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About the book
  • Published: 27 February 1992
  • ISBN: 9780712651226
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 688
  • RRP: $42.99

The King's Cardinal

The Rise and Fall of Thomas Wolsey




The best biography ever written of Henry VIII's most powerful counsellor and one of the key figures of the Tudor period.

Proud, greedy, corrupt and driven by overwhelming personal ambition. Such is the traditional image of Thomas Wolsey, Lord Chancellor, Archbishop of York, Bishop of Winchester, Abbot of St. Albans, Bishop if Tournai and Papal Legate. It is an image which Peter Gwyn examines, challenges and decisively overturns in this remarkable book.

From exceedingly humble beginnings Wolsey rose to a pinnacle of power unsurpassed by any other British commoner. Peter Gwyn explores every aspect of the Cardinal's career - not least his relationship with Henry VIII - and sets it firmly in a vividly recreated Tudor world. The Wolsey who emerges is a man of prodigious energy and ability, a tireless dispenser of justice, an enlightened reformer wholly dedicated to his king and country - a man who has been consistently misrepresented and maligned for four-and-a-half centuries.

  • Pub date: 27 February 1992
  • ISBN: 9780712651226
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 688
  • RRP: $42.99

About the Author

Peter J Gwyn

Peter Gwyn taught history at Winchester College, where he was also the archivist from 1965 to 1976. He was elected Bowra Fellow at Wadham College, Oxford for 1981-2. He worked on this biography of Thomas Wolsey for eleven years.


Praise for The King's Cardinal

“A masterpiece, a tour de force...Beautifully sculpted, it sustains its momentum to the last page...A magnificent and authoritative book.”

J. J. Scarisbrick, Sunday Telegraph

“Learned and controversial, it has all the elements of a detective story...His verdict is convincing...a fascinating book.”

Lord Blake, Country Life

“It is intelligently illuminating on both Wolsey and his world, and is especially good on the Church and foreign policy...It is indispensable”

Christopher Haigh, Times Educational Supplement

“A work of magisterial ambition and achievement...He has taken a great subject and transformed it.”

Blair Worden, London Review of Books


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