kept is name out of all this activity, but remained the force, the mover and shaker of English Christian reform.

But it was an odd thing where it everyone except the king seemed to know Cromwell was driving this reform, and there was a lot of fall out. While it's hinted at in Mantels novel, the Pilgrimage of Grace uprising was specifically targeted at Thomas Cromwell and his closing of monasteries (allowing the king and nobles to usurp the wealthy productive church lands); and the intellectual drive of this uprising was a conservative religious movement that ran counter to Cromwell's ideas. (Both evangelical and the religious conservatives of this era supported King Henry VIII fully as both king and head of the church. If they didn't see Henry at head of the church, they were considered papist, closer to today's Catholic). The rebellion wanted Cromwell destroyed. He survived this uprising still in Henry's good graces, but with significantly less power. He would get his revenge (as Mantel covers). Cromwell was eventually undermined by religious conservatives.

Other extra details here were how Cromwell's brewer/blacksmith father was actually respected enough that people spoke well of him, nothing really hinting at Mantel's monster. And the exploration of Cromwell's true character seems to come out a little contrary to Mantel's version. Instead of a cerebral, problem solver, the historical Cromwell seems to have been an obsessive control freak with an uncontainable anger. He badgered everyone verbally and harshly and with an almost angry gusto. Those attacked included very powerful people with whom he need to stay on his good side.

The most moving is Cromwell's fall. His arrest is a dramatic display of anger and physical violence and insulting. Eventually he was physically overpowered and arrested. His letters to the king from his prison in the Tower of London are preserved, including his endnote where he wrote, "Most gracious Prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy!" Cromwell had taken a lot people down, including orchestrating Anne Boleyn's fall, and beheading, along with the execution of her brother and several political enemies of his, all accused of liaisons with the supposedly sex-crazed queen. And he took down, or compromised many of most powerful noble families, and left the others in fear of him, and therefore either active in his fall, or uninterested in assisting him after. Actually Cromwell is essentially abandoned by everyone after his fall, except the archbishop he had worked with so closely, Thomas Cranmer, who wrote Henry a moving plea for Cromwell that avoided exposing himself to danger. Ultimately Cranmer would vote for his conviction, but he had no choice. Those closest to Cromwell could not support him without endangering themselves, including his own son. It's a little tricky to know which of his supporters mainly protected themselves, and which simply were not terribly upset at his fall, but the general silence is notable. Cromwell would make a graceful death, giving important speeches within the tight limits that would not endanger his family, but also gave no ground and ultimately challenged his religious opponents, albeit gently.

Anyway, I've gotten lost here. Tons of overwhelming detail within, and also a lot of fascinating stuff.

2021
https://www.librarything.com/topic/330945#7529156 ( )
  dchaikin | Jun 13, 2021 |
This is a truly epic biography, completing it feels somewhat like completing a marathon and with the same sense of satisfaction at the end. It truly deserves the description "definitive", there is literally no corner of Cromwell's life which MacCullough has not excavated exhaustively. Barring a surprise find of Cromwell's missing letters and papers (almost certainly destroyed by his loyal staff after his arrest), this is as much as we will ever know about Henry's loyal servant, fixer and primary agent of the destruction of English Catholicism. Which is exactly the point of this book. MacCulloch is a writer about religion, and his primary interest in this book is detailing Cromwell's slow patient construction of English evangelism. He devotes only a surprisingly few pages to the perceived major events of Cromwell's life - the downfall of Wolsey, the destruction of Anne Boleyn, the fiasco of Anne of Cleves, and Cromwell's own downfall and death, instead hundreds of pages are devoted to microscopic focus on Cromwell's every move in the dissolution of the monasteries and the advancement of English evangelicalism. He argues that the most important of Cromwell's official offices was being appointed Vice-gerent of the church, basically making him the most important figure in the restructure of the English church after the King himself, and he was able to use it to move the church towards an evangelical viewpoint, being frustrated in any attempt to move towards a Lutheran perspective, due to Henry's inordinate hatred of Luther, he was able to introduce influence from the Swiss reformed branch of Protestantism. In the end, MacCulloch posits that for all the reforms Cromwell brought in, and for all the toes he stepped on, his downfall was brought about by a single ill-considered comment to a friend regarding Henry's impotence with Anne of Cleves. His enemies were only too delighted to make sure it reached the ears of
a King morbidly sensitive about his manhood, and after that he was a dead man walking. The downfall is so swift as to leave the reader gasping, although he records that characteristically Henry regretted Cromwell's death almost immediately and equally characteristically blamed everyone else. This a is truly rewarding book to read for anyone with the slightest interest in the complex layers and folds of Tudor history. ( )
1 vote drmaf | Jun 28, 2020 |
I’m a fan of one-time rectory-dweller (his father was an Anglican priest) and Tudor historian Diarmaid MacCulloch, and particularly enjoyed his A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years (2009).

MacCulloch’s basic thesis on the English Reformation is that it was a lot more reformed, evangelical, and European and rather less “middle way” and English than the Tractarian school of church history which has dominated for the past 150 years would have us believe. And the particular flavor of the English Reformation was more generally more Swiss and Reform than German and Lutheran. It was mainly in Zurich and Geneva that protestant English scholars and churchmen waited out Queen Mary, relying on relationships developed in Cromwell’s day.

One interesting take-away is his insight into the nature of the relationship between Cromwell and Queen Anne Boleyn. It was never clear to me why he would so readily connive in the judicial murder of someone that appeared to be his ally in the reformation project. MacCulloch makes the case that notwithstanding their shared interests, Cromwell hated her guts because of her persecution of his early benefactor Cardinal Wolsey because of Wolsey’s inability to carry to come through with the king’s great project to clear the way for Anne by getting rid of Catherine of Aragon. Cromwell was loyal to Wolsey to the end.

If this sounds interesting to you but you’re in the market for novels rather than biography, you will be glad to know that MacCulloch endorses Hilary Mantel’s historical sense and judgment displayed in Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, so you can read those. (But check out her blurb on the cover of his book in the picture above—it looks like a fair amount of mutual backscratching going on here, and they’re both making out pretty well in the Cromwell Rehabilitation industry.) I’ve not yet read Bring Up the Bodies, and I want to re-read Wolf Hall now that I’ve read this biography. The mini-series was great. She’s apparently now working on the third book in her planned Cromwell trilogy. ( )
3 vote k6gst | Apr 11, 2019 |
Utterly magisterial and thorough exploration into the life of Thomas Cromwell.

Based on voluminous research of all existing primary and secondary sources regarding Thomas Cromwell, the author sets forth his thesis of Cromwell as having developed a religious faith highly influenced by the Nicodemians he encountered in his youth in Italy, and in so doing was able to work to build Tudor England as not only a modern state but specifically a more "evangelical" one. The author buttresses the argument by focusing consistently on Cromwell's associations and endeavors.

We explore Cromwell's humble upbringing and youthful travels. We find him becoming a lawyer of some standing, and drafted into the service of the powerful and influential Cardinal Wolsey to whom he would prove well committed long after Wolsey's fall from grace. We see the surprising events of 1531-1533 which find Cromwell not ruined by Wolsey's fall but somehow elevated by it, now in the King's circle of influence. The author sets forth how Cromwell worked with Cranmer to provide adequate political solutions to the "King's Matter" of annulment of one marriage to justify another; we see him active in the elimination of monasteries to the betterment of the Crown's estates and finances; his foreign policy and domestic connections are described at length, and we learn of his exploits in facilitating connections between "evangelically" minded Englishmen and the Reformed luminaries of the day. We then see Cromwell's precipitous and quick fall and death, and the effects of his work in Tudor England and the world to this day.

The argument is dazzling, but even in the author's telling there are some points of disconnect, which may just involve the compromised nature of Cromwell in his work. I, as a reader, cannot adequately judge all of MacCulloch's claims about Cromwell, but can tell that any student of Tudor England will have to grapple with this work. There is much to commend the thesis, and to see Cromwell as not just one of the architects of what would become the modern English state but also as a pioneering champion to make sure that the Church of England would not be an exact imitation of Roman Catholicism.

And yet, with all the evidence, gaping holes remain. We know more about what people write to Cromwell than what Cromwell himself wrote; at key moments correspondence has been removed, either an attempt by his allies to purge more compromising information or taken by his enemies to justify the condemnation. Much remains hidden; but the story is well set forth by MacCulloch.

Recommended for those interested in Tudor England.

**--galley received as part of early review program ( )
3 vote deusvitae | Jan 28, 2019 |
The downside to studying theology at Melbourne’s Trinity College in the 1970s was the lack of explicit input concerning Anglicanism. The upside, of course, was access to the best lecturers in Australia regardless of denomination, and the cross-fertilisation between Methodists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics and Anglicans.

We needed both, of course; the grounding in our own tradition, and tools to engage with others. Overall, Trinity didn’t do too badly, but I have felt my lack of knowledge about our Anglican tradition – until now. Reading Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Thomas Cromwell was like a semester-length course in the English Reformation with a particularly knowledgeable and clear communicator of Church History.

The first and obvious thing I learned was that the clichés of Henry VIII starting the Church of England solely to have his marriage to Queen Katherine annulled, and of Cromwell, the systematic destroyer of monasteries, are both wrong.

Cromwell did become one of Henry’s chief ministers, rising to Lord Privy Seal and Vice-Gerent of the Church before being torn down by enemies like the Duke of Norfolk and finally beheaded on the King’s orders. Henry and Cromwell were both politicians who needed each other, but MacCulloch subtly discerns their different agendas. Henry was at times obsessed with the Queen question, but he also sought to be the Supreme Head of a Church with the best of Lutheran theology and the conservation of many papist ideas, especially the real presence of the Lord in the bread and wine of Holy Communion.

Henry was a progressive Catholic, believing he could achieve a middle way conserving the best of Rome and political stability. Luther had given rise to great instability, so it was wisest while presenting Henry with Lutheran books, not to mention the name!

MacCulloch, who is Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University, argues that Thomas Cromwell pursued a consistent ‘evangelical’ agenda, ‘evangelical’ being the term he chooses to describe those pressing for reform. Cromwell knew how to use the power King Henry gave him as his Vice-Gerent of the Church. He put himself above all the bishops, even above his friend Archbishop Cranmer of Canterbury. He invited scholars from Geneva to bring reformed ideas to England. He promoted his ‘evangelical’ friends to important bishoprics. He encouraged printers to produce tracts that expressed his ’evangelical’ ideas, and was not afraid to explore even more radical views.

Cromwell’s role in the dissolution of the monasteries is dissected with clarity, explaining why Cromwell ordered some to hand over their property to the king, while remaining friends with the Abbots and Priors of others.

Following on from his early mentor Cardinal Wolsey, Cromwell wanted to reform monastic life. In particular, he wanted them to become centres of bible study, social justice (including proper provision for the poor) and morality. Cromwell made sure there were proper pensions or livings for the monks after the lands of their monastery were distributed to the wealthy. The Anglican Church never condemned the principle of monasticism, just its corruption.

He promoted the principle of ordinary Christians reading the Bible, sometimes risking the King’s anger. He manoeuvred the King and Parliament into insisting that every church have an English Bible. Henry finally took pride in the Great Bible whose influence carried through all English translations. Cromwell often turned to the friar Miles Coverdale to carry out the work of translation.

It was the King, particularly when he needed more and more money to build up the coastal defences, who saw the dissolution of monasteries as a cash cow. He often left the details to his minister.

Thomas Cromwell was skilled in getting things done. He generated the contacts, he used his power ruthlessly, and he did more than others in centralising the organisation of the kingdom. He divided Wales into shires, and put in charge there a trusted lieutenant. He tried the same, without great success, in Ireland.

Cromwell played a leading part in turning Tudor England from an island backwater into a major power. As a Member of Parliament responsible for managing the King’s business first in the Commons and then in the House of Lords, Cromwell threw himself with great energy into the detail of legislation and process.

It may well be that Thomas Cromwell was the reason England did not experience violence as did Germany and other reforming countries.

The mystery of Thomas Cromwell is how he rose from the yeoman class to the most powerful Lord in the land after his King. Little is known of his early life. He learned several languages, presumably while in Europe. It was probably then that he developed his interest in the reform of the Church. He made friends with a number of Europeans, and used them to grow an import business. At some time, he was picked up by Cardinal Wolsey who trained him as a politician.

Professor Macculloch traces the life of a great man whose influence in the development of England and the Anglican Church was long-lasting. Cromwell teased out the interdependence for England of Church and State. He served Henry VIII, that difficult master, with deep loyalty. He also inspired deep enmity, and conservative noble churchmen like the Duke of Norfolk were ever ready to bring down the upstart.

Though they succeeded, within a year, the King was complaining that he had lost his best advisor. Many of the men he had put into positions of power remained there after his death and extended their mentor’s influence in their lifetime.

Diarmaid Macculloch has written a highly readable biography which should be a standard text for students of Anglicanism. For me, I am grateful that a large gap in my theological education has been filled so thoroughly and enjoyably.
  TedWitham | Dec 26, 2018 |
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The long-awaited biography of the genius who masterminded Henry VIII's bloody revolution in the English government, which reveals at last Cromwell's role in the downfall of Anne Boleyn "This a book that - and it's not often you can say this - we have been awaiting for four hundred years." --Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall Since the sixteenth century we have been fascinated by Henry VIII and the man who stood beside him, guiding him, enriching him, and enduring the king's insatiable appetites and violent outbursts until Henry ordered his beheading in July 1540. After a decade of sleuthing in the royal archives, Diarmaid MacCulloch has emerged with a tantalizing new understanding of Henry's mercurial chief minister, the inscrutable and utterly compelling Thomas Cromwell. History has not been kind to the son of a Putney brewer who became the architect of England's split with Rome. Where past biographies portrayed him as a scheming operator with blood on his hands, Hilary Mantel reimagined him as a far more sympathetic figure buffered by the whims of his master. So which was he--the villain of history or the victim of her creation? MacCulloch sifted through letters and court records for answers and found Cromwell's fingerprints on some of the most transformative decisions of Henry's turbulent reign. But he also found Cromwell the man, an administrative genius, rescuing him from myth and slander. The real Cromwell was a deeply loving father who took his biggest risks to secure the future of his son, Gregory. He was also a man of faith and a quiet revolutionary. In the end, he could not appease or control the man whose humors were so violent and unpredictable. But he made his mark on England, setting her on the path to religious awakening and indelibly transforming the system of government of the English-speaking world.

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