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Do you agree with the view that in the years 1515-25 Henry VII wholly surrendered power in government to Cardinal Wolsey? Explain your answer, using Sources 4, and 6 and your own knowledge.

There are many different perceptions of the relationship between Henry VII and Cardinal Wolsey, most notably that of the Alter Rex who reserves a traditionalistic view of their liaison. However, it is evident from the three sources that it is not entirely accurate that Henry surrendered all his power to the Cardinal even though it may have ‘seemed’ (S4) that way. It can be argued that despite Wolsey holding significant power, Henry was still king making him the most powerful individual in England. Thought Henry was ‘happy to bestow patronage upon him as long as he was doing his masters work (S6). Therefore, evidence from the sources suggest that it was not the case that Henry wholly surrendered his power to Cardinal Wolsey.
It is clear that Wolsey did have a huge responsibility within Tudor government. He played a substantial role in organising the logistics of the King’s foreign policy and his ambitions to conquer France form a financial perspective whilst h occupied the role as Lord Chancellor. Wolsey also played a significant part in Tudor law. His role as Chancellor bought Wolsey a great deal of wealth and meant he ‘held a dominant position in government and controlled the distribution of patronage’ (S5). This led to many people viewing him as an Alter Rex figure. This matter was successfully portrayed through a short poem written by John Skelton, ‘Why come ye not to court, to which court? The king’s court, or Hampton court? Hampton court is finer. Many ‘must have seemed that (the) self-indulgent king had wholly surrendered the cares of the state into the Cardinal’s hands’ (s4). The portrayal that Henry has wholly surrendered his power in government to Cardinal Wolsey can partially be seen in source 4 where it states that ‘for much of the time…..Henry hawked and hunted, jousted’(S4). It is clear from this that Henry has ‘wholly surrendered the cares of the state into the Cardinal’s hands’ (S4). The cardinal had 500 staff at his main residence in Hampton Court which equalled that of the king making him appear equally as powerful. Many contemporaries knew that the King found the admistrative organisation of the country ‘tedious’ (S6) which would be an extremely plausible reason to surrender ‘the cares of the state into the Cardinals hands’(S4), though it still can be clearly argued the Henry never wholly surrendered his power to Wolsey as there are many other contributing factors.
One of these factors can be highlighted through Wolsey’s lack of ‘intimate daily contact’ (S5) with the king, disabling him from being able to influence the King on a daily basis. Due to his responsibilities in The Court of the Star Chamber and Court of Chancery, Wolsey was more or less bound to London. Whilst Henry ‘jousted, played tennis, made music, danced and banqueted’ (S4). Much of these activities took place outside of London and away from Wolsey’s watchful eye. Henry spent a large amount of time with the men of the bed chambers, otherwise known as ‘minions’. These young individuals attempted to influence Henrys views, particularly with their pro-French attitudes which in turn had Henry create unofficial positions in court so Henry could emulate Francis I’s court. This evidence forms the impression that the Cardinal was far from an Alter Rex individual and further creates a feeling that Henry put Wolsey in his place between 1515 and 1522. An example of this is in 1522 when Wolsey’s proposed attack on the French navy was labelled as ‘foolhardy’ by the King. Henry also distanced himself from his Lord Chancellor after the failure of the Amicable Grant in 1525 which resulted in Suffolk and East Anglia revolting against the King’s financial policies.
It has also been suggested that both Henry did not wholly surrender his powers to Wolsey nor did he fully maintain them but the Cardinal and Wolsey conspired together in political partnership. This view is shared by respectably historians such as John Guy who has stated that the king entrusted authority to his chief minister and expected his bidding to be carried out. An example of this arises in source 6 when in the midst of a letter from Henry to Wolsey Henry requests Wolsey to ‘keep a careful watch’ (S6) on a number of the nobility. As this letter is concluded by Henry stating that a ‘careful watch’ must be kept on ‘any other whom you are suspicious’ (S6) gives the impression that there is a certain degree of trust exhibited between the two individuals. This is the main reason that Wolsey maintained such a ‘dominant position in government’ (S5) for over 15 years as he had the ability to fulfil all of the kings wishes whilst also being able to manipulate the ‘young king and encouraged him to cast off the cares of the sate’ (S4) as he remained conscious of the fact that ‘the ultimate source of all power was the king’ (S5). Henry favoured Wolsey as his favourite minister as he was able to increase Henry’s long term wealth due to his new taxation policy. This was known as the ‘subsidy’, a tax which acknowledged the true wealth of the population. This new tax brought in £325,000 in 16 years compares to the previous taxation which only brought in £118,000 over the same period of time. These specific examples epitomise a strong partnership between Henry and Wolsey which worked efficiently under the premise of Wolsey fulfilling the Kings wishes and in turn the King allowing Wolsey to amass wealth.
In conclusion, though it is commonly ‘seemed’ (S4) that Henry did wholly surrender his power to the Cardinal this is not that case. As though Henry maintained a reasonably flippant approach to individuals feeling that the king had surrendered his power, he remained the ‘ultimate source of all power’ (S5). It is clear that this political partnership was sustained for such a long period on the grounds of ‘a favour for a favour’ as the king found things such as ‘writing’(S6)’tedious(S6) so Wolsey proceeded to do such tasks in return huge amounts of power. Therefore, though Wolsey held a plethora of important positions in government, Wolsey always knew that ‘the ultimate source of all power was the king’ (S5).…...

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