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Diarmaid MacCulloch's biography is the most complete life ever written of this elusive figure, making connections not previously seen and revealing the channels through which power in early Tudor England flowed.

Thomas Cromwell is one of the most famous - or notorious - figures in English history. Born in obscurity in Putney, he became a fixer for Cardinal Wolsey in the 1520s. After Wolsey's fall, Henry VIII promoted him to a series of ever greater offices, such that in the 1530s he was effectively running the country for the King. That decade was one of the most momentous in English history: it saw a religious break with the Pope, unprecedented use of parliament, the dissolution of all monasteries, and the coming of the Protestantism. Cromwell was central to all this, but establishing his role with precision has been notoriously difficult.

Diarmaid MacCulloch's biography is the most complete life ever written of this elusive figure, making connections not previously seen and revealing the channels through which power in early Tudor England flowed. It overturns many received interpretations, for example that Cromwell and Anne Boleyn were allies because of their common religious sympathies, showing how he in fact destroyed her. It introduces the many different personalities contributing to these foundational years, all worrying about the 'terrifyingly unpredictable' Henry VIII, and allows readers to feel that all this is going on around them. For a time, the self-made 'ruffian', as he described himself - ruthless, adept in the exercise of power, quietly determined in religious revolution - was master of events.

Reviews

Thomas Cromwell has famously defied his biographers, but no more. Diarmaid MacCulloch's book is subtle, witty and precisely constructed. He has sifted the vast archive to clear away the accumulated error, muddle and propaganda of centuries, allowing us to see this clever and fascinating man better than ever before, and in the mirror of his times. This is the biography we have been awaiting for 400 years

Hilary Mantel

Formats & editions

  • Hardback

    9781846144295

    October 1, 2018

    Allen Lane

    752 pages

    RRP $69.99

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  • Thomas Cromwell
    Diarmaid MacCulloch

    EBook

    9780141967660

    October 1, 2018

    Penguin eBooks

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