Wolsey was not born into a noble family and at the age of only fifteen he entered Oxford University and his ambition was to be Pope which was the most powerful position due to religious beliefs, this can easily be demonstrated as his determination and hunger for power in political matters.
Wolsey was always a very intelligent man yet, cautious; despite the various positions of power that he achieved by monopolizing Henry, he was always very careful as to what decisions he took because he needed to gain over Henry’s trust in order to achieve more power, he could not upset the King in any way possible therefore, he kept Henry satisfied by providing him with his desire for military status.
Although Wolsey was capable and ambitious, he was also very fortunate because many ministers that worked for Henry VII were old and ready to retire, this was Wolsey’s opportunity to prove himself able to Henry VIII so that he could get involved in political matters, which is what Source Q and X commonly agree upon.
Despite stating that Wolsey wanted more political power, source Q written by Elton, a famous historian; also states that he wanted ”to ignore the legal and constitutional traditions of England and substitute them for his own self-confident judgment” which implies that not only Wolsey arrogant but also intended to change the laws of the country and ”rule” by his own views and manners by simply suggesting what he wanted to Henry and because Henry was almost never interested in paperwork tasks, Wolsey was easily able to use him as a ”puppet” to obtain more political power, he was so powerful that he was able to hold a peace treaty between England and several other countries.
Elton wrote that the only reason why Wolsey lasted so long was because despite his terrible finance skills, Wolsey was able to make himself appealing and showed that he was a loyal servant to Henry but also maintained Henry quiet by creating military events such as The Field Of The Cloth Of Gold in 1520.
Elton suggests Wolsey as a failure and despite the knowledge of great power that was available to him; he did a ”highly professional job in a very amateur manner” which contradicts what had been previously said about his ability to promote himself however, suggesting that Wolsey was manipulative but did not know how to use the political power that he held, an example of this was in 1529; when King; Henry VIII dismisses Lord Chancellor Wolsey for failing to obtain the Pope’s consent to his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, this promotes the idea that Wolsey did not monopolize political power as he was simply following Henry’s instructions. Similarly, source V also agrees that Wolsey held political power yet, he didn’t use it effectively.
Dawson, the author of this quote wrote that Wolsey was hard working and really did try however, it was not enough; as opposed to source Q which implies that he did not have sufficient knowledge when it came to managing the power that he had. Both sources are weighted towards the view point that Wolsey monopolized political power and both criticize the ways in which he used it for.
Despite the common agreement between source V and source Q; source V suggests that it is difficult to judge a situation that happened in the 1500’s when these sources were both written in the 20th century, where it is found that people’s mentality had changed and more values were being put on standards that were nonexistent during Henry’s reign therefore, easily forgetting the fact that no one dared to oppose Wolsey because if they were to criticize him they would have to also criticize the King which was considered a sin and was likely to result in death sentences. In 1528 Wolsey was asked to appoint abbesses at nunnery in Wilton and Wiltshire however, he ignored Henry’s instructions with whom he should appoint.
He then had to apologize to Henry, confirming that Henry was not easy to influence and that Wolsey did not fully monopolize political power. Furthermore, despite the fact that source V states that Wolsey’s way of manipulating power was not particularly good, Dawson also says that Wolsey ”promised more than was delivered”, this implies that if Wolsey was really an Alter Rex and monopolized political power he would have delivered what he had promised therefore proposing that, he was rather a servant and did not fully monopolize political power. Wolsey only used parliament when he had to because he had caused so much bitterness between him and the nobles that they were unlikely to grant him what he needed.
Parliament was not the heart of government; powers were limited and would only grant the King’s requests which demonstrates that although Wolsey had immense power over political matters the nobility did not consider him an Alter Rex therefore, not granting any of his requests which goes to show that he did not fully monopolize political power, an example of this was in 1513; when Wolsey and the King invaded France, a Scottish invasion broke out in England also known as The Battle of Flodden; it was fortunate for Wolsey that the Earl of Surrey led the English to victory despite his and the King’s absence, showing that Wolsey did have some control over political matters yet, not total control over political powers. In contrast to source V, source X which was written by Vergil; states that Wolsey held more than enough power and he then ”began to regard himself as the equal of the kings” suggesting that his manipulation of political power was so grand that he thought of himself and an alternate king.
However, even though source X equally agrees with source Q, source X could possibly be weighted towards Henry VIII; as Vergil was an Italian historian hired by Henry himself, Vergil’s accounts are important as he was one of the rare people that had access to the King but not necessarily accurate. Vergil arrived in England in 1502 and was not favorable towards Wolsey as they had a continuous feud; the reason for possible inaccuracy in Vergil’s account was because Wolsey condemned Vergil to a spell in the tower and imprisoned him in 1515 and this was when Vergil may have created resentment towards Wolsey, despite the fact that Vergil was freed later that year because of Pope Leo’s support and pleading personal letters to the king, Wolsey’s ability to imprison Vergil shows how grand his influence was.
The Privy Chamber was the main part of the Government of which Wolsey was part of; members of the Privy Chamber were young ambitious men who were willing to serve the king which Wolsey would dispose of if he viewed them as a potential threat to his position, this supports Vergil’s account which states the arrogance. Moreover, the fact that Wolsey was part of the Privy Chamber shows his significant influence over political matters in addition, Wolsey’s ability to dispose of members of this chamber only furthers the idea that he monopolized political power. Despite great influence on Henry, Wolsey did not fully monopolize this power as many actions he took were known to Henry.
During Henry’s reign there are few situations such as the treaty of London in 1518 which was organized by Wolsey that demonstrates him monopolizing political power as he was able to get very powerful nations such as The Holy Roman Empire, France, Spain and many others to sign the peace treaty however, Henry was held responsible for this treaty meaning that all glory was Henry’s rather than for Wolsey therefore, furthering the idea that Wolsey was a loyal servant rather than an Alter Rex which is what source Q and V both agree on and by being a loyal servant it implies that he did not have full control of political matters.
Source Q and V are weighted towards the view point that Wolsey had a lot of power yet he did not know how to use it, commonly; source X states that Wolsey possessed great power however, source X goes on to say that Wolsey was in control of so much power that he ”began to regard himself as the equal to the kings” suggesting that he had full control of political power. To conclude; source Q and V suggest that Wolsey did not monopolize political power at all instead, they imply that he had tremendous influence on the King whereas only Source X suggests that he had full control of political matters.